Marymass Queens - some memories


1978: Queen Dawn Phair with 50 years of former Marymass Queens


BELOW: "My Year", by (click on a name): Kate Milner 2006, Stephanie McHallam 2005, Siobhan King 2004, Jennifer Roger 2003Stacey Kavanagh 2002, Jennifer Egan 2001, Jennifer Dickson 2000


My Year - by Kate Milner, 2006-07

This year has flown by so quickly for me. I can still remember exactly how I felt that Monday morning last June when the Carters announced that I would be Marymass Queen 2006. I was speechless. My friends were jumping up and down and screaming with excitement for me. I felt the same. I was so shocked, but excited and over the moon at the same time. It wasnít until I was down at the Low Green having my picture taken that I realised what awaited me. I met the four Marys: Ashley, Cara, Melissa and Angela. I could tell that they were just as excited and nervous as I was and that we would grow really close.

During the summer holidays, the Marys and I met with members of the Cartersí Society at Cunninghame House. We were given our Marymass itinerary and informed of all the duties we would have. A couple of weeks later I had the coat of arms and bunting hung outside my house. I think this was the point when it finally sunk in.

The Sashing ceremony at the beginning of August was the start of my official duties as Queen. This moment was very overwhelming. Receiving my sash in front of my friends, family and the townspeople of Irvine was such an honour and just increased my excitement for the following weeks.

Over the next two weeks life was very hectic, but I loved every minute of it. We had so many engagements; visiting primary schools, nurseries, nursing homes, the fourth port parade, the festival of light parade and the fireworks are just a few of the many activities we took part in. We were chaperoned by the Captain of the Cartersí John Rorison. I would like to thank him immensely for everything he did for us. He certainly gave us a good few giggles. The Cartersí looked after us at every event, we were certainly treated like royalty.

On Friday 25 August we visited the stables of the horses that would be taking part in the parade the next day. During the evening I could feel the butterflies in my stomach getting worse and worse. I was so thankful I had the Marys. We had grown so close over such a short period of time, and I was so grateful that I had them there with me to share the same excitement and nerves.

On the eve of Marymass Saturday I hardly slept a wink. I woke at 6.00am and started to get ready. Despite the growing excitement I felt, there was a small part of me that was disappointed as I could see from my window that it was heavily raining. However, I began to get ready, doing my hair and make up, and getting into the beautiful new dress that had been made for me by Wee Margaret the dressmaker, it was amazing.

My whole house was packed with friends, family and neighbours, waiting for me to be collected. John, our chauffeur picked me up, along with John Rorison, the Captain. Even with the rain, I knew I was about to have the best day of my life.

I was taken to the towns house where I met with the Marys as we prepared to get into out carriages.

As I stepped into my carriage I was trembling with excitement. As I travelled round the streets of Irvine waving to the crowds, I realised they were just as happy as I was. However, there was a slight hiccup to my special day; the horse pulling my carriage got a bit scared from the loud drums of the bands and lost control. Due to this, I was no longer allowed to go in my own carriage, I was given a special place beside the driver of the Marysí carriage. Although this was not how Iíd envisioned my perfect day, it did not ruin it for me. It made it more special as I was the first queen to ever do this. Also, when I took this special seat, the rain miraculously stopped, making everything so much better.

As noon came, I walked out with John Rorison to the stage. Everyone had their place and were waiting for me. I sat down and the crowning ceremony took place. I was scared but unbelievably proud and excited too. I glanced through the crowd to see my emotional family and friends sharing this wonderful moment with me. Afterwards we all got back into place for the parade to travel to the Moor. As the parade passed through Irvine Cross, Iíd never seen so many people together in my life, it was so overwhelming and amazing. The rest of the day went without a hitch, it was enjoyed by all. I woke up the next morning wishing I could do it all over again.

I would like to wish this yearís Marymass Queen and four Marys the best of luck and hope they have as a brilliant a time as the Marys and I did. Make the most of it because it passes so quickly, but remember to keep smiling.

