Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 25, 2014

Celtic Circle holds first Burns Night at Tansi

By Rebekah K. Bohannon Beeler
Signals contributor

CROSSVILLE — The Celtic Circle social group observed its first ever traditional Burns Night Supper in honor of Scotland’s poet and national treasure, Robert Burns, on the 255th anniversary of Burns’ birthday Jan. 25 at the Thunderbird Recreation Center.

In keeping with tradition, Tansi residents and members of the Celtic Circle clad in tartans celebrated the esteemed ploughman’s poet with all of the Burns Night requirements, ceremonies, customary cuisine, and toasts. Susan Strange played the bagpipe for the Piper’s Call to Dinner as the night commenced with an open buffet.

Among many other interesting dishes, the buffet included “nips and tatties” (turnips and mashed potatoes), smoked salmon, shepherd’s pie, Scotch eggs, haggis, Scottish Oat Cakes, and whiskey cake. The Scotch eggs were made by the group’s founder, Barbara Thornhill, who explained the eggs are hard boiled then rolled in sausage and deep fried. Dabbed with a blot of mustard, these are inexplicably delicious. Tasting the whiskey cake alone was a 21-and-up-event with its moist cake tasting like rich caramel and its potent icing dotted with walnut.

After perusing the tables and sipping on Scotch, guests were then introduced to the haggis by Strange who performed the Piping of the Haggis which was not only piped, but paraded, presented and addressed. According to the poet Burns himself, the haggis was the premier delight and is what gave the Scots their strength. For the Celtic Circle Burns Night Supper, the haggis was made of lamb and oatmeal. Frank Wright, from Dundee, Scotland, read Burns’ Address to a Haggis poem in Old Scots. Then paid the piper with Scotch in a toast. Catherine Munkelwitz gave her “Rabbie” Burns Immortal Memory dedication.

“As a nation, we love him because we feel like we know him,” said Munkelwitz during her dedication speech. “[Burns] is Scotland’s national bard- the people’s poet.”

Native Scot, Gavin Moffat, continued the Burns Night traditions by offering the Toast to the Lassies. With his best effort at a Southern accent despite his Scottish trills, Moffat began his toast, “I’m from Fairfield Glade, ya’ll.”

Helen Comstock provided the Lassie’s Reply to Moffat’s toast. The closing comments included such a one as the Burns Night event “being a dinner around many toasts.” The Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee meaning party) immediately followed with the piper playing so attendees could learn the Gay Gordons folk dance.

Remembering to sing Burns’ song “Auld Lang Sine,” typically sung on New Year’s Eve, attendees of the Burns Night Supper held hands in a circle and sang the first verse and then crossed arms to hold hands for the second verse.

Celtic Circle founder, Barbara Thornhill, started the group in August and was officially named in December. For Thornhill, the idea was to have a Scottish social group because of her personal heritage and ancestry. But, since Thornhill has Irish friends she broadened the scope to include members of Scottish, Irish and Welsh descent. The group has increased in membership, participation and recognition as a distinctive social group.

“I have had the idea for Celtic Circle for such a long time. It’s all I have ever wanted to do,” said Thornhill. “I am amazed at how well received it was and how the group has grown in the short time since it was started.”

Deana Daugherty, Celtic Circle member, said, “The Celtic Circle means family and friends and is a prime example of how a community can come together.”

For more information on the Celtic Circle, contact Barbara Thornhill at callingallclans2013@gmail.com. The Celtic Circle holds regular monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Christian Church of the Cumberlands on First St. Bring a dessert to share!