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Paisley discovers Burns manuscript is world’s only copy


It’s been in Paisley’s collection for two centuries…now a manuscript penned by Robert Burns himself has been confirmed as the world’s only surviving copy of a rare piece of the poet’s work.


The piece – ‘Sir, Yours this moment I unseal’ – dates from 1786 and is described by experts as one which ‘any major library in the world would be proud to have’.

It was donated to Paisley around 200 years ago, just as Burns relics were becoming valuable commodities, and has been in the town ever since.

But the true significance has only now become known – with a leading Burns expert confirming that not only is the script in the bard’s own handwriting, but it is the world’s only known surviving copy of the verse.

It will go on display in Paisley Museum this week – in time for the 257th anniversary of Burns’ birth on Monday, and at a time when Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 is gathering pace.

It was originally donated to Paisley by John Clarkson of local threadmakers McGavin and Clarkson, at a time when the town was a thriving global textile hub.

The short verse shows Burns accepting an invitation to a party or social event

Professor Gerard Carruthers, co-director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow w- authenticated the piece – said: “Although this is not one of Burns’ major works, it is a hugely important manuscript.

“It is one that any collector, town in Scotland, or major library in the world would be proud to possess.

“The text was used by 19th-century editors of Burns, but then disappeared from sight for reasons that are not all that clear.

“The text is an upbeat poetic squib dating from 1786 and Burns’ first flush of fame.

“In it he accepts an invitation to a social gathering, even though he says he is at this moment as drunk as ‘Bartie’ – which has been taken as a name for the devil.

“Another intriguing mystery remains, as we don’t know to whom the lines have been addressed.”

The item was initially held in the collection of the institutions which later formed the current Paisley Museum and Central Library and has been in secure storage in the town in recent decades.

In November last year, plans were revealed for a £56.7m revamp of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based on the town’s unique textile history as a flagship project connected to the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

At the same time, Renfrewshire Council has set aside £3.7m for a publicly-accessible museum store to open on the town’s High Street by 2017.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, added: “We already knew the town’s museum collection was of international significance, but this latest discovery shows we have another star item in our possession.

“As the town’s UK City of Culture bid moves closer, we will be looking to showcase the full scale of that collection to residents and visitors through the revamped museum and museum store.”

The full text of the poem reads –


Yours this moment I unseal,

And faith I’m gay and hearty!

To tell the truth and shame the deil,

I am as fou as Bartie:

But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,

Expect me o’ your partie,

If on a beastie I can speel

Or hurl in a cartie.


Robert Burns


Monday Night, 10 o’clock

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Music to Paisley’s ears

Phil and Aly

Music to Paisley’s ears

With just 10 weeks until The Spree and Royal National Mòd 2013 arrive in Paisley, both festivals have added even more traditional Scottish musical acts to their already busy line-ups.

The Spree (10 – 20 October) is returning after a successful debut in 2012 and has this year been designed to wrap around the Royal National Mòd 2013 (11 – 19 October) which will take place in Paisley for the first time in its century-old history.

Like last year, much of the action will take place in the spectacular setting of a Spiegeltent in the town’s County Square. Historic Paisley Abbey, celebrating its 850th anniversary this year, will provide unique surroundings for a number of events.

Traditional music acts confirmed for the Spree festival this week are:

  • Hugely-popular fiddling duo Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain who will appear with Ross Ainsie and Jarlath Henderson for a vibrant mix of original compositions and traditional tunes (Saturday 12 October)
  • The award-winning Mànran who perform a unique and powerful blend of Gaelic and English, traditional and contemporary music (Wednesday 16 October)
  • Gaelic supergroup Dàimh with a brand new album of high octane Hebridean dance-based instrumentals and imaginative arrangements of Gaelic songs (Tuesday 15 October), and
  • Famed singer Horse McDonald for a rare acoustic performance, specially put together to coincide with the Mòd celebrations (Sunday 13 October).

Tickets for all these shows will be available from www.thespree.co.uk from 9am on Friday 2 August.

Musical acts already announced for The Spree include Capercaillie, Donnie Munro and Rachel Sermanni. Comedy nights with Craig Hill, Fred MacAulay and the Stand Comedy Club will provide the laughs and Denise Mina and Vic Galloway will be showcasing their literary efforts. Tickets for these shows and more are available from The Spree website now.

Tickets for a unique combination between Admiral Fallow, The Twilight Sad and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra sold out with 12 hours of going on sale last week.

