Atlanta Burns' Night Celebration
Though a month passed between Robert Burns' birthday and Georgia’s Alumni and Friends of the University’s Burns' Night, spirits remained high and members celebrated in style.
The Georgia group, founded in 1994 following the visit of then Director of Development, Dr. Diana Henderson, to Atlanta, brought around 20 of its 50 active members to the celebration, along with several guests.
Thomas Moore ( Creative Writing '06) recounts a memorable evening.
Atlanta's own replica of Burns Cottage
The group held its annual Burns celebration on Sunday, February 24, 2013 in Atlanta's own replica of Burns Cottage. Burns Cottage, a replica of poet Robert Burns' birthplace in Scotland, was constructed by the Burns Club of Atlanta. Georgia Alumni and Friends members, R. Fenton-May (Chem Eng '67) and Billy Hutton (Glasgow), are members of the Burns Club of Atlanta.
The club was organized in 1896 as a social, literary and memorial society and has held a celebration on the anniversary of Burns' birthday every year since 1898. In 1907 the club obtained land to erect a "Burns Cottage" to be used as a clubhouse. A nine-acre tract of land was obtained on what is now Alloway Place. Atlanta architect and member, Thomas H. Morgan, obtained the exact measurements of the original Burns cottage in Alloway, Scotland, and prepared plans for the Atlanta replica.
Construction of the Georgia granite building was finished in 1911.
An evening of celebration
The club was organized in 1896 as a social, literary and memorial society and has held a celebration on the anniversary of Burns' birthday every year since 1898.
With Thomas Moore ( Creative Writing '06) as Master of Ceremonies, the evening began with Dr. Sue Bailes (Ph.D. - Scottish History in the US '78), who recently celebrated an 80th birthday, reciting the Selkirk Grace. Her involvement was of special importance as she was also the member that traveled the furthest to attend the evening (from central Georgia).
Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall (Law '60) followed Ms. Bailes’ grace with a word to remember those that were absent, including one of the organizing Committee for the group, Moira Speirs (Soc Sci '82), who is doing graduate work in Oxford and Rome this year. Certain members discovered later that member, Christine Transue (Moray House) is also over 80, so many congratulations are due to her too.
With the extremely pleasant afternoon sun pouring into the open door, Annabella Fitch Hutton (Arts '64) regaled the group with her recent travels around Scottish Gardens. The popping of red succulents and rolling hills were beautiful to behold and certainly brought a certain sense of nostalgia to the group.
Passion for the poetry
With those images of the Scottish landscape fresh in the group’s minds, Keith Jolly (St. Andrews) then launched into two musical renditions of Burns' poems. In the stillness of the cottage, his vigor and passion for the poetry and music was impressive and gave the poems a new life.
It was a fantastic transition to the Thomas Crawford’s piping of Sharan Martin’s (Soc Anth '77) delicious haggis. After the star of the show was properly paraded about the cottage, Weston Aldridge (MBA '08) gave a stirringly southern rendition of the Toast to the Haggis. It was with the completion of the toast and the proper pouring of whisky by Fenton-May that the group tucked into the feast.
After the star of the show was properly paraded about the cottage, Weston Aldridge gave a stirringly southern rendition of the Toast to the Haggis.
Following the meal, Keith Jolly once again took center stage, along with Tony Martin (Med Lit and Lang '78), as they recited, in turns the Scots and English versions of Burns’ epic poem, Tam O’Shanter.
With the tale thus tossed, it was time to move to the toast to the Immortal Bard, as presented by Ben Johnson (JYA). Dr. Johnson gave a wonderful description of the life of the man and the poet and his toast was a welcome reminder of the Bard who inspired the night.
Toast to the Lassies & the Response
And speaking of inspirations, it is well known that Burns drew quite a bit of inspiration from the women in his life. It was with that thought in mind that Fenton-May gave the Toast to the Lassies. Fenton's toast eloquently detailed the history of women in Celtic society and painted a wonderful picture of a strong group of women that certainly played a vital role in the development of Scotland.
As soon as the glasses had ceased ringing from Fenton's toast, Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall provided the Response from the Lassies. Hers was a rejoinder of a personal nature that detailed the importance of fair and equal treatment between lassies and lads in Scottish institutions. It was an important and worthwhile response that did well to sum up the spirit of the night.
Auld Lang Syne
With the many words of the occasion still ringing in the group’s minds, they ended the night hand-in-hand with a hearty rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
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