The Robert Burns Memorial in Irvine, Scotland

It was a blustery, overcast day with threatening rain, but the gathering at the Robert Burns memorial in Irvine in Scotland recently on Sunday 28th January  was in fine fettle.  The mood could be described as ‘canty’. Essentially organised by the Irvine Burns Club which was founded in 1826, the memorial itself was unveiled in 1896 as a great civic celebration.

The gathering throng represented several of the local Burns Clubs and had brought along a fair display of floral tributes as a mark  of the continued appreciation of the life and works of the Bard. Local schools were also represented.   Robert Burns had for a time worked in the town of Irvine, though, at the start of his creative career, his days there were full of personal uncertainty and challenge.

The gathering
Lady Provost North Ayrshire Anthea Dickson with Angus Middleton, then President of Irvine Burns Club

The memorial itself was commissioned by a certain John Spiers of nearbye Seamill and the memorial designed by James Pittendrigh Macgillivray – one of the celebrated  Glasgow School group of  artists and in fact, the only sculptor among them.  Burns is pictured youthful, standing on a plinth of Aberdeen granite and looking south to the place of his birth in Alloway.  Bronze relief panels cast in Brussels  adorn the sides of the memorial are significant works in themselves.

The Burns Statue in Irvine, Scotland.

The panel facing the entrance gate simply stating ‘Burns’. Another shows the parting of Burns and Highland Mary, the expressions cast in the bronze convey the impression of deep, raw emotion. The one on the rear depicts the work weary farm worker being welcomed home by his family. Another panel depicts the Bard being crowned by his Muse, Coila. The theme of Coila is again ‘in vogue’ with an important commissions in Scotland completed by Alexander Stoddart at UWS Ayr Campus in 2013. Three of the panels were put in place the week after the unveiling, as they had gone astray in transit from Brussels. The air of ‘realism’ about the figures leads to speculation whether the sculptor used models for the various pieces.

Burns parting with Highland Mary
Home from the fields – the Cotter and his family.
The muse Coila and Burns

After the dignified laying of wreaths, graced by the tunes of a lone piper, the party made its way a short distance to the Wellwood Burns Centre in Irvine where refreshments were appreciated and the presidency of the Irvine Burns Club transferred from Angus Middleton to Ian McPhail in an atmosphere of good humour and shared honesty. In a window in the meeting room, the record of the founding of the Irvine Burns Club in 1826 provided a measure of the passing of time.

Detail from a stained glass window in the Wellwood Burns Centre in Irvine recording the establishment of the Irvine Burns Club in 1826.

Note: I would imagine that with today’s abundant technology the detailed profile of the bronze panels could be scanned by lasers and reproduced to any scale by 3D printing.

Additional information regarding the Burns statue can be  found at: –

The main link for the Irvine Burns Club can be found at:-

By northernlight1

I have interests is a wide range of topics and have written on these and more formal subjects for quite some time. The written word still retains the power to inform and motivate - hopefully constructively and certainly has to be used responsibly in an age of false information trails.