Paisley’s weaver poet born in Castle Street, son of a well-respected ‘bien’ weaver to whom Robert was apprenticed in 1786. Described by a contemporary as the ‘prettiest shuttler’ he had ever seen, Robert had a wee box on his loom-post for jotting down his ideas.
At his cottage in Queen Street he composed, most of his best known songs. An admirer of Burns, he helped found the Burns Anniversary Society in 1805 in Paisley – the world’s first Burn’s club. In 1807, encouraged by friends, he published “The Soldiers Return” with poems and songs which made him famous.
When a publisher declined a revised edition in 1810, and after a mental illness, the poet drowned himself in a culvert of the Candren Burn. The portrait shown was drawn one day after his death by another friend, John Morton.
Tanahill’s poems and songs are still popular today – ‘Jesssie the Flower o’ Dunblane’,’Will ye go Lassie go’,’ Thou Bonnie Woods o’ Craigielee’.