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Ulster-Scots Culture Event to celebrate Burns

16 May 2017

Some local primary school children would have been forgiven for feeling ‘wabbit’ (tired) last week, after completing a six week course under the watch-full eye of Ulster-Scots Language facilitator Anne Blair which ended up with over 80 young people networking together to celebrate the life, loves and legacy of Robert Burns by hosting an Ulster-Scots Burns Dinner at Newtownstewart Model Primary School.

The schools which participated in the Ulster-Scots language workshops within their own schools over the past four weeks included Gortin Primary School, Langfield Primary School, Ardstraw Jubilee Primary School and Newtownstewart Model Primary School. 

The Burns School Dinner brought together 4 primary schools from Fermanagh and Omagh council area and Derry City and Strabane District Council area and saw the ‘weans’ research the history to write their own Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.  The project encouraged the children to work together to recite poetry, participate in social dancing and perform ‘First catch your Haggis’ and the ‘address to the Haggis’ which saw each school doing 2 verses of the poems each.  The Burns Supper stalwarts of ‘The Toast to the Lassies’ and the ‘Reply to the Laddies’, the’ Selkirk Grace’ and finished off with two of Burns’ most famous songs ‘My luve’s like a red, red rose’  and  ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Each school received some fun filled Ulster-Scots tuition from Anne Blair who said “ To hear and see our Ulster-Scots language developed in a short time over 6 weeks through our weans and to know they have enjoyed it and to see their confidence developed to taking to the stage and reciting Ulster-Scots poetry, ‘Quor weans yin wile proud’.  Each child also researched their surname tartan and wore a piece on the day.

The children from Gortin Primary School’s interpretation of the Immortal memory to Robert Burns – “Robert Burns was born in the village of Alloway, on the January 25 1759, just two miles away from Ayr in Scotland. He died on the July 21 1796 aged only 37 years.  He was only 15 years when he wrote his first love poem, when he was 27 he became famous for his poems, he didn’t go to school but was taught by his father to read and write.  He was a poet, lyricist, and an excise man, he arranged a new edition of his poems with Edinburgh publisher William Creech, selling his copyright for 100 guineas. Robert Burns was married to Jean Armour in 1788, and had 12 children and also had three other woman in his life, he had three daughters all called Elizabeth, all of his woman were servants like many woman in the 18th century.   Robert Burn’s last son Maxwell was born on the day he was buried.  There is a statue of Robert Burns in Co. Louth”. 

Newtownstewart Model Primary School hosted the Robert Burns Cultural Event on Thursday March 9, with over 85 children taking part. Also on this day Clogherny Scottish Country Dancers were on hand to teach the children some steps of the dance.  Self -taught Ulster-Scots Speaker William ‘Bill’ Robb from Castlederg, recited some famous poems in the Ulster-Scots language.  He also expressed his passion for the language and would like to see all children being taught this in schools.

Ian Dinsmore piped in the Haggis and also played some other tunes.

Everyone would like to thank Avril Millar the cook at Newtownstewart Model Primary School and her team for the splendid ‘Burns Dinner’ including Haggis for everyone.


Irene Spratt Ulster-Scots Development Officer with Derry & Raphoe Action said “ I am delighted with the project, which has built on the last two years’ performance of the Ulster-Scots language through ‘Public Speaking.’  This project will leave a lasting legacy within West Tyrone as this is the first time the formalities of a ‘Burns Supper’  has been carried out by children.

“Public speaking instills confidence and helps people to become better communicators, and generally more successful in all aspects of life.  When there is a chance for your child to practice public speaking, take advantage of it because it will be extremely beneficial for them as an adult

 “The Ulster-Scots Language workshops allow the children to participate and recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language.”


Derry & Raphoe Action would like to thank the funders of this project for grant-aid - The Ulster-Scots Agency,  and Derry City and Strabane District Council.