An event to mark the anniversary of the death of Edinburgh’s most famous dog was organised by The City of Edinburgh Council this lunchtime at his graveside. Reverend Richard E. Frazer of Greyfriars Kirk welcomed everyone to the Kirkyard which started after the one o’clock gun was heard. Apparently when Greyfriars Bobby heard the gun fire he knew it was time for his lunch.
A leaflet to track the life and death of the famous dog has been produced for the occasion by Edinburgh’s Libraries Service. The story in the leaflet has been taken from their new website – Our Town Stories – which traces the history of Edinburgh through images, maps and stories from the libraries’ heritage collections.
Piper, Jennifer Hutcheon, played a specially written ‘Tribute to Greyfriars Bobby’ for the first time. Copies are now available in the Central Library.
There is also an exhibition in the Central Library to commemorate the event and children aged 5-12 can enter a competition to create their own picture of Greyfriars Bobby. Entry forms are available from the Central Children’s Library until Friday, 18 January.
Edinburgh World Heritage has also recently reinstated the lamp post at Bobby’s famous memorial fountain. The drinking fountain was erected the year after Greyfriars Bobby died. The story of Greyfriars Bobby has spread far and wide, becoming a by word for faithfulness and loyalty, while the memorial and the churchyard have become a must see attraction for people visiting Edinburgh.
The Rt Hon Donald Wilson, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, said: “It’s humbling to think that it was one of my Lord Provost predecessors who saved Greyfriars Bobby from an unhappy fate nearly 150 years ago. The story of this doting dog has won the hearts of millions of people all over the world and I am proud to be playing a role in Monday’s commemoration ceremony. One of the highlights of the event will be the first ever public performance of ‘Tribute to Greyfriars Bobby’, composed and performed by leading piper Jennifer Hutcheon. Our Libraries service has also created a brand new Greyfriars Bobby Trail leaflet to help people discover more about this world-famous legend.
“Although Bobby’s ‘stand-in’ for the occasion – Ruby, from the Edinburgh Cat and Dog Home – may not share his gender, I’m sure she’ll do a marvellous job. Her presence will be a poignant reminder that there are sadly still many, many abandoned animals in need of a loving home in this city, especially at this time of year.”
Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “The romantic story of Greyfriars Bobby is synonymous with Edinburgh, and a visit to his grave is undoubtedly of great interest for tourists. We were delighted to be able to help improve the setting of Bobby’s statue, by reinstating a traditional lamp standard. This not only enhances a busy part of the World Heritage Site, adjacent to the Museum of Scotland and the important Greyfriars burial ground, but also helps to further commemorate the city’s famously loyal dog.”
Greyfriars Bobby is one of the star attractions at the Museum of Edinburgh in the Canongate, a museum packed full of objects and images telling the story of Scotland’s Capital. You can see his collar and his bowl, as well as a replica of the statue of Bobby which stands at the top of Candlemaker Row.
The piper today was Jennifer S R Hutcheon who is a member of The Highland Pipers’ Society, and the grand daughter of Sgt James High Spence of the Royal Garrison Artillery, killed in action in Flanders on 7 July 1917.
Jennifer has had a remarkable career in the piping world. She won the World Pipe Band Championships Banner and Trophies with Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band. She is now a Grade 1 Adjudicator for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.