SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, has used a Holyrood debate on ‘The Economic Potential of Robert Burns’ to invite all MSPs to visit Irvine’s Wellwood Burns Centre & Museum – deeming Irvine the ‘best kept secret in the Burns world’.

The MSP began her speech by pointing out how she was surprised and disappointed that the website of the focal point for all things Burns, the Centre for Burns Studies, makes no reference to Irvine – without a doubt the Cradle of the Poet.

In 1781, a young Robert Burns arrived in Irvine as an Apprentice Flax Worker. By the time he left Irvine the following year, he had resolved ‘to endeavour at the character of a poet’ – in large part due to friendship that developed between Burns and local sea captain, Richard Brown, who encouraged him to become a poet.

To quote Ms Maguire, “Burns the man may have been born in Alloway – but Burns the poet was born in Irvine.”

Ms Maguire also told the Chamber how Irvine is home not only to the oldest Burns club in the world but also the Wellwood Burns Centre & Museum and its impressive collection of Burns related items – from priceless original manuscripts and letters to rare and significant books and paintings.  The collection includes six of the original manuscripts which Burns sent to the printer John Wilson in Kilmarnock for his famous Kilmarnock Edition, as well as CM Hardie’s world famous 1887 painting, ‘Burns in Edinburgh’, and original letters from Robert Burns to his friend David Sillar.

Speaking in the debate, Ms Maguire said:

“It’s often said that Irvine is the best kept secret in the Burns’ world –but we don’t want to keep it a secret any longer.

We want it to enjoy the national and international recognition that it deserves – and we want to see Irvine take its place as the Burns related cultural tourism hotspot that it should rightly be.

So as Burns Day approaches, I’d like to extend an invite everyone to come to Irvine and see the magnificent collection that the museum has to offer for themselves.”

The MSP has also written directly to all MSPs in the West of Scotland to invite them to come to Irvine and see the magnificent collection that the museum has to offer for themselves.