Robert Burns was born on this day, 25th January in 1759. Today around the world people will be celebrating his life and poetry at various events – many will be in the form of a Burns Supper.
Back in 1948 one such celebration took place in Burness School, Sanday, organised by the Burness Youth Club.
Over 100 people attended and feasted on the traditional fare of haggis.
In yesterday’s article we covered the importance of ‘The Immortal Memory’, and at the 1948 event in Sanday this was delivered by John D. MacKay M.A. F.S.A.(Scot).
It was reported in the local paper ‘The Orkney Herald and Advertiser’ as ‘the best ever made in the Burness School, which has seen many suppers and heard many orations to the memory of Robert Burns’.
‘If Burns lived today said Mr MacKay he would be a socialist of the David Kirkwood or James Maxton type, deeply conscious of the social injustice of poverty, an Idealist. In Burns’ time there was an unbridgeable gap between the rich and the poor. Cottars and farmers lived in hovels so mean and dilapidated that nowadays we would not put the hens in them.
‘Poverty, want of opportunity, lack of education, bare, miserable home conditions bulked too largely in Burns’ own life. But he was a man of genius, a poet, a dreamer of dreams, one who could penetrate beyond the hopeless present, to the golden days of the future when the labourer would have his due reward, and all men would have equal opportunities. Burns was a social reformer as well as a poet.
‘But why was Burns anniversary so widely celebrated when other poets equally great, or even greater were ignored?’But why was Burns anniversary so widely celebrated when other poets equally great, or even greater were ignored?
‘We celebrate Burns, concluded Mr Mackay, because he is pre-eminently the Voice of the Scottish People, the interpreter of Scotland’s hopes, her joys and her fears.
“In this historic parish of Burness, which may have given the poet his name, let us once again rise and drink, to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns, seer, poet and social reformer – the Voice of Scotland speaking to the World”
The Burness School Hall was filled with thunderous applause. And after, performances of songs and tunes – followed by a dance.
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