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Pan Haggis

Interest in Robert Burns is not restricted, thank goodness, to the traditional celebrations which surround the anniversary of his birth each 25 January. The many visitors throughout the year to the Electric Scotland splendid Burns section and to the SI website Burns Supper is evidence of our National Bard's continuing appeal. In the run-up to the anniversary of his death ( 21 July 1796 ) it is interesting to note that a handwritten copy of his song 'Bonnie Jean' has just fetched, on 11 July 2002, 13,145 at a Sotheby's sale in London, England. This was double the amount that the manuscript was expected to reach. The manuscript is dedicated to Miss Jean McMurdo, eldest daughter of John McMurdo of Drumlanrig, who in 1799 married John Innes Crawford of Bellfield. Burns held McMurdo and his family in high regard and was a welcome visitor to their home.

 
On 2 July 1793 Robert Burns wrote to George Thomson, song-publisher, of his song 'Bonnie Jean' - "I have just finished the following ballad, and as I do think it is in my best style, I send it to you. The heroine is Miss McMurdo, daughter of Mr Macmurdo of Drumlanrig, one of your subscribers."
 
You can well imagine the joy with which Jean McMurdo received the copy of 'Bonnie Jean' dedicated to her by Scotland's National bard -
 
                    There was a lass and she was fair,
                    At kirk and market to be seen;
                    When a' the fairest maids were met,
                    The fairest maid was bonie Jean;
                    And ay she wrought her mammie's wark
                    And ay she sang sae merrilie;
                    The blythest bird upon the bush,
                    Had ne'er a lighter heart than she.
 
- his words would have charmed any young damsel.
 
But although Scots, at home and abroad, do much to celebrate Robert Burns every January, by comparison his death goes largely uncommemorated. There is an opening here for the Scottish Tourist Board, or whatever their new-fangled name is, to promote July events which would attract Scots and overseas visitors to Dumfries to pay tribute to Robert Burns. Certainly Dumfries is always worth visiting and no visit is complete without seeing Burns' House and the Burns Mausoleum within St Michael's Parish Church Kirkyard.
 
On 21 July we can all note the anniversary of the poet's death and raise a glass to his memory and enjoy a meal in his honour. As an alternative to the normal commercial Haggis, this week's recipe offers an equally tasty alternative in the form of Pan Haggis. Tak aff yir dram.
 
Pan Haggis
 
Ingredients : 8 oz ( 250 g ) liver; 4 oz ( 125 g ) chopped suet; 1 large par-boiled onion; a teacup oatmeal; 1 cup water; seasoning
 
Boil liver and onion in a little water for 40 minutes. Pour the liquid into a basin. When liver is cold, mince it and mix with the chopped onion. Brown the oatmeal carefully in a pan, mix with the liver, onion, suet and seasoning and moisten with some of the liver liquor. Stew slowly for about 1 1/2 hours, or steam in a greased basin for 2 hours.

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