Robert Burns' farmhouse must be saved for the sake of Auld Lang Syne – Scotsman comment

All over the world, people will have sung Auld Lang Syne as they welcomed the new year.

A picture of Robert Burns in a stained-glass window at Glasgow University's Bute Hall (Picture: John Devlin)

They may have done so in small family groups or video-conference parties, but the words written by Robert Burns at Ellisland Farm, near Dumfries, more than 200 years ago, have become a key part of the celebrations even in places where people have little understanding of the Scots language.

While they may not know the meaning of all the words, most can still get the sense of its meaning. And it is just not the same song when translated into English. “And here's my hand, my trusty friend, And give me your hand too, And we will take an excellent good-will drink, For the days of long ago” does not have the same ring as “And there's a hand, my trusty fiere, And gie's a hand o' thine, And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught, For auld lang syne!”

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Despite his flaws, Burns’ poetic genius has helped put Scotland and Scots on the global map.

Burns’ time at Ellisland Farm was a highly productive period when he also wrote the epic poem Tam O’ Shanter.

However the future of a visitor attraction at the farm is now in doubt because of financial problems and the buildings and collection of Burns-related artefacts face being sold off, prompting the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust to launch a fundraising campaign.

Covid has hit the tourist sector hard, but the pandemic will pass and Scotland will need places like Ellisland if the industry is to recover and a rather special auld acquaintance is not to be forgot.

Robert Burns lived at Ellisland Farm in Dumfries and Galloway from 1788 until 1791 (Picture: Robert Burns Ellisland Trust)

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