Ayrshire

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Ayrshire (Scots: Coontie o Ayrshire; Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir, pronounced [ʃirˠəxk iɲiˈɾʲaːɾʲ]) is a registration county, and former administrative county in south-west Scotland, United Kingdom, located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Its principal towns include Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine. The town of Troon on the coast has hosted the British Open Golf Championship twice in the last seven years and eight times in total. Approximately 200,000 visitors came to Troon during the 2004 Open.[citation needed] It was the members of Prestwick Golf Club who first created the British Open Championship in 1860[1] with the club hosting the event twenty-four times up until 1925.

Ayrshire, under the name the County of Ayr, is a registration county. The electoral and valuation area named Ayrshire covers the three council areas of South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire, therefore including the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae. The three islands were part of the County of Bute until 1975 and are not always included when the term Ayrshire is applied to the region. The same area is known as Ayrshire and Arran in other contexts.

Ayrshire is one of the most agriculturally fertile regions of Scotland. Potatoes are grown in fields near the coast, using seaweed-based fertiliser, and in addition the region produces pork products, other root vegetables, cattle (see below) and summer berries such as strawberries are grown abundantly.

Ayrshire shares with Dumfries and Galloway some wonderful rugged hill country known as the Galloway Hills. These hill lie to the west of the A713 (Ayr to Castle Douglas road) and they run south from the Loch Doon area almost to the Solway Firth. To the east of this route through the hills lie the Carsphairn and Scaur Hills which lie to the south east of Dalmellington and south of New Cumnock. Glen Afton runs deep into these hills.

The area used to be heavily industrialised, with steel making, coal mining and in Kilmarnock numerous examples of production-line manufacturing, most famously Johnnie Walker whisky. In more recent history, Digital Equipment had a large manufacturing plant near Ayr from about 1976 until the company was taken over by Compaq in 1998. Some supplier companies grew up to service this site and the more distant IBM plant at Greenock in Renfrewshire. Scotland's aviation industry has long been based in and around Prestwick and its international airport, and although aircraft manufacture ceased at the former British Aerospace plant in 1998, a significant number of aviation companies are still based on the Prestwick site. However, unemployment in the region (excluding the more rural South Ayrshire) remains high, above the national average.

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