Robert Burns dinner coming up. Should we go?

Phipps Conservatory and Robert Burns sculpture Pittsburgh, PA

Ink drawing by Carol Skinger.     A print can be purchased here.

Each year the St. Andrews Society of Pittsburgh hosts a Robert Burns dinner including traditional piping in the haggis, Taste of Scotland Buffet, traditional toasts, and Burns recitations. Membership in the St. Andrew’s Society of Pittsburgh is open to men and women of all ages. The St. Andrew’s Society of Pittsburgh offers several classes of membership including those have no ancestral ties to Scotland, but have an interest in Scottish life and heritage.

It sounds sort of interesting since I have never done it before. I am not Scottish and neither is my husband. We do like scotch though and that’s part of it. I’m perhaps only somewhat  interested in Scottish life BUT we did meet at a bar in Boston (really Brookline) called the Tam O’Shanter or simply the Tam which I just learned in googling closed in the 90’s. Does that count? And later I did draw a tam o’shanter on Robert Burns head in my silly ink drawing of  Phipps Conservatory and the Robert Burns statue in Oakland which is the university area in Pittsburgh. Finally hearing Burn’s recitations after imbibing, that part sounds good! Oh dear…attire is Highland evening dress if you have it. Otherwise, formal evening wear or business dress is good as well. I guess I could do business dress if we do it. February 3, 2018 is the date so IF we do it we have to decide soon. Tickets here.

And then there is The Big Lang Syne: The Cheer’ly Men’s Toast to Robert Burns at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls in Millvale Saturday night at 8PM  January 20, 2018.  Probably should try that to gauge interest. “Join The Cheer’ly Men to celebrate their 3rd anniversary as Pittsburgh’s Shanty Band and raise a glass to Scotland’s Favorite Son, Robbie Burns! There will be dancing, some Scottish tunes, a few short toasts and of course, all of your favorite sea-faring songs! Come sing and dance with us as we kick off 2018!”

My ink drawing shows skaters and skiers on a winter day in Pittsburgh. Drawing shows Robert Burns by sculptor John Massey Rhind, Botany Hall 1901, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 1893,  Cathedral of Learning  1937,  Scaife Hall, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University.  Rhind, also a Scotsman, depicted the poet in knickers and tam o’shanter, a hat named for a character in Burns’ famous 1790 poem Tam O’Shanter. Here’s a photo of the statue. Here is the poem. Yikes! It’s long!

The very first Burns supper was held in memoriam at Burns Cottage by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death; it has been a regular occurrence ever since. The first still extant Burns Club was founded in Greenock in 1801 by merchants who were born in Ayrshire, some of whom had known Burns. They held the first Burns supper on what they thought was his birthday, 29 January 1802, but in 1803, they discovered the Ayr parish records that noted his date of birth was actually 25 January 1759. Since then, suppers have been held on or about 25 January.

Burns Cottage, the first home of Robert Burns is located in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It was built by his father, William Burness in 1757. Burns, Scotland’s national poet, was born there on 25 January 1759. It is a simple two-roomed clay and thatch cottage and has been fully restored to become part of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

Finally what I hope brings me to Scotland itself one day is to see at least some of or even all of the route of my mom’s bicycle trip there in August 1938 with her college roommate Jean. Her photo album of the trip includes the map and  diary. Bucket list stuff…

Ink drawing Copyright Carol Skinger  www.carolskinger.com

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