Burns Cottage Alloway Ayrshire.
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Burns Cottage Alloway Ayrshire.

Burns Cottage Alloway.

It all started here. Robert Burns, Scotland's most treasured poet was born in this small white cottage on 25th Jan 1759. Despite living amidst chronic poverty and sickness, Robert Burns possessed a gift that ultimately made him a household name.

The wee two room cottage was hand built by Roberts father William Burns, who originated from Kincardineshire in eastern Scotland. Here he lived with his wife Agnes Broun. William was a hard working farmer and a very religious man. He often worked 17 hour days to ensure that the young Robert and his brother Gilbert could have a better education than he had been afforded. He banded together with other villagers and encouraged the implementation of a local school teacher.

John Murdoch was the first man to formally teach young Robert and he was amazed how the wee lad could recite whole paragraphs after only reading them once. It was here in Alloway south of Ayr that the very beginnings of Robert Burns' gift of writing, rhyme and song came to being. Running around the Alloway fields, Robert was fascinated by the wildlife and the countryside. Much of which was immortalized in his poetry.

The cottage in itself has been lovingly restored, outside was immaculate with not a piece of rubbish to be seen. There is a museum around the side of the cottage which houses a large collection of original Robert Burns manuscripts. The most famous being that song often blasted out by inebriated souls on 31st December nights - "Auld Lang Syne". The whole area is soaked in the life of Robert Burns. It is pretty much impossible to drive around the area without seeing some reference to the poet.

Robert lived in the cottage until he was seven years old, by then he had six brothers and sisters. They moved to a farm nearby called Mount Oliphant where Robert, still a child, had to work with the strengths of a man for long hours. The workload required of him was no way for a young boy to start his life. Many folks to this day believe that it was those tough beginnings at Mount Oliphant that contributed to his early death. Burns's first song came to fruition whilst at Mount Oliphant, "Handsome Nell".

Inspired by a lady friend who worked aside him during harvest time on the farm. Nellie Kirkpatrick was her name and she was one of many women who inspired Rabbies scrolling quill. The Burns family went on to work two other farms at Lochlea and Mossgiel.


There wasn't much that didn't inspire Robert Burns. The man was gifted with a sense of rhythm and flowing verse. He would often compose pieces whist on horseback, sitting by a gently trickling stream and even whilst in a pub. The amazing energy that he possessed and his poetic genius would often erupt when he had nothing to write on but the nearest pane of glass. There is at least one surviving window pane here in the Burns Cottage Museum. Just down the road well within walking distance is the Auld Kirk where Roberts Father and sister are buried, the Burns Memorial and Brig O Doon which featured in the poem "Tam O Shanter".

Robert Burns ultimately went on to capture the fervour of not only Ayrshire, but the affluent and noble in Edinburgh. Robert Burns, from humble Ayrshire beginnings in this little cottage went on to capture the hearts and minds of folk all over the World. Single handedly he revived an interest in Scottish culture through his use of local dialect.

Robert Burns died a young and poor man on 21st July 1796 at the age of 37, despite his immeasurable talent and popularity. Today his work is available in over 120 languages in just about every Country in the World. Countless memorials and statues have been erected around the globe in memory of the gifted Ayrshire boy. There is more about Robert Burns than I could ever write here, it would take up half of the website in doing so. There is an abundance of material both online and in print dedicated to Scotland's national poet and we are all proud of him. Especially me, since I am a genuine original no money back guarantee Ayrshire man myself.


Below is a summary timeline of the life of Robert Burns. Such is the amount of information available about Rabbie I have often found it to be overwhelming. Especially if you are trying to fit the pieces of his life together in some sort of chronological order. I hope it is of some help to you or your kids if they are researching Robert Burns for a school project.

* 1759: Robert Burns born.

* 1760: Brother Gilbert Burns born.

* 1762: Sister Agnes Burns born.

* 1764: Brother John Burns born.

* 1765: Robert's father William Burns rents Mount Oliphant farm near Ayr as a source of generating income to feed the growing family. At 6 years of age Robert was working as a farm labourer.

* 1777: Robert now 18 the family moves to another farm at Lochlea near Tarbolton.

* 1780: Robert along with David Sillar and John Rankine form the Tarbolton Bachelor's Club.

* 1781: Became a Freemason. Gatherings at James Manson's Inn in Tarbolton. Started working as a Flax dresser in Irvine .

* 1784: 13th Feb, Robert's father dies. Rents farm at Mossgiel with his brother Gilbert.

* 1785: Robert fathers a daughter to Elizabeth Paton, a farm girl. Also fathers a child to Jean Armour the daughter of a Master Mason who forbids him to see Jean. Dates Mary campbell of Dunoon.

* 1786: Death of Mary Campbell. " Kilmarnock Edition" Robert's first book is published and becomes an immediate hit. Many refer to Robert as "The Ploughman Poet".

* 1787: A second print run of the Kilmarnock poems was published selling 3,000 copies.
Publication of a collection of traditional Scottish folk songs "The Scots Musical Museum". Robert engages in a 3 year romance primarily via letters with Agnes M'Lehose a surgeon's daughter.

* 1788: Robert fathers yet another child, this time by Jenny Clow. He rents a room with Jean Armour in Mauchline, now known as Burn's House Museum. Leased Ellisland Farm nr Dumfries. Marries Jean Armour in Gavin Hamilton's House, Mauchline.

* 1789: Becomes Excise Officer for Dumfries.

* 1790: Writes "Tam O' Shanter" whilst at Ellisland Farm.

* 1791: Fathers yet another child, to a girl named Ann Park. Fathers a Son William Nichol to Jean Armour. Robert and his wife leave Ellisland Farm rent a house in Bank Street, Dumfries. Later same year rent larger house in Mill Hole Brae.

* 1794: Fathers a Son named James Glencairn to Jean Armour.

* 1796: Fathers another son named Maxwell to Jean Armour. 21 July Robert Burns dies in Dumfries aged 37. Buried in St Michael's Churchyard Dumfries.

* 1815: 19 years after Robert Burns death his grave is moved to a domed Mausoleum within the same graveyard in Dumfries.

Martin J. Galloway Editor.
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Multimap location of Alloway, Ayrshire Scotland. Click for more information about Robert Burns. Click to see more pictures from Alloway.