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Bards, Burns an Blether in The Bachelors’

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The Bachelors’ Club in Tarbolton: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/bachelors-club

It’s owre twa hunner year syne The Bachelors’ Club in Tarbolton saw the young Robert Burns an his cronies speirin aboot the issues o thaur day. It is therefore a braw honour tae gie this historic biggin a heize ainst mair by bein involved in organisin and hostin monthly spoken word an music nichts in the place whaur Robert Burns fordered his poetic genius, charisma an flair fir debate.

The Bachelors’ Club nichts stairtit in March this year eftir Robert Burns Birthplace Museum volunteer Hugh Farrell envisaged the success of sic nichts in sic an inspirational setting.

Hugh Farrell, volunteer at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, in front of the Burns Cottage. (June 2019)

Tuesday the third o September saw the eighth session, an it wis wan we will aye hae mind o. Wullie Dick wis oor compère as folk favoured the company wi a turn.

Oor headliner wis Ciaran McGhee, singer, bard an musician. Ciaran bides an works in Embra an I first shook his haun some twa year syne at New Cumnock Burns Club’s annual Scots verse nicht. The company wis impressed then an agin at the annual “smoker” an at a forder Scots verse nicht. Ciaran traivelled doon tae Ayrshire tae play fir us, despite haen jist duin a 52 show marathon owre the duration o Embra festival.

 Ciaran stertit wi a roarin rendition o “A Man’s a Man for a That”, an we hud a blether aboot hoo this song is as relevant noo, in these days o inequality an political carnage, as it wis twa hunner year syne, a fine example o Burns genius an insicht. Ciaran follaed wi Hamish Imlach’s birsie “Black is the Colour”, the raw emotion gien us aa goosebumps!!  Ciaran also performed Johnny Cash’s cantie “Folsom Prison Blues”, an then Richard Thomson’s classic “Beeswing”, a version sae bonnie it left us hert-sair! Ciaran also performed tracks fae his album “Don’t give up the Day Job”.

Ciaran McGhee jamming. (Photie taken by Robert Neil)

The company wir then entertained by Burns recitals an poetry readins fae a wheen o bards an raconteurs. A big hertie chiel recited “The Holy Fair”, speirin wi the company on hoo excitin this maun hae buin in Burns day, amaist lik today’s “T in the Park”.

We hud “Tam the Bunnet” a hilarious parody o Tam o Shanter an Hugh Farrell telt us aboot the dochters ca’ad Elizabeth born tae Burns by different mithers, Burn’s first born bein “Dear bocht Bess”, her mither servant lass Bess Paton. Later oan cam Elizabeth Park, Anna Park’s dochter, reart by Jean Armour, an thaur wis wee Elizabeth Riddell, Robert an Jean’s youngest dochter wha deid aged jist 3 year auld.  A “Farrell factoid” we learned wis that in Burns day, if a wee lassie wis born within mairrage, she was ca’ad fir her grandmither, if she wis born oot o wedlock she taen her mither’s first name. Hugh recited “A Poet’s Welcome To His Love-Begotten Daughter” fir us, the tender poem Burns scrievit, lamentin his love fir his first born wean, Elizabeth Paton.

We hud spoken word by various bards on sic diverse topics as a hen doo, a sardonic account o an ex girlfriend’s political tendencies, an a couthie poem inspired by a portrait o a mystery wummin sketched by the poets faither. In homage tae Burn’s “Poor Mailie’s Elegy”, we hud a lament in rhyme scrievit in the Scots leid, featurin the poet’s pet hen.

We learned o the poetess Janet Little, born in the same year as Burns, who selt owre fowre hunner copies o the book o her poetry she scrievit. This wummin wis kent as “The Scotch Milkmaid” an wis connected tae Burn’s freen an patron, Mrs Frances Anna Dunlop.

An engraving of Mrs Frances Anna Dunlop held at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

We also learned o hoo Burns wis spurned by Wilhelmina Alexander, “The Bonnie Lass of Ballochmyle” an hoo, eftir her daith, she wis foun tae hae kept a copy o the poem Burns scrievit fir her.

We hud mair hertie music fae Burness, performin Burns an Scottish songs sic as “Ye Jacobites by Name” an a contemporary version o “Auld Lang Syne” wi words added by Eddie Reader tae an auld Hebrew tune.

