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Robert Tannahill – A Paisley Poet


Tannahills Statue
Tannahills Statue

In the Abbey Churchyard, opposite the main entrance to the Clark Town Hall.

Robert Tannahill, son of a Paisley weaver, and himself trained to follow his father’s calling, was one of Scotland’s sweetest native minstrels. Indeed, he takes rank with Lady Carolina Nairne -with whose genius his had much in common as a worthy compeer of Robert Burns; and in thus honouring one of the most distinguished of her sons, Paisley simply paid her own share of that wider homage yielded to this sweet singer wherever his beautiful songs have gone. The statue was erected as the outcome of open-air concerts held annually at Gleniffer Braes, on the anniversary of the poet’s birthday, in the years 1877-1884, the beautiful grounds being generously thrown open by the proprietor, Joseph Fulton, Esq. of The Glen. The handsome sum of £1100 was raised by this admirable display of public and artistic spirit. The statue is 7 feet 6 inches in height, and stands on a beautiful red granite pedestal. Along with the bas-relief on the front of the pedestal, the statue was modelled by D. W. Stevenson, A.R.S.A., Edinburgh, the design being selected from a number sent in competition by various eminent sculptors. The poet is represented as listening to the singing of one of his songs by a group of country maidens, than which, he wrote, ”nothing ever gave me greater pleasure.” Paisley of to-day has been kinder to Tannahill than was the Paisley of old; and has in this, and in many other ways, shown that it admires the genius, and mourns the sad and premature death of that townsman whom Gilfillan styled “a bit of Burns broken off.”


Tannahill's Birth Cottage
Tannahill’s Birth Cottage

Situated at 32 Castle Street; route by High Street and Wellmeadow Street (by car) till Castle Street, on the left, is reached. *(Now Demolished)

The house in which Tannahill was born, and which belonged to his parents, as was common among the weavers of the older dispensation, no longer exists, the present being merely a, house built on the identical site. (This house has also now long gone in 2015) The tablet, which is inscribed :-

BORN 3RD JUNE, 1774.
Here Nature first waked me to rapture and love,
And taught me her beauties to sing.

was taken from the old house, which had fallen into great disrepair. The centenary of Tannahill was publicly celebrated in Paisley in the year 1874. A procession to, and concert at, The Glen, and a public banquet attended by the leading -citizens, attested the esteem in which the memory of the gentle weaver poet is held by, all classes of the community.


Tannahillls Cottage
Tannahillls Cottage

Queen Street (next street), west of Castle Street, approached through Cross Street.

Tannahill’s parents having built and removed to this house while he was still young, it was here that he spent his early days, and those of his ripe and productive manhood. Here he lived and laboured, and here his body was brought after his lamented death in May, 1810. It is recorded that Tannahill fixed a rude little desk in such a position on his loom that he could there write down the fancies which struck his brain while his web was progressing. Doubtless those exquisite Scottish lyrics, “Gloomy Winter’s noo awa’,” “The Braes o’ Gleniffer,” “Bonnie Wood o’ Craigielea,” and many other of the sweet songs associated with his name were composed by Tannahill within this building. Numerous editions of his poems and songs have been published, the best among these being The Centenary Edition, by David Semple, Writer, which forms a fitting literary memorial of the distinguished lyrist.


Tannahills Grave
Tannahills Grave

ln the burying-ground of Canal Street U.P. Church (Castlehead Church); route, a continuation of Castle Street, a little beyond the bridge over railway.  This memorial stone is erected over the remains of the poet. It is a plain but elegant monument, and bears the following inscription:-

BORN 3rd JUNE, 1774
DIED 17th MAY, 1810




The Above is taken from the 1896 Guide to Paisley published by J & R Parlane.

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