Also I would like to thank you so much people for helping me throughout the year. First of all Mr John Rorison Captain of the Carters for all his support and for being a wonderful Captain. I would like to thank Garry Hamilton, Andy Tremble, Danny Kerr and everyone who was involved in the behind the scenes organisation for Marymass; it couldnít have been done without you. An enormous thanks to Ian Clarkson and John our limo driver, who looked after us through everything, and put up with our awful giggling fits. Many thanks to Margaret McGregor for all her work and kindness in making such beautiful dresses for the five of us. I would like to thank my family and friends for all their help, love and support. I would like to thank the people of Irvine for making my day all the more special. Also, to the two Page boys. However, my biggest thanks must go to my four Marys: Ashley, Cara, Melissa and Angela. These girls made Marymass the best experience of my life and I have no idea how I would have done it without them. We became such good friends and Iím so glad they were there to share my experience.

Kate Milner, Marymass Queen 2006.


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My Year - by Stephanie McHallam, 2005-06

I can hardly believe that it has been a whole year since I was chosen to be Marymass Queen! It seems like only yesterday when all my dreams had come true, when the Carters told me the news that Monday morning. I was thrilled, excited, proud, honoured, words cannot describe. My nerves were fine until the realisation set in that I was representing my family, my school and my town, and that the ambition I'd had since a little girl was finally reality. I met the four Marys: Abbigail, Stephanie, Siobhan and Ailey and they too were excited and looking forward to the experiences that awaited us. I knew from the moment we met that we formed a winning team, and friendships that would last.

As the preparations for the Marymass Festival began we all had a busy schedule, meeting lots of townspeople of Irvine who were full of support. I had asked for special permission to have the coat of arms and bunting at my Gran's house as Marymass has always been a special place in her heart. The unfurling of the flag was the official start of my duties as Queen and it was from this moment that I saw Marymass in a whole new dimension and I was sashed as Marymass Queen 2005. To see the townspeople of Irvine, family and friends gathered together at the Townhouse to celebrate this wonderful Festival was breathtaking to say the least.

The days that followed were hectic and tiring but I relished every moment, visiting primary schools, nurseries, nursing homes, the fourth port parade and the torchlit procession leading to the firework display to name but a few. We were always being chaperoned by a member of the Marymass Committee to whom I thank most sincerely for their kindness, help and support. We were treated like true royalty.

On Friday 19th after the local derby I could hardly sleep for excitement, I was counting down the hours and then the minutes. On Saturday 20th August 2005 the day had finally arrived! After only catching a few hours of broken sleep I awoke at 5.30 am, the sun was shining even then. My Gran's house became the focal point becoming very busy, first with my aunt, then with my mum, friends and Wee Margaret who dressed me in the fabulous gown that she had made.

I couldn't believe it, I was going to have a very different Marymass this year! The neighbours had all gathered outside and as John, our chauffeur, collected me in the limo the excitement was overwhelming. The skies were blue and I knew this was going to be the day I had dreamed about for so long.

When I was travelling around the streets of Irvine in my beautiful white carriage, there were crowds of people smiling, taking photos and waving. The crowds made me realise we were all sharing the excitement of the Festival.

As noon came I walked out with Captain John Rorison, I could not have been prouder. I saw my family amongst the well-wishers and they were very emotional as I was. It is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. The rest of the day went without a hitch and it was a joy to see everyone enjoy themselves after the build up of it. The day was fantastic and it passed so quickly.

I would like to wish this year's Marymass Queen and four Marys the best of luck and have a brilliant time. Make the most of it as it flies by so quickly. Last but not least keep smiling girls!!!

First of all I would like to thank John Rorison the Captain of the Carters for all the support and being a GREAT Captain! I would like to thank Garry Hamilton, Andy Tremble, Danny Kerr and everyone behind the scenes. A special thanks to Councillor Ian Clarkson and John our limo driver for looking after us during our duties. Many thanks to Margaret McGregor for all her kindness and making such a beautiful dress. I would like to thank my four Marys: Abbigail, Stephanie, Siobhan and Ailey for all their support and friendship during the Marymass. I would also like to thank my two Page boys. A big thanks to my family for their help, love and support. Finally, to the people of Irvine who made my experience as Marymass Queen 2005 a pleasure and an honour. I will be forever grateful to have had this opportunity. I wish everyone all the best for this year and hope you all have a great Marymass 2006!


