The Burns’ cairn was built by members of the New Cumnock Burns Club (500) in 1973 to mark the 50th anniversary of the club. It overlooks the Afton Water honoured by Burns in ‘Sweet Afton’ and near the farm of Laight, which was home to John Logan, a close acquaintance of the bard.
Billy Nisbet, a Past President of the New Cumnock Burns Club recalls the blood, sweat and tears that club members spilled in shifting the stanes for the cairn from the head of Afton to the Laight. Occasionally, there were tears of laughter including one episode when a sheep got stuck on a ledge on Stayamera. Jimmy Paterson, captured the day’s events in verse and cried his a work ‘A “Dacent” Job’ – in tribute to the dry-stane dyker from Dumfries contracted to build Burns’ Cairn, who had promised to do ‘a dacent job‘.
A Dacent Job
An October Dream
While Autumn tints the wooded scene
I wandered o’er this hallowed place,
This Vale, where Robert Burns had been
And viewed the Afton, full of grace.
Before the breeze the Scotch Fir swayed,
The Birches held their quiet station,
Across the stream, young children played
Gathering nuts, the future nation.
Old Oaks that grew in Burns’s time,
The pale green Ash, so loath to shed,
They bowed and whispered me a rhyme,
While fern and leaves a carpet spread.
Even the clouds that day stood still
High above this tranquil stream,
As if it were our Gods own will
That I should be allowed to dream.
That Man, his headlong plunge arrest,
And in Memory of the Bard revered,
Plant upon your honoured breast
To last as long as God is feared.
A Cairn, A Wish, a Love exposed
High above the Roaring Linn,
By hands of man and thought transposed
With Afton’s own discarded whin.
And now as winter lingers near
My Dream comes true, and, as we sleep,
Up past the Laight, with Mary dear,
May Burns a renewed vigil keep.
EDWIN J. YOUNG
New Cumnock Burns Club