Obituary: Ian ‘Jorden’ Kirkwood

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January 5, 1942, to February 13, 2020.

Jorden was born Ian Kirkwood on Rothesay, his mother having been advised to relocate from their native Glasgow because of the war.

Jorden joined the army at 17, working as a telephone installer. His records state he was ‘most proficient in his trade’. After demobbing in 1968, he worked for Standard Telephones, installing phones all over Scotland.

I met Jorden in 2003, arriving on Arran to help build Samye Ling’s new men’s retreat on the Ross Road. Jorden had been there for several years and was very much the proprietor.

It was his job to look after the old farm buildings and inhabitants, mostly monks of all ages and dispositions, and from many different homelands. Glenscorrodale was off-grid in the early days, and it took all of Jorden’s determination and skill to keep the lights on and everything functioning properly.

An ex-corporal, he was gruff with a commanding voice. I well remember him arriving to inspect our work: red-faced, ginger beard and very blue eyes, he would bawl something intentionally perplexing in the broadest Glaswegian, and then retire to his caravan content that all was well.

When he saw we were intent on transforming the farm into a place of genuine Buddhist practice, he became increasingly sympathetic, turning into a cheerful and amusing, if terse, companion. His stock reply to ‘Good morning’ was ‘You’ve got the second part of that right!’

Jorden was not only a dedicated and strict servant of his lama, he was also generous hearted. If retreatants’ funds failed to materialise, he would quietly make them up out of his own pocket. Among other things, he sponsored a stupa at the retreat, now almost complete.

Just before the 2005 retreat started, Jorden surprised us all by appearing in a suit and smart shoes. He had fallen in love! Following an audition for a part in The Life of Christ with the Torch Players, to the great amusement of all the Buddhists, he landed the part of St Peter. And here he met his new flame, Muriel Park, at the first rehearsal.

Jorden and Muriel served on the committee of the Torch Players and acted in many other plays. He had to give up acting due to ill health, but he continued to support local drama: an exacting bookkeeper, he became treasurer of Whiting Bay Drama Club. The couple also sat on the board of Arran CVS.

In 2010, Jorden moved to Lamlash, where they remained devoted to each other. He forbade anyone from swearing in Muriel’s presence and took her to the Episcopalian church every Sunday, becoming a beloved great-grandpa to her many great-grandchildren.

Jorden passed away on February 13 at the Arran War Memorial Hospital. Prayers for his future wellbeing were conducted initially on Arran, notably in the Episcopalian Church in Whiting Bay, then at Samye Ling and across the world by those Jorden had cared for as retreat caretaker.

 Trinley Dorje