Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

"Happy Burns Night!”

If you haven't guessed it yet, I am very proud of my Scottish roots. I am Waterford's token Scot, wheeled out on the odd occasion, to give my views and opinions on WLR and all manner of topics. Never a "Flowery” answer from this Garland!

Annually, on the 25th January, we kilt wearing loons (Aberdonian for boys), celebrate the life of one of Scotland's greatest exports. Robert Burns Esquire, Scotland's National Bard. He was and still is our people's champion. Rabbie, as we refer to him, was born in the year of our Lord 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, his father a very, very poor tenant farmer. He grew up to become immeasurably famous and revered, for his creative poetry and verse. He would articulate a social commentary, on the injustices of life in Scotland, in the early 19th Century.

Please note that we Scots claimed 1759, as a date to celebrate, long before those in Diageo and "The Black Stuff”, from St James's Gate, ever did!

Rabbie was quite literally the Robbie Williams of his day. That "Bit of rough”, the ladies of a certain standing, could go and see performing his work in the Literary Salons of the day. They would travel hundreds of miles, to Edinburgh, just to get a glimpse of him, in the homes of the Edinburgh elite, reciting his latest "Hits”. He liked the ladies and the ladies LIKED him, if you know what I mean!

We gather with friends and family every year, around the 25th January, to celebrate the close bonds we have with those dearest to us. Haggis, with tatties and bashed neeps are washed down with the odd malt or two. There is much reminiscing and storytelling as the night lingers on.

Of course, the main ingredient of the meal, which always comes up in conversation, is the Haggis. Some say, this is an animal unique to Scotland, a kind of cross between a Guinea Pig and a Teletubby rabbit. One of the Darwinian features of this exceptional beastie, is that both their left and right legs are of different lengths. Thus, allow the creatures to escape predators, by running very quickly around a hillside. Admittedly, they could only run fast in one direction. The trick to catching them, is to chase them in the opposite direction so that they fall from the hill into waiting nets.

Rumour has it, that a breeding pair have been released onto the Comeragh Mountains. Apparently, a handsome fellow in yellow Lycra was seen leaving the scene at speed on his bike? If true, this is an ideal environment to establish a colony. According to pre-release veterinarian reports, the pair are due to give birth to their first litter, on 1st April.

The relevance of Burns Night is not lost on our own Minister for Health, who recently visited a "Best practice hospital near

Glasgow”. Visiting a ward, with the CEO, he was introduced to Hamish, who looked perfectly healthy, until he spoke, "Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie!....” Looking puzzled our minister rapidly moved on.

Next, a very healthy looking elderly lady called Morag spoke, "O my Luve's like a red, red rose, that's newly sprung in June....”

Our Minister was beginning to feel discomfited at this stage and asked to move on to the last bed. There he met Angus, who immediately started reciting, "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led....”

Uneasy, troubled and clearly perplexed our Minister asked "What type of ward is this?” To which the CEO replied "This is our Burns Ward!” BOOM! BOOM!

I do realise that some of you may not get that joke – it wouldn't be the first time I have NOT been funny. However, it may encourage you to search out some of Robert Burns' work. You'll soon discover, that you recognise many of the lines Burns wrote. Lines quoted widely, throughout the world.

Phil Coulter has even "Tweaked” a line from one of Rabbie's lyrics, using this in "Ireland's Call”, their unofficial rugby anthem. Yes - we Scots get everywhere!

So there you have it, my wee indulgence of Scottish nostalgia.

Good luck searching out the Haggis. "Happy Burns Night!”


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