We hud “Caledonia” an “Ca the Yowes tae the Knowes” sung beautifully by a sonsie Auchinleck lass wha recently performed it at Lapraik festival in Muirkirk (oan Tibby’s Brig nae less!).

The newly appointed female president o Prestwick Burns Club entertained us on her ukelele wi the Burns song “The Gairdner wi his Paiddle” itherwise kent as “When Rosie May Comes in with Flowers”.

At the hinneren wi hud a sing alang tae Seamus Kennedy’s “The Little Fly” on the guitar an Ciaran feenished wi “Ae Fond Kiss”, interrupted by his mammy wha phoned tae see when he wis comin haim tae New Cumnock!

We hud sae muckle talent in The Bachelors’, that we didnae hae time fir a’body to dae a turn, so thaim that didnae will be first up neist time.

A braw photie o the company cheerin. (Photie taken by Robert Neil).

A hertie thanks tae a the crooners, bards an raconteurs an tae a’body in the audience fir gien up thaur time, sharin thaur talent an ken an gien sillar tae The Bachelors’ fund. Sae faur we hae roused £862 which hus been paid intae the account fir the keepin o The Bachelors’ Club.

Hugh Farrell is repeatin history by stertin a debatin group in The Bachelors’ on Monday 11th November, 239 year tae the day syne Burns launched it first time roon. Thaur will be a wee chainge tae the rules hooever, ye dinnae hae tae be a Bachelor an ye dinnae need tae be a man tae tak pairt!!

The Bachelors’ sessions are oan the 1st Tuesday o every month 7pm tae 10.30pm an a’body wi an enthusiasm for Burns is welcome.

Tracy Harvey in front of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. (August 2019)

Scrievit by Tracy Harvey, Resident Scots Scriever fir RBBM

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Take Over Day 2019: Museum Objects

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In the last week of June 2019 RBBM was Taken Over by Primary 6 pupils (now Primary 7) from Alloway Primary! Takeover Day is a nation-wide initiative established by Kids in Museums, which encourages young people to take over jobs normally done by adults in the museum sector.

Before they became Learning Assistants, Visitor Services Assistants and Social Media Managers; Primary 6 accompanied our Learning Team on a tour of the Museum space and familiarised themselves with the collection. Then they wrote stories and poems inspired by what they saw and learned on their visit. They also made posters advertising the Takeover!

The poems and stories in this final post were all inspired by objects in our collection. They’re all so creative and different – we hope you love reading them as much as we did!

Contents:

  1. Bloody Skulls – Rebecca Hannah
  2. Fiddle – Evan Rolfe
  3. The Magic Cups – Douglas Hagen
  4. Book in Space – an Unknown Writer in P6W
  5. Robert Burns!!!!!!! – Charlie Thomson
  6. Robert Burns’ Socks! – Katie
  7. The Midget Burns Book – “Robert Burns”
  8. The Space Book – Ivy
  9. Toaster – Aston Ferguson
  10. What Should I Carve? – Jack St

Bloody Skulls – by Rebecca Hannah (P6CM)

A plaster cast of Robert Burns’ skull – dating from 1834.

S – Skulls are the most important part of our body

K – Keeping our brain and everything together

U – Unfortunately for Rabbie his is in a case

L – Locked away but in full view

L – Looked at and viewed.


Fiddle – by Evan Rolfe (P6CM)

When Robert attended dancing lessons in Tarbolton his coach William Gregg played this fiddle while Robert learned the steps.

The fiddle used by Robert Burns’ dance teacher – William Gregg.

Pair of Glasses belonging to Anges McLehose (Clarinda)

The Magic Cups – by Douglas Hagen (P6CM)

Who’s drank them

Who’s drank them with dinner

Where have they been

What have they been used for


Book in Space – by an Unknown Writer (P6W)

After Robert Burns died he became very famous.  An astronaut named Nicholas Patrick thought it would be fun to take a tiny copy of Roberts’s poems with him so that’s what he did. Now Robert Burns’ poems have been in space! Who knows in the year 2036 the book could be on Mars?

‘The Book that Went to Space’ – a small collection of Burns poems and songs which accompanied astronaut Nicholas J M Patrick aboard NASA’s STS 130 Endeavour spacecraft.

