Cantab DC Burns Night 2014: Daniel Gallagher (Clare College)  

Burns Supper a Sold Out Success!

The 255th Celebration of the Scottish Bard, Rabbie Burns

On Saturday 25 January 2014 the Cambridge Society of Washington DC assembled to celebrate the 255th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns for the sixth consecutive year. A packed hall of fifty five Cambridge Alumni and their guests gathered at the Elephant & Castle Pub – located just East of the White House – to celebrate the favorite Bard of Scotland.

The night commenced with a reception featuring traditional Scottish ales and lagers at half six. When the crowds were seated the festivities commenced with an introduction by David Humphries (King’s) who - as resident Scotsman and the Chairman of the Cambridge Society of DC - served as MC for the Supper. Humphries then invited fellow Scotsman, Daniel Gallagher (Clare College), who hails from the Fife Region, to give the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

Sae let the Lord be thankit.

As the crowd commenced with its first course, Humphries again rose and assembled a hodgepodge of eight other volunteers to give the recitation of the Address to the Haggis. As the assembled eight put on Scottish accents of varying quality, a Haggis was brought forth and sliced up and “O what a glorious sight, warm-reeking rich!” As the crowds helped themselves to the Haggis and the entrees were served, Humphries then gave the traditional speech: “The Immortal (and not so Immortal) Memory: Burns and his Predecessors” on the evolution of Scottish literature from the ballads of William Dunbar to present day slang with excerpts of Burns throughout.

 

As the speech ended the Highland Bread Pudding was served and Peter Hansen (Hughes) and Beth Schill (St. Edmund’s) rose for the traditional Toast to the Lads and Lassies, entitled "The Ballad of John and Nancy", which was presented as a (somewhat untraditional) dialogue between John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Minority Leader. The poem was again a Humphries original and a tremendous display of both wit and vulgarity that keep the crowds roaring.

 

As the poetry ended, Brenna Kelly a visiting representative from Cambridge in America, rose to congratulate the Cambridge Society of DC and its volunteers for winning the Sandy Ross MacDonald award. Kelly noted that Cantab DC is the first group to have won the award in North America and was selected on the basis of “having demonstrated an outstanding level of creativity, innovation, leadership in service.” Kelly also invited all alumni to attend the next Cambridge in America Day in New York City, which will take place on 29 March 2014.  

At the end of the evening the group broke into singing the original Scottish version of Auld Lang Syne, where the native English tongues got tied around the third verse. As the formal festivities ended the crowds once again rushed the bar and conversed until closing. The full event program can be viewed online.

The Society would like to make special thanks to all the volunteers, including Daniel Gallagher (Clare College), David Humphries (King's), Elizabeth Schill (St. Edmund's), Alan Hickling (Emmanuel), Ariane Rossen (Clare Hall),  Josef Martens (Wolfson), Peter Hansen (Hughes), Eden Hansen for taking this year's pictures, and especially Bob Forte (Selwyn) for organizing this year’s Burns Night and for cooking the Haggis!

Until next year!