Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Greater Atlanta, GA, USA
I once wrote on Robert Burns Lives! that the
Burns Club of Atlanta might be one of the best kept secrets in Atlanta.
Well, there is a new Sheriff in town and he popped up on my computer
yesterday in an email from Alastair McIntyre, friend and boss, informing
me that The Scotsman (the new Sheriff) had selected one of my pictures
of our beloved Burns Cottage blanketed in a rare Atlanta snowfall as one
of the best Burns memorials to be recognized during this month of the
birthday of Burns. You heard it right, none other than the august
newspaper The Scotsman listed us first among all of the memorials and
statues around the world. Stand and bow your heads, ye members of the
Burns Club of Atlanta! You have been well-known among global Burnsians
for many years, and now Scotland’s number one newspaper is singing your
praises as well. So, as the ballplayers do, we will take the rest of the
day to enjoy our recognition and then get back to the business of
honoring the man we love so much, who has an intellect with which few
poets can compare!
I wish to thank Sofiane Kennouche, a very
talented writer, for allowing me to share her article that appeared in
The Scotsman on the birthday of Burns - 25 January 2016. (FRS:
The History of Robert Burns Statues around
By Sofiane Kennouche
Multimedia Reporter for Dundee/Tayside & The Scotsman Publications Ltd.
Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, Edinburgh EH4 2HS scotsman.com
Replica Burns cottage, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Image: Frank Shaw, FSA
SCOTLAND’S most famous literary son is much
more than words on a page. From Aberdeen to Winnipeg, statues and
monuments of the bard can be found across the world.
With well over 60 statues dedicated to the
Scots poet, Robert Burns is third in line after Christopher Columbus and
Queen Victoria in the number of statues dedicated to a non-religious
While busts and statues can be found all the
way from Vermont in the north to Texas in the south, there’s a
particularly unique tribute erected in Atlanta, Georgia. The Burns Club
of Atlanta, founded in 1896, built a life-size replica of the original
Burns Cottage in 1910 using measurements taken from the original cottage
in Alloway. Dr. Joseph Jacobs, a Jewish member of the club, purchased
the land and built the cottage with agreement that club members would
pay him back over time. To this day, the club still meets in the cottage
the first Wednesday of each month, all year long. The Burns Cottage
faithfully replicates the original “but, ben and byre” layout of Burns’s
childhood home. In 1970 a plaque was placed on the front of the building
declaring it to be on the “National Register of Historic Places” from
the United States Department of the Interior. Nearly $300,000 dollars
was recently spent on the cottage in 2015 preparing it for the next 100+
Burns Statue, Canberra, Australia. Image: Peter Ellis
There are at least twenty statues of Burns
throughout Scotland, with three alone in Dumfries where he died aged 37
Arguably, one of the most ornate tributes to
Burns can be found in his hometown.
Alloway in Ayrshire is the site of a
Grecian-influenced monument, designed by Sir Thomas Hamilton and
featuring nine 70ft high colonnades to correspond with the number of
muses found in Greek mythology.
The monument and accompanying gardens are
part of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and the inside of the
monument features a bust of the man himself.
Burns Statue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Image: David Berger
The nation’s capital also honours the Tam ‘o
Shanter author with a monument on Calton Hill. However, the John
Flaxman-designed statue of Burns that used to reside there has been in
the Scottish National Portrait Gallery since 1889, where he is posed in
mid-recital of “To a Mountain Daisy”.
South of the border, Burns can be found
seated in London’s Victoria Embankment Gardens, while a bust of him is
also seen in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. Crossing the
Channel to Paris reveals another statue to Robert Burns in the Sorbonne,
providing a solid-stone link to Scotland’s ‘Auld Alliance’.
Northern Ireland has one statue of the man
erected in Belfast, but the largest number of Burns statues anywhere in
the world outside of Scotland can be found even further west in the
United States of America.
Statue in Toronto, Canada. Image: Q8682
New York’s Central Park statue is situated
on the Mall/Literary Walk opposite fellow countryman Sir Walter Scott.
He’s seated on a tree stump with the poem Mary on a scroll at his feet.
Proving that Wisconsin isn’t just famous for
Netflix show Making a Murderer is the presence of a grand Burns statue
in Milwaukee. Donated to the city in 1909 by James Anderson Bryden, a
resident of Scottish descent, the 12 foot-high statue is a casting of
the Kilmarnock design made by Edinburgh artist William Grant Stevenson.
An identical copy can also be found in
Chicago, Michigan, and every year the town’s Scottish-descended
community lay a wreath at the monument to celebrate the poet’s work.
Burns in New York's Central Park. Image: Ad Meskens
Both Australia and Canada have seven Burns
monuments, with Australian capital Canberra’s Burns sculpture the
second-oldest monument in the city. It’s the last Burns monument to be
erected in Australia, after having been unveiled in January 1935. The
Scot is posed deep in thought ahead of a pink granite wall, with the
panels and statue cast in Italy in the early 1930s.
Camperdown, Australia, is thought to have
the oldest existing statue of the poet anywhere in the world, with the
John Greenshields-carved sculpture shipped to Australia in 1859 after
originally being displayed at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London.
Southern hemisphere relative New Zealand has
no less than four Burns monuments or statues. One such statue in Dunedin
was erected in 1877 and designed by Sir John Steell; the Aberdoni who
designed Edinburgh’s statue of Sir Walter Scott. One of the city’s
founding fathers, Thomas Burns, was also a nephew of the late poet.
As well as the memory of Burns being
commemorated Down Under, the poet is a popular public figure in parks
and green spaces across Canada too.
The St Andrews Society of Toronto will host
2016 Burns Night celebration at the statue in the city’s Allan Gardens,
with bagpiping, haggis and singing all set to feature under the bard’s
watchful gaze. The west coast of Canada also commemorates the Scot, with
a statue of him at the Coal Harbor entrance to Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
French-speakers in Montreal’s Dorchester
Square can see Burns standing with arms folded and looking westward. His
presence in the park serves as a reminder of the industrial and
financial might of the city’s Scottish ancestors during the Victorian
era, along with the long-lasting effects of his literary creations.
Burns in London. Image: Kaihsu Tai
Burns Monument, Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. Image: Mary Hogg
Burns Statue, Dumfries. Image: Ron Waller
Interesting Paisley has a Statue just off
Love Street and was subject to a "Rescue Rabbie" campaign around ten
years ago, it was hindered , it is alleged by Local Councilors who
believe he had something to do with events 69 years prior to his birth.
I'm not a fan of the poetry aspect of his
life, although it was pointed out that Tam O'Shanter was a 18th Century
graphic novel and his job as an "excise man" (the Vat Man) left him
vulnerable to execution if he spoke against the monarchy "