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Old Kirk Alloway, Scotland

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My blog continues with an underlying Robert Burns theme with special emphasis this evening on the Auld Kirk at Alloway (Old Church at Alloway). Before going into details I will first cover off other developments of the day, viz:

  • Posted information on Collie family history to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog based on information at Glasgow's Necropolis.
  • Pleased to see that my new web page for Robert Burns has appeared on my Catswhiskerstours website. Burns is Scotland's national poet who grew up in the Alloway area, maybe an hour south of Glasgow. Very pleasant countryside too!
  • Weather in Glasgow is about par for time of year. Surprisingly dry but still cold with some ice about.
  • Reverting now to my blog theme. A ruined church (Kirk) in a small village in Ayrshire does appear an unusual topic BUT the poet Robert Burns was a great fan of this site on three principal accounts: (1) He buried his father in the kirkyard (see image at right) (2) Burns persuaded his friend Francis Grose to include it in his Antiquities of Scotland publication and (3) the Kirk was the inspiration for Burns famous tale Tam o'Shanter.
The actual site may go back to early Christian times around the 6th century but the current building dates to at least 1516 and possibly the 13th century. By the early 1700s the building had fallen into disrepair and despite some attempts of restoration it has been ruin for about 300 years. There are many interesting and ornate gravestones on the kirkyard including Burns father, his younger sister and two nieces. In Tam o'Shanter, Burns uses a kirkyard scene of witches and warlocks dancing reels and jigs to the tune of bagpipes played by the devil himself. One witch, Nan, almost succeeds in catching Tam at the nearby River Doon; although the witch is thwarted at the last minute she does make off with the tail of the horse, Meg.

I can image that this ancient kiryard would indeed present an eery experince on a dark night.

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Bachelors Club at Tarbolton, Scotland

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This evening, my theme is the Bachelors Club which was closely associated with the poet Robert Burns. Firstly will address other developments of the day, viz:

Glasgow Ancestry: Posted to my separate Ancestry blog information on MacCallum family history from information at Glasgow's Necropolis. This also includes the surnames Pettigrew and McDougall. Interestingly, the name Pettigrew means one of stunted growth or a dwarf.

Glasgow Weather: Dry, but cold. Maybe a degree or so above freezing during the daytime.

Website: Spent most of the day researching information for a new Scotland tours web page which I have now finished and sent to my web manager for action.

Bachelors Club, Tarbolton: The building shown in the above image is located at Tarbolton in Ayrshire, maybe 15 miles from Robert Burns birthplace at Alloway. The Bachelors Club was formed by the poet Robert Burns, his brother Gilbert and five other friends as a debating society for the amusement and interest of young men who were 'a professed lover of one or more of the female sex'. In reality the club was a platform to enable Robert Burns to improve his debating and public speaking skills and a step in Burns self-improvement agenda. Burns was in initiated as a Freemason in the Club in 1781. The building is now a museum.

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Burns Room at Globe Inn, Dumfries, Scotland

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

This evening, my theme is Robert Burns at Dumfries. However, will first cover off the day's developments:

  • Ancestry Research: Posted to separate GlasgowAncestry blog information on Stewart family history from Glasgow Necropolis.
  • Glasgow Weather: Dry most of the day but cold (around freezing this evening).
  • Scotland Tours: Responded two new private tour enquiries for small groups. Finalised quote for a large group tour in the Autumn/Fall.
  • Website: Spent a few hours researching and scripting a new web page which has now been sent to my web manager for inclusion in the main, Catswhiskerstours website.
Now to my theme this evening which is the Burns connection with the Globe Inn at Dumfries. Robert Burns had a long connection with Dumfries. He moved to the town in 1791 and died there in 1796. Dumfries boats the highest concentration of Robert Burns memorabilia ( sites, stones, relics, statues and busts, etc) anywhere in the world. In particular the Globe Inn is closely associated with the poet and today it is possible to visit the Burns Room, a dark, panelled room containing Burns Chair and other Burns era items including ceramics and engravings as shown in the above image.

Burns wrote the following grace for meals at the Globe:

O Lord when hunger pinches sore,
Do thou stand us in stead,
And send us from thy bounteous store
A tup or weather head!

It was at the Globe Inn that the first ever Burns Supper was held in 1819.

In the late 18th century, Dumfries was a vibrant commercial centre and emigrant embarkation port rivalling Glasgow in importance.

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Burns Monument, Alloway, Scotland

Friday, February 05, 2010


This evening, my blog theme is the monument to Robert Burns. Before embarking on that subject I will first address other developments today:

Ancestry Research: Posted information to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog on one John Lowndes of Paisley.

Glasgow Weather: Dry and relatively mild.

Tour Enquiries: An extremely busy day:
  • Arranged a one day tour for an extended family from the U.S.
  • Worked on details of a private tour for a U.S. couple.
  • Had confirmation of a one day tour from a cruise ship.
  • Responded to enquiry for a private, family tour of Scotland in the summer.
  • Responded to a very interesting enquiry for a Roman Britain themed tour. (One of my key passions!)
  • Responded to enquiry for a one day tour for a large Spanish speaking group.
Burns Monument: The monument to Scotland's national poet was opened in 1823. The site was chosen because of the (then) spectacular view of Burns Cottage (birthplace), Alloway Kirk (burial place of Burns father) and the Brig o'Doon.

