Ayr Writers’ Club Join Raconteurs In The Bachelors’ Club

By Tracy Harvey


As we approach Burns Night, orators and raconteurs the length and breadth of Scotland will be narrating the tale of Tam O Shanter, addressing that great chieftain o the puddin race, the haggis, and praying along with that auld hypocrite, Holy Willie.

For spoken word has long been the tradition of Scotland, going back to the days where most folk had never been taught to read or write and had little, or no, access to books. So stories were passed from one generation to the next in the form of story, rhyme or song.

Burns’ mother, Agnes, was said to have had a lovely singing voice as did his wife Jean Armour, and this was, apparently, an attribute Burns (who apparently couldnae sing a note), admired in a woman.

Another female who is alleged to have had a great influence on Robert Burns was his mother’s elderly relative, Betty Davidson, who used to entertain Robert and his wee brothers and sisters with stories of “devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, deil-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, enchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery.”

It is easy to imagine the weans sitting round the hearth, listening to Betty’s stories, their wee faces a picture.

In last week’s “Write Stuff” article, Fiona McFadzean spoke of how members of Ayr Writers’ Club, in keeping with oral tradition, have been getting involved in the music and spoken word events held in Cameron’s Bar.

Another stage to practice our oratory skills will be The Bachelors’ Club in Tarbolton, available on the first Thursday of every month, starting  on 7th February.

Hugh Farrell, a volunteer at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and raconteur of Burns poetry, has initiated this step along with the management of the Bachelors’ Club.

So far, 35 local poets, writers, storytellers and musicians from the local Burns clubs, Ayr Writers’ Club, and the Monologue Monday people from Cameron’s Bar, have put forward their names to “dae a turn” in this historic building. Musicians will entertain us with traditional Scottish ballads and contemporary Scottish songs.

Tracy Harvey


Spoken word acts include reciters of Burns and other Scots poetry, both traditional and contemporary, storytellers and authors who will read from their Scots language or Scots culture works.

With such a grand turn out of volunteer performers, the Bachelors’ Club will be able to host a variety of performers over different nights.

Performers and audience members are asked to make a small donation, on the night, which will go directly to the Bachelors’ Club for essential maintenance.

Of course, we’re not the first orators to practice here, for the Bachelors’ Club is where Robert Burns and his peers first debated “matters of love, education and social standing” with a “frank, honest and open heart.” One significant difference from Burns’ days is that there will be a variety of female orators!

Hugh Farrell envisages the formation of a debating group as a further development within the Bachelors’ Club, following in the footsteps of Burns and his peers. In a similar vein, a public speaking group has been suggested, with constructive feedback offered to participants, with the aim of promoting confidence in public speaking and coaching people in gaining skills on “thinking on the spot”.

It’s grand to see the recent mix of poets, writers and performers, from different age groups, backgrounds and with different influences and aspirations, getting together at different events. Recent events have included a “bilingual” workshop in both Scots and English language at Ayr Writers’ Club and, as facilitator for the evening, I was treated to a fine selection of verse from both sides of the Border.  A further event took place when regular performers from Cameron’s Bar and Ayr Writers’ Club were invited to participate in New Cumnock Burns Club’s Scots Verse Night, hosted by Robert Burns Birthplace Museum scriever, Rab Wilson. The sentiment was returned when Wullie Dick fae New Cumnock Burns Club came to “Cameron’s Christmas Cracker” at Christmas to recite with us and support the local food banks.

The next project will see Ayr Writers’ Club members participating with other local poets, on Ayr High Street, to celebrate the Bard on “The Poets Podium” as part of “Burns Hame Toun” supported by South Ayrshire Council on Sunday 27th January from 12-5pm. The recital will end with Burns’ much-loved poem on equality A Man’s a Man For A That, with an invitation extended to the public to join in.

The following evening (Monday 28th January at 8pm) will see a Scottish night in Cameron’s Bar with input from performers and writers from Ayr Writers’ Club as well as New Cumnock Burns Club.

Cameron’s Bar

It looks like there’s a bit of a Scottish enlightenment happening right now in Ayr, and I’m glad to say that Ayr Writers’ Club is part of it.


Tracy Harvey is a member of Ayr Writers’ Club. The Club meets every Wednesday from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at the Mercure Hotel, Dalblair Road, Ayr. There is a £3 charge for visitors, who are always welcome.

One comment

  1. Allan McMillan

    We are a folk duo called Bletherskyte, (resident in Carrick, Ayrshire) and would be happy to support the Batchelors Club initiative with a few Scots Songs this year and beyond.

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