2014 – “The Whistle” Competition

“The Whistle – A Ballad” tells the story of a drinking competition which took place in 1683 and was won by Robert Lawrie, Baronet of Maxwellton, who was the last man standing. His prize was an ebony whistle, which then remained in his family for almost a century.

The contest was later repeated at Friars Carse on 16th October, 1879, involving Robert Lawrie, 3rd Baronet of Maxwellton, Robert Riddell of Glenriddell and Alexander Ferguson of Craigdarroch. John McMurdo was the judge and Robert Burns was a witness and the official recorder of the contest. After it was won, Burns then set the event to rhyme, consisting of 18 verses.

7 years ago, Thornhill and District Burns Club, hosted a recitation competition for the poem, which has become a prestigious annual event in the competitions calendar.

On the evening of Saturday 18 October, 2014, the Thornhill and District Burns Club hosted the Annual “The Whistle – A Ballad” Competition at Ellisland Farm near Dumfries.

It was adjudicated by a panel of three, including last years winner Jimmy Law of Poosie Nancy’s Burns Club, Skelmorlie.

Jamie Donnelly, a member of The Mother Club, entered the competition for the first time.

The poetry evening starts with each competitor reciting a poem of their own choice or singing a song if they wish. This is not judged but is supposed to relax the competitor while entertaining the assembled audience at the same time.

The competitors then take it in turns to recite the poem to the best of their ability, which should be both entertaining and grammatically correct.

The audience were certainly entertained by numerous excellent renditions of the poem. The worthy winner on the evening was Neil MacGillivary from Glasgow. He was then presented with a replica of the whistle, which he keeps for one year.

The competition was followed by a light buffet, which was enjoyed by all present.

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