Louise White and Sharon Frew report on the conservation and repair work that led to the Alloway Auld Kirk being restored and reopened by first minister Alex Salmond in April 2008.
The kirkyard is both the inspiration for Robert Burns’s famous poem Tam o’ Shanter and the resting place of Burns’ father.
The reopening – and the wider Homecoming celebration – was linked with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Burns (25 January 1759).
“That’s why we chose the 250th anniversary for the year of the Homecoming,” said Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, “because Burns has an international reach, not just from Scots ex-pats or first, second, third or fourth generation Scots, but from people the world o’er.
“That’s what Burns would have loved, with his Scottish patriotism and his internationalism. That canvas that Burns has is a great strength for Scotland, and we’re using it next year to get folk flocking in. We’ve got this kirkyard, this wonderful kirkyard restored. If you come here at night you can see a dance o’ witches.”