IT IS 261 years to the day since our national poet Robert Burns was born.

While Ayrshire rightly claims him as its favourite son, Glasgow has many connections to the Bard too.

The most well-known is his association with the Black Bull Inn on Argyle Street, once a very fashionable hostelry which stood between Glassford Street and Virginia Street, (where Marks and Spencer is now).

(It is also said that Burns took rooms at the Saracen’s Head Inn on the Gallowgate, a popular tavern at the east end of the city.)

The Black Bull Inn was founded by the Highland Gaelic Society and built by merchant John Glassford, after whom the street is named, in 1759. For Burns, it was a favourite haunt, in which he is said to have written at least one, perhaps more, of the romantic love letters he sent to Nancy McLehose.

Glasgow Times:

Ae Fond Kiss, one of the poet’s best known works, was written for Nancy, a surgeon’s daughter who was born on the Saltmarket in 1759, the same year as Burns. Her husband, James McLehose, had deserted her and she and Burns exchanged many moving letters, signing them as Clarinda and Sylvander to keep their identities hidden.

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At the corner of Virginia Street, on the wall of the M&S store, a plaque commemorating the poet’s visits to the Black Bull reads: “Robert Burns lodged here when this building was the Black Bull Inn. He visited Glasgow June 1787, February and March 1788.”

In the late 19th century, there was a movement to commemorate Burns with a series of statues, starting with the Burns Monument in Kilmarnock in 1881.

In Glasgow, Baillie Wilson co-ordinated the efforts of a small committee who had come up with the idea to build a memorial to Burns in the city on a shilling subscription basis. It was the crowdfunder of its day - 40,000 Glaswegians responded and more than £2000 was raised.

Glasgow Times:

The statue of Robert Burns was erected in 1877 in George Square. The sculptor was George Edwin Ewing. On the day of its unveiling, members of the Trades Associations and Societies of the city assembled in Glasgow Green to march to George Square, where they joined a 30,000-strong crowd who had gathered to watch.

The author of the likes of Auld Lang Syne, My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose and Ode to a Haggis among many others, is shown as a superior Scottish peasant, in a frock-coat, waistcoat and knee breeches, holding a flower in his hand, and deep in poetic contemplation.

Burns was also inspired by Glasgow woman Clementina Walkinshaw, whose father was James Walkinshaw of Barrowfield.

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Clementina was the mistress of Bonnie Prince Charlie, to whom, in 1746 she bore a daughter while Charlie’s Highlanders were occupying Glasgow. The child later became the Duchess of Albany, which prompted the Burns song, The Bonnie Lass of Albany.

And finally, Burns had many acquaintances in Glasgow, including Saltmarket shoemaker David Bryce, Virginia Street draper Robert McIndoe and James Candlish who studied in the city – as did Burns’s son Robert Burns Junior, graduating in 1802.

His daughter, Betty, lived on Glasgow’s southside when she married soldier, John Thompson, in 1808. She is buried in Kirk Lane Burial Ground in Pollokshaws.

Glasgow Times:

Burns lives on in Glasgow , of course, in the Mitchell Library’s famous collection of his works.

Containing more than 5000 items, and believed to be one of the largest in the world, the collection includes more than 900 editions of the works including two copies of the 1786 Kilmarnock edition; 15 original manuscripts in the poet’s hand, including the only surviving letter written by Burns in Scots; translations of the works into more than 36 languages and a fascinating selection of ephemera, artefacts and scrapbooks.