Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Robbie Burns! Also a Genealogical Inquiry

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my airm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that ower his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

For those of you celebrating Burns Night tonight, may you all have a wonderful and exciting night.  Slainte mhath!

The Bard himself

Robbie Burns (or Rabbie Burns if you prefer) if he were still alive would be 252 years young today.  Without a doubt Burns is Scotland's most well known literary icon, and he coined a number of sayings in his poems that entered into the English mainstream.

For those interested in a more unorthodox perspective on the Bard, there is an excellent article that appeared in the May 2009 issue of The Bottle Imp.  Entitled My Bard is in the Highlands, author Michael Newton makes the argument that Robbie Burns is only representative of part of the Scottish diaspora, and that in comparison Gaelic poets have historically been undervalued and receive less attention than they deserve.  It is worth a read, and though it won't make you think any less of Robbie, it will make you want to investigate the some of the Gaelic poetry that our ancestors would have enjoyed.

In other news . . .

I recently received an email from Klee C. Dobra, who was looking for information regarding some ancestors.  Klee writes:

"My second great grandparents, John MacKinnon (b. Aug. 1794) and Isobel MacLean (b. abt. 1798) began their life journey either there [Coll], or near there.  At the close of their Coll living, they were living in the town of Grishipoll.  Several MacKinnons were recorded there, and many apparently remain.  They departed Grishipoll and Coll in 1819 and left for "New Scotland" from Tobermorey (Mull), probably aboard the ship ECONOMY, John and Isobel (their marriage is recorded in the Old Register) and their first born son (Hector, b.  1817) and infant daughter, Margaret (b. 1819).  Both baptisms are also recorded in the Old Register as well. 
John and Isobel farmed in Seafoam, NS for the remainder of their lives and are both buried in the Seafoam Cemetery.  They had ten children, one of whom, John MacKinnon, was my great grandfather.  Among the ten children that he and his wife had, one was Edward, my grandfather.  He, along with my grandmother Alma Elizabeth Chambers MacKinnon came to the USA in the late 1890's, and the rest is history, as they say."

If any of you have information that you can add, particularly about John MacKinnon and Isobel Maclean, please send me an email and I will pass the information along.

Grishipoll has also been added to the Clan MacKinnon map:

View Clan MacKinnon Map in a larger map


  1. Robie Burns is one of my favorite poet. I like the way you people have paid tribute to him on his birthday by sharing his own poetry with all of us.

  2. I still can't believe that Robbie Burns is not among us anymore. He was a fine poet and all his poetries are very famous among masses. I wish his soul a very happy birthday.