The monument is a 70 ft high circular temple built to a Grecian style by famous architect Thomas Hamilton. The monument comprises nine pillars representing the nine Muses of Greek mythology, sitting on a three-sided base evoking the three historic divisions of Ayrshire: Kyle, Carrick and Cunninghame.

Inside the monument can be found a marble bust of Burns (see above image).

The interior of the monument is open to visitors who can climb half-way up to the base of the pillars and from that viewpoint view the River Doon, the Carrick Hills and sometimes the Firth of Clyde.

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Burns Cottage, Alloway, Scotland

Thursday, February 04, 2010

This evening, my Blog theme is the cottage where the famous poet, Robert Burns was born on Jan 25th 1759. Before moving to that I will first cover off the day's developments:

Scotland Ancestry: Posted information to my GlasgowAncestry blog on Pinkerton family history as sourced from a memorial at Paisley Abbey.

Glasgow Weather: Slightly warmer than yesterday which resulted in a progressive melt of the thin layer of snow. Damp but with little rain.

Tours: Spent most of the day working on the minutiae of a couple of tours: one self-drive and the other a private tour to be provided by me during April.

Burns Cottage: Now to my theme for the evening. The cottage shown above and below dates from 1757 when it was built by one William Burnes as his first family home. Here their first child and eldest son, Robert was born on Jan 25th 1759. Robert subsequently reached status as Scotland's national poet with over 600 poems and songs written and gathered by him during a relatively short lifetime.

Because of Burns' fame his birthplace became a tourist attraction from an early date. It is a traditional 'but and ben' design with accommodation for family, livestock plus storage space. The cottage has been restored to the condition pertaining during the period of Burns early life. This video clip provides a view of the interior.

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Brig o' Doon, Scotland

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


This evening, my theme is the famous Brig o' Doon (Bridge over the River Doon) at Alloway, Ayrshire which has close connections with Scotland's national poet Robert Burns and on which more is provided below.

First a Catswhiskers new summary:

Glasgow Weather: Bitterly cold with temperature below freezing for the last 24 hours. This evening, we have a light layer of snow.

Ancestry Research: Have just posted to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog information on McKechnie family history obtained from information at historic Paisley Abbey.

Tours of Scotland: Worked on two new tours: An American family requiring a day tour from Edinburgh and large group from Sweden requiring a whisky themed tour.

Brig o' Doon: My theme this evening is the famous bridge over the River Doon which dates from the Middle Ages and become a famous landmark consequent on Robert Burns using the bridge as the setting for the climax of the poem Tam o' Shanter which is the story of a farmer from nearby Maybole who gets into trouble due to fondness for women and drink. At the end of the story Tam is chased by a group of witches and warlocks and makes a narrow escape on horseback via a heroic leap for the keystone of the bridge in course of which a witch grabs the horses tail which is ripped off leaving the stump as a salutary reminder of the dangers of drink and women.

"For Nannie, far before the rest
Hard upon noble Maggie prest,
And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie's mettle!
Ae spring brought off her master hale,
But left behind her ain grey tail;
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump."

This video clip shows the bridge and its surroundings including the nearby Burns Monument.

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Burns Supper Glasgow Scotland

Friday, January 23, 2009

This evening, I attended a supper in Glasgow in honour of Scotland's national poet, Rabbie Burns.

Here is an extract from one of Burns' poems, 'John Anderson, My Jo':

John Anderson my Jo, John,
When wee were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bony brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld , John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson my jo.

Sing-a-long after the supper

Address to the Haggis

Piper

A good evening in convivial company!

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Robert Burns Scotland Tour

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This evening, I am posting some information on upcoming Burns related events:

Touring Exhibition Jan-Nov 2009

Some 36,000 objects fr pm Scotland's national collection of objects connected with Scotland's national poet will be brought together in celebration of the poet's 250th anniversary. The collection includes manuscripts, books, art and artifacts which will be available for viewing at the National Library, Mitchell Library, Art Gallery and Museum Aberdeen and Greyfriars Church, Dumfries.

Creative Burns Feb-May 2009

This exhibition at he Dick Institute, Kilmarnock will explore Burns own creative output and his legacy to the present day. There will also be a display of Burns inspired art work by leading Scottish artists.

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Robert Burns Tour Stewarton

Thursday, August 07, 2008


This evening I am presenting some images of a memorial which I came across at St. Columba's Parish Church, Stewarton, Ayrshire.

This significant memorial requires a good clean but, as fas as I can ascertain, the words read:


Erected by the Stewarton literary Society Sept 24th 1810 in memory of Robert Burns uncle of the National Poet who died at Stewarton Jan 3rd 1789. The connection between the poet and uncle's family was a very close one see letter Feb 9th 1789

The poet appears to have been named after his uncle who moved south with the poet's father.

Here is more information on the letter dated Feb 9th 1789.

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Rabbie Burns Tour Alloway

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This evening I am presenting some images of the clay and timbered two-roomed thatched cottage where Burns was born on 25 January 1759. Close by is the Brig o'Doon ( where Tam o'Shanter's mare, maggie made her mythical jump) and Alloway Kirk where the witches danced to the Devil's bagpipe.

Burns had a relatively short life (1759-96) and he is best remembered for writing Auld Lang Syne. He is Scotland's most famous poet whose works have been translated into dozens of languages.

Avail of a Burns themed tour in Ayrshire. This is within easy distance of Glasgow. Contact Catswhiskerstours for more information.


Front of cottage

Tableaux inside the cottage
Rear of cottage

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