Robbie Burns Day celebrated in grand style at the Lodge

Jack Brady, at the podium, delivered the ‘Address to the Haggis’ while Dave Beaton played the bagpipes at the Robbie Burns Day celebration held at the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home last Friday.

GORE BAY – The Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay celebrated Robbie Burns Day on Friday, January 24, just one day before the actual birthday of the famous Scottish poet. 

The celebration featured Dave Beaton playing the bagpipes leading Lodge volunteer Phyliss Cacciotti carrying the haggis with folks dressed in Scottish garb. The procession trouped through the halls of the Lodge, returning back to the main room where the legendary Burn’s poem, the ‘Address to the Haggis,’ was recited by Jack Brady. Lodge residents had the opportunity to take part in many Scottish games and singing of Scottish songs before settling in to enjoy a delicious repast. 

“I would like to welcome everyone to our Robbie Burns celebration,” said Gloria Hall, activities coordinator of the Lodge. “Robbie Burns was a very famous Scottish poet, who wrote many, many poems, quite a few of which were turned into songs. For example, one that we all sing every New Years Eve is ‘Old Lang Syne.’

Mr. Brady, who read the ‘Address to the Haggis’ in Scottish dialect, provided a translation: “Good luck to you and your honest, plump face, great chieftain of the sausage race. Above them all you take your place, stomach, trype or intestines: well are you worthy of a Grace, as long as my arm. The groaning trencher there you fill, your buttocks like a distant hill, your pin would help to mend a mill in time of need, while through your pores the dews distill like amber bead. His knife see rustic labour wipe, and cut you up with ready slight, trenching your gushing entrails bright, like any ditch; and then, oh what a glorious sight, warm steaming, rich. Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive: devil take the hindmost, on they drive, till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by are bent like drums. Then old head of the table, most like to burst, ‘The Grace’ hums. Is there that over his French ragout, or olio that would sicken a sow, or fricassee would make her vomit with perfect disgust, looks down with sneering, scornful view on such a dinner? Poor devil see him over his trash, as feeble as withered rush, his thin legs a good whip-lash, his fist a nut; through bloody fluid or field to dash, oh how unfit. But mark the rustic, haggis-fed, the trembling earth resounds his tread, clap in his ample fist a blade, he’ll make it whistle; and legs, and arms, and heads will cut off like the heads of thistles. You powers, who make mankind your care, and dish them out their bill of fare, old Scotland wants no watery stuff, that splashes in small wooden dishes; but if you wish her grateful prayer, Give her a haggis.”

Then Mr. Beaton played several songs on his bagpipes accompanied by residents clapping along on many of the songs.

Ms. Hall pointed out one of the residents (Howie Lauber) had found an excerpt from a book on the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company in relation to bagpipes. She read, “the bagpipes may have wowed the Highlanders, but Simpson’s caravan left behind many puzzled Indians. According to one anonymous, and quite possibly apocryphal story, a Cree who heard Colin Fraser play at Norway House reported to his chief: “One white man was dressed like a woman in a skirt of funny colour. He had whiskers growing from his belt and fancy leggings. He carried a black swan which had many legs with ribbons tied to them. The swan’s body he put under his arm upside down then he put its head in his mouth and bit it. At the same time he pinched its neck with his fingers and squeezed the body under his arm until it made a terrible noise.”

Lodge residents and volunteers took part in playing an inside golf game, a caber toss, and enjoyed food and refreshments, along with more songs during the afternoon.