While the main Mòd competitions will take place in the refurbished Paisley Town Hall and venues across the town, a series of fringe events – including a torchlight procession, sports tournaments, a fiddlers’ rally and cèilidh dances – will also take place.

To celebrate the Royal National Mòd coming to Paisley, Mòd Gold Medal winner James Graham hosts an afternoon concert accompanied by James Ross on Saturday 25 August at Holy Trinity & St. Barnabas church.

Ealasaid MacDonald, Convenor of Mòd Phàislig said: ‘We are delighted to be bringing James Graham to Paisley. James is a renowned Gaelic singer, and will showcase the depth of Gaelic talent that will be coming to the town this October.’

Mòd Phàislig will be releasing updates on other activities between now and October. The website www.modphaislig.org has more details.

The Spree is being run in partnership with Event Scotland, Creative Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

An Comunn Gàidhealach is bringing the Mòd, a historic and culturally-significant festival, to Paisley for the first time. To find out more, please visit http://www.acgmod.org/

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West End Wurdz presents

weaving musical thread

West End Wurdz

West End Wurdz presents Upside Down Heart – An afternoon of poetry & song at the Ashtree House Hotel, 9 Orr Square, Paisley PA1 2DL Sunday 10th February, 2-4pm

Featuring Graham Fulton reading from his new collection, “Upside Down Heart”, Derek McLuckie poet and playwright shares his unique take on romance and Gwen McKerrell gives a lyrical look at love. Music from Pauline Vallance and Coleslaw. Open mic with prize and raffle.

Contains adult material.With support from Weaving Musical Threads & Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

weaving musical thread

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Your Bard, By the Way


Celebrating the life of Scotland’s bard: BURNS! (Your Bard, By the Way) at Paisley Arts Centre.

Robert Burns was a dramatic figure. The events of his life are the stuff of theatre. His humble beginnings as a plough lad, his acceptance by Edinburgh society, the women he loved (and lost) and who loved and lost him, his fiery championing of the underdog are in themselves remarkable. Add to this is talent for finding true expression in the Scots tongue, and you have a man whose life story cries out to be told, over and over again.
Written in rhyming Scots, BURNS! (Your Bard, By the Way) is a whirlwind of a play, celebrating the life of Scotland’s bard through hilarious comedy, beautiful song, stirring passion and heart-rending tenderness. Two actors play all twenty roles, moving seamlessly across age, gender and class to portray the people and events that shaped the poet’s life and works. Including a dramatic recital of Tam o Shanter, the play is packed with excerpts from many of the bard’s poems and songs so there is plenty on offer for the Burns enthusiast as well as the newcomer. 

BURNS! (Your Bard, By the Way) will be at Paisley Arts Centre on Friday 22 February at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 (£6 conc) and can be booked by calling our Box Office on  0141 887 1010 or visiting www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking.

For further information on Burns! (Your Bard, By the Way), future events and shows log on to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts.

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Paisley Remembrance Parade 2012

cenotaph memorial

Paisley Photographs of the Paisley war memorial commemoration to the fallen.

Volunteers from Paisley on the web were at the Cenotaph this morning to give our respects along with schoolchildren, politicians, members of the public and members of the armed forces serving and served to commemorate all those lost in all conflicts and wars over the years. Lest we forget.


When I am old
With my medals on my chest
Will you be grateful
That I did my very best

When I am old
Will those words still haunt me
‘We shouldn’t have been there’
Even though, I helped keep you free

When I am old
And tears for my comrades fall
Will any of you understand
Side by side, we stood proud and tall

When I am old
Will you forget about me
Because if today you don’t acknowledge us, then….
Tomorrow our parades, you won’t want to see!!

Author: Di G ©

All Paisley Photographs taken by Ian McDonald for www.paisley.org.uk of the Paisley Remembrance Parade 2012

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Musical Mills – Paisley Thread Mill Museum

Anna MacDonald


A celebration of Paisley’s industrial and cultural heritage







  • MUSIC     
  • ART…


…four good reasons to celebrate Paisley (as if you needed a reason!) and you’ll find all of them at Musical Mills in the Thread Mill Museum on Saturday 3 November.  Weaving Musical Threads and University of the West of Scotland orchestrate an afternoon of some of the best talent to be found in Renfrewshire. Not to mention a few guests from its sunny Glasgow suburbs.  Here are just some of the names who’ll lend their talents to a symphony of culture and entertainment:


Sandy Stoddart

Yes, you’ve blinked and his name is still there!  Musical Mills hosts the premier of a new, never before revealed artwork from the internationally acclaimed sculptor!