Robert Burns!!!!!!! – by Charlie Thomson (P6W)

R – Robert burns is a very famous poem writer.

O – One day an astronaut took a poem book in space.

B – Books are usually bigger than your hand,

E – Even though this book was bigger than your finger,

R – Rockets can’t hold lots of luggage, only some .

T – The tiny book went out of earth…


Robert Burns’ Socks! – by Katie (P6W)

One dark dingy night I was wondering around my local ancient church when I discovered a thick looking sock. I pulled it out from under the pew. And I saw it had the initials RB. The next day I took it the local shop in Alloway to see if anybody new the initials. I handed it over to the cashier and I was surprise to hear that he knew so quickly – he said the initials stood for Robert Burns. That night I decided to investigate more on Robert Burns and I found out that is socks where a size 8 and he is very famous in Alloway – and all over the world. I was shocked that I had such a precious artefact so I decided to hand it in to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and it is now a very famous sock.

Robert Burns’ sock – initialled ‘R.B.’

The Midget Burns Book – by “Robert Burns” (P6W)

Rabbie Burns’ books were just tae long,

The wouldn’t fit inside ma pocket,

But the problem was between you and me,

That was I’m going into space!  

I looked high and low,

Back and forth tryna find that book,

I needed to find a book that was midget,

I needed a midget Burns book!

Until alas,

I found the book!

In a little shop doon the road,

It was small,

It was midget,

It was ma midget Burns book.

I took it on aboard the rocket, and kept it right by me,

I used a magnifying glass to read the tiny text, It read ‘the midget Burns book’


The Space Book – by Ivy (P6W)

One day I was a empty book, then I got picked up by this person called Robert Burns. A few hours later Robert Burns was writing little stories in me, one called Willie Wastle and one called Tae a Moose, there was lots of stories and poems written me. 1000 years later I got put in someone’s pocket and I went up to this land called SPACE. There was lots of planets and stars – it was so cool  then after I was in space I got put in a glass cupboard and lots of schools, laddies and lassies come to look at me now in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.


Toaster – by Aston Ferguson (P6W)

On the toaster JB was engraved on it because it was a gift that Robert gave to his wife Jean Burns that’s why the initials JB was put onto the toaster. Also on the toaster was 1788 that’s the date they got married. They didn’t actually use it to make toast they put oat cakes in the toaster instead.

A Bannock Toaster gifted to Jean Armour on her Wedding Day to Robert Burns in 1788.

What Should I Carve? – by Jack St (P6W)

Sitting at my desk,

 I don’t know what to carve,

And if I don’t carve something,

I will starve,

I’ll have no money,

I’ll be homeless too,

Wait a second,

I know what to do!

I should carve a poem,

A Robert Burns poem will be great,

And hopefully,

It won’t get hate,

But which one shall I choose,

A dramatic one with not too much banter,

I’ve got it!

Tam o Shanter,

It’s a great idea,

It will be great!

Let’s get to work,

Before it’s too late.

Detail from ‘Maggie’s Mettle’ – one in a series of four wood carvings showing the tale of Tam O Shanter. Carved by Thomas H. Tweedy c.1860. On display in the Museum.

Takeover Day 2019 – Poetry from P6W

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Maybe you already heard, but in the last week of June 2019 RBBM was Taken Over by Primary 6 pupils (now Primary 7) from Alloway Primary! Takeover Day is a nation-wide initiative established by Kids in Museums, which encourages young people to take over jobs normally done by adults in the museum sector.

Before they became Learning Assistants, Visitor Services Assistants and Social Media Managers; Primary 6 accompanied our Learning Team on a tour of the Museum space and familiarised themselves with the collection. Then they wrote stories and poems inspired by what they saw and learned on their visit. They also made posters advertising the Takeover!

Alloway Primary are masters of Acrostic Poems! Read some of the poetic musings of P6W below. And stay tuned for our final instalment – Museum Objects!

Contents:

  1. Back in the Bar – Findlay Andrew
  2. Burns Bible – Finley
  3. Acrostic Poem – Carter Jackson
  4. Bible – Jack Dillon
  5. Acrostic Poem – Kaiba
  6. Burns – Madeleine
  7. NO!!!!!!! – Alfie
  8. Skull – Paige
  9. Burns – an Unidentified Poet
By Alfie

Back in the Bar – by Findlay Andrew

B– Back in the bar

A– At the old kirk

R– Robert Burns wrote about a

D– Drunk cheating sod


By Finley D

Burns Bible – by Finley D

B– Burns was a poet,

I– Incredible at writing,

B– Beautiful,

L– Loving as a man,

E– Enormous feet.


