Whithorn and District Burns Club chairman Robin Kinnear welcomed members to the Monreith Arms Hotel, Port William, on Friday, January 27th, to celebrate the 253rd anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.
The company noted with sadness the passing of David McCutcheon from the Isle of Whithorn who had been a loyal supporter of the club over many years.
The Selkirk Grace was followed by traditional fayre. The haggis was carried by Norman Gerrish and piped in and addressed by Cameron Stewart.
In his president’s address the chairman welcomed The String Trio, and in particular accompanist Eric Wilson who was making his 53rd appearance at the event and added that the club continued to grant £150 to local schools to support Burns studies.
He then introduced Dr David Hannay whose accomplishments include a distinguished medical career Chieftainship of the Clan Hannay.
In proposing “The Immortal Memory”, Dr Hannay noted Burns’ 15 children, including two pairs of illegitimate twins, and his readiness to acknowledge and cherish all his offspring. This led Dr Hannay to comment on current population growth and the benefits of sex education and the emancipation of women, of which Burns might have approved.
Burns was born soon after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, lived through American Independence, the French Revolution (his early sympathies with which caused him some trouble with his Excise superiors), and experienced the Highland Clearances and the Lowland Enclosures. Burns was therefore in a position to comment on a period of change, confusion and conflict. He was a royalist and a democrat. He is immortalised for his poetry and songs, his satire and as a humanitarian. Female doctors? – Robert Burns would have approved.
Robert McTurk from Carsphairn Burns Club then performed an animated recital of “The Twa Dugs” – a feat of memory, and another commentary with present day relevance.
The toast to “The Lassies” was proposed by local dairy farmer Peter Simpson with customary humour.
Dr Hannay returned to demonstrate another of his accomplishments by playing the lowland or small bagpipes which would have been familiar to Burns in his favourite howfs.
Thanks to all those who had contributed to the evening were expressed eloquently by Douglas Ballantyne with an appreciative reply by Rory Christie.