‘Of Noble Sentiment and Of Noble Thought’: Burns Clubs and Commemoration in Ireland 1800–1950

Frank Ferguson, Matthew Morrow

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The reception of Robert Burns’s work and legacy in Ireland,
particularly in its Northern province of Ulster has been well documented. Less
explored is the range of clubs, commemorations and events that exist and have
existed throughout Ireland to honour his memory. This article will explore the
foundation and activities of a variety of Burns Clubs and in particular the Belfast
Burns Association, one of the longest standing groups within the Burns
Federation. While these clubs were mostly situated in the province of Ulster,
the article will argue that the commemoration and celebration of Burns was not
confined to the northern province, nor was it merely the preserve of those from an
Ulster-Scottish cultural background or indeed those from Scotland, or their
descendants residing in Ireland. This article will trace the early efforts to mark
Burns’s significance in Ireland from the early decades of the nineteenth century,
chart the widespread engagement in the 1859 Centenary activities across the
island and continue into the twentieth century and twenty first centuries where
Burns events continued to play a role in Irish civic and cultural life. This survey
of commemorative engagement across Ireland pre- and post-partition will
provide an insight into the role Burns’s legacy played in the shaping of cultural
exchange between Ireland and Scotland, the range and variety of civic, cultural
and social discourse on Burns’s writing and character in an Irish setting, and how
the representation of Burns in the Irish public sphere mirrored and diverged from
similar initiatives in Scotland and England.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-165
Number of pages16
JournalBurns Chronicle
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2023


  • Commemoration
  • Louth
  • Ireland
  • Ulster
  • Burns
  • Memory
  • Ulster-Scots
  • Pageantry


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