Acrostic Poem – by Carter Jackson

B– Burns socks are in the Robert burns birthplace museum.

U– Until now Robert burns is celebrated every year in different countries

R– Robert burns was born in Alloway  in 1759 on the 25th January

N– Nannie was the witch who pulled Maggie the horse’s tail off in Tam O’Shanter

By Carter Jackson

S– Souter Johnnie was his drinking partner


Bible – by Jack Dillon

B– Bard of Scotland

I– Incredible he is

B– Burns liked the fiddle

L– Liked a lot of girls

E– Excellent Burns poetry


Acrostic Poem – by Kaiba

B– Book went to space

U– Under the roof of his house he wrote poem’s

R– Rainy days he wrote songs with a quill

N– Never gave up

S– So amazing !


Burns – by Madeleine

By Madeleine

B– Burns was born on the 25th January 1759

U– United Burns was born in Alloway

R– Rainy days Robert Burns wrote his poems 

N– Never gave up

S– Some people read his poems.


NO!!!!!!! – by Alfie

R– Running fae the witches

O– Oot and aboot in toon

B– Back at the bar wae Souter Johnny

E– Even though his wife said NO!

R– Ridiculous amount of alcohol

T– Though his wife said NO!


Skull – by Paige

By Lucy

S– Socks are shown to us in the first area.

K– Kilmarnock version available.

U– Ugly and old socks they were.

❤️🖤

L– Loved he was by many hated by few.

L– Like our modern toaster – he has one – not like our toaster at all though.


Burns – by an Unidentified Poet

B– Book went to space.

U– Under the roof of his house he wrote poems.

R– Rainy days he wrote poems with a quill.

N– Never gave up.

S– Sold his books


Takeover Day 2019 – Poetry from P6CM

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Maybe you already heard, but in the last week of June 2019 RBBM was Taken Over by Primary 6 pupils (now Primary 7) from Alloway Primary! Takeover Day is a nation-wide initiative established by Kids in Museums, which encourages young people to take over jobs normally done by adults in the museum sector.

By Laila and Rebecca

Before they became Learning Assistants, Visitor Services Assistants and Social Media Managers; Primary 6 accompanied our Learning Team on a tour of the Museum space and familiarised themselves with the collection. Then they wrote stories and poems inspired by what they saw and learned on their visit. They also made posters advertising the Takeover!

Alloway Primary are masters of Acrostic Poems! Read some of the poetic musings of P6CM below. And stay tuned for further instalments – next up: Poetry from P6W!

Contents:

  1. Book – Zayne Mailk
  2. Brilliant Burns – Ben
  3. Burns Acrostic Poem – David Matemba
  4. Burns – Ross McMorland
  5. Rabbie B – Evan Smillie
  6. Robert Burns – Josh Fraser
  7. Burns – Harrison Rooke
  8. Robert – Robyn Cowe
  9. Tammie – Cara Wilmer
  10. The Birthplace of Burns – Jamie Hislop
  11. The Story of Burns – Cameron Cowan
  12. Burns – Madeline McMorland
  13. Witches and their Fiddle – Laila Buchanan
by Zayne

Book – by Zayne Mailk

B– Bible sitting in a cupboard

O– Original bible store

O– Objects big and small

K– Konsoles were not a thing or phones

By Ben

Brilliant Burns – by Ben

B– Bannock toasted from his wife Jean,

U– Used his skull to see what he was good at,

R- Robert Burns would dance to a fiddle,

N– Never without a girlfriend,

S– Small book went around the world.


Burns Acrostic Poem – by David Matemba

R– Robert had guns to protect him,

O– Oven hot toaster to see,

B– Brides too many to count,

E– Every poem he wrote got more famous each year,

R– Red roses cover a green field,

T– Tube socks to cover his big legs.


By Ross

Burns – by Ross McMorland

B– Bibles were used in his family.

U– Using pistols to protect himself.

R– Red, red, roses on the field.

N– Nancy was Agnes’ nickname.

S– Skull buried away in his grave since 1796.


