THE CAIRN AND RECORDS OF DALRY BURNS CLUB
first man who compiled and wrote the records of the Dalry Burns Club,
now called the Cairn, in such a masterly fashion and with such splendid
William Logan of Coldstream, Kilbirnie. Born at Townhead on the 18th
1821, the first year his name appears in the Cairn is for the year
1853. He was
President in 1864, and he died on 26th February, 1869, a comparatively
of 48. The last year he wrote in the Cairn was for the year 1866.
Although the Dalry Burns Club is, and always has been, a purely gentleman's club,
the very first photograph in the first Cairn is that of a woman. And what a woman!
She was Jean Neil Montgomerie, hostess of Montgomerie's Inn. In a poem
she is called by the author, Andrew Aitken, "The wife o' Dalry". She was an
exceptionally fine class of woman. She was a good cook and a famous hostess, and
was toasted many a time by the members of "Dalry Burns Club". This is what
Andrew Aitken says about Mrs. Montgomerie:
There are wives that can bear and can nurse up braw bairnies
Bake scones, sew, make kebbocks, and spitz,
But there's few that can mix up a haggis, sae nicely
As the wife of Montgomerie's Inn.
Her hoose is but wee, but it's neat and well plenished,
Wi' a' things tae please, baith the mind and the eye,
And the rich and the poor and the young and the aged.
Are aye kindly used by the Wife o'Dalry
Mrs. Montgomerie died on 1st of October, 1863.
Andrew Crawford, who was the first Croupier and Secretary in 1826, was
president from the year 1828 to 1843, both years inclusive. In 1843 he
emigrated to America. He took with him the minute book of all the
suppers of the club between 1826 and 1843. In the year 1851, Andrew
Crawford sent this book back to John Montgomerie, host of the inn, from
Liberty Prairie, Illinois, U.S.A. when he was 79 years of age. Robert
Montgomerie, son of John Montgomerie, and host of the inn after his
father died in 1854 had become a member of the club in 1841. He,
however, allowed his membership to lapse when he sold the inn to Daniel
Campbell in 1863. At the supper in the year 1901, he presented this
book to Dalry Burns Club. Robert Montgomerie, who was then 81, said
that night in 1901, that he remembered the first supper in 1826, and
all the personalities who attended. The chairman at this meeting, James
Graham, cabinet-maker of Dalry, proposed a vote of thanks to Robert
Montgomerie, who was thereafter admitted as an honorary member of the
club. Robert Montgomerie was the second person to be made an honourary
member of the Dalry Burns Club.
This book, however, contains no names of whoever proposed the toast.
This seems have been one of those curious customs of the club, that the
names of whoever proposed the toasts should not be written, and a
custom which was carried out until 1861, after which the names of the
proposers of the toasts were noted in the cairn. In only one year
during this period (1852), Andrew Crawford has written in pen in his
record book the names of whoever proposed the toasts for that year.
Another of the curious old customs of the club, was that no newspaper
reporter was allowed to be at the supper for the purpose of recording
the doings of the club for the paper. This custom was carried on till
about the year 1949.
Although it was one of the unwritten rules of the club - that nothing
was ever to be seen in the papers about the club' affairs - the
chairman's toast was reported in the year 1864, the year that William
Logan (the compiler of records) was chairman. The same year, by a
curious coincidence, the croupier was also named William Logan. He was
the parochial schoolmaster of Dalry.
Here are a few extracts taken from the records of Andrew Crawford, and
as there are no names in his records, except for the year 1852, the
names included here are the names of the members who should have given
the toasts. Therefore the first toast in this book for the year 1826
must have been given by Hugh Morris, the president. He starts off with
"This is the first time our village has attempted to celebrate the
birthday of our Ayrshire Bard, Robert Burns, and certainly it reflects
very little honour on our village celebrated for song, that the
neighbouring shires have been celebrating his worth for more than
twenty years and before this night we have been mute. But better
than never" and he finishes up with these words:
"For a songwriter Burns has never been surpassed. I think this night
will prove it fully to all his friends assembled here, where each will
loose his pack, and wale a ballad o' the best. I hope the time is now
come, when his songs will have a place in every winnock sol, to be
taken up at an idle hour, and croon over, and then there will be no
want for our next meeting, this day, twelve months."
Following this, Andrew Crawford, the first Croupier and Secretary, said
to the meeting:
"Since custom prevails so much among men, that they cannot meet to be
met without drinking, nor drink without proposing a toast, I must make
the following remarks. Since we all desire the liberty of believing
things as the mind informs us, it will naturally follow, that we have
no manner of right to take away the like liberty of others. Wherefore
when I propose the health or the memory of a person who is object of my
veneration in this Burns Club, I ought naturally to conclude that all
company cannot have the same veneration for that person, nor any equal
pleasure drinking his health; consequently, my chief aim in proposing
his health is to please myself. But by doing so, I in some degree
infringe that liberty on others, which I would wish to enjoy myself. I
have therefore selected a few toasts for this night, which are as free
from party spirit, as I hope you will all join heartily in drinking."