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[Audio] Western Kentucky Highland Society Celebrates 'The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns'

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Anyone who sang "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve sang the words of Robert Burns. Suppers celebrating the Scottish poet have been a global tradition since his death in 1796, and the Western Kentucky Highland Society continues the tradition in Murray on January 23. On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with proud Scotsman Robert Valentine about Burns, 'neeps and tatties' and a poem about haggis.

January 25th is Robert Burns' birthday and hundreds of suppers will be held around the world celebrating the poet. Valentine says the Scots spent centuries under domination of the English government and take this opportunity to celebrate something uniquely Scottish.

Burns was one of the greatest poets in the English language, Valentine says, with oft-quoted lines such as "Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind," "The best laid plans often go astray," "I wish he could see himself as others see him" and "Time and tide will wait for no man."

Haggis is a central part of the supper, beginning with an ode to the traditional Scottish dish, followed by a procession with a whisky bearer and guards. Valentine describes haggis as typically not the the finest cuts of meat finely diced and mixed with oatmeal and spices. It's then put into boiled and scraped sheep stomachs as casing, sewn together, boiled and baked so that the exterior becomes crisp.

The Robert Burns Supper starts at 6 p.m. and following the procession of the haggis will be a toast to the piper, the grace and dinner. You don't have to eat the haggis, he says, but it will be an appetizer. Dinner will be Shepherd's Pie with 'neeps and tatties' (turnips and potatoes), followed by a trifle for dessert. A series of toasts continue with one to Murray, to the ladies, the ladies response and one to the "immortal memory of Robert Burns."

More about the event

Credit Murray Highland Festival, Facebook
Robert Burns Event Flyer

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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