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On Rabbie Burns’ 250th anniversary, Inveraray reminds itself that he wasn’t impressed with the town

Inveraray 250th Anniv Burns SupportHomecoming Scotland 2009 begins with Burns and ends with St Andrew and Inveraray Burns Club held its 3rd Burns Supper on the 250th birthday of the Bard, Rabbie Burns. The event was a sell out and the guests ate well on the traditional Burns supper of Haggis and Neeps.

The location was the Argyll Hotel where the Bard stayed on his only visit to the town. The Club’s President, Jim McMillan, delivered the Immortal Memory and reminded members of the bards not so happy visit to Inveraray.

Burns was not impressed with by the welcome he got when he arrived at Inveraray in June 1787. In fact he was so un-impressed that he left his feelings for posterity, scratching the following verse on the hotel window:

Who e’er he be that sojourns here
I pity much his case
Unless he come to wait upon
The Lord, their god, “His Grace”
There’s naething here but Highland pride,
And Highland scab and hunger:
If providence has sent me here,
T’was surely in an anger.

(Robbie Burns June 1787)

In mid June 1787 Burns saddled up his faithful mare, Jenny Geddes and rode out of Inveraray for the West Highlands. It is assumed that Burns was collecting subscriptions for the Edinburgh Edition on this tour and that he was accompanied by Dr George Grierson and Mr George Gairdner of Ladykirk.

The farthest extent of this tour was Inveraray, seat of John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll. It was unfortunate for Burns that the committee of the British Fisheries Society, of which the Duke was President, was meeting at Inveraray prior to selecting Tobermory as a new fishing port in the Island of Mull. The result was that the castle was full, the local inn was crowded with guests and Burns got very poor service – hence the rage he vented on the window pane.

At the Supper last night (24th January), the guests were entertained into the wee hours with song and verse. The highlight of the evening was an extremely energetic and amusing recital of Tam O’ Shanter by Secretary Kenny Stark.

The photograph shows Blatherskite delivering the entertainment at the Inveraray Burns Clubs’ Burns Supper on 24th January 2009.