The Homecoming Scotland 2009 is a year-long celebration of events spanning the entire country which was created and timed to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth in 1759 of Scotland's national poet, and international cultural icon, Robert Burns.
The Mauchline Burns Club has organized three of these events, and we participants of the CCSA 2004 tour know from first-hand experience that there is absolutely nowhere better to enjoy the Robert Burns experience than in Mauchline ! We were indeed fortunate in 2004 to be the guests of The Mauchline Burns Club led by the past President, James Davidson, for an unforgettable afternoon of unsurpassed hospitality.
During his years working the Mossgiel Farm, one mile from Mauchline, Burns wrote some of his best known poems. And these 2009 Homecoming events listed below are based on activities which actually happened to Burns in Mauchline over two centuries ago which inspired two of his best loved poems, "To a Mouse," and The Holy Fair."
The Ploughing Match: Sunday, March 29, 2009, Mossgiel Farm, Mauchline. It was back in 1996, with over 10,000 people in attendance, that the last ploughing match took place at Mossgiel Farm, which was the home of Robert Burns, the Ploughman Poet, during the mid-1780's. It was at Mossgiel Farm during his labour there one day in November 1785, after the plough unearthed the nest of a field mouse, rudely evicting the creature from its home, that farm-hand John Blane with pettle (plough-cleaning utensil) in hand took chase to kill the rodent. Burns checked him, without anger, asking what harm the poor mouse had ever done him. That night, after reading his latest composition to Blane, Burns asked what John thought of the mouse now!
TO A MOUSE
WEE, sleekit, cowrin', tim'rous beastie,
Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou needna start awa' sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle
I wad be laith to rin and chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which maks thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
And fellow mortal!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft a-gley,
And lea'e us nought but grief and pain
For promised joy.
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, och! I backward cast my ee
On prospects drear!
And forward, though I canna see,
I guess and fear.
The Holy Fair
: Saturday, May 23, 2009.
In his epic 251 line poem "The Holy Fair" Burns mixes vivid descriptions of the weather, the landscape, and the variety of people participating in this grand spectacle along with their intentions, actions and expectations. He also used the religious occasion of Mauchline's Holy Fair to level a satire on the agents of the church and its congregation, without ever targeting the institution itself. Forty-one lines from this poem are reprinted below:
THE HOLY FAIR
"A robe of seeming truth and trust
Hid crafty observation;
And secret hung, with poisn'd crust,
The dirk of Defamation:
A mask that like the gorget show'd,
Dye-varying on the pigeon;
And for a mantle, large and broad,
He wrapt him in Religion."
Upon a simmer Sunday morn,
When Nature's face is fair,
I walked forth to view the corn,
And snuff the caller air.
The rising sun owre Galston muirs,
Wi' glorious light was glintin';
The hares were hirplin down the furs,
The lav'rocks they were chantin'
Fu' sweet that day.
"My name is Fun your crony dear,
The nearest friend ye hae;
And this is Superstition here,
And that's Hypocrisy.
I'm gaun to Mauchline holy fair,
To spend an hour in daffin';
Gin ye'll go there, yon rankled pair,
We will get famous laughin',
At them this day."
A vast, unbottom'd, boundless pit,
Fill'd fu' o' lowin' brunstane,
Whase ragin' flame, and scorchin' heat,
Wad melt the hardest whunstane!
The half-asleep start up wi' fear,
And think they hear it roarin',
When presently it does appear
'Twas but some neibor snorin'
Asleep that day.
His piercing words, like Highland swords,
Divide the joints and marrow;
His talk o'hell, whare devils dwell;
Our vera sauls does harrow
Wi' fright that day.
At Mauchline Cross stands the statue of Jean Armour, the wife of Robert Burns, whom together they had nine children. One can still have a pint and a meal at Poosie Nansie's, the site at which was based Burns' cantana "The Jolly Beggars." The Burns House Museum in the same building and rooms where in 1788 he lived with his wife Jean Armour, became a father, and established himself as a poet of repute at age 27. The museum has a state-of-the-art audio-visual presentation, and also houses fine art, artifacts, exhibitions of original manuscripts and songs, and publications like the original Kilmarnock Edition, as well as letters to friends like Edinburgh lawyer, Alexander Cunningham.
To go to Scotland for the Homecoming in celebration of the life of Robert Burns, but not visit the charming people and town of Mauchline where some of the world's best poetry was written, (and where some of my fondest and most vivid travel memories were made) is like going to Paris to celebrate art, but not visiting the Louvre!
Members of the Clan Cunningham Society from Scotland, France and America together with members of the newly formed British Society of the Earl of Glencairn of Cunningham gathered together at Balgonie Castle on November 27, 2003 for the First Clan Cunningham Gathering in over two centuries!
is unsurpassed in its service to Clan Cunningham heritage and its members and has completed a memorial project to our last Clan Chief and 15th Earl of Glencairn, John Cunningham. The office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms was commissioned by us to create a certified illustration of the registered Arms of the Earls of Glencairn, the chiefs of Clan Cunningham, which has been sculpted in granite on the headstone of John Cunningham by monument artist and stone sculptor Roger C. Seal of Colorado which was dedicated in Edinburgh on November 25, 2003. The granite Clansmen Acknowledgment Plaque etched by R. Adrian Dudley which lists the CCSA members whose generous contributions helped make the monument a reality has also been seated in the wall below the Earl's memorial. The dedication ceremony was held on November 25, 2003 at 10:30 AM at St Cuthbert's Parish Church. CCSA was very pleased to have the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the Right Honourable Robin Orr Blair, LVO, WS, as our honored guest and speaker.
