This evening, I am providing summary information on Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), a poet from  Paisley in the West of Scotland.

Interestingly, Tannahill was a contemporary of Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns ( 1759-1796) and both died at similar age, Burns age 37 yrs and Tannahill age 36 yrs. There was a further link in that Tannahill was the first secretary of the Paisley Burns Club which was founded in 1805 and ranks as the world’s oldest.

Paisley has a long tradition of weaving and textiles with chief manifestation being the renowned ‘Paisley Pattern’. Before industrialisation, Paisley had  a large workforce of weavers to which trade Tannahill was apprenticed at age 12 years.

In 1802, when Tannahill was age 28 yrs, his father died leaving Robert as family head. The video clip above shows the combined home and weaving shop where the Tannahill family lived in Queen Street.

Tannahill began to focus on his penchant for poetry and was a founder member of the Paisley Literary and Convivial Association.

In 1807 Tannahill published a 175 page volume of his songs and poems. All 900 copies were sold. His works were inspired by the local environment and scenery with best known being:

  • “Thou Bonnie Woods o’ Craigie-lea”; and
  • “The Braes o’Gleniffer”

However, subsequent attempts at publication were not successful. It is believed that rejection by publishers triggered a depression which led to Tannahill being found drowned on May 17th 1810 in a culvert near his home.

There is a statue of Robert Tannahill near to the Abbey in the centre of Paisley.




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