Festival for a champion of democracy

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Subversive, revolutionary, paladin of the battle for democracy - Thomas Muir was tried by a kangaroo “establishment” court and exiled to Australia.

Muir escaped from exile in Australia but was caught up in a sea battle with the Royal Navy, where he sustained an injury which shattered his jaw.

But all of that came after a lengthy period of deep embroilment in the subversive nationalistic and social democratic politics of the day. against a backdrop of red revolution and mayhem in France - a bloodbath the British aristocracy were terrified could only too easily be imported across the Channel.

Now Muir’s strong links to East Dunbartonshire are celebrated every year by the Friends of Thomas Muir, who organise a festival in his memory. supported by East Dunbartonshire Council.

The 2016 Thomas Muir Festival, the sixth to date, will include events such as -

October: Unveiling of the winning ‘Thomas Muir 250th Portrait’ from the 250th Anniversary East Dunbartonshire Schools Art Competition at the Scottish Parliament.

The painting by Gabrielle Joy Henderson, a S6 pupil from St Ninian’s, Kirkintilloch, will be unveiled by the Presiding Officer and will then go on display at the Parliament.

The detail of her painting shown here alludes to the face-disfiguring injury suffered by Muir during a running fight with the Royal Navy during his flight from imprisonment, in which his jaw was smashed.

October 2: The Marie Curie Bishopbriggs Fundraising group are organising a sponsored walk along a section of the Thomas Muir Heritage Trail, starting at 9.30am from St Mary’s Parish Church, Kirkintilloch and finishing at the Thomas Muir Coffee Sho in Huntershill.

October 13: Bishopbriggs Academy will host the Thomas Muir Symposium. The theme this year is ‘Scottish and Irish Radicals’, which draws on speakers from Scotland’s academic community, secondary school pupils and members of local history societies.

November 12 to 26: East Dunbartonshire Schools Art Exhibition at the Thomas Muir Coffee Shop. Artwork submitted by schools from across East Dunbartonshire will be shortlisted by a panel of judges.

November 25: ‘Dougie MacLean in Concert’. Cadder Parish Church is to host this year’s concert, supported by local singer-songwriter Katee Kross. Tickets are priced at £20.

December 15: ‘Thomas Muir of Huntershill: Essays for the 21st Century’. Launch event for a book of essays that brings together some of Scotland’s leading academics and local historians.

Professor Sir Tom Devine will be speaking at the launch event at the University of Glasgow.

Festival organiser Jimmy Watson said, “We’re delighted to announce this year’s festival events - which combine art, education, entertainment and talks.

“The festival offers an eclectic mix - shining light on the life and times of a true Scottish hero.

“We’re particularly delighted to be able to announce that famed Scottish international singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean will be coming to Bishopbriggs.

“The Thomas Muir 250 window at Cadder Church - where Thomas Muir was an elder - will make a fabulous backdrop.

“Mark Hanniffy (Consul General) of the Consulate General of Ireland in Scotland, and East Dunbartonshire’s Provost Una Walker, have both confirmed they will be attending this year’s Thomas Muir Symposium on the 13th, and will say a few words of welcome.

“It’s fantastic to have the support of Bishopbriggs Academy in hosting this prestigious event.”

“We’re also delighted to announce that Professor Sir Tom Devine will be speaking at the launch of an important new book of essays on Muir.”

Councillor Alan Moir, Convener of Development and Regeneration at East Dunbartonshire Council, said, “Hats off once again to the Friends of Thomas Muir - particularly Jimmy Watson - for organising a new series of events to celebrate the life and legacy of Thomas Muir.

“The council is proud to continue to support the festival as it enters its sixth year.

“It’s great that East Dunbartonshire schools and young people are once again involved in celebrating Muir through a number of interesting and innovative events.”

For more information visit www.thomasmuir.co.uk or find the festival on Facebook and Twitter.