The name Kirkcolm is derived from kirk, meaning church and colm, referring to St Columba. Kirkcolm village is situated on Loch Ryan on the northern tip of the Rhins of Galloway peninsular, Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland. It is 6.5 miles north of Stranraer, which is the nearest large town to access supermarkets, banks, clothes shops and other services and 58 miles (by road) south of Ayr. Kirkcolm is situated 78 miles east of the county capital of Dumfries, with a drive time of 1 hour 45 minutes.
Kirkcolm Parish extends to the very north of the Rhins peninsular with Irish Sea coastline on the east and north boundaries, Loch Ryan on the west boundary and the southern edge has a boundary with Leswalt Parish. The total population of the whole parish is approximately 750 and consists of mainly farms, with Kirkcolm being the sole village in the parish. The B738 circles to the north and east of the parish, with many tracks and small roads leading off it to connect the outlying farms.
A number of small burns sprawl across the rugged, hilly peninsular and the mild climate creates the perfect environment for a vast selection of flora and fauna. Wig Bay, 2 miles south of the village of Kirkcolm, is a haven for bird and wildlife and is also home to Wig Bay Holiday Park. The holiday park provides static caravan holiday accommodation with many family friendly facilities, including an indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, two children’s play parks and other activities at their sister caravan park, Three Lochs Caravan Park, 20 miles east of Wig Bay.
The village originally known as Stewarton, or Steuart-town, as a planned village, started in 1789. Prior to that there was no village in the parish, with all settlements associated with farms. Key industries were farming, in particular Black Galloway cattle, and fishing for salmon, herring and oysters in Loch Ryan. In 1840 there were 40 farms in the parish. Muslim embroidery was an important cottage industry with complete ‘muslim kits’ containing needles, printed muslim blanks and threads being supplied by Glasgow firms to women who did embroidery in their homes.
In more recent history, the sheltered sand spit of Wig Bay was used as an RAF base for Sunderland flying boats that hunted enemy submarines in World War Two and was set up on 12th March 1942. July 1943 saw the arrival of the No. 11 Flying Boat Fitting Unit, in 1944 two hangars were built and by January 1945 over 1000 personnel and 170 aircraft were based at RAF Wig Bay. The site remained in operation after the war to develop and support the Short Sunderland aircraft and RAF Wig Bay closed in November 1955.