Rabbie B – by Evan Smillie

R– Roaring bullets shot out his pistols.

A– At the nappy with Tam o Shanter.

B– Bibles were used in his family.

B– Behind his poems he loved to dance.

I– In 1796 he died.

E– Excise man was his other job.

B– Burns was his second name.


Robert Burns – by Josh Fraser

By Josh and Stewart

R– Robert Burns,

O– On Wee Johnie,

B– Bonnie Laddie, Highland Laddie

E– Esteem for Chloris,

R– Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie,

T– Tam O’Shanter,

B– Bonie Jean,

U– Up and warn a’ Willie,

R– Robin shure in Hairst,

N– Nature’s Law,

S– Scots Wha Hae.


By Harrison

Burns – by Harrison Rooke

B– Better famous for poetry,

U– Underground resting in pieces.

R– Rhymes and other styles of wrote he wrote –

N– Now he is world famous.

S– Sometimes he wouldn’t just write poetry and he would do other things.


Robert – by Robyn Cowe

R– Robert Burns learned to dance with a dance instructor with a fiddle.

O– Out of the cottage and in to the street,

B– Boozing at the nappie, Tam must ride, witches and warlocks, Maggie’s mettle.

E– Eating the haggis and drinking the beer,

R– Robert Burns got wine glasses to give to Agnes for a present.

T– They used to believe the bump on your head meant something…


Tammie – by Cara Wilmer

T– Tam is a drunk man on a horse.

A– And he dances with all the lassies.

M– Maggie flies and soars through the gorse.

O– Oh my gosh the witches pulled masses.

S– Sorry poor Maggie lost her tail.

H– Her body is mingin and manky.

A– All the time auld Tammie had to fail.

N– Nasty witches make the tail into a hanky.

T– Terrified Tam shouts in the air

E– Everyone is watching.

R– Rain and thunder starts as Tam is scared.


The Birthplace of Burns – by Jamie Hislop

B– Born in 1759 and died in 1796.

U– Used pistols to protect himself because he was a tax/excise man.

R– Robert Burns had a wife called Jean.

N– Nicolas J.M. Patrick brought a tiny book of Burns to space.

S– Size 8 feet and blue and white socks with his initials on them.


The Story of Burns – by Cameron Cowan

B– Bannock toaster for his wife Jean.

U– Used his skull to make a fake one.

R– Run run said Tam to Meg.

N– Never did he shoot a person with his gun only animals.

S– Small book went round the world hundreds of times.


Burns – by Madeline McMorland

B– Burns Museum, where we go to learn about Robert.

U– Up the road we came this morning.

Laila and Madeline

R– Rabbie! ←Who we learned about and now I’m here writing a poem.

N– Niches and artefacts are a pleasure.

S– Surprise we got to see the skull.


Witches and their Fiddle – Laila Buchanan

F– Foggy night at the Brig O’ Doon.

I– In the dark Robbie sees the witches.

D– Dancing and

D– Drinking round the fire.

L– Logs burning and a glazing sight.

E– End of Meg’s tail’s life.

Takeover Day 2019 – Romantic Musings

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Maybe you already heard, but in the last week of June 2019 RBBM was Taken Over by Primary 6 pupils (now Primary 7) from Alloway Primary! Takeover Day is a nation-wide initiative established by Kids in Museums, which encourages young people to take over jobs normally done by adults in the museum sector.

Before they became Learning Assistants, Visitor Services Assistants and Social Media Managers; Primary 6 accompanied our Learning Team on a tour of the Museum space and familiarised themselves with the collection. Then they wrote stories and poems inspired by what they saw and learned on their visit. They also made posters advertising the Takeover!

These stories and poems are all the tales they came up with within the romance genre. Stay tuned for further instalments – next up: more Poetry!

Contents:

  1. When Robert Went Out With Too Many Lassies!! – Ellie K
  2. Robert Burns and the Hair – Lucy
  3. Robert’s Lassies – Astrid
  4. The Girls – Amelia
An engraving of Jean Armour, Robert Burns’ widow. Dating from 1826. Part of the Museum collection.

When Robert Went Out With Too Many Lassies!! – by Ellie K (P6W)

When Robert Burns was young he went out with a lot of lassies, when this was happening Robert was cheating on his wife. When a girl asked Robert Burns out he would always say yes. He would say yes because he liked all the girls and thought that they were pretty. One of his girlfriends called Highland Mary gave Robert a piece of her hair and put it in the family bible.

