T he tartan is packed away for another year, my crazy cousins from Scotland have returned home and I am still having happy flashbacks of a wonderful weekend of celebration, of fun and of friendship. I can only describe Burns Weekend at Harvey’s Point as like being at an Irish / Scottish wedding that lasts for two or three days! As there is no Bride and Groom, the focus of celebration is on a famous Scottish poet (Robert Burns), whisk(e)y and a Haggis! Strange combination but it really works!
Burns Weekend is the highlight of the January calendar at Harvey’s Point. The event marks the birth date of ‘Rabbie Burns’. The idea to host a Burns Supper originated from my late father, Joe Mc Glone. Having taught Latin for many years in Scotland, he developed a deep love for the works of Burns, whose way with words had the power to entertain, surprise and touch the heart. They both shared the same love of life and of living it to the full. Of course, there have always been strong links between Donegal and Scotland, as we share a rich heritage of history, culture and music. Most of all, we know how to have a great party!
The weekend started off with the steady flow of guests arriving on Friday afternoon. There were lots of smiles and hugs as we welcomed our regular guests and it was great to see so many new faces as well. The first event of the programme was a Ceilidh in the Garden Suite, with music by the great Gary Blair Ceilidh Band, who had just flown in from Glasgow. This was followed by a Sing-a-Long in Memories Bar, hosted by Richard Hurst & Frank Galligan, with local entertainers, Jim & Fiona. Richard, a true Scottish gentleman, with an extensive knowledge of the works of Burns, has played a key role in the success of Burns Weekend at Harvey’s Point over the past sixteen years. It was a lovely evening of poetry and songs by the fireside. Many guests performed their favourite Scottish ‘party piece’. Prizes were awarded to three special people – Leonard and Sandy who recited poems that they had written themselves, and my charming young nephew, Eoin, who enthralled everyone with the moving ballad, ‘Caledonia’.
Walk with Rabbie
Saturday morning dawned dry and sunny. Following a hearty breakfast, a large group of us set off for our ‘Walk with Rabbie’, along the shores of Lough Eske. Some said it was called the ‘Hangover Cure Walk’ and if it was, it certainly did the trick in that regard! We gathered round at the edge of the lake, and it was moving to listen to poetry and songs in harmony with the gentle lapping of the water and the leaves of the trees fluttering in the breeze. It was planned to stop off on the way back to the hotel at our house for ‘Tea & Hot Toddies’. As the group approached the lane, a lone but lively piper was there to greet them and lead them to the ‘Stables’ where the refreshments were prepared. More poetry followed and then people headed back for the Scottish dance workshop, organised by Richard. Next up was a cookery demonstration by our Head Chef, Chris and his team. The truth is that myself and my cousins, Danny and Sean, had sneaked off to visit an elderly uncle in Ballintra, whereby we had a few pints with him, which was great fun. However, we arrived back just in time to sample a most delicious, full flavoured and comfortingly creamy soup. Chris captured the taste of this Scottish classic ‘Cullen Skink’ – not an enticing name for a soup, but it is full of warming wintery ingredients such as smoked fish, potatoes and cream. This was followed by a very informative and entertaining talk on the history of whisk(e)y by Sam MacDonald of High Sea Spirits.
Parade of the Haggis
Guests were greeted to the skirl of the bagpipes as the doors opened for the main event of the weekend – The Burns Supper. Marc & I welcomed everyone with a ‘wee dram’ of Drambuie and soon afterwards, everyone was upstanding for the ‘Parade of the Haggis’. How proud I was, and how proud Joe Mc Glone would have been to see his grandson, young chef Carl Gysling, at the tender age of fifteen, as the piper led the procession towards the stage for the ‘Address to the Haggis’, performed with aplomb by Richard. Haggis toasted, dinner commenced, and what a feast it was. There was plenty of choice for the main course but I stayed true to tradition and had the ‘Haggis, Neeps & Tatties’ and it was delicious. The entire banquet was served with a smile by our dedicated service team, led by Sara and Joanna.
The formalities continued later on under the direction of Chairman, Richard. Local author and broadcaster, Frank Galligan delivered a strong and humorous ‘Immortal Memory’, followed by our lovely neighbours Paul and Nicola Martin, who performed a witty ‘Toast to the Lassies’ and ‘Toast from the Lassies’. It was then time for dancing. And dancing. And dancing! I was hoping that after so many years, that I would have learned the dances, but somehow I still don’t know my ‘Dashing White Seargant’ from my ‘Gay Gordons’! Later on in the evening, we enjoyed a wee Scottish Supper followed by a Scottish Disco. As the evening drew to a close, we gathered around for ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which is a world famous song, penned by Burns to signal a call to long-standing friendships. No doubt that there was a twinkle of nostalgia in everyone’s eyes as we bade farewell to Burns Weekend 2018.
In memory of Joe McGlone
My fondest memory of Burns Weekend at Harvey’s Point is about people connecting with people. Families and friends reconnecting. Guests connecting and reconnecting. On a personal note, I think of my Daddy and my Mammy and other family members who are no longer with us. And then, I look around and see the younger generation of our family, who are in turn making memories of their own as they dine and dance, with the common bond that is Burns. And Joe McGlone. And Harvey’s Point. And each other!
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