The next meeting of Alloway and Southern Ayrshire Family History Society’s 2013-14 season will be Tuesday 21st January 2014 at 7.30pm for 7.45pm in Alloway Church Hall.
This month’s speaker will be Tom Barclay who will be speaking on “The Great Burns Festival of 1844”. Tom Barclay is the Local History and Reference Librarian at the Carnegie library in Ayr.
By the beginning of 1844, the two sons of Robert Burns who had gone to India – William and James – had returned to Britain and were living in London.
At this time the poet’s third surviving legitimate son, Robert junior, resided in Dumfries, and Isabella Burns Begg, the poet’s sister, was staying with her two daughters at Bridgehouse Cottage near Belleisle. A group of prominent Ayrshire Burns enthusiasts came up with the idea of inviting them all to a summer event in Ayr and Alloway which would celebrate both Burns’ memory and the homecoming of his sons. It was subsequently decided that a world-wide invitation would be issued to all Burns admirers to come and join in the festivities.
The main events were to be a parade from Ayr’s Low Green through the town and out to the Burns Monument, and a banquet in a pavilion, accommodating up to 2,000, which would be specially built near the monument. The railway from Glasgow to Ayr had been opened in 1840, and on the 6th of August 1844 trains and steamships brought large numbers of visitors to participate in the most spectacular gathering which Ayr had seen up to that time.
There will be small charge for visitors of £1.50 which will be refunded if the visitor joins the society. Refreshments will be available after the talk.