MOST of us encountered the singing of, or sang, Auld Lang Sang at least once this week!
But how many of us are aware that Belfast’s Linen Hall Library boasts the largest collection in the world of Robert Burns’ artefacts and ephemeral material, outside his homeland in Scotland?
Entitled ‘Burns and Burnsiana’, a free exhibition of this amazing collection opens in the library on Monday and runs until the end of the month. Besides countless New Year’s Eve renditions of Auld Lang Sang, the poetry of Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) continues to entertain and interest lovers of literature in every corner of the globe.
The bulk of the Linen Hall Library’s Burns collection was amassed by Andrew Gibson in the last decades of the 19th century. It was acquired for the Library by public subscription in 1901 for the vast sum of £1,000. Subsequently a number of items were presented to the Library by Burns’s great-granddaughter, Mrs Eliza Everitt, including a lot of historical material not generally available to the public. There are no original Burns manuscripts, but the exhibition demonstrates in depth the huge and international popularity of Burns in the 19th century, and includes a wide range of ephemeral material. There are all sorts of pottery and old pieces of earthen ware depicting Burns and his writings, books from Burns’ library, and penny music sheets of his other songs. He wrote many more songs than the awesomely ubiquitous Auld Lang Sang! And carrying on a tradition that began in the late 18th century, there is a Burns supper on January 23 featuring the ‘Address to a Haggis’, bagpipes of course, Burns Alive speaker Christopher Tait, and a three course meal with drinks and a dram or two!
You are invited to “come dressed for the occasion in Highland fashion (or not) and be entertained with some of the Bard’s best-known pieces including To a Mouse, Tam o’Shanter and Auld Lang Syne.”
Further information on tickets for the supper, for the ‘Burns and Burnsiana’ exhibition, and for the library’s other events are on www.linenhall.com