The Mauchline Burns Club are carrying out renovation works to the Highland Mary Monument in Failford.

The group have been busy pursuing Burns projects despite the coronavirus pandemic with their efforts currently focused on the monument to Mary Campbell and Burns’ parting.

Their work consists of cleaning the sandstone and re-grouting the joins, to be carried out by local firm Brady Masonry.

An innovation to the site is also planned, with a series of information boards to be erected.

They will show images of the unveiling of the monument by the Burns Federation in 1921 as well as the re-interment of Highland Mary in Greenock in 1920, using still images taken from footage the Mauchline Burns Club has attained under license from Reuters News Agency and Pathe News.

The monument marks the spot where the Ayrshire poet and Highland Mary, so called because of her Gaelic pronunciation of English, said farewell for the last time and parted ways before planning to depart to Jamaica together in 1786.

They never did make it to Jamaica together, with Mary dying of fever shortly after their meeting in Failford, creating “one of our best-loved stories.”

The project is to cost in excess of £2,500, that figure being for the cleaning and grouting alone and so the Mauchline Burns Club are seeking donations to help with the costs.

Ian Lyell, president of the Burns Club said: “The cost of the project without the info boards is £2,500. Donations have already been received from the Ayrshire Ass. and a few local clubs. Further donations from member clubs would be appreciated.

“Burns wrote of the incident:

‘Can I forget the hallowed grove,

‘Whereby the winding Ayr we met.’

“Can we also afford to forget and even neglect this significant spot in the poet’s short life? Any support would be appreciated, with donors’ names to be printed in spring next year in a commemorative leaflet in time for the centenary celebration of the monument.”

Last summer a squad of members painted the long railings on the approach to the site, as well as work on the path.

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