AROUND 200 people attended the unveiling of a memorial stone to commemorate the visit of Robert Burns to Kilbirnie.

Scotland’s Bard came to the town in 1785 and to celebrate this event, a memorial was unveiled on Saturday, June 3 at the front of Kilbirnie Auld Kirk.

Two long-established Kilbirnie Burns clubs were involved in the project to commemorate the Bard visiting Kilbirnie – the Rosebery Burns Club and the Garnock Burns Club.

The memorial stone was conceived and created by Colin Hunter McQueen, writer, historian, and graphic artist, and an honorary member of the Rosebery Burns Club.

McQueen performed the unveiling of the stone, which followed a service in the Auld Kirk led by Rev Dave Whiteman.

Accounts of the Bard’s Kilbirnie visit were read from old newspapers, including articles from the Herald dated 1894.

During his visit, Burns had attended Kilbirnie Horse Fair and bought what he thought was a fine sturdy horse, “a highland Donald Hastie”.

Former Herald correspondent Donald Reid said of the Bard’s newly-purchased animal: “It turned out to be a great disappointment as it failed to be up for the various tasks of a working horse.

“However, this particular horse will forever be remembered in poetry as A damn’d red-wud Kilburnie Blastie, so called in Burns’ poem, The Inventory.”

The memorial stone was cast by Kingstone Ltd, Kilwinning, the metal plaque by Ballantyne Iron Co, Ltd, Boness, and the inscription and manufacture by William Walker and Co, Glasgow.

After the unveiling, a purvey was provided by the ladies of the Auld Kirk in Kirk House. There was also a short Burns Supper with speakers and performers held in Kilbirnie Masonic Hall.

Donald added: “The churchyard setting for the unveiling of the Burns memorial was for centuries, the final resting place for generations of Kilbirnie folk.

“Gravestones and monuments within the churchyard bear dates, which are contemporary with the visit to Kilbirnie of Robert Burns.

“Indeed it is very possible, that some of those buried there were present at the Horse Fair in May 1785 and perhaps bore witness to the purchase of the “blastie” by Scotland’s Bard.”