The Thomas More College community gathered on Saturday, January 22 to celebrate a traditional Burns Supper, a festive occasion in honor of the 18th century Scots poet Robert Burns. Burns, called the “Bard of Ayrshire” and the “Ploughman Poet,” is known for his works written in the Scottish dialect, such as “Tam o’ Shanter,” “To a Mouse,” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
Bagpiper John Patrick Newman provided music for the night’s festivities, beginning with the customary piping in of the haggis—a sheep pudding dish. Burns’ “Address to a Haggis” was recited by senior Joseph Rudolph, whose performance culminated in cutting and serving the haggis. Before the meal, College chaplain Rev. John Healey led students, faculty, and guests in the “Selkirk Grace,” attributed also to Burns. Attendees dined on a menu of traditional Scots fare. In addition to the savory haggis, guests were served flaky meat pies, warm cock-a-leekie soup, tapioca pudding, and buttery shortbread.
After the meal, Professor Fred Fraser gave an entertaining reading of Burns’ humorous classic “Tam o’ Shanter,” which was followed by a bagpipe salute to Robert Burns. Dr. Amy Fahey delivered the Immortal Memory speech, praising Burns’ poetry and his festive world-view. To close the celebration, students and guests, led by Director of Admissions Mark Schwerdt on guitar, sang Burns’ famous song “Auld Lang Syne.”
Attendees were in high spirits during the night’s festivities. Senior Meryl Trapp said, “The Burns Supper was a fantastic experience. The bagpipe music throughout the night was so moving and soulful. Scottish cuisine is new to me, so I enjoyed tasting new foods. The haggis was delicious!”
Thomas More College hosts four such banquets each semester, providing a festive setting for celebrating the lives of saints and writers who have contributed to the development of Western Civilization.