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My Year (extract) - by Siobhan King, 2004-05

The beautiful weather seemed to add to everyone's happiness. As I saw everybody enjoying themselves, I realised how lucky I was to have played a part in this Irvine tradition. My experiences as Marymass Queen are among the most memorable of my life, and I will never forget the excitement, anticipation, and of course the nerves, that I experienced throughout the festival! Being chosen as Queen was an honour that I will always be grateful for, and one that will always bring a smile to my face.

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My Year - by Jennifer Roger, 2003-04

When I was a little girl, I always made sure I had my photographs taken with the Marymass Queen, never thinking that one day it would be me sitting in the coach. On Saturday 23 August, there I was.

On the day I was chosen, no words could explain how I felt when they said my name. All I know is that it was the best feeling in the world. The first person I told was my gran. I told her first because I knew how she would feel, as in 1972 she received the same phone call from my mum, Sandra McLean, telling her that she was a Marymass Mary. By the time I phoned to let people know the good news, they already knew as my gran had beaten me to it!

I felt like a celebrity the first time the limousine pulled up at my front door to take me to be named Marymass Queen Elect 2003 in front of the townspeople of Irvine. I was secretly hoping that Brad Pitt awaited me on the other side of the limousine door. Not that I was disappointed when I saw 4 beautiful Marys, Deborah, Julie-Ann, Marissa and Stacey, just as nervous as I was.

The night I was sashed started the most extraordinary time of my life. Every day between the sashing and Marymass Saturday, the 4 Marys and I had something to do, so no wonder that by the end of it all, we only wanted to sleep.

By the time Marymass Saturday came I was exhausted, but that did not stop me getting up full of beans at 5am in the morning to start getting ready. The sun was splitting the trees and I couldnít have prayed for a better day. I was ready just in time because as I stepped out of the door, the coach was pulling up. There were so many people outside my house taking pictures of me and I felt so special.

Before I was set to be crowned, the Captain, the Marys and I watched the parade go by. It was so nice to see all the people dressed up and to see how much the whole community pulls together to make Marymass Saturday a very special day.

In the Townhouse before being called out to the stage, the Marys and I were getting very nervous. Five minutes later it was just Captain Andy Tremble and I waiting to walk out. When our names were called my nerves just seemed to disappear. I just became so excited. I saw my whole family and for a change my brothers actually looked presentable. I couldnít stop smiling because as I looked out to the crowd, my whole family was smiling back at me. I fixed my eyes onto my family and the closer I looked, even although my mum has passed away I could make out her figure sitting beside my family. She looked the proudest of all sitting in the crowd.

When I was crowned by Mrs Pauline Tremble, I couldnít stop thinking I was the 75th Marymass Queen to wear that crown.

We then headed out to the Moor to have lunch. The buffet was beautiful and my dad and brothers made sure that the food didnít go to waste.

I will never forget that day and all the people I met. None of this would have been possible without the help of the Cartersí Committee, Councillor Ian Clarkson, Garry Hamilton, John our limousine driver, Captain Andy Tremble and of course, last but most certainly not least, the 4 Marys, Deborah McDade, Julie-Anne Draper, Marissa Gemmell and Stacey Smith, all of whom I could not have done without.

I hope Marymass never comes to an end, as it is the main time of the year that everyone in Irvine comes together.

I always dreamed about being Marymass Queen and now I know that dreams can come true.

I would like to wish this years Marymass Queen Elect and her 4 Marys every success and I am sure they will have as much fun as we all had.


