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Updated 05/02/2013


Loch Ruan
George M. McIntyre

Loch Ruan or Ryan (Gaelic: Loch Rìoghaine) is a Scottish sea loch that acts as an important natural harbor for shipping, providing calm waters for ferries operating between Scotland and Northern Ireland. The town of Stranraer is the largest settlement on its shores, with boats operating both from the town and from the village of Cairnryan further north on the loch 

Historically the loch has seen human activity on its shores since ancient times. Sheltered from the rough seas of the North Channel and the North Atlantic the loch has been an important safe harbor for vessels. In the spring of 1307 at the beginning of Robert the Bruce's campaign in the wars of independence he sent two forces to attempt to gain control of south west Scotland. One force, led by his two brothers and comprising of eighteen galleys, landed in Loch Ryan. They were immediately overwhelmed by local forces, led by Dougal MacDougal, who was a supporter of the Comyns.

During the Second World War the loch was busy with wartime activity. Cairnryan became No. 2 Military port, an important secondary large-scale port facility that was available for use should facilities on the Mersey and the Clyde became unavailable due to enemy bombing.

Two large piers were built at Cairnryan to enable large tonnage ships to dock and unload cargo. The harbor was used as an import point for troops coming from the USA after 1942. Only one of the two piers still stands today, and it is unusable due to the poor condition of the wooden piles (the pier has been unused since a small section collapsed with tragic consequences in the 1990’s). With U-Boat menace in the Atlantic taking a heavy toll on merchant shipping the area became an important centre for anti-U-Boat operations. Flying boats operated from the loch to protect allied shipping making its way to Liverpool or Glasgow either via the North Channel or the Firth of Clyde. There were two RAF stations on the Loch, RAF Wig Bay operating from Wig Bay near Kirkcolm and RAF Stranraer operating from the town.

George M. McIntyre was a prolific writer of pipe music from Campbletown, Scotland. His tunes include numerous marches, reels, hornpipes, and jigs.  The tune is always listed as “Loch Ruan.”  This may be a misspelling of Loch Ryan.