The Combined Council of Scottish Societies

(Auckland NZ)

Robert Burns

25 January 1759 - 21 July 1796

This year (2019) is the 260th anniversary of the Scottish poet, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland he is simply known as 'the Bard'.  As the widely regarded national poet of Scotland, he is a cultural icon and is celebrated worldwide.  He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a 'light' Scottish dialect.  He also wrote in standard English, and in these pieces, his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.  His most notable works are Auld Lang Syne, To a Mouse, A Man's a Man for A'That, Scots Wha Hae and A Red, Red Rose.  There are many organizations around the world named after Burns, as well as a large number of statues and memorials.  The Royal Mail has twice issued Postage Stamps commemorating Burns and he is also pictured on the five pound banknote of the Clydesdale Bank, one of the Scottish banks with the right to issue banknotes.


The Auckland Robert Burns Association was formed in the 1959 to commemorate the life of Robert Burns the great Scottish Poet, to study his work, and to breathe life into his poems and songs for the next generations.  Robert Burns was a genius and in his short literary life of 21 yrs produced over 260 poems and over 300 songs.  These poems and songs are still being recited and sung to this day.

The Burns Cottage

The Alloway Museum

A Short History of the Man

Robert Burns is by far the greatest poet that ever sprung from the bosom of the people, and lived and died in a humble condition. Indeed no country in the world but Scotland could have produced such a man; and he will be forever regarded as the glorious representative of the genius of his country. His father William Burness was head gardener for Provost Fergusson at Doonholm Alloway. It was here that he built his Clay Biggin (little cottage) where Robert was born on 25th January 1759. William was keen to give his family a good education, so he got together a few local farmers and hired a teacher young, John Murdoch. His education was short but he was soon proficient in the three R’s and would read anything he could get his hands on. An Aunt of his mothers lived with them. This Aunt had a whole repertoire of ghost and fairy stories which young Robert would listen to intently. When he was old enough to work about age 12 (1771) he was put behind the plough and became a proficient ploughman and at age 16 (1775) he wrote his first song Handsome Nell for Nelly Kilpatrick his young partner in the harvest fields. His father leased the farm of Mt Oliphant, but after a few years struggle with poor ground he moved and took a lease on Lochlea farm near Tarbolton. This farm turned out not much better. Robert was now 18 (1777) and it was here that he took dancing lessons in defiance of his father and two years later he started the Bachelors Club a young mans debating club culminating by joining the Free Mason’s at Tarbolton in 1781. Robert decides to become a Flax Dresser and goes to Irvine to learn the trade. This turns out to be a disaster as the shop burns down. After years of struggling his father dies, and Robert and his brother Gilbert, decide to take a lease on the farm of Mossgeil near Mauchline. By this time Burns is courting Jean Armour and secretly marries her, but Jean’s father repudiates Burns as his son–in–law, she is sent away to Paisley by her family and Burns then repudiates Jean Armour. Burns meets Mary Campbell (Highland Mary) and there love blossoms, they eventually exchange Bibles and probably some matrimonial vows and Mary goes back home to make arrangements to live with Robert. But on the way back she contracts a fever and dies. Burns was planning to emigrate to Jamaica, but decides on the suggestion of some friends to print a book of his poems. His book “The Kilmarnock Edition” was printed in July 1786. It was an immediate success and he cancels his plans to Jamaica and instead goes to Edinburgh where he is acclaimed “Scotland’s Bard” where he is wined and dined by the Edinburgh high society for two winters. During his time in Edinburgh, Burns toured the highlands and lowlands both, on his own, and with friends. He also published his second book of poetry. It was the nature of Burn’s experiences and living off the land that conditioned his poetry. He knew the nature of man and women, his experience, if searing, was fundamental and therefore universal. It is this supreme quality that makes Burns the first world-poet.

L i n k s


Robert Burns at Wikipedia


Robert Burns World Federation


The Academy of American Poets - Robert Burns


The Burns Encyclopedia


The Auckland club meets the third Saturday of March, May, July, September & November in The Masonic Lodge Hall, Grey Street, Onehunga at 2.00pm.  Our afternoon consists of readings, recitations songs and music.  All are welcome.

Secretary: David Harvey Click to Email

The Wanganui Burns Club Click to Email
The Dunedin Burns Club Click to Email

                 Street View

                 Rear View



                 Built in Bed in Kitchen

                 Storage Area

                 Barn Milking Side

                 Barn Butter Side

                 Alloway Museum Entry

                 Museum Cafe Side

                 The Burns Lithographs

                 A Display Area