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My Year - by Stacey Kavanagh, 2002-03

It still feels like only yesterday when I was lucky enough to have been chosen as Marymass Queen for 2002. This time last year I was over the moon, that I had been selected to take part in such a traditional Festival. It has been and gone so quickly and now I am writing about the wonderful experience that I had while I was Marymass Queen.

Being part of the Marymass Festival had always been an ambition of mine. Marymass has always been thoroughly enjoyed by all my family. Most of all it was always a great weekend for me as my birthday is during Marymass. So last year being Marymass Queen made my birthday extra special. It meant a great deal to me to be representing my school. I felt honoured that I was given the chance to introduce myself to the townspeople of Irvine and I hoped that I'd be able to fulfil my duty as Marymass Queen to the best of ability.

Attending the unfurling of the flag saw the beginning of my duties. It was then I realised just how important and special Marymass was. It felt great that night to see the townspeople of Irvine gathered together to enjoy the beginning of a well loved Festival. It was also good to get properly introduced to the Marys.

The days prior to Marymass were tiring but worth every minute as this was an exciting time for us all. Carrying out our duties meant we were always busy visiting local places like primary schools, nurseries and attending a number of events.

In no time at all it was Saturday the 24th of August and it was the day I had been waiting for. Although I woke up to a dull wet day I didn't care as nothing was going to spoil the day I had been preparing for. I felt so excited that I wasn't a bit nervous. I just couldn't wait to have a great day with my friends, family and everyone else attending Marymass. When I was dressed I was picked up in the limo. I waved goodbye to my family and neighbours, looking forward to seeing them all later at 12 noon when I was to be crowned.

As I travelled around the town I couldn't believe the crowds of people who were gathered, waving and taking photos. Before I knew it, it was approaching 12 noon and we were gathered inside the Townhouse. I think that is when the nerves started to kick in but as soon as the doors opened and I saw the sun shining I could not have felt better. When my name was called I walked out with Captain Andy Tremble. I saw crowds of smiling faces but most of all my family was there to watch me during my proud moment. I had never felt so lucky. After I had been crowned by Mrs Pauline Tremble, we all made our way to the Moor where we had a brilliant day. Although my time as Queen is now over I will always remember it like it was yesterday. It is definitely the most special and memorable event I have ever experienced in my life so far.

I hope this year's Queen Jennifer and her Marys enjoy the experience as much as Marie, Jennifer, Donna, Candace and I did. Keep smiling girls and cherish every moment as it goes by so quickly.

I would like to thank all the people who were involved in making my time as Marymass Queen so enjoyable. First of all, I thank Andy Tremble and the Carters for the wonderful opportunity they gave me in June 2002 to be the Queen, and thanks to Andy for the birthday cake!! Next I'd like to say a big thanks to Councillor Tom Barr, Garry Hamilton and our limo driver John who looked after us while we were doing our duties. I would like to thank Jennifer Egan, Marymass Queen 2001, for all her help, advice and the beautiful bouquet of flowers she sent me the Friday before Marymass. Last but not least I would like to thank my four Marys for their friendship and great company during Marymass.

Finally I would like to say thanks to the people of Irvine. I hope they continue to celebrate Marymass, it wouldn't be the same without them and most important, enjoy this year's Marymass and the rest to come.


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My Year - by Jennifer Egan, 2001-02

A year ago in June, I was told that I had been chosen as the Marymass Queen for 2001, and now I am writing about the wonderful opportunity which I was given on that day. I cannot believe that my year is over.

Being chosen as as the Marymass Queen meant a great deal to myself and my family as over the years it has been a tradition for my family to get together and celebrate Marymass, so as you could imagine last year was extra special.  I was honoured that I had been given this opportunity and hope that I lived up to the expectations of Irvine's townspeople.

The first time that I was introduced as Marymass Queen to the townspeople was at the unfurling of the flag.  This was my first proud moment and this was also when I realised how important my role was. The unfurling of the flag represented the start of Marymass and over the next nine days my Marys and I carried out several duties which included visiting nursery schools and opening the Folk Festival in Irvine. Although it was an exhausting time it was a most enjoyable time for us all.

