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May 17th 1899

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McGonagall slays Crieff

The famous William M’Gonagall, or as he preferred to be addressed, Sir William Topaz M’Gonagall, knight of the white elephant Burmah, paid a visit to Crieff in May 1899 as the guest of the Morrisonian’s Football Club.

There was a large audience composed almost entirely of young men waiting for him at the Crieff Hall for his ‘grand recital’. M’Gonagall, who was by this time a man of 75, appeared on the platform in full regalia; kilt, velvet bonnet and feather, pink stockings and patent slippers. He was given an enthusiastic reception and regaled the audience with his new poem especially written for the occasion entitled 'Beautiful Crieff'.

Ye lovers of the picturesque, if ye wish to drown your grief.
Take my advice and visit the ancient town of Crieff
The climate is bracing, and the walks lovely to see
Besides ye can ramble over the district and view the beautiful scenery.
The town is admirably situated from the cold winter winds
And visitors during their stay there great comfort finds
Besides there is boating and fishing and admission free
Therefore they can enjoy themselves right merrily.
There are also golf courses, tennis greens and good roads
Which make the travelling easier to tourists with great loads
And which will make the bicyclist’s heart feel gay
Because they have everything there to make an enjoyable holiday.
Therefore in conclusion to all lovers of the beautiful I will say
If ye wish to spend an enjoyable holiday
I would recommend Crieff for lovely scenery and pure air
Besides the climate gives health to many visitors during their stay there.

‘Beautiful Crieff’ was given a friendly reception but it was the old favourites that created the most enthusiasm and amusement. The report in the Strathearn Herald speaks of his performance of ‘Bannockburn’ “The poet laid about him right bravely, to the imminent peril of the Chairman and the gas bracket. The sword thrusts were varied and vigorous eliciting cries of ‘Bravo, Sir William’ and ‘Don’t kill them all Sir William’” 

‘Bannockburn’ was followed by ‘Tel-el-Kebir’, ‘William Wallace’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Lord Ullin’s Daughter’ and ‘Rorke’s Drift’ all rendered with his usual vigour. Though there were numerous witty interruptions during the concert such as ‘Get your hair cut’ ‘Slacken your sporran, Sir William’, ‘There’s a feather fallen out of your bonnet’ etc. the evening was deemed to have been a big success.

M’Gonagall was later escorted from the hall by two policemen. “The terms of his agreement” , it is stated, “were £2 and police protection” . He seems to have given good value for the money.

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