Isn't it odd?

Isn't it odd how literary genius and licensed premises oft, like freedom and whisky, gang t'gither? The Old Boars Head (Ben Johnson) and The Mermaid (Shakespeare) spring to mind. In Dumfries, the Globe Inn, in the High Street will always be associated with Robert Burns. It is one of the country's oldest hostelries, established in 1610. Robert Burns frequented the Globe firstly from Ellisland Farm, whilst he was building the farmhouse, and subsequently...


when he moved into the town of Dumfries.Dumfries in Burns' time was economically, and socially, more significant than it is today; in 1752 it was described as the 'Scottish Liverpool' with more American tobacco trade than Glasgow. Its importance as a west coast port was emphasized by the fact that an estimated 21,000 people from all over Scotland, more than the town's own population, emigrated through Dumfries in 1851 to the United States, Australia and New Zealand.


Like any important centre, the town attracted its share of craftsmen, literary and social, and those who were politically aware; the French Revolution was at hand and nationalism was in the air. The Globe at that time was a town centre Inn of some stature and it is no wonder that the bard was drawn to it. Physically the Globe has changed little, although in 1829 it was described as a 'commodious dwelling house and garden with extensive stabling’.


This would hardly be recognized today, the building now surrounded on all sides by shops and the stable now formed into a lounge bar. However, the old rooms are still there, his chair is still intact, the fireplace thereby but above all, the Globe is still alive and far removed from some inert museum; people still congregate to chat and laugh as before. The world is smaller so that world events are received over satellite in our homes rather than outside the Globe at eight in the evening. The decline of its...


sea trade and its bypass by rail then by road meant that, geographically, Dumfries and Galloway became a haven for tourists rather than tradesmen. The fruit machine has not quite replaced the human desire for contact with your fellow men, yes and lassies too. The Globe Inn, has seemingly flourished under the watchful eye of the guid woman, and regrettably little is known of the landlords, or landladies, prior to the arrival of Robert Burns in Dumfries, when the Inn rose to prominence...


He first wrote from the Globe in October 1791, but had visited earlier, and in August 1795, in a letter to James Johnson, requested the printer and publisher to produce “a job which I beg will finish pretty soon. t is a bill, as you will see, for a tavern. The tavern keeper Hyslop is a good honest fellow and as I lie under particular obligations to him I request that you may do it for him on the most reasonable terms. The tavern is at the sign of the Globe ...". William 'Jock' Hyslop and his wife Meg were...


subsequently immortalized in a grace after meat which Burns was said to have been asked to compose by his dining companions giving thanks to the Hyslops, who had given up their own dinner - a sheep's heid no less...


April 1796 just three months before his untimely death, Burns wrote to George Thomson, a letter which “will be delivered to you by Mrs. Hyslop, a landlady of the Globe Tavern here which for these many years has been my Howff (haunt) and where...


our friend Clarke and I have had many a merry squeeze. It is a most poignant letter; worth visiting the 'snug' bar to read it in full. The Hyslops were as famous in having a niece, Anna Park, with whom Robert had an affair. The daughter of the affair was brought up by Jean Armour, Anna having died shortly after the birth; a marvellous tribute to Jean's loving forebearance. It would have been during Mrs. Hyslop's time that the Mausoleum Committee met in the Globe on the 25th January 1819...


...effectively the first Burns Supperwhen steps were taken to arrange an annual celebration which led to the formation, in 1820, of the Dumfries Burns Club. More is known of the sixty years tenure of Mrs. Jane Smith, one of the only three families to have run the Globe since Burns' time. It was Mrs. Smith who perhaps more than any other was responsible for preserving the Inn's association with the National Bard. The Burns Howff Club, instituted in 1889, held Mrs. Smith in great affection addressing her as the 'Mother'. Indeed she...


and her niece, Mrs. Grierson, were the only women honorary members of the Howff Club, until 1996 when Maureen McKerrow was made an honorary member during the bi-centenary celebrations. McKerrow family have owned the Globe since 1937, both Matthew and George becoming Burns Federation Presidents. Many still remember Jack and “Ma Broon” who had a long association with the Globe. In those days, like many other pubs of the day the back room of the Globe was very much a male working class drinking den, devoid of creature comforts but complete with a piano, of sorts, and a set of drums with every encouragement to the clientele to provide their own entertainment...


...Ma would rule her fiefdom and put up with no nonsense. If someone, to whom she did not take to, opened the sliding door of the snug he was politely told - Nae laddie, your place is next door. The present landlady, Maureen McKerrow, George's daughter-in-law, has seen, over the last 29 years much of the High Street demolished, and rebuilt, around the Globe. The building was after all originally open to the High Street, the horses being stabled in what is now the lounge bar. Some things...


...never change for in 1945, Matthew McKerrow noted that a sum had been set aside to pay for the re-roofing of the property when such work was possible (there was a lack of building materials at the time) and one imagines that the roof will need constant repair to this day. Some things do change ... He also put down that “the property should not be sold to a foreigner”! Nowadays overseas visitors are especially welcome, hopefully to receive the same warmth of hospitality experienced by the Bard....

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