The Story of Ballymaclinton.


Part 3 of a three part article by George Ithell from the Exhibition Study Group archives

with illustrations added.


            The Death of King Edward on the 6th May 1910 caused the Official Opening of the Japan-British Exhibition to be postponed. The original date fixed was May 12th and it was suggested that a much later date would be respectful. However King George V was mindful of the hardship and unemployment which would occur if there was any delay, so when consideration on these points was taken the Opening was only postponed until May 14th and without the Ceremony. The Exhibition was closed for the day of His Late Majesty’s funeral, May 20th. Very little mention is found regarding Ballymaclinton’s third year, but the names of the Lord Mayor of Dublin and that of Cork, together with the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce from the Orange Free State a Mr W. A. Doherty, also the Managers of Irish Railways are to be found in the list of the General Committee.

            “It is nature’s own soap” was the slogan which appeared on most wrappings, invoices, advice notes, letter heads and any advertisement of McClinton’s soap. Consequently this narrative would not be complete if the mention of Professor John Kirk was omitted. He was born at East Plean, Stirlingshire on July 4th 1813, and began his working life as an indentured apprentice to a blacksmith, a Mr John Miller in Bannockburn. Most of his evenings were spent studying the Bible which convinced him that his vocation was with the Church. He was then educated for the Ministry of the Congregational Churches, and took on his first Ministry at Hamilton between the years 1839 to 1845. He was inducted on October 23rd 1845 at Bristo Place Evangelical Union Church, Edinburgh and remained there until his retirement on February 8th 1876. During this term he became Professor of Practical Theology at the Evangelical Union Hall of Theology in Glasgow, a position he held from 1859 until his death, October 27th 1886. He was a prolific writer and was responsible for beginning and editing numerous journals. One of these journals which he began in 1846 was ‘The Christian News’ and after his retirement from the ministry, a weekly article was included which was to become a very popular feature, and for the next eleven years no less. These articles were the basis of the book which was published in 1899 and another improved edition in 1904. It had been the intention of the Professor to produce a similar book but it was Edward Bruce Kirk the son who was to have the privilege.

            Contemporaries had nothing to say but good of the man, and all his life he was seeking to help in some way to ease the burden of the more unfortunate. An instance of his unselfishness was illustrated when he had arrived early and taken his seat on a coach. A late arrival was denied acceptance as a passenger owing to the coach being full. Professor Kirk practised his Christianity and promptly gave his place to the now fortunate woman. He then proceeded to walk the thirteen miles home. So here is a man that the large number of people with whom he came into contact, believed everything he told them. What was more remarkable was that his deductions were right. He had an abhorrence of all alcohol and proved it’s disservice when it was found to lower the resistance of the body. ‘Papers on Health’ was the title of the successful weekly item and one of the readers, a maid was employed at the home of the sick Earl of Carrick. The Countess was so impressed with the character and success of the Professor that she ultimately invited him to stay with the family where he gave valuable assistance to ease-his Lordship’s condition. In these ‘Papers’ Professor Kirk made constant references to the quality of McClinton’s Soap and advocated it’s use for anything from a broken limb to whooping coughs.

            ‘Soothing effects are the reward when the rich lather from McClinton’s Soap, is massaged on the skin’ he says. Another reference is ‘Delirium in fever, croup and asthma to the obvious excema, McClinton’s Soap is a recommended aid for cure and relief.’ Clothes are also mentioned that ‘They are also to benefit from the soda-free product.’ He had given considerable time as a student to the study of anatomy and in his ministerial visits to the sick had developed a few remedies of his own. It was not surprising to hear of the medical men invoking him ‘mind your own business’. Indirectly his work in the promotion of missionaries was responsible for the ‘Kirk philosophy’ spreading to the Continents of Asia and Africa, the backwoods of America and on the Pampas of the South. ‘It is nature’s own soap’ and McClinton’s deny that any inducement from them occurred and state that ‘Dr Kirk was as honest a man as they’.


© Exhibition Study Group 2014