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Robert Burns

This week on Wednesday, 25 January, Scots the world over will raise their glasses to The Immortal Memory of Scotland’s National bard, Robert Burns. Although Haggis forms a part of the Scottish diet throughout the year, there is no doubt that the Burns’ season sees a dramatic increase in the consumption of Haggis, Neeps an Tatties, which is absolutely delicious whether in the comfort of your own home or at a Burns Supper.

Robert Burns (1759-1796) tops the poll, time after time, as the greatest Scot of all time – and rightly so. It is due to Burns that Scotland is still Scottish. In the dark days following the incorporating Union of 1707 he reminded Scots that they are Scots. Inspired by fellow poet Robert Fergusson he wrote in Scots, and thereby sved the leid for generations to come. The Alloway-born poet and songwriter was a Scot through and through, as he showed in a letter to Mistress Dunlop on 10 April 1790 –

“Alas,” have I often said to myself, “what are all the boasted advantages which my country reaps from the Union that can counter-balance the annihilation of her independence, and even her very name.”

Just as Robert Burns was to inspire, through his poetry, songs and letters, generations to come, he himself was inspired by one of Scotland’s greatest heroes from the past – Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland. He wrote to Dr John Moore on 2 August 1787 –

While the story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice into my viens which will boil along there till the flood-gates of life shut in eternal rest.

As regular visitors to The Flag will well know, Robert Burns plays a major part in the cultural section of our weekly offering, as we regularly feature his poems and songs. As a songwriter he gave Scotland her National Anthem – Scots Wha Hae; to the world he gave the universal song of parting – Auld Lang Syne; and the international song of Brotherhood – A Man’s A Man. As a poet even he had just written that great cantraip of a poem Tam O’ Shanter, it would have appeared in every Scottish poetry anthology from that day to this, but of course he gave us much, much more.

Robert Burns, like haggis, is not just for one day every year, He is there to be enjoyed every day. He is there to inspire as every day of the year and to remind us that we are Scots.

This week’s recipe is for a cocktail which appropriately carries the name of our National Bard – Robert Burns.

Robert Burns

Ingredients:  ½ ounce whisky; ½ ounce sweet vermouth; 1 dash orange bitters; 1 dash pernod

Method:  Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass – then toast the Bard!

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