We attended Robbie Burns Night last evening, a first for us. As a person of Scottish heritage, this delay makes me look like a bad Scot.
But just who was Robbie Burns and why is he so revered around the world? This was the question asked by the Scot who gave the toast to Robbie Burns last night. He had done this gig before and attacked it from many different angles. This time, he decided to approach it from the point of what Robbie Burns meant to him.
Known as Rabbie Burns, The National Bard, The Bard of Ayrshire and the Ploughman Poet, Robert (Robbie or Rabbie) Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the eldest of 7 children and grew up in hardship and poverty, in the family cottage for the first 7 years of life and then on the farms on which his father took the tenancy of from 1766 until his death.
He had little formal schooling and received most of his education from his father. By the age of 15, he was the principal source of labour on the family farm. He did get some schooling in Latin, French and mathematics, as well as a short stint with tutors who taught him poetry. He joined a dancing school at the age of 20 and at the age of 22, was invested into the Masonic Lodge.
Over his short life, Robbie Burns penned 569 poems, many of them to women and wrote the lyrics to 368 songs, including numerous Scottish folk classics, for which he never accepted a penny. Some of his most famous works are Auld Lang Syne and My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.
Rabbie “loved the lassies too well”, as he put it and fathered 12 children, 9 of them with his wife. His sympathy with the French and American revolutions causes drew unfavourable attention from his employers. He joined the Royal Dumfries Volunteers in 1795 to prove his loyalty to the crown. Shortly after that, his health began to deteriorate. His long standing possible rheumatic heart condition was said to have been aggravated by his intemperance, eventually bringing about his death on July 21, 1796, at the age of 37.
The first Burns supper was held in January 1802 in Greenock and suppers are now held all round the world every January 25, to celebrate his birth.
We were very fortunate to have secured tickets from our neighbours for a locally sponsored supper that has been running as a fund raiser for almost 40 years and it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
There were many moments to remember
and Highland dancing.