Burns Week Video at the Ulster-Scots Agency

Watch video featuring music, dance and poetry as the Ulster-Scots community celebrate Scots poet Rabbie Burns

Burns Week brought the best of Ulster-Scots culture to venues across Northern Ireland this week, with a series of events beginning at the Ulster-Scots Agency offices in central Belfast on Tuesday, January 25.

The free event provided an opportunity for people in Belfast to experience a sample of the Ulster-Scots culture which flourishes in rural communities outside of the capital.

Culture Northern Ireland were there to sample the much-vaunted Haggis pie - a Northern Irish take on a classic Scottish dish - as well as Scots music, dance and poetry performed by artists from the Ulster-Scots community.

'We’ve opened our doors today to show people a bit about the Ulster-Scots culture,' said Hazel Campbell, interim chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency. 'Our whole aim is to support communities involved in Ulster-Scots, but also to make Ulster-Scots more accessible to the wider community and to continue to show Ulster-Scots in a more contemporary setting.'

Nelson McCausland, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, highlighted the esteem in which the Scots poet Robert Burns is held in the Ulster-Scots community, and looked forward to attending similar events across the country during Burns Week.

'In one tribute to Robert Burns a writer once wrote that he speaks to Scots, he speaks to a’, and indeed he does,' said McCausland. 'On Burns Night there are celebrations right across the world, in Russia, China and Japan. But I think there is a particular affinity between Ulster and Scotland, because the language of Burns poetry, the Scots language, is the sister language to Ulster-Scots.'

The popularity of Robert Burns may have waned in recent years (read a profile of the songwriter and poet by Burns expert John Gray), but in previous centuries he was lauded as a visionary artist and social campaigner, as much in the north of Ireland as in his native Scotland.

'One writer pointed out that, in times gone by in many Ulster homes, there were just two books: Burns and the Bible,' added McCausland. 'The thing that was noticable about Burns was, the entire book would be thumbed, but when you got to the glossary at the back, it was untouched, because people knew the language.'

And what of the Haggis pies, topped with mash and a sprinkling of parsley? Although some turned their noses up at the thought of minced sheep, Culture Northern Ireland's stomach knows no boundaries and can confirm that the pies did indeed taste as good as they looked.