Robert Burns and the Hair – by Lucy (P6W)

H- Hair was given to Robert as a present from Highland Mary to remember her.

A- A strange present to give your boyfriend.

I- It was highland Mary’s hair that she cut of and gave to Robert Burns.

R- Remembering her by the gift.

The Holy Bible belonging to ‘Highland’ Mary Campbell. Contains a lock of her hair. On display in the Museum.
‘The Betrothal of Burns and Highland Mary’ by W. H. Midwood, 1860. On display in the Museum.

Robert’s Lassies – by Astrid (P6W)

L- Loved by many ladies.

A- All around the globe.

S- So many lovely poems.

S- Some written for his many lovers.

I- International acclaim followed by his death.

E- Enjoyable poems he wrote.

S- Sadly died very young.

The Girls – by Amelia (P6W)

Robert Burns had a very romantic love life with so many girls he was with. He never said no to a girl in total he had 9 girlfriends and had 12 children by four women. What a life he had!

Takeover Day 2019 – Horror Stories and Mysterious Tales

Posted on Updated on

Poster by Evan

Maybe you already heard, but in the last week of June 2019 RBBM was Taken Over by Primary 6 pupils (now Primary 7) from Alloway Primary! Takeover Day is a nation-wide initiative established by Kids in Museums, which encourages young people to take over jobs normally done by adults in the museum sector.

Before they became Learning Assistants, Visitor Services Assistants and Social Media Managers; Primary 6 accompanied our Learning Team on a tour of the Museum space and familiarised themselves with the collection. Then they wrote stories and poems inspired by what they saw and learned on their visit. They also made posters advertising the Takeover!

The scary stories and peculiar poems which follow are all the tales they came up with within the horror and mystery genres. Stay tuned for further instalments – next up: Romance!

Contents:

  1. A Life of Robert Burns – Chloe Kincaid
  2. 2. A Meaning of a Skull – Lynden Kelly
  3. The Rosamund – Maya McCoard
  4. Pistols Kill! – Hope Struthers
  5. The Case of the Missing Fiddle – Evie Findlay
  6. The Horse’s Tail – Max Smedley
  7. Untitled – Raees Moir
  8. THE WEE RABBIT – Kyle
  9. Untitled (The Fiddle) – Sophia
  10. The Rosamond – Erin Morrow

A Life of Robert Burns – by Chloe Kincaid (P6CM)

Across the fields and far away was Robert Burns out one day. With some fish and bread in one hand and whisky in the other he felt some pressure in his life as it was coming to an end. He got his gun and pulled the trigger as he seen some smugglers run away. Then he knew his wife awaits across the sea. She was alright as she knew he would be home safe and sound.

Illustration by Chloe Kincaid

A Meaning of a Skull – by Lynden Kelly (P6CM)

A plaster cast of Robert Burns’ skull, dating from 1834. On display in the Museum.

Shooting arrows in the night…

Krushing souls at the sight…

Under the soil is where they stay at night…

Looking at you till the day…

Like its watching you at night to play…

This is the meaning of a Skull…

The Rosamund – by Maya McCoard (P6CM)

Once on a stormy day, William was walking to his girlfriend’s house when he heard a bang! When someone fell to the ground, he ran to see what was going on, he turned the man over and he had been shot. At the same time a ship left the dock…

At the same time a ship left the dock…

He ran to a cottage warm and dear and knocked on the door. Jean answered the door and said “Can I help you?”

“Yes”, I said, “someone’s been shot dead – can I speak to your husband?” He walked in and saw Robert Burns sitting by the fire writing a poem. “Robert someone has been shot by a pistol and since you’re an excise-man, I thought you could help. I think the Rosamond might be back in business.”

“Well then”, Robert began, “I think we need to catch our killers.” He kissed his wife goodbye. They went in the boat and went on to the Rosamond caught the criminals and the case was closed. Or was it…?

Pistols Kill! – by Hope Struthers (P6CM)

Powering bullets kill someone.

It will hurt.

Sometimes the blood will drip down. Ouch!

Till you die have a good life.

Other times will be good, others bad.

Lives will be lost.

Saving lives is key.

