Ayrshire

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Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir) is a county of south-west Scotland, located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Its principal towns include Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine. The town of Troon (pop. 20,000) on the coast has hosted the British Open Golf Championship twice in the last seven years, eight times in total, including the most recent one in 2004. Approximately 200,000 visitors come to Troon during this period.

Ayrshire, under the name the County of Ayr, is a registration county. The electoral and valuation area named Ayrshire covers the three council areas of South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire, therefore including the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae. The three islands were part of the County of Bute until 1975 and are not always included when the term Ayrshire is applied to the region. The same area is known as Ayrshire and Arran in other contexts.

Ayrshire is one of the most agriculturally fertile regions of Scotland. Potatoes are grown in fields near the coast, using seaweed-based fertiliser, and in addition the region produces pork products, other root vegetables, cattle and summer berries such as strawberries are grown abundantly.

The area used to be heavily industrialised, with steel making, coal mining and in Kilmarnock numerous examples of production-line manufacturing, most famously Johnnie Walker whisky. In more recent history, Digital Equipment had a large manufacturing plant near Ayr from about 1976 until the company was taken over by Compaq in 1998. Some supplier companies grew up to service this site and the more distant IBM plant at Greenock in Renfrewshire. Scotland's aviation industry has long been based in and around Prestwick and its international airport, and although aircraft manufacture ceased at the former British Aerospace plant in 1998, a significant number of aviation companies are still based on the Prestwick site. However, unemployment in the region(excluding the more rural South Ayrshire) remains high, above the national average.

The area became part of the kingdom of Scotland during the 11th century. In 1263, the Scots successfully drove off a group of Norwegian Vikings in a skirmish known as the Battle of Largs.

A notable historic building in Ayrshire is Turnberry Castle, which dates from the 13th century or earlier, and which may have been the birthplace of Robert the Bruce.

The historic shire or sheriffdom of Ayr was divided into three districts or bailieries which later made up the county of Ayrshire. The three districts were:
-Carrick in the south
- Kyle in the centre, which included the royal burgh of Ayr
- Cunninghame in the north which included the royal burgh of Irvine.

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 established a uniform system of county councils in Scotland and realigned the boundaries of many of Scotland’s counties.

Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, serving Glasgow, is located in Ayrshire. It has a niche in rock history as the only place in Britain visited by Elvis Presley, on his way home from Army service in Germany in 1960.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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