Tarbolton (Scots: Tarbowton)[1] is a village in South Ayrshire, Scotland. It is near Failford, Mauchline and the same distance bar a few hundreds yards to Ayr and Kilmarnock. The old Fail Monastery was nearby and Robert Burns connections are strong, including the Bachelors' Club museum.

Location within South Ayrshire
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townMauchline
Postcode districtKA5
Dialling code01292
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament

Meaning of place-name

Tarbolton has been suggested as having one of three meanings:

  • Village by the tor or hill, from Old English torr 'tor, hill, cliff' and boðl-tun /bothl-tun "village with buildings, equivalent to Bolton in Greater Manchester. The name was recorded as Torbolten in 1138, suggesting this origin.
  • Village by the field and hill, from Old English torr 'tor, hill, cliff' and bāll 'field (not meaning the same as ball 'ball', i.e. football), as in Dunball, Somerset, with tun 'farm, village'. The name's record in writing as Torballtone in 1209 suggests this origin may be possible.
  • Village by the hill, from Old Gaelic tor, modern Gaelic tòrr, (where the Old English word is derived from, and baile "village, usually Bally- in Irish place-names, with the tautologous Old English tun "farm, village" added by Anglo-Saxon settlers who did not understand the language. Records of the name as Torbalyrtune in 1148 suggest this origin.


Tarbolton is 7 miles (11 km) east north east from Ayr, 7 miles (11 km) southwest of the town of Kilmarnock, 5 miles (8 km) West of Mauchline and 1 14 miles (2.0 km) from its own railway station (no longer used). It has a school, church, a gospel hall, a Post Office, 2 pubs, and is home to the Bachelors' Club, a frequent haunt of Robert Burns. The village is in the Cumnock and Doon Valley (it is strange that Tarbolton falls under South Ayrshire Council when its postcode is KA5 which links to Mauchline, East Ayrshire

The monastery and later castle of Fail existed at the hamlet of that name near Fail Toll. Fail Loch once covered a significant area however it survives now only as an area liable to flooding.

Nearby going towards Failford was the Old Montgomery Castle or Coilsfield House where one of Robert Burns's loves worked.

Tarbolton Primary takes pupils from surrounding farms and from Failford St, a small hamlet north of the village. Its houses are Fail, Afton, Coyle and Montgomery, named after local areas and rivers.

Famous residents

Alexander Tait, the poet, was a tailor by trade and lived in Tarbolton for many years. He was a contemporary and critic of Robert Burns of Lochlie Farm and David Sillar of Spittalside Farm.

Famous residents of Tarbolton include striker Kris Boyd.[2]

Boxing legend Evan Armstrong who was British Featherweight Champion from 17 September 1973 until 8 July 1974.

No longer a resident but born and raised in Tarbolton: John "Ian" (Mighty Mouse) McLauchlan - Scottish Rugby Union Footballer from 1969 until 1979.[3]

Winner of Britain's Got Talent (series 5) 2011, singer Jai McDowall.

Gareth Armstrong football player for auchinleck Talbot 2x Scottish junior cup winner and treble winner in season 2018/19


  1. Eagle, Andy. "The Online Scots Dictionary".
  2. "Gold rush". The Herald.
  3. "Ian McLauchlan, non-executive director". Scottish Rugby website. Retrieved 27 November 2017.

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