Pistols belonging to Robert Burns, used during his Excise duties. On display in the Museum.

The Case of the Missing Fiddle – by Evie Findlay (P6CM)

The fiddle used by Robert Burns’ dance teacher, William Gregg. On display in the Museum.

It all started when Robert Burns was doing his dance class with his teacher William Gregg who was playing the fiddle along with the dancing. Once Robert had finished he went home and he told Jean (his wife) all about it.

The next day he went back to his dance class and he found William crying. “My fiddle!” he said. “It’s…gone!” William’s fiddle was worth lots of money and it meant a lot to him. “Well I don’t ken what has happened!” said Robert.

Robert walked home and decided to go and talk to the police about it. They said that a criminal must have taken it. It was time to investigate.

He went home and told Jean and his children about it. The next morning he went to William’s house and they both went investigating. Their friend Souter Johnnie was good at helping so they went to his house and he wasn’t in! “Weird that, Johnnie’s always in!” said Robert. They saw some music sheets in his bedroom. “Johnnie, NOOO!!” said William.

They looked around he was definitely not there. They heard music. They left and they headed to the town hall. They peered in and they saw… Souter Johnnie playing the fiddle! “AGHH!” screamed William. “No way!” said Robert.

Afterwards Johnnie was arrested. “I can’t believe you Johnnie!” said Robert.

“I am very ashamed” said Johnnie being taken away. He wasn’t as ashamed as he said he was. He would be back to steal something else valuable…

The Horse’s Tail – by Max Smedley (P6CM)

It was a windy, dark night and Robert Burns and his friend were in a pub drinking. Then they got on their horses and a witch grabbed the horse’s tail and pulled it off and the horse was tailless.

Tam O Shanter over Brig O Doon. Part of the Museum collection.

Untitled – by Raees Moir (P6CM)

It was a dark and stormy night at the farm. Robert Burns was ploughing the field. The next day his friend came over to his house, and went on the tractor.

The End

A Dark and Story Night…

THE WEE RABBIT – by Kyle (P6W)

When a wee fast rabbit was running past Burns Cottage at night it was very dark. Robert could no catch the little rabbit. Rabbie POINTED HIS GUN DOWN TO SHOOT THE LITTLE RABBIT. But the rabbit escaped, so Rabbie did not shoot it.

A Hare on display at the Museum. Photo taken by Alloway Primary pupils Taking Over our Social Media.

Untitled (The Fiddle) – by Sophia (P6W)

Dancing to the fiddle

One dark night when I was locking up the museum I heard a strange noise, it sounded like a fiddle. I crept back into the museum to see if I could find out what it was. I was shocked to see William Gregg playing his fiddle and loads of other people dancing round him. Everyone stopped and turned to face me in surprise. I suddenly realised that they were not people but there were witches and warlocks!! They told me to follow them. They lead me to Alloway Primary School. One by one we climbed and flew over the gates and we continued the party the whole time. Early that morning when the Head Teacher of the school came to open up she was shocked to see that her school had been trashed! Alloway Primary School was shut down – and every night you can still hear the fiddle being played by William Gregg.

The Rosamond – by Erin Morrow (P6W)

Could this be a smugglers ship?

I walk down the cobblestone street, my pistol in one hand and my satchel over my shoulder. Everything is normal, the bustle of the people and the birds chirping in the trees. Then, suddenly, out the corner of my eye, I see a ship. As I get closer I realise that it’s a smugglers ship called The Rosamond. It must be carrying alcohol and all sorts of other things into the country illegally! Once I am right up beside the ship I fire my pistol once. Then a second time, and then a third. Before I know it, the ship, the crew and the alcohol has been seized. At least I’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight!

Monuments to Mice and Men

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Screenshot (3)
Ayrshire Police Division Burns Night Facebook Post, 25 January 2016.

How well do you know one of Alloway’s most famous residents? If you’re local you may pass it regularly, maybe you’ve seen it posing for selfies, or with school groups. It’s even been on the run from Ayrshire Police!

Clearly then, Monument to a Mouse has become part of the community consciousness in Alloway – I’m yet to meet anyone without a fondness for the beastie. Why? Well, it’s BIG!  Monumentally big in fact. Not only does this monumentality draw us to Monument to a Mouse, but it is also of central concern to the artist – Kenny Hunter.

installation
Installation of Monument to a Mouse in 2010.  Image ©️ National Trust for Scotland.

kenny hunter
Kenny Hunter with Monument to a Mouse, during its installation. Image ©️ National Trust for Scotland.

