Peter McBride parades in the haggis at a previous Robbie Burns Dinner.

Annual Robbie Burns dinner set for bard’s birthday

You don't have to be Scottish to enjoy haggis in Sooke

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,

The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;

Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,

The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

 

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;

My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.

 

Those are the words of the immortal Scottish bard and poet Robbie Burns. He was known as the “ploughman poet” because of his hands on experience with farming. Although his family was impoverished and went bankrupt, Burns acquired an education with knowledge of French, Latin, Shakespeare, Milton and Dryden.

He was a rebel who supported the French Revolution, fathered a number of illegitimate children and rebelled against Calvinism and the social mores of his time. His first works were published in 1786. He died of rheumatic fever in 1796 after publishing his last major work. He is regarded as Scotland’s national poet and celebrations of his birth take place all over the world every year on January 25 or thereabouts. This year is his 256th birthday.

Local lovers of Scottish fare, the bagpipes and a wee dram of whiskey will gather together on Sunday, January 25 at the Royal Canadian Legion for the annual Robbie Burns dinner. The Sooke Pipes and Drums will lead the march into the hall where the revered haggis will be the star of the evening. Roast beef and haggis, along with the appropriate accouterments round out the dinner.

The haggis, beloved by the Scots and reviled by many others is actually the star of the evening. After the Address to the Haggis, a dagger is plunged into the savoury pudding and the evening begins. The haggis is a peasant dish, a combination of organ meat, oatmeal, suet and spices. It’s actually quite tasty and not “offal” at all.  And the best part of all — you don’t need to be Scottish to enjoy the dinner.

There will be a silent and a live auction.

Entertaining is Janet McTavish and Mary Ross.

Cocktails begin at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6. Tickets are $35 and are available at the Legion bar or from any Sooke Pipes and Drums member.

The event is the major annual fundraiser for the Sooke Pipes and Drums. The Sooke Pipes and Drums perform at many occasions in Sooke over the year.