The minister, Reverend T. C. Cuthell, of the Parish Church of St Cuthbert, the Kirk below the castle located below Edinburgh Castle and adjacent to Princess Gardens, at whose churchyard the Earl rests, performed the blessing service at the dedication ceremony of the Earl's memorial.
The Chief of Clan MacMillan, George MacMillan and his wife Jane, of Finlaystone, the former seat of Clan Cunningham for centuries, were also honored guests and Chief George MacMillan addressed the gathering as our special guest. The Convenor of Recreation for the City of Edinburgh, Councillor Ricky Henderson, was in attendance. Councillor Bill Cunningham of the Edinburgh City Council, Holyrood Ward, addressed us at the dedication. Bill Cunningham arranged for a Civic Reception following the dedication which was held at Usher Hall where the City Of Edinburgh extended its hospitality to their Cunningham visitors with refreshments being provided. The Scottish musical group Calasaig whose members are Keith Johnston, Kirsten Easdale, Keith Easdale, Celine Donoghue and Andy Webster performed the epic ballad of "Malcolm's Ride" written by member Alison Bucklin which recounts the origins of the motto and shake-fork charge of the Glencairn Arms. Keith Easdale performed the Piper's Laments at the ceremony. The Robert Burns poem "Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn" was read by James Hutchison. We also extended a special invitation to the members of the newly formed Society of the Earl of Glencairn of Cunningham, based in London, who joined us at the dedication ceremony. The ceremony took place as follows:
'Mist Covered Mountains of Home'
by Piper Keith Easdale
OPENING COMMENT AND INTRODUCTIONS by MODERATOR
Larry Augsbury, High Commissioner, Clan Cunningham Society of America
"MALCOLM'S RIDE" A ballad of the origins of the motto and shake-fork charge on the Glencairn Arms of Clan Cunningham.
Performed by internationally renowned Celtic group CALASAIG: Keith Johnston, Kirsten Easdale, Keith Easdale, Celine Donoghue and Andy Webster.
"...The best, young multi instrumental band in Scotland..." The List
"...Calasaig establishes a place as an excellent interpreter of Scottish music..." Dirty Linen
HONORED GUEST'S ADDRESS
Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, Right Honourable Robin Blair, LVO, WS
MODERATOR'S INTRODUCTION of SPECIAL SPEAKER
Chief George MacMillan of MacMillan and Knap of Finlaystone (former seat of Clan Cunningham)
MODERATOR'S INTRODUCTION of SPECIAL SPEAKER
Edinburgh City Councillor, Bill Cunningham, Holyrood Ward
High Commissioner, Larry Augsbury, Clan Cunningham Society of America
RECITATION OF ROBERT BURNS POEM, "LAMENT FOR JAMES, EARL OF GLENCAIRN"
Read by James Hutchison
PROCESSION TO GRAVESITE AND MEMORIAL TO JOHN, EARL OF GLENCAIRN
Procession piped to the tune 'March of the Cunningham's' written and piped by Keith Easdale especially for this occasion of the processional walk to the graveside and memorial of John, Earl of Glencairn and Clan Cunningham Chief. Granite memorial carved by Monument Artist and Stone Sculptor ROGER C. SEAL of Denver, Colorado.
PIPER'S LAMENT 'Sleep Dearie Sleep' by Piper Keith Easdale
BLESSING OF MEMORIAL BY REVEREND T. C. CUTHELL OF ST CUTHBERT'S PARISH CHURCH
THE CITY OF EDINBURGH HOSTED A CIVIC RECEPTION AT USHER HALL FOLLOWING THE MEMORIAL DEDICATION CEREMONY WITH MUSIC PERFORMED BY CALASAIG.