Hunter is a Scottish sculptor whose work often explores established ideas about monuments: ideas about what monuments are; who they’re for; and what they look like. He does this by alluding to sculptural traditions of the past. We as viewers are familiar with these past traditions – because we see them in the sculptures of our town and city centres.

Take the statue of Robert Burns in Ayr’s Burns Statue Square as an example. Unveiled in 1891, this monument to Burns follows many of the tropes typical of 19th Century figurative sculpture. The Ayr Burns is roughly life-size (maybe slightly larger); realistic (not abstract or overly stylised), cast in bronze; and standing atop a pedestal. These four stylistic conventions are all characteristic of traditional monuments, and are all of interest when discussing Monument to a Mouse.

Comparison
Left: G.A Lawson, Robert Burns, 1891. Burns Statue Square, Ayr. Right: Kenny Hunter, Monument to a Mouse, 2010. Poet’s Path, Alloway. Both photos by the author.

On first glance, these two sculptures look very different. But as contemporary sculpture, Monument to a Mouse references many of these same conventions seen in the Ayr Burns, while also deviating from them in a number of meaningful ways. Similar to the Ayr Burns, Monument to a Mouse is largely naturalistic in the depiction of its subject – the mouse. Hunter reportedly had some help with depicting a realistic looking mouse, after his pet cat brought in a dead one as a present.[1]  

Furthermore, both are cast in bronze – a material which is traditionally associated with monumental sculpture. Bronze has been used for some of the most recognisable monuments in Scotland, including the Duke of Wellington in Glasgow; Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn; Greyfriars Bobby and David Hume in Edinburgh; and many, many more.  You can see that the conventions observed in the Burns Square Statue are also adhered to in these examples. By rendering a realistic subject in bronze, Hunter aligns the mouse with the great men and women we are used to seeing in this sort of sculpture: the heroic individuals, exceptional thinkers or distinguished dignitaries who are immortalised in this way. 

bronze statues
L to R: 1) Carlo Marochetti, Equestion Statue of the Duke of Wellington, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, 1844. 2) Pilkington Jackson, Robert the Bruce, Bannockburn, 1964. 3) William Brodie, Greyfriars Bobby, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, 1873. 4) Alexander Stoddart, David Hume, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, 1995.

2011
Comparable in size to a grown adult, but not a wee moosie.

Although both Monument to a Mouse and the Ayr Burns are similarly sized, the scale of their subject matter differs greatly. While the Burns statue depicts its subject roughly life-sized, Hunter renders Monument to a Mouse much larger than the a wee tim’rous beasties we’re used to seeing. Comparable to a grown adult in size, the scale of the sculpture encourages us to reflect on Burns’ comparison between mouse and man. Hunter wants the viewer to stand “nose to nose” with the work, saying “Burns’ poem To a Mouse measures a man to a mouse and this artwork is a direct and physical manifestation of that comparison“. [2]

This sentiment is also reinforced by the absence of pedestal –  another significant deviation from conventional monumental sculpture. In Burns Statue Square, Burns is situated on a stone plinth above the viewing public, looking down. Monument to a Mouse sits humbly on a small paved circle on the Poet’s Path – directly within our own viewing space. In this way, the mouse is celebrated without elevation or deification – we’re physically on the same level. Hunter grounds the meaning of Monument to a Mouse within our experience: the experience of the many people who pass it (and photograph it) everyday.

Even in name, Monument to a Mouse pays reverence to its source material; To a Mouse is certainly one of the most well known Burns works, especially with children. In the poem, Burns describes the mouse as an “earth-born companion, An’ fellow-mortal!”. Upon reflection then, through its reference to – and manipulation of – monumental tradition, Monument to a Mouse couldn’t embody this sentiment more.

Lizzie Gow, Learning Trainee

2017

[1] Poet’s Corner: Meet Some of the People behind the New £21m Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. The Scotsman. November 29, 2010. Accessed July 25, 2019. https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/poet-s-corner-meet-some-of-the-people-behind-the-new-163-21m-robert-burns-birthplace-museum-1-836204

[2] Ibid.