Irvine is a town in Ayrshire on the Clyde coast of Scotland. It's a postwar "New Town" built within an ancient royal burgh, unsuccessfully; Scotland's other New Towns were largely greenfield developments. A number of bold regeneration efforts have begun and flopped, and Irvine's main role now is as a commuter town for Glasgow. It's given birth to two First Ministers of Scotland, Jack McConnell (in office 2001-2007) and Nicola Sturgeon (from 2014).
Trains run 4 times an hour from Glasgow Central to Irvine, taking 30 mins; they continue south via Troon and Prestwick to Ayr.
Stagecoach Bus X34 / X44 runs every couple of hours from Glasgow Buchanan via Kilwinning to Irvine railway station, taking 90 mins. (An occasional X44 continues to Ardrossan.) Late on Saturday nights, X76 is the drunks' bus home from Glasgow via Kilmarnock.
Bus 14 runs hourly from Ayr via Prestwick and Troon to Irvine. Bus 11 runs every 20-30 mins from Kilmarnock to Irvine (30 mins) and continues west to Kilwinning and Ardrossan, for ferries to Arran.
1 Irvine railway station is central between the loops of the river.
Buses 11 & 14 (see "Get in") ply the main roads through town. Bus 21 makes a circuit of town then runs via Dreghorn village to Dundonald.
- 1 Wellwood Burns Centre (Irvine Burns Club), 28 Eglinton St, Irvine KA12 8AS. Apr-Sept W, F & Sa 14:00-17:00, Oct-Mar Sa 14:00-17:00. Robert Burns worked for a time in a flax mill in Irvine, and made copious use of the town pubs. In 1826 Irvine Burns Club was formed to commemorate his life and works, and remains active. They hold several original manuscripts and other memorabilia, which you can see here. Free.
- 2 Scottish Maritime Museum, Harbour Rd, Irvine KA12 8BT. Daily 10:00-17:00. Well-presented museum with displays of ship-building and shipping along the Clyde coast. There's another branch in Dumbarton. Adult £8.50.
- 3 Eglinton Country Park, Kilwinning KA13 7QD. Pleasant green space along the riverside, with the scrappy remains of Eglington Castle. In 1839 a huge lavish "medieval" tournament was staged here, but the summer rains laid waste to the marquees, knights in armour, and celebrity guests including the future Emperor Napoleon III of France. Free.
- Dreghorn two miles east has an unusual octagonal church built in 1780. This village (not to be confused with Dreghorn the army district of Edinburgh) was the birthplace of John Boyd Dunlop, inventor of the pneumatic tyre. It also claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited village in Europe, as when new housing was built in 2003/04, remains were found dating through medieval times to 3500 BC. These were removed to museums and the houses completed, so there's nothing of ancient Dreghorn to see nowadays.
- See Troon for Dundonald Castle.
- 1 Irvine Golf Club, Bogside KA12 8SN (north of river), ☏ . 18-hole links course where gorse and heather await stray shots. Yellow tees par 70, 6116 yards. 18 holes £60.
- You can stroll the riverbank by the former racecourse, which closed in 1963 when the course at Ayr expanded.
- The beach lies south of the river outlet. North of it (accessible by a footbridge) is Saltcoats beach, part of Ardrossan.
Rivergate just east of the railway station is the big retail mall, with an ASDA next door.
- Niche Restaurant, 106 Montgomery St KA12 8PW (next to railway station), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-22:00, Su 09:00-21:00. Great food, slick friendly staff.
- Si! bar & restaurant at 18 Kilwinning Rd is open M-Th 09:00-23:00, F-Su to 00:00.
- Porthead Tavern & Hamilton's Restaurant on High St is open daily 11:00-00:00.
- Town centre pubs include Harbour Lights and The Ship Inn on Harbour St, The Auld Brig in Rivergate shopping centre, and The Carrick on High St.
- Harbour Guest House is a small B&B 200 yards west of the railway station.
- 1 Gailes Hotel, Marine Drive, Irvine KA11 5AE (A737 Stanes roundabout), ☏ . Hotel with golf club and spa. B&B double £100.
Decent mobile and Wifi coverage all over town.
- The beach north of the river stretches through Saltcoats to Ardrossan, which has ferries to Arran.
- Troon has a famous golf course, plus Dundonald Castle, which you can reach direct from Irvine by bus.
- Ayr has the best sites associated with Robert Burns, clustered around his birthplace in Alloway.
- Students of Scottish "New Town" architecture are few, but essential if we're to learn from these ugly mistakes, so they should also admire East Kilbride, Cumbernauld, Livingston and Glenrothes.