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Tannahill
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Robert Tannahill was born on 3 June 1774 at Castle Street,in Paisley’s West End. Although the house of his birth is now long gone, a memorial has recently been erected to mark his birthplace.

The sixth of nine children,his father was a silk weaver and the family moved to a thatched cottage at 11 Queen Street in Paisley.

The cottage which can still be seen today has recently been rebuilt after a fire destroyed much of the building - the main casualty of the rebuild being the loss of the thatched roof. The building is still in use today as the base for the Paisley Burns Club , which was formed by Tannahill himself in 1805, and the Tannahill/MAcDonald Club.

History

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Tannahill received a basic education but he read widely and showed an early interest for poetry. When he was twelve he was apprenticed to his father as a weaver.He continued his self education, learning to play the flute and going to theatre performances in Glasgow.

In the years following his fathers death in 1802 he began to publish his poetry, in some cases as words to existing tunes, particularly Irish music. Frail and shy, his poetry was often inspired by the countryside around Paisley.

Despite having a deformity in his right leg, he would go for long walks in the Gleniffer Braes above the town. Poems such as "The Braes of Gleniffer" and "The Flower O' Levern Side" were about local haunts. He also wrote about soldiers and war as the loss of life during the Napoleonic Wars had an affect on him.

He was often prone to bouts of depression and he drowned himself in a canal in Paisley on 17 May 1810. He was buried in Castlehead Church.Tannahill was buried in what is now Castlehead Church in 1810 in a simple grave and in 1867 a monument was erected over his grave as a tribute to him and his poetry.

A statue of Robert Tannahill was erected in Abbey Close to commemorate Paisley’s most famous poet.

To mark the 200th anniversary of his death, a series of events were organized. A wreath was laid at his statue in Abbey Close by Provost Celia Lawson and members of the Tannahill/MacDonald Club. The delegation then moved on to Castlehead Church to open a new walkway up to the poets burial place.

The Robert Tannahill Federation also organized an exhibition of Tannahill’s works and life and  organized a sellout concert by The Tannahill Weavers, seen right with Davey Mullen (back) :-

Robert Tannahill "Etched in Time" Exhibition by Davey Mullen of the Robert Tannahill Federation 11 - 24 May 2010. Paisley Arts Centre, Renfrewshire, Scotland. A display of photographs, images, songs and memorabilia relating to the life and works of Paisley born weaver - poet, and songwriter, Robert Tannahill, born 3 June 1774, died 17 May 1810. “This is part of my tribute to Paisley's premier hero, surpassed only by Robert Burns in terms of fame throughout Scotland.”  Click here to link to the Robert Tannahill Federation

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Image licenced to David Mullen. Photography by Stewart McKenzie

Copyright Stewart McKenzie 2010.

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