Now a campaign is underway to safeguard the future of an 18th century farm reputed to be “the birthplace of Auld Lang Syne.”
Potential donors are being asked to pay between £15 and £500 a year to help support efforts to rescue the home where Robert Burns is said to have had his most creative period.
He is said to have written around a quarter of his songs and poems in the three years he spent at Ellisland Farm, near Auldgirth, in Dumfries and Galloway, after creating a home to share with his new bride, Jean Armour.
As well as the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne, Burns also wrote much-loved works like ‘Tam O Shanter’ and ‘Ye Banks and Braes o Bonnie Doon”, “Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation” and “Ye Jacobites by Name at Ellisland, which sits on the banks of the River Nith.
However the future of the farm, which has been operated as a visitor attraction for years, was thrown into doubt earlier this year after it emerged it had run into financial trouble and was facing long-tem closure.
The new fundraising campaign is being run by a charitable trust set up to lift the “unthinkable" threat of the farm buildings being sold off and its historic collection of artefacts being broken up.
The Robert Burns Ellisland Trust is aiming to restore all the historic buildings on the site and raise awareness of it as a visitor attaction, to capitalise on its location between Burns’ birthplace at Alloway, in Ayrshire, and his final resting place in Dumfries.
A new fundraising page on the Ellisland Farm website states: “Robert Burns wrote the international anthem to love and friendship right here at Ellisland.
"Millions around the world will sing it this New Year, remembering absent friends and better times.
"But the birthplace of Auld Lang Syne needs your support. Make a New year Resolution to ‘Gie a haunt ae Ellisland.’”
MSP Joan McAlpine, who is chair of the new charitable trust, said: “Millions of people sing Auld Lang Syne with gusto all year round although saying goodbye to 2020 is particularly sweet.
"Most who sing it know little of the origins of the song or the beautiful place which inspired it.
"Now Ellisland is in need of a little love and friendship itself – so we want people, in the words of the song, to “gie a haun” to the farm and museum.
“The homestead requires significant investment to deal with dampness and structural issues.
"We also want to sensitively restore and repurpose the outhouses, courtyard and barn and make the wonderful walks more accessible.
"Then more people can come and fall in love with Ellisland, just as Rab and Jean did.”Professor Gerard Carruthers, director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow University, who is already a trusteee, said: “We’re confident we can make a success of Ellisland as it is a very special place.
“Or priority is to make the site sustainable in the short term by eliminating the deficit then developing it sensitively.
"The songs Burns wrote and collected at Ellisland mean future developments can build that musical heritage.”