Graham Fulton

Paisley punk poet extraordinaire and author of such collections as The Iron Bar Man and Speed of Dark


Dave Manderson

Author of the critically acclaimed novel, Lost Bodies.  Read this and you’ll never walk alone in the dark again!


Brian Whittingham

Reading poems from his new collection, Clocking in Clocking out, recently launched from the Titan Crane in Clydebank (not Brian, the book)


Anna MacDonald

“…has angelic vocal tones so hair raising, it’s like walking down a cobbled street with a Scottish breeze sneaking up your neck ….” (Ark Magazine); Anna will premier her beautiful new song, based on the Mill Girls poetry – yes indeed – those same mill gals you’ll be meeting!


Pauline Vallance

Winner of the 2009 Glasgow Songwriting Festival, Pauline delivers her own unique and inventive brand of clarsach and vocals.  Eat your heart out, Cowell!!

Throughout the day, the Mill Girl Poets (Tracy Patrick, Gwen McKerrell, Mo Blake and Kathryn Daly) will bring you their perspective in verse of what was good, great or fair to middling about life in the mills for the thousands of women who worked there.   We’ll also have the eloquent Ray Evans, winner of the Renfrewshire Mental Health Arts and Film Festival Poetry competition; G W Colkitto from Read Raw Ltd, Jim Gilbert, one half of musical duo A Wing and a Prayer, and Wullie Purcell, the oldest man in Paisley, reciting songs and poetry on his 200 year old guitar.


And if all that isn’t harmonious enough, we’ll have art from Karen James, and a special film interlude that will take you back in time to the Paisley that was.  Or you could just drop by for a chat and a look round the Museum and its many archives.


Oh yes, and if you’ve never heard Gerry Rafferty performed on a harp before, now’s your chance!


Join the Musical Mills symphony.


And last but not least, another good reason to celebrate Paisley:–



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The Red Shoes – Paisley Events


Paisley Events

Please come and support this event at Paisley Arts Centre tomorrow night. Tues 23rd. It will be an interesting film and after show discussion will address film makers perspective, dance, pressures of celeb culture and ‘suicide’

red-shoes-tt0040725THE RED SHOES
Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger, UK, 1948, 133m, U

A beautiful landmark of dance cinema, The Red Shoes is a cautionary tale about creative obsession. The film stars Dunfermline’s own Moira Shearer as an aspiring ballet dancer manipulated by a Svengali figure. One of Martin Scorsese’s favourite films, the screening will be followed by a dance performance from Reid Kerr students.

Venue Information
Paisley Arts Centre, New Street, Paisley, PA1 1EZ
Event Information
Tue 23rd
Free / No booking required – Information: 0141 887 1010
7 – 9.30pm



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Renfrewshire Arts and Museums’ new autumn programme

pictish johnny6

Scottish musical talent set to kick off Renfrewshire Arts and Museums’ new autumn programme

Superb line-up of Scottish musical talent set to kick off Renfrewshire Arts and Museums’ new autumn programme:

Autumn has arrived in Renfrewshire with a new and exciting arts programme jam packed with music gigs, plays, film screenings, stand-up comedy, exhibitions, dance pieces and outreach classes and events taking place at venues across the region.

The music programme kicks off with Heidi Talbot sharing a stage with John McCusker, Kris Drever and Ian Carr, quickly followed by a new series of Paisley Underground gigs which returns for its third year focusing on artists from 3 of the country’s most dynamic record labels as well as developing and promoting emerging talent.

Again the theatre programme boasts a diverse mix of themes, from the heart-warming and hilarious ‘The Matchmaker’ to the wonders of witchcraft, Wi-Fi and wild imagination in ‘The Scarlett WWWeb’. Moreover, the newly refurbished Renfrew Town Hall will play host to ‘The Monster in the Hall’ by award winning playwright David Greig and come November you are encouraged to lose control as ‘Sing-a-long-a Grease‘ hits Paisley Town Hall with an electrifying performance.

The countdown to Mòd 2013 is now well underway and as a taster, Gaelic musicians Mairi Morrison and Alasdair Roberts take to the stage to perform their stunning new recording of ‘Urstan’ during The Spree festival in October.

Renfrewhire Arts and Museums is again working with The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival to bring you insightful discussions, films, such as ‘My Name Is Joe’, and a drama performance called ‘Piece of Mind’; which brings to life the experiences of young people suffering from Bipolar Disorder.