On Friday, May 5, 2000, our High Commissioner, Larry Augsbury, discovered the burial site of our last Clan Chief at St Cuthbert's churchyard in Edinburgh and found that the Earl's headstone was inexplicably missing from the wall behind his grave, as pictured above. Upon Larry's return home to Colorado, the Board of Directors ratified a resolution establishing a Special Revenue Fund to collect donations to fund a memorial headstone to restore the honor and dignity of the resting place of the last Clan Cunningham Chief. This board resolution stipulated that no resources from our General Fund were to be used for this memorial restoration project. As a result, with limited funds having been collected thus far, Larry Augsbury has personally financed, commissioned, and copyright protected the certified illustrations of the Glencairn Arms and the Clan Cunningham Strap-and-Buckle Crest Badge, and the full color rendering of those Arms from the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, to be sculpted on John Cunningham's new tombstone. These images are registered with the United States Library of Congress, Copyright Office and are protected under international copyright law. Expressed written permission for the exclusive use of these copyrighted images has been obtained by our Clan Cunningham Society
Available for a limited time are limited numbered 11" x 17" prints of the full color reproduction of the certified Lord Lyon King of Arms illustration of the Glencairn Arms for a donation of $500.00. Also available is the certified Cunningham strap-and-buckle crest badge etched on a limited number (currently out-of-stock) of clear coffee cups for a $33 donation. This etched badge is the same as the one which appears on the granite Clansmen Acknowledgement Plaque done by Adrian Dudley of Hillrose Colorado, who also etched the cups, which is completed and mounted in the wall below John Cunningham's memorial at St Cuthburt's churchyard to recognize the generous contributions from CCSA members and the American Scottish Foundation which have helped make the memorial possible. The acknowledgement plaque is pictured below. Both images were commissioned specifically to be carved in granite on the 15th Earl's monument and Clansmen Acknowledgement Plaque and available exclusively through our society. All proceeds from this merchandise will go towards the project costs of our 15th Earl of Glencairn Monument Project. Photos of the monument and acknowledgement plaque are pictured below.
We need your support! There are more projects currently under consideration. If you would like more information or wish to contribute to our noble cause please contact our High Commissioner
Larry A. Augsbury
If you would like to contribute to or Special Revenue Fund using your credit card, please press the button below to make a secure donation using Paypal.
Clan Cunningham Society of America was awarded on August 10, the Best Clan Tent at the 40th Annual 2003 Colorado Scottish Festival & Rocky Mountain Highland Games in Highlands Ranch, CO among 54 Scottish Clans represented. Pictured below is High Commissioner, Larry Augsbury, accepting the award presented by the St. Andrews Society of Colorado.
Our newsletter has made its debut for the first time in a non-English language! Two of our January 15, 2003 newsletters, translated into French, were posted to addresses in France to CCSA members there. There was a strong allegiance between France and Scotland for many centuries. CCSA is currently researching this connection and has added a new chapter devoted to it in the next edition of our "Clan Cunningham, Origins, Heritage and Traditions" publication that will be offered soon in a special edition translated into French!
Notre bulletin a fait son début pour la première fois dans une langue non-Anglaise! Deux de notre janvier de 15, 2003 bulletins, traduits en Français, ont été signalés aux adresses en France aux membres là. Il y avait une allégeance forte entre la France et l'Ecosse pendant beaucoup de siècles. CCSA actuellement recherche ce raccordement et a des plans pour ajouter un nouveau chapitre consacré à lui dans la prochaine édition de notre publication de "Clan Cunningham, d'Origines, d'Héritage et de Traditions", qui sera offerte bientôt dans une édition spéciale, traduite en Français!
Burke's Peerage and Gentry's web site published for many years a spotlight on Robert Burns, along with the wealth of genealogical and historical information that can be found there. Clan Cunningham Society submitted an article that featured there for many years.
R obert Burns known best for his songs and poetry of love, and pastoral Scottish culture of the 18th century, did not suffer well the hypocrisy and injustice he encountered. In one example, Holy Willie, as Burns referred to William Fisher in the following poem, was not the upstanding church elder and civil servant that outward observances indicated. Fisher made himself somewhat conspicuous in a case where Burns' friend Gavin Hamilton had been denied the benefit of the ordinances of the church for allegedly making a journey on the Sabbath and making one of his servants take in some potatoes from the garden on another. In this poem of 102 lines, Burns exposes the behavior of Fisher - a great pretender to sanctity - and denounces it with ridicule. Poor man, Fisher unfortunately merited the satire of the poet, as he was a drunkard, and latterly made too free with the church-money in his hands. Walking drunk one night from Mauchline, he fell into a ditch and died from exposure. Below are some stanzas from:
HOLY WILLIE'S PRAYER
I bless and praise thy matchless might,
Whan thousands thou hast left in night,
That I am here, afore thy sight,
For gifts and grace,
A burnin' and a shinin' light
To a' this place.
When frae my mither's womb I fell,
Thou might hae plunged me into hell,
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
In burnin' lake,
Whare damned devils roar and yell,
Chain'd to a stake.
Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I'm here a pillar in thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, an example,
To a' thy flock.
O Lord, thou kens what zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink, and swearers swear,
And singing there, and dancing here,
Wi' great and sma';
For I am keepit by thy fear,
Free frae them a'.
But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust;
And sometimes, too, wi' warldly trust,
Vile self gets in;
But thou remembers we are dust,
Defiled in sin.
O Lord! yestreen, thou kens, wi' Meg-
Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
Oh, may it ne'er be a livin' plague,
To my dishonor,
And I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.
Besides, I farther maun avow,
Wi' Lizzie's lass, three times I trow-
But, Lord, that Friday I was fou'
When I came near her,
Or else, thou kens, thy servant true
Wad ne'er hae steer'd her.
Lord, bless thy chosen in this place,
For here thou hast a chosen race:
But God confound their stubborn face,
And blast their name,
Wha bring thy elders to disgrace
And public shame.
But, Lord, remember me and mine
Wi' mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an' gear may shine,
Excell'd by nane,
and a' the glory shall be Thine-