Kirkmichael, Perth and Kinross
The name Kirkmichael means "The Church of St Michael"; the Gaelic name is Cill Mhìcheil. The village dates back to the first millennium.
The village is split into two by the River Ardle. On the north side is the A924 Main Street with the church, Session House community centre, Kirkmichael Hotel, shop, post office, garage and traditional properties datingfrom the late 19th century. On the south side are the Primary School, Bannerfield, the fire station, Williamston, the village hall, the disused Free Kirk, Sillerburn Road, Whitefield View, the cemetery, Balnald, Balnakilly and the Pinetrees Hotel on the road to Glen Derby. Approximately one third of the houses in the village are holiday or second homes. Permanent population is approx 150.
The original village known as Williamston sits above the school on the original highway from Blairgowrie to Blair Atholl which entered the village past the Hall and Old Kirk and exited by the road to Balnakilly. This now forms part of the Cateran Trail long distance walk.
Kirkmichael primary school sits on the south side of the bridge. The school's catchment area incorporates Strathardle, Kirkmichael, Glenshee, Blacklunans and Bridge of Cally. Pupils continue their secondary school education at Blairgowrie High School. Over its lifetime, the school has been extended from single storey to a two storey building and in 2007 a new nursery building was added. The grounds contain an all weather sports court which is available for public use outwith school hours.
The Kirks & Session House
The Church of Scotland Kirk dates back to the 18th century and is built on a site used for worship for over one thousand years. It is surrounded by the original graveyard which contains graves dating back many centuries. The east end of the graveyard which does not have headstones or individual graves is the site of a mass burial plot for the victims of the Black Death plague of 1348 which has never been reopened. The cemetery on Balnald Road was opened in the 1950s. Kirkmichael parish was first linked with Straloch, then with Glenshee/Bridge of Cally and finally with Rattray with the minister now using Rattray manse. The original manse opposite the church was sold in the 1970s and was replaced first by a bungalow in Glenshee then in the 1980s by another bungalow on the Balnald road which is now rented out.
The disused Free Kirk, known as the Duff Memorial Church, was built in the late 19th century by the break away Free Church of Scotland. In 1928 the Free Kirk amalgamated back into the Church of Scotland with the two churches being used on alternate Sundays until the Duff Memorial finally closed in the 1950s. It was then used as an agricultural building and in the late 1990s the then Village Hall committee drew up plans to acquire the building, restore it to its former glory and provide the village with a 21st-century Community Hall. Unfortunately they were ultimately unable to acquire the old kirk which is now derelict and fast becoming an eyesore. The Free Kirk manse became a SYHA youth hostel and for 30 years was very popular with cyclists and hikers especially from Dundee. It is now a private house.
The Session House Open Learning Centre offers a range of educational courses in conjunction with the University of the Highlands and Islands as well as being a meeting point for various community groups. Its existence and success owe much to the foresight and tenacity of the parish minister in the late 1900s, the Rev Dr Hugh Ormiston. It was originally the parish school and was in poor condition before its restoration into the well equipped building of today.
The Village Shop
The village shop is run by a community interest company with local unpaid directors and incorporates the post office, a coffee shop and a diesel pump. The adjacent workshop is home to Milford Vintage Engineering who specialise in the service, maintenance, repair and restoration of vintage and veteran vehicles. The building was erected in 1958 on the site of the disused blacksmith's smithy and garden ground as a sales and repair garage and the shop occupies the former showroom area. At one time Kirkmichael had four shops, one in the house at the school end of Williamston which closed in the early 20th century and three in Main Street. One was in the white building now known as MacDonald Cottage. It closed in 1983. The two others were side by side in the three storey building opposite the present shop. The Post Office/newsagents closed in 1990 and was taken over by the General Store which closed in 2000. The present shop then opened within the old garage.
The Village Hall was opened in 1934 after a period of intense fundraising and is managed by a committee of volunteers. It is used by the local pre-school group and other youth groups, the primary school for Physical Education classes and is home to local functions. It was extended in the 1950s and over the years there have been several plans to provide a new state-of-the-art facility, this project is ongoing.
The Masonic Lodge Lodge St John was restarted in the late 1950s after many years in abeyence and was originally located in the east end of the property known as Meadowside. When Meadowside changed hands about ten years later the Lodge relocated to the annexe of the village hall.
