Happy Burns Day/Night

As will doubtless be well known to most Aiblins readers, Robert Burns was born on this day in 1759. To celebrate the anniversary of this happy event, even Google has jumped on the bandwagon and adopted the above Doodle in honour of the great man. If you click on the Doodle on Google's homepage, it takes you to a search for Robert Burns and to an interesting timeline.

Celebration of all things Burns has really taken off over the past few years and even those who would have been hard pushed to get through a couple of lines of Auld Lang Syne are now happily munching on haggis, neeps and tatties and toasting eachother with Irn Bru.

Scotland's First Minister is urging all local schools to visit the Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway and the BBC seems to be maintaining the Burns 250 material online at this point, notwithstanding the recent curtailing of Corporation web activities. It is well worth a visit, with plenty of audio and visual material to keep both the Burns scholar and casual visitor entertained.

Burns still generates interest in modern times. The above letter was recently discovered at Floors Castle in the Borders and has been authenticated. With it was an early copy of the poem, On Seeing a Wounded Hare - Burns was inviting comment from James Gregory, who was then the Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University.

The full story is again on the BBC.

The Burns connection in Ulster is strong, with a vibrant Burns Club scene - many, if not most, of which will be well employed this evening. The Belfast News Letter was the first paper in the United Kingdom to publish extracts of Burns' work. The Ulster Scots poet, Samuel Thomson travelled to Scotland to visit with Burns and it is believed that Burns himself may have been to Ulster at least twice - visiting Antrim and Down.

The Burns & Burnsiana Collection was gifted to the Linenhall Library in Belfast by Burns' Grand-daughter Eliza Burns Everett, who had herself settled in Ulster.

So, whatever celebration you are involved in tonight, enjoy it. If you have nothing planned, why not nip out to M&S or Tesco, where you will readily find haggis on sale this time of year (or make your own) and organise your own Hamely Burns Nicht....?