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Robbie Burns Night celebrated with tradition and song

In-person social gathering and live music by Desperate for Haggis at Bobby’s Olde World Tavern

Robbie Burns Night was celebrated this year in-person with live music entertainment from the local traditional Celtic band Desperate for Haggis at Bobby’s Olde World Tavern on Wednesday evening, Jan 25. 

“We always have celebrated in the same way like we always have done [in the past with the band] Desperate for Haggis,” said Monica Haakenson-Cullen, owner of Bobby’s Place.  “We are piping in the haggis.  

“Looking around, I think tonight might be a bigger volume of people [this year].”

During the two years of the pandemic, smaller scale Robbie Burn’s Night events took place at Timothy Eaton and last year at St. Andrew’s church.

She says her father Bobby was the owner before she was and wanted to make sure the pub was built around Scottish culture, history and origin. This culture and tradition have been a mainstay for the last 20 years. 

“We’ve done this for 20 years; we’ll continue to do it for another 20,” she said.  

Moose Jaw Mayor Clive Tolley was in on the celebration and said, “We try to keep up the family tradition by coming and celebrating Robbie Burns night.” He says his grandparents, both from his mother’s side, came from Scotland (one from Glasgow and one from Edinburgh). He also says it’s a family tradition to attend Burns night every year.

“It’s a long traditional celebration night for Scots in particular, but not only just Scots who toast, celebrate and appreciate what Robbie Burns from Scotland represented with his life contribution way back in the 1800s but also the whole world gave recognition,” Don Mitchell from Desperate For Haggis said.

He says Burns was born on Jan. 25, 1759.  He also said that Burns's poetry and music was recognized internationally and spoke about progressive issues around liberty, freedom and ending slavery.

“We have a long history of Robbie Burns night and St. Patrick’s Day,” Doug Shepherd from Desperate For Haggis said.

He says the band was formed in 2006, when he and Don Mitchell joined forces.  They won the Best Music Award for the 2012 Hometown parade. Later Terry Lavineway joined the band.

The evening started with an introductory speech from Don Mitchell, followed by the piping in of the “haggis” by Michelle Carline-Gallagher playing the bagpipes and her husband carrying it.    Gallagher then recited the famous poem Address to a Haggis written by Burns in the Scottish tradition. This poem resulted in making haggis the national dish of Scotland. 

After the poem, the traditional toast to Burns and the haggis was held, followed by Desperate for Haggis playing traditional Scottish folk songs.

“It was a fun get-together for Robbie Burns,” said fellow Scotts person Carline-Gallagher, who said it was her first time back since the pandemic began.   

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