The Fire Station
The Fire Station - the 3rd version built in the 1990s - is manned by a part-time volunteer crew with a modern appliance. The original 1960s station was a wooden hut adjacent to Riverview containing equipment and a trailer pump with Kirkmichael Garage providing a towing vehicle as required. The second station was on the present site in Bannerfield and was a basic tin Nissen Hut shed housing a Karrier Gamecock appliance but with no crew facilities. The current station is fitted and equipped to a high standard with office and training facilities.
Historical Monuments & Memorials
The War Memorial
The War Memorial sits above the road between the village and the Strathardle Inn and along with Ballinloan on the B950 and the Glen Derby road provides the best view of Kirkmichael.
The Small Monument
The Minister's Well
The old roadside well opposite the church is fed by an underground spring which never runs dry. The ice cold water has an excellent clean sharp taste and is completely drinkable.
Strathardle Highland Gathering & Agricultural Show is held annually in Kirkmichael on the fourth Saturday of August. The Gathering is currently held in Bannerfield with the Agricultural Show in an adjacent field. Known locally as "the Games", the highlights of the day include:
- Agricultural Show with various livestock classes.
- Home Industries Tent
- Vintage Vehicles
- Trade Stands
- Pipe Band
- Highland Dancing & Piping Competitions
- Track & Heavy Events
- Open Tug'o'War
- The Robertson Cup Tug'o'War local competition between Strathardle and Blackwater
- A Unique Musical Cars event - similar to musical chairs but involving cars driving round the ring.
The Gathering started in the late 19th century and was held in various locations including Croft of Dounie, Aldchlappie and Dalnagairn before settling in its current Bannerfield location in the late 1940s.
The founders of the original games were Alexander Petrie of Strathgarry, Killiecrankie (originally of Ballinloan, Kirkmichael), "Mr Michie" of Cluneskea, Enochdhu, "Mr James Stewart" and "Mr James Dow". It is recorded that Petrie et al approached James Small of Dirnanean with a proposal to hold an annual gathering, a proposal to which Small gave his "warm approval". Petrie himself subsequently competed in the games of his own founding, principally via "titling the ring" on horseback.
The Agricultural Show started in the late 1950s and now attracts a large entry of quality livestock. For over a century three generations of the Evans family from Glasgow attended the Gathering with their travelling funfair and "Evans shows" as they were known were an integral part of the Games and of village life. In the 1950s and 1960s the fair stayed for two weeks and attracted large crowds with bingo, slot machines and shooting the main attractions. The fair made its last visit in 2009.
Kirkmichael is the largest village in Strathardle. Known locally as "the glen", the Strath runs for 13 miles from Glen Brerachean on the Moulin Moors to the confluence of the River Ardle and the Blackwater just east of Bridge of Cally. Other settlements along the A924 are Straloch, Enochdhu, Ballintuim and Bridge of Cally. The Ardle starts opposite the road to Glenfernate where the Brerachean and the Fernate meet and is bridged at Enochdhu, Kirkmichael, Pitcarmick, Dalnabreck,Ballintuim, Blackcraig, Cally Lodge and Bridge of Cally. The bridge to Blackcraig is of archtectural significance as it has a house built over it. The house on the bridge is one of the glen's best kept secrets. Strathardle is named after a Pictish warrior called Ardle who was killed at Enochdhu in a battle with the Danes in the 12th century. His burial mound in the grounds of Dirnanean Lodge is over twelve feet long but whether he was a giant as reputed or had another warrior buried at he feet is unknown!
Public transport connects Kirkmichael with Blairgowrie, Tarvie and Spittal of Glenshee. (See Stagecoach Buses for the seasonal timetable.) The nearest railway station is Pitlochry (12 miles) from where there is direct express service to London including the Caledonian overnight sleeper.
There are three hotels, Kirkmichael Hotel, Strathardle Inn and the Pinetrees Hotel. The Kirkmichael Hotel was originally a large coaching inn but is now partly converted to flats with the remaining part operating as a small hotel/restaurant/bar. The Strathardle Inn was originally called the Aldchlappie Hotel after the Allt Chlappie burn which runs nearby with the name being changed in the late 1990s. Many locals still call it Aldchlappie or "the Clappie". The Pinetrees Hotel was built from Norwegian logs in the 1960s and was originally known as The Edelweiss, then the Log Cabin Hotel and now The Pinetrees.
Kirkmichael offers a choice of self-catering properties ranging from cottages to apartments and log cabins. Kirkmichael Village Cottages offer traditional cottages and Kirkmichael Apartments offer bright, modern accommodation which can take up to 18 people
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- "Atholl Farmer's Retiral.". The People's Journal. 24 October 1936. p. 10.