Saying a very happy birthday to the father of Scottish democracy

Local historian Don Martin being interviewed by STV
Local historian Don Martin being interviewed by STV

A whole series of special events are continuing to mark the 250th Anniversary of the birth of prominent Scottish radical Thomas Muir.

Muir, whose family home was Huntershill House, in Bishopbriggs, died on August 24, 1765, later becoming known as the ‘Father of Scottish Democracy’.

Events are being held throughout the year, many of them organised by the Bishopbriggs-based Friends of Thomas Muir organisation.

The commemoration has already featured on STV, STV Glasgow, and on BBC Radio’s Saturday Good Morning Scotland programme.

In early March, during Local History Week, there was an exhibition of John Kay prints of Muir relevance at Huntershill, Bishopbriggs, and a month later a small exhibition, sponsored by MSP Fiona MacLeod, relating to Muir was on display at the Scottish Parliament for a few days, generating considerable interest with MSPs. The Scottish Local History Forum held its own Thomas Muir tribute on June 12, with a ‘Walk & Talk’ event in Edinburgh.

Some of the intended highlights during the remainder of this year include Murray Armstrong, author of the Muir biography ‘The Liberty Tree’, discussing Muir’s legacy at the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 24.

On the same day former First Minister Alex Salmond MP delivers the Thomas Muir Memorial Lecture in Edinburgh on the reformer’s 250th birthday.

Two days later, on August 26, Professors Gerard Carruthers and Nigel Leask, of the University of Glasgow, will ‘talk and tour’ at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, explaining the relevance of certain portraits there to Muir’s campaigns.

On September 23 there will be a two-hour reception at the Scottish Parliament, with contributions by historians and performances by schoolchildren, while October 3 will see a ‘Democracy 250 Walk’ from the Political Martyrs’ Monument in Calton Burying Ground to the Scottish Parliament via Central Edinburgh, led by Milngavie Pipe Band.

October 30 will see a ‘Thomas Muir Academic Symposium’ take place at the University of Glasgow, with a concert in Glasgow University Chapel on November 20 featuring Dick Gaughan, Rallion and the Kirkintilloch Male Voice Choir.

Other events will include the launch of a Muir portrait commissioned by the East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust; the unveiling of an engraved Thomas Muir Memorial Window at Cadder Church, Thomas Muir-themed exhibitions in East Dunbartonshire and at the University of Glasgow and an East Dunbartonshire Schools Art Competition.