Robert Burns
A MAN'S A MAN FOR A' THAT
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A SPECIAL PAGE FROM THE GOOD SOUP GUIDE ON SCOTLAND'S NATIONAL POET
Robert Burns statue in the Burns Monument in Kay Park, Kilmarnock
'Oh Life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I.'
Burns Cottage, Alloway
Robert Burns was born into a farming family in Alloway on 25th January 1759.
In 1766 the family moved to Mount Oliphant Farm, not far from Alloway. Burns received schooling, and it is thought that he first tried his hand at writing poetry when 15 years old. In 1777 the family moved again, this time to Lochlea (sometimes spelt as Lochlie) Farm, some four miles north-west of Mauchline. By this time he was 18 years of age, and worked hard on the farm. Burns became a freemason of St David's Lodge in nearby Tarbolton in 1781.
He lodged with a relative in Irvine for a while in 1781/82 while working as a flax dresser.
His father died in 1784, and the family then moved just three miles south-east to Mossgiel Farm, just outside Mauchline.
In 1784 and 1785 Burns wrote some of his most memorable poems, like 'To a Mouse'. But there were problems at Mossgiel Farm. It was hard work ploughing the land, and in the end the land was not productive.
After getting Jean Armour pregnant, Burns considered emigrating as Jean's father was opposed to marriage between the two. Under the advice of local lawyer, Gavin Hamilton, Burns then planned to finance his trip to Jamaica by publishing some of his poems. The resultant book of poems - 'Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect' - printed in 1786 by John Wilson in Kilmarnock and now known as the 'Kilmarnock edition' - sold out its print-run of 612 books within a month, causing Burns to reconsider his plans to emigrate.
With this success Burns visited Edinburgh, moved briefly in high social circles, and became even more famous. In 1787 the 'Edinburgh edition' of his book was printed. It included favourites like, 'To a Haggis'. In that same year a 'Dublin edition' was printed. In 1787 Burns embarked on a tour of Scotland, and if you look you'll probably see that most of the plaques on buildings in which he spent just one night bear this year.
In 1788 he returned to Mauchline, married Jean Armour, and they lived in one small room, which can be seen to this day. Later that year they moved to Ellisland Farm, near Dumfries, where Burns tried to work the land. But the ground was poor, and hard back-breaking toil made little difference to its productivity. It was at Ellisland that Burns wrote 'Auld Lang Syne'.
In 1788 an 'American edition' of Burns' poems was printed.
In 1791 he moved to Dumfries, worked for the Excise, and lived initially in what is now Bank Street. He moved in 1793 to what is now Burns Street.
At Dumfries, on 21st July 1796, Robert Burns died, at the age of just 37 years.
His house in Burns Street is now open to the public, and visitors can stand in the tiny room in which he died. When one is alone in that room it is a most sobering experience. The Burns Mausoleum is in the grounds of St Michael's Churchyard in Dumfries.

[My apologies for any errors and glaring omissions in the above. It's a most disrespectful thing to say of someone's life, but that of Robert Burns went something like that.]
BURNS COTTAGE AT ALLOWAY
The grave of the father and mother of Robert Burns at Alloway
Castle Street in Mauchline, and the building in which Jean Armour and Robert Burns lived for a short period in 1788
GRAVE OF ROBERT BURNS' PARENTS AT ALLOWAY
BURNS HOUSE MUSEUM, CASTLE STREET, MAUCHLINE
Sun streams through woodland in the Birks of Aberfeldy in deep mid winter
Where to see things to do with Robert Burns in Scotland


ABERFELDY - The Birks of Aberfeldy. An enchanting woodland gorge with thundering waterfalls. There is an information panel, a statue of Robert Burns on a bench, and a plaque marking the stone ledge that Burns sat on when he penned the 'Birks of Aberfeldy' in 1787. A stunningly beautiful place.

ALLOWAY - 'Robert Burns Birthplace Museum'. More than just a museum. This heritage park includes the cottage in which Burns was born, old kirk ruins and the grave of his father and mother, the Brig o' Doon, the Burns Monument with figures of Tam o' Shanter and Souter Johnnie, a modern museum, and a park with a large metal mouse! Not to be missed.

ARBROATH - A simply-hewn stone statue of Burns outside Arbroath Public Library, Reading Room & Picture Galleries.

AYR - Tam o' Shanter Inn (once an inn, then it became a Burns Museum, and now it's an inn again, complete with a thatched hat and a lovely rustic charm whose interior is given over to the life of Burns). There is also a statue of Burns near the railway station.

DUMFRIES - Lots to see. The Burns Cafe (in the building in which Burns lived when first moving to Dumfries); the Globe Inn (contains a seriously atmospheric little wooden room in which Burns indulged in a small refreshment or two); Robert Burns House (the very house in which he lived and died); the Burns Mausoleum in St Michael's Churchyard (where Robert Burns lies buried).

DUNOON - Highland Mary statue on Castle Hill.

FALKIRK - Wall plaque with bust on front of building in which Burns spent the night in 1787.

GLASGOW - There is a statue of Robert Burns in George Square. So highly is Robert Burns thought of in Scotland that you will find statues of him in many Scottish towns.

IRVINE - The Burns Museum (restricted opening times) and Burns' Lodging House (hardly ever open).

JEDBURGH - Wall plaque on the side of what used to be the house in which Burns stayed when he visited the town in 1787.

KILMARNOCK - Burns Monument (no longer open to the public as a museum. Still contains a statue of Robert Burns). Dick Institute (contains a replica of the printing press used by John Wilson to print Robert Burns first book of poems - the Kilmarnock edition - in 1786).

KIRKOSWALD - Souter Johnnie's Cottage; Kirkoswald Kirkyard (where Souter Johnnie lies buried); Souter Johnnie's Inn (a modern inn but nicely put together with a thatched hat and old rustic charm).

MAUCHLINE - Lots to see. Burns House Museum (includes the actual room in which Robert Burns and Jean Armour lived in 1788); The National Burns Memorial (access by appointment only); Mossgiel Farm (no access at all, but there is an information panel at the roadside); Mauchline Kirkyard (as well as containing graves of the likes of Poosie Nansie, Nanse Tinnock, Holy Willie and other people associated with Robert Burns, you may also see - but not enter - the small room in Gavin Hamilton's house in which Robert Burns and Jean Armour were married).

MOFFAT - Black Bull Inn (Robert Burns once scratched some words on a window-pane in the inn).

PAISLEY - Fountain Gardens (statue of Robert Burns).

■ TARBOLTON - The Bachelor's Club.



Statue of Robert Burns outside the Arbroath Public Library
Burns Monument, Alloway
THE BIRKS OF ABERFELDY
BURNS MONUMENT, ALLOWAY
BURNS STATUE AT ARBROATH
Burns Mausoleum, St Michael's Churchyard, Dumfries
Wall plaque in Falkirk on house in which Robert Burns spent the night in 1787
BURNS MAUSOLEUM, DUMFRIES
WALL PLAQUE IN FALKIRK
Mauchline Kirkyard and Gavin Hamilton's House, Mauchline
MAUCHLINE KIRKYARD
1960s Ayr postcard showing Burns Cottage, the Auld Brig o' Doon, Burns Monument, and the Tam o' Shanter Inn
AYR POSTCARD - 1960s
Large metal mouse in heritage park at Alloway
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