The Braw Lads Gathering of Galashiels
Instituted in 1930, the Braw Lads Gathering is in many ways a revival of the Midsummer Fair which was a feature of the local calendar in former days. There is evidence to suggest that there had been at one time a Galashiels Summer Festival held in what then was and still is called Gala Park to the west of the town, but it appears to have faded away in the later half of the nineteenth century as the park was swallowed up in the rapid growth of the town. A feeling that it should be revived in a form appropriate to the changing times became apparent after the first world war.
The term ‘Braw Lad’ came from the Robert Burns poem Braw Lads o’ Galla Water. The original proposal for the Gathering came from the Provost, J. C. Dalgleish, although it was only agreed after lengthy consultation in the community.
It was agreed by the founders of the Gathering, that the ceremonies should be based on the events in the history of Galashiels. The four events that were decided upon are as follows:
1. The dispersal in 1337 of a band of marauding Englishmen at a spot known as the Englishmen’s Syke near where the Raid Stane is now positioned.
2. The granting by King James IV as a gift to his bride-to-be in 1503 of the lands of Ettrick Forest, then in the possession of the Crown, preliminary to his marriage to Princess Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England, which marriage led to the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England one hundred years later, an event symbolised by the handing over of earth and stone of the Forest - the Act of Sasine - which took place near the tower and manor of Galashiels.
3. The granting of a Charter as Burgh of Barony to the people of Galashiels by Sir James Pringle of Gala in 1599, thereby enabling the holding of an annual Fair and establishing the identity of the town as an independent unit.
4. The Act of Homage at the War Memorial in recognition of the Sacrifices of the peoples of Galashiels in the Great War of 1914-18 and in deepest respect for the fallen.
The ceremonies have changed little over the years, an indication as to how well the foundations of the gathering were laid in 1930.
Ballad of the Braw Lads o’ Gala Water
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