A Warm Retreat?

In the first printed Statistical account of Blantyre, which was written around 1780 by Rev Henry Stevenson, minister of Blantyre, we find that he ascribes the origin of the name to the sheltered situation of the locality; Blantyre being said to signify in the Gaelic language, a “warm retreat“. Interestingly, a hundred years later when Rev Stewart Wright opened his Annals of Blantyre book, he started off the updated 1880s account with a contradiction, referring to the “warm retreat” with the words

“We are not prepared to accept this derivation, for to our own mind and judging from our experience, the parish, as a whole, can scarcely be characterised as a warm retreat. It has certainly got it’s sheltered nooks by the banks of the Clyde and Calder, where pleasant mansions nestle amongst wooded groves; but we fear that the general verdict on the climate of our parish now-a-days will be somewhat akin to that of the poet’s shivering traveller, “Cold blows the wind across the moor, the dreary moor that i have passed”.

I think however, and at the risk of putting down Rev Wright’s comments, that he has missed the point his predecessor was making. I have an opinion and dare i say, an assumption on this. A warm retreat. It doesn’t have to be climatic. It could certainly have meant, the friendliness and warmth of the people themselves. I like to think that is what the original meaning was meant.

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