I was delighted to take the 'Bard' to Northern Ireland this weekend. A huge thanks to my colleague Anthony who has been working hard to set the trip up. As part of the Altnaveigh House (in Newry) Burns Gala Festival, I had two appearances. The first was in Creggan Church of Ireland Parish Hall, in Crossmaglen. I was overwhelmed to have a full, and very responsive, house on this first trip. Only a short week of advertising produced a mixed age range of enthusiastic listeners. Indeed some had travelled an hour and a half to get there which was amazing. Hopefully I can get out to Fermanagh and take the show to them later in the year.
I also had the chance to visit the grave and cottage of Agnes Burns - Robert's sister - who moved out here with her husband some time after Robert's death. Her man - William Galt - was brought over to build Stephenstown Pond, near Dundalk in Co. Louth, making such a good job of it that he was given a good salary to stay on and manage the estate. The cottage which they stayed in - rent free - is now a tea room and has some interesting photos and copies of letters from Agnes to her (and Robert's) mother, back in Ayr.
The crowd were so keen I stayed and performed for about 3 hours delivering the old favourites such as Tam O Shanter and A Man's a Man, among many others. Lots of interest expressed in more shows so I will try to get back again.
The second show of the trip was a Gala Dinner in Altnaveigh House in Newry....more on this later!