How many towns have a "heritage layby"? Somewhere to read about the history of the town (an epitaph, in this case) without even having to go into the town (because there is nothing to see anyway).
Muirkirk is a sad place. Built as an iron foundry town, that collapsed in the middle of the 20th century. Then along came a dog meat factory in the 1970s. That had to close because the local residents couldn't cope with the smell. Since then, it seems that a bit of quarrying is the only real local employment (and from personal experience I know that quarrying is not well paid work). Other than that, the town has nothing. The high street has shut up shop entirely. It has one of the highest percentage of welfare claimants in Scotland. And it had (or has?) a serious problem with drugs and gangs.
Anybody with the ability to leave Muirkirk will leave Muirkirk, and will probably never come back. When the intelligent/talented/entrepreneurial people in a community only desire to leave, then unfortunately it leaves the community even worse off. Muirkirk is in that bad place. "Every Pupil Achieves", says a banner over the school. What it should read is, "Every Pupil Deserves Better".
But the pub is still open. Thank god for small mercies, eh?