Greenock Burns Club

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Greenock Burns Club Menu 1894
Greenock Burns Club Menu 1894

The Greenock Burns Club or as it is affectionately known ‘The Mother Club’ was the first organisation to be devoted to the memory of the poet and the promotion of his works. The club had its origins in the members of Greenock Ayrshire Society who held a preliminary meeting in the summer of 1801 and the club was formally founded next year at a Burns’ Anniversary dinner on 29th January 1802. The objects of the Club are to cherish the name of Robert Burns, to foster a love of his writings and generally to encourage an interest in the Scottish Language and Literature.

In the two hundred years since its inception the Club has played a major role in preserving and fostering an awareness of Burns, Burnsian traditions and Scottish literature within Inverclyde, Scotland and the wider world. The archives and collections of the are a major repository of those cultural traditions embracing every aspect of the poet’s cultural influence. The club does not merely aim to record, remember and preserve the traditions of the past but plays an active role in the living Burns tradition of today.

In 1894 the club’s activities were described thus: ‘Few if any clubs of a similar kind have done such excellent and praiseworthy work among the young people of the community. It has encouraged the reading of the great master’s poems, singing of his pure songs…and created and fostered a taste for the works of the other poets and literary men who shine with him in the galaxy of enduring fame.’

The Club continues these activities today. At club meetings the members enjoy readings, songs and talks by a number of artists, some of them members themselves. One of the club’s most important activities is to encourage students of all ages in the reading, writing, recitation and singing of Burn’s poetry, as well as a wide interest in Scottish literature generally. This has been done by the establishment of schools competitions and the awarding of prizes. In 1996-97 the club presented a copy of the recently published complete works of Robert Burns to every school in Inverclyde.

Although a guardian of Burnsian tradition the club continues to develop and respond to social changes. Several decades ago it abandoned all male membership and in recent years the club has had several distinguished female presidents.

Evenings of entertainment are held by the Club throughout the year and there is also an annual church service in the Old West Kirk.

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