2012 – Greenock Burns Club Seminar

Following his visit to Greenock Burns Club in May, 2011, Professor G. Ross Roy kept his promise to return by accepting our invitation to be the principal guest speaker at our Seminar which was held in Lyle Kirk Union Street, Greenock.

All did not go according to plan, mainly due to Ross’s flight being delayed by 50 hours!

Immediate Past President Margaret Dickson, accompanied by Bill McCreadie, met Ross in Glasgow on the Friday and conveyed him to Greenock, where they visited the Highland Mary Monument at Greenock Cemetery, where they drank “a wee toast.”

After phoning home to alert his family of his safe arrival, Ross enjoyed an informal meal at the Tontine Hotel and a get together with members of the Mother Club.

Ross entertained everyone with stories of his travels and his involvement with the University of Carolina. Ross expressed his delight at being involved with the Greenock Burns Club and intimated that he always felt “at home” at the Club.

On the Saturday morning, Ross was conveyed the short distance from the hotel to the Lyle Kirk for the seminar.

Professor Roy was accompanied by three of his dear friends:

Dr. Ken Simpson is a founding Director of the Centre for Scottish Cultural Studies at the University of Strathclyde, he organised the Burns’ International Conference for 15 years and has received many honours for his literary studies.

Professor Gerard Carruthers – is Professor of Scottish Lierature” at the University of Glasgow and a Co-Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University.

Colin Hunter McQueen – is a very well known artist, sculptor and craftsman, and a much respected Burnsian and collector of Burns Memorabilia.

Professor Roy, a major contributor to Scottish Literary Studies and Burns Academia, travelled from South Carolina to present his paper – Robert Burns “As Other’s Saw Him.”

The paper was read by his good friend Colin Hunter McQueen.

Professor Roy’s Paper outlined how various translations in the 19th and 20th Cenntury had treated the subject of Burns and highland mary, mainly in two languages – French and German.

The paper covered the works of Hans Hecht, Leon De Wailly, Richard De Madelaine and John Claude Crapoulett.

Professor Roy described areas of inaccuracy lost in the various translations, covering controversial points such as sexuality, alcoholism, religion, politics and class prejudices or preferences.

The French and German languages were chosen as there have been more translations of Burns into German than any other language.

French was chosen because Augusta Angellier’s study of the poet in the words of Professor Roy “By wide odds the most important foreign language work on Burns”.

Brief mention was made of translations in other languages.

The paper was concluded with Professor Roy thanking his good friend Colin Hunter McQueen for the ‘Use of his eyes” in delivering the paper.

The full script of Professor Roy’s paper – “As Other’s Saw Him” can be found here

2012 Seminar25Dr Simpson’s paper – Burns “Love and Poesy” highlighted the various influences in the life of the Poet, shaping his outlook on life and poetry.

This was evident in his perception on the treatment of the many women in Burns’ life.

His various occupations also played a major part on his outlook on life.

Dr Simpson singled out in particular the following works for examination.

Thou Lingering Star, My Highland Lassie O, Highland Mary, Will Ye go to the Indies Mary, Sweet Afton, Bonnie Bell and The Gallant Weaver.

Dr Simpson’s paper had many humorous conclusions, and was also very stimulating and thought provoking, exploring the Poet’s relationships and the influences on his work.

Professor Gerard Carruthers paper ” In Search of Highland Mary” gave the observations on a subject of local interest.

Professor Carruther’s paper was stimulating and uplifting, leaving the audience at the Seminar anxious for more of the results of future research.

Not only were we treated to a wonderful lecture on Highland Mary and Burns lives, the most interesting feature of the talk was an insight into the application of Forensic Science in the research of Highland Mary and Robert Burns.

Professor Carruthers indicated that much exciting work was ongoing.

“In Search of Highland Mary” and the works of Burns entailed much traditional research but had been greatly enhanced by the use of modern science.

Due to Professor Roy’s failing eyesight – Colin Hunter McQueen delivered his good friend’s Paper with great clarity and sincerity, after which Professor Roy thanked him for “the use of his eyes”

Colin has produced many fine works of art and written many books illustrating the life of Robert Burns. His work includes models of the QE2 and the Royal Yacht Britannia, which are housed in the Glasgow Museum of Transport. His model of the Burns Mausoleum is particularly outstanding.

Colin kindly exhibited a number of the various pieces of his own collection of memorabilia on the subject of Highland Mary, which kept the interest on all who attended the seminar.

After the seminar, the guest speakers, accompanied by a good number of Club members, re-attended at the Tontine Hotel, where they enjoyed a well-earned lunch.

The members of the Greenock Burns Club would like to thank our speakers for their excellent presentations and to all who attended for their support of what was an excellent seminar.


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