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City of Quincy Unveils Robert Burns Statue in 1925 Honoring the Scottish Poet

Photo Courtesy of Michael Quinlin

Scotland’s famous poet Robert Burns, whose birthday is celebrated around the world on January 25, has a beautiful granite statue and park in his honor in the city of Quincy, Massachusetts. 

The 25-ton statue was designed by noted Quincy sculptor John Horrigan (1863-1939) and carved by his son Gerald Horrigan (1903-1995), and unveiled on November 28, 1925. The statue depicts Burns holding his hat in one hand and a book of poems in the other hand, with a sheaf of wheat by his side.

Best known for composing the unofficial anthem to New Year's Eve, Auld Lang Syne, Burns was a prolific poet who wrote more than 300 poems, as well as various epistles and ballads. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Quincy had a vibrant Scottish community. 

Photo Courtesy of Michael Quinlin

The noble statue stands at a small park at the intersection of Granite Street and Burgin Parkway, where it was moved from its original location and rededicated on October 24, 1971.  The pedestal and base are made of Quincy granite, while the statue is made of Westerly grantite.

Its original location was at the corner of School and Franklin Street in South Quincy at what was then called Daniel Baxter Triangle, where it was unveiled on a Saturday afternoon, November 28, 1925. 

Guest of honor that day was Colonel Walter Scott, a financial supporter of the project and Honorary Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. According to The Boston Globe, “Scott was met at the Neponset bridge by a squad of motorcycle officers and escorted … to the statue with his daughter, Mrs Edith Scott Magna.” 

Scott was greeted by Quincy Mayor Perley E. Barbour and hundreds of Quincy residents and city officials, and by representatives of Scottish groups from throughout New England. The statue was paid for by Clan MacGregor, a local group that initiated the project two decades earlier and presented to the City of Quincy by Neil A. Macdonald, president of the Robert Burns Memorial Association. 

The Clan MacGregor Glee Club sang a number of Scottish songs, and the Star Spangled Banner at the end of the program, while Mrs. Magna read one of her original poems at the ceremony. 

Sculptor John Horrigan, image courtesy of Digital Commonwealth

John Horrigan and his son Gerald were respected sculptors in Quincy and indeed, throughout the country, and were most noted for their skills in carving monuments from granite. It was John who carved the Titanic Memorial in Washington DC, from a single piece of granite. He was also called into replace the head of the Myles Standish statue in Duxbury when it was destroyed by lighting in 1922.  He also created the Civil War Monument in Holbrook, MA

Gerald created a number of important monuments, including the World War I Memorial in Hull and Winthrop, and a number of memorials in Mt.Wollaston Cemetery, where he is buried along with his parents and family. 

John and Gerald Horrigan are represented at the Quincy Quarry and Granite Workers Virtual Museum; John’s drawing cabinet is there, along with a portrait of Gerald when he was a student at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. Find out more about the Quincy Quarry and Granite Workers Museum. 

Read about Quincy Quarry Historic Site, which is overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MDCR) and is part of the Blue Hills Reservation. 

Known as the City of Presidents, Quincy also is known for its granite, shipbuilding and aviation.  It has a long and storied history stretching back centuries, from the settlement of the Massachusetts Tribe to the founding in 1625 by European settlers.  In 2025, Quincy marks its 400th anniversary. Read about the Quincy 400 initiate underway,

For tourist information about Quincy, including its history, culture, cuisine, outdoors and year round events and festivities, visit Discover Quincy.

Research + Text, Michael Quinlin.


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