Laetitia met her group in Alloway, a village just south of Ayr. They toured the cottage where Robert Burns was born and lived as a young man. They went to the nearby museum and the Tam o’ Shanter Experience, an audio-visual depiction of the events of Burns’ poem Tam o’ Shanter. Afterward they walked down the road to see the auld Alloway Kirk and the Brig o’ Doon (bridge over the River Doon).
While they were in the churchyard, Laetitia noticed one woman from her group walking among the rows of gravestones, stopping occasionally to study certain ones more closely. When the woman, whose name was Colleen, rejoined the group at the bridge, she said, “My family name is there. There are several MacConnachy gravestones.” Laetitia remembered that in Lerner and Loewe’s 1947 musical Brigadoon there is a song called “Down On MacConnachy Square.”
Later, the group went to Ayr, where they were staying at the Tam o’ Shanter Inn. That evening after dinner, Colleen MacConnachy said that her ancestors were Ulster Scots, and she was trying to trace their origins in Scotland. She also said that she had written some verses about the old church graveyard and wondered if the others in the group would like to hear them. When all assented, Colleen presented her offering.
If you should visit Alloway
You’ll find the name MacConnachy
On gravestones in the auld kirk yard
Made famous by the Ayrshire bard
For there it was that Tam o’ Shanter
Who was no dour Covenanter
Happened on the witches’ ceilidh
And was enchanted by the melee
Until they saw him in the dark
When he yelled, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”
Then on his mare Tam fled pell mell
Pursued by those fell shades from hell
Whose shrieks and screeches rent the dark
Led by young Nannie in her cutty sark
And then at last and none too soon
He reached the keystone of the Brig o’ Doon
For running streams, ‘tis by some said
Aren’t crossed by spirits of the dead
There Nannie bobbed his mare Meg’s tail
And brought an end to Burns’ fine tale.
I know not if those folks are kin
Who are the graveyard buried in
I hope they came not from the ground
And seen by Tam did dance around
For those who did were a nasty lot
That families find are best forgot
My own forbears who have that name
There is no doubt from Scotland came
But though their origin was Scot
The place they came from I know not.
Afterward, Laetitia presented the limerick of the day, which was the result of a conversation she’d had during the walkabout in Ayr with a local woman who was well endowed, but a bit lopsided.
A wild whim led a lady from Ayr
To inflate her flat bosom with air
‘Til the right balloon broke
From an ash from her smoke
Leaving her with a lopsided pair.