Eventually it was Saturday 25th August and my day was finally here. The weather couldn't possibly have been nicer and I couldn't have asked for a better day. There was a great excitement not only inside my house but on the street where my family, friends and neighbours gathered to see me getting picked up in the coach. At this point I had mixed emotions of nerves and excitement. I think I had just realised that in a few hours I was going to be crowned Queen of Irvine in front of many people.

The coach arrived and I said Goodbye to my mum and dad remembering that the next time I would see them would be at the crowning ceremony. Then I left to join the parade along with my four Marys.

As I travelled the streets of Irvine and saw the crowds, and also as I arrived at the Towns House and saw the swarm of faces, I realised what a great tradition Marymass means to the people of Irvine.

When the doors to the Towns House opened and I walked out on the arm of Captain Andy Tremble and heard the cheering crowds I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. When I was crowned Marymass Queen 2001 by Mrs Pauline Tremble I felt very honoured and proud to participate in such an important event in Irvine.

I would now like to take this opportunity to thank my four wonderful Marys who were a great support to me throughout Marymass - Carissa, Laura, Jennifer and Leeanne. Also many thanks to Mrs Jessie Gray our chaperone, Robert our driver, Tom Barr and Gary Hamilton for all their hard work and effort. I would like to thank Jennifer Dickson, Marymass Queen 2000, for all her support and guidance. Last but not least my thanks go to Capt. Andy Tremble - without his humour I would not have survived such a nervous but wonderful experience.

I would like to wish this year's Marymass Queen and Marys the very best of luck and hope the sun shines on their big day.

Finally I would like to thank all the people of Irvine for making my year an unforgettable one and supporting this wonderful tradition.


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My Year - by Jennifer Dickson, 2000-01

Monday 5th June is a day that I will always remember. It was the start of an amazing Summer that my family and I will never forget.

Being chosen as the Marymass Queen was a tremendous honour for me, I felt proud that I would have the chance to represent my hometown in such a memorable way. I had always enjoyed Marymass as a child and took part in the parade with my dancing school.

My stomach churned as I walked through the Townhouse doors for the first time to become Marymass Queen Elect 2000. The Marymass Festival is very important to many people and I was honoured to be standing before them all as they cheered me.

The following weeks were very enjoyable for my four Mary's and I. We were kept busy opening many different galas and functions. Over those weeks we had the pleasure of meeting the people of Irvine who would always welcome us, before telling us their past experiences of Marymass. They helped us to realise how much of a traditional event Marymass is, and will hopefully continue to be. Everyone was so kind to us and our nerves soon disappeared while we were in their company.

The best was yet to come. I woke on Marymass Saturday and couldn't wait for my special day to begin. My hairdresser came to do my hair early and along with my mum helped me to get ready. Finally, I was ready to leave the house. I opened my front door and was amazed at what I saw. All my family, friends and neighbours were outside on the street greeting me. I got into my coach and set off. The proudest moment of my life was when I walked through the Townhouse doors and was crowned Marymass Queen 2000.

In front of me I saw every Marymass Queen from past years, including Martha McHarg, and was touched and honoured that I had been given the chance to be, part of such a historical event that has taken place for years.

Marymass 2000 was very special to me, especially as it was the millennium year. I would like to thank my four Marys, Ashley, Carly, Linzi and Terri for all their support and friendship. To our limousine driver John, Garry Hamilton and Tom Barr, I greatly appreciate everything you did for me, thank you. Finally, to my Captain Andy Tremble, thank you for all the help you gave me over the past year. I will always be grateful to you for giving me such an honourable gift. A lot of hard work and effort was put into Marymass 2000 and it turned out to be a great success as usual.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish this year's Marymass Queen Jennifer Egan and her four Marys, Laura McFarlane, Leanne Brown, Jennifer Wallis and Carissa Dickson good luck. I hope they will enjoy Marymass 2001 as much as I enjoyed Marymass 2000. I have had a great year and it has been one that I will never, ever forget!


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