Awa’ Wi’ The Haggis: Thomas More Celebrates The Legacy of Robert Burns

by Thomas More College on February 26, 2013

On Sunday, February 17, Thomas More College held its annual Robert Burns Supper, an evening of  Scottish heritage, feasting, poetry, song, and wit in honor of the Scottish poet,  hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Kitzinger.

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The evening began with bagpiping and the “Presentation of the Haggis” by freshman Joseph MacDonald.  Donning a traditional kilt, Joe recited Burns’ “Address to a Haggis” in his best  Scottish brogue while wielding a claymore and large knife. Following this,  students, faculty, family and visitors to the College’s  Winter Open House all said grace and enjoyed a traditional Scottish feast together, complete with haggis, potatoes and salmon.

While all enjoyed this sumptuous fare,  President Fahey gave a tongue-in-cheek toast in defense of the school’s love of Robert Burns, refuting the accusation of Burns’ “having more than one sweetheart” with exhortations to all the men present to follow the Scottish Bard’s example—by deepening their love and devotion to Our Lady.


The evening’s entertainment also included song. The Freshman Folk Music Guild sang a setting of Burns’ poem, “Ca’ the Yowes” in a graceful a capella harmony. This was followed by a rousing chorus  of “The Braes of Killiecrankie,” sung by the boys of St. Gregory’s Academy.

In addition to good food, friendship, and song, the night included jest. Junior Paul Guenzel proposed a toast,  “To the Lassies of Thomas More College,” a humorous, friendly jab at the school’s feminine scholars, which produced roars of laughter from all present. Jumping to the ladies’ defense, senior Elena Thelemann countered Paul’s speech with a jocular rhymed toast: “To the Laddies.”

Following dessert—consisting of  Scottish shortbread and ice cream—the banquet  adjourned with a rendition of  “For Auld Lang Syne,” accompanied by the drone of bagpipes.  After a short respite, the annual “Poetry Pub” was held in the Scholar’s Lounge of the college library. The Lounge was transformed into a pub, complete with an open bar for those older attendees wishing to partake. This yearly tradition continues the legacy of Robert Burns by preserving and sharing poetry with the school community, much to the enjoyment of all.

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Each class competed in the contest, sending two representatives, one reciting a serious piece of poetry, and one comic. The audience, mesmerized by the poetic recitations, broke out into wild applause at the conclusion of each performance. After deliberating, the judges declared the junior class’s performance triumphant.  Delegates Devin King, who recited John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud” and Jonathan Wanner,  with his comic performance of “A Sunnit to the Big Ox,’ were both awarded with prize scarves.

After the Poetry Pub, those present continued the evening with conversation and song. A group of students and faculty—replete with drums, flutes, fiddles, and guitars—played lively Irish and American folk music late into the night.

Throughout the academic year, banquets and feasts form an important part of Thomas More College’s tradition. The College’s common pursuit of truth is inspired by the  understanding that the good life is a complete life, attending not only to the needs of the mind, but to the body and spirit as well


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