Two exhibitions not to be missed at Paisley Museum this season are Paisley Artists 100th Annual Exhibition and ‘Paisley’s River’, a presentation of the role that the White Cart Water has played in the town’s development over the years.

Once again our talented outreach team will be running an extensive programme of creative art, fashion design and animation classes, as well as family favourites Playdays! @ the Museum and themed Baby Discos.

The new Autumn What’s On brochure, complete with the full arts programme is available from various venues and hotspots across Renfrewshire and Glasgow.

You can also keep up to date with Renfrewshire Arts and Museums by following www.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts, logging onto www.renfrewshire.gov.uk or signing up to their e-newsletter by emailing rem.els@renfrewshire.gov.uk where you have the chance of winning a £50 Amazon gift card if you do so before 2 November.

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Lighting Up Shakespeare

Lighting up Shakespeare

Lighting up Shakespeare combines Jacobean history (the period when Shakespeare’s plays were written and first performed) with the latest LED technology to authentically and safely create a unique audience experience. The project came from my own interest as a lighting designer; I wondered how it might have looked and how lighting could alter the dynamics of a theatre.

The project provides two aspects to the Jacobean stage; covering the stage with light as if lit by chandeliers and using prop lighting such as cressets and lanterns.  Chandeliers hung over the stage and also provided light onto the audience.  Cressets provided light at the front doors of the theatre and were then moved to the stage to add side light once the play started.  These items would have used tallow (animal fat) with a wick made from rush or flax.

Footlights added extra light and were basic to begin with; merely oil lamps placed at the front of the stage but later with advances from Nicola Sabbatini, became more technical and even had methods of “dimming”.

I originally wanted to recreate the Jacobean stage but the wide eyed look from my health and safety manager made me reconsider and that got me thinking… How do you recreate candle-light? How can we keep history alive without the health and safety risks?  My answer?  LEDs.

LED or Light Emitting Diode to give it its full title, have boomed in to the market of recent years and have been incorporated in to what seems like just about everything.  The main advantage to LEDs is their mono-chromaticity.  Now, this does present its own problems but if you took a normal tungsten light bulb and you dimmed it, you would notice it turning a more orange colour; its colour temperature changes.  If you dim an LED, its colour temperature does not change thus making it much easier to match the colour of the candle along with the light level or lux level.

Both stage lighting and prop lighting have two elements; the colour and the flicker. The tallow creates an orange-yellow flame, more orange than a modern day candle and not as bright.  To achieve this match, I used two different colour combinations: red, green and blue and orange, white and green.  When projected on to a reference white background, both combinations produced an exact metamer (colour match) to the tallow candle.

There’s so much more information I’d like to share with you on this project so please visit my website www.lightingupshakespeare.wordpress.com

Emma Armstrong is Stage Technician for Renfrewshire Arts and Museums, Scotland. There will be a “Lighting up Shakespeare” exhibition at Paisley Museum, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  It will be a small exhibition all about the work I have done on this project.  This opens on August 22nd 2012 and will run for 10 weeks.  I will also be presenting a paper at the Glasgow Progress in Colour Studies Conference on July 11th 2012.

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Half Price Comedy At Paisley Arts Centre

Monkey poet

Monkey Poet presents Welcome – Half Price Offer

Saturday 21 April, Paisley Arts Centre, 7.30pm

Tickets – 50% discount: Now £5 (£3conc) *Simply quote ‘What’s On Offer’ when booking.Suitable for ages 16 +

Described as a cross between Bill Hicks and Mark Thomas, Matt Panesh brings his double bill of critical acclaimed comedy to Paisley Arts Centre.

Act 1 – Welcome… to Afghanistan

The first half of the show is a one-man comedy play telling the story of the first Afghan wars in the 1840s.

Monkey Poet leaps from character to character, from cynical Generals to Indian beggars, and all walks of life in between. A Stage Must See show – Edinburgh Fringe.

Act 2 – Welcome… to the UK

The second half of the show is a selection of Panesh’s verse on the state of the UK today. Targets include the economy crisis, the BNP, the tabloid media, celebrity culture and whatever else is on his mind on the night.
Act 2 is satiric stand-up in rhyme. Likened to Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Mark Thomas & Billy Bragg this is not for the faint-hearted or dainty-eared!

Welcome is mixture of theatre, comedy and poetry from a very enthusiastic performer who has won 7 fringe awards for poetry including Best Poet at San Francisco Fringe two years running.


To book call 0141 887 1010 or log on to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking