Robert Tanahill

Robert Tannahill


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.

Tannahill’s poems and songs are still popular today – ‘Jesssie the Flower o’ Dunblane’,’Will ye go Lassie go’,’ Thou Bonnie Woods o’ Craigielee’.