By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 23, 2002 at 5:25 AM

There are clubs for everything, even a dead Scottish writer. It's true: Once a month, members of the Milwaukee Robert Burns Club get together at club president Sherwin Kader's Shorewood home to explore the life and work of Robert Burns, an 18th century Scottish poet and songwriter.

There are 50 members in the club, ranging in age from 28-88. Some live as far away as Canada, and about 15 members live in the Milwaukee area. Surprisingly, few of the members are Scottish. Six-year member David Brannan is Irish and German.

"At a very young age, I noticed similarities between Irish and Scottish culture," says Brennan. "My family had a Scottish neighbor, Ruth Hendley, a native of Glasgow...She had a lot of influence on us. She pointed out to us some of the animosity that exists between the Irish and Scots due to differences in religion and other historical divergences. I have thus tried to make it my mission, at least on a local scale, to bring people of Scottish and Irish heritage closer together."

Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month and the agenda usually includes a presentation pertaining to some aspect of Burn's life or a discussion of one of his poems, followed by a business meeting. Kader's good humor generates laughs -- and groans -- at the meetings.

"Know why they call a kilt a kilt?" asks Kader. "Because that's what happens to people who call it a dress."

Twice a year, the club hosts a traditional Burns supper. Many of the members wear kilts and rally at a Milwaukee restaurant for food, drink and, of course, Burns-related conversation. The next supper will celebrate the club's 16th year and is scheduled for July 28 at Klemmer's Williamsburg Inn, and to celebrate the 244th birthday of Burns, a supper will take place Sunday, February 2, 2003. (For more information, send an email to

The Club also attends The Highland Games held at the Bavarian Inn, makes haggis (the Scottish symbol of plenty comprised of a grain and meat stuffing baked in a sheep's stomach), and listens to traditional songs and bagpipe music. In 1992, the group published a book, "Mither Wit and Native Fire: The Genius of Robert Burns," and plan to publish another in the next few years.

It's not necessary to have knowledge of Robert Burns or his writing to join the group.

"You just have to be interested in Scottish culture and poetry," says Brannan, who just finished a four-year term as the secretary for the club's monthly newsletter, "The Milwaukee Burnsian."

Robert Burns (1759-1796) was a failed farmer and flax-dresser who wrote poems and songs in both English and Scottish. His satirical poems, including his most famous poem, "Address to a Haggis," are considered to be his best work.

Burns, who died at age 37, was very self-indulgent, especially when it came to women. Despite his marriage to Jean Armour, he had many affairs.


"He was a randy character," laughs Brannan. "He went through a lot of women, before and after he was married. He also had many children by a number of different women."

There is a statue of Robert Burns in the small park, Burns Commons, on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Knapp Street. James Naderson Bryden, a Milwaukeean of Scottish descent, gave the statue to the city in 1909. It is a replica of a statue in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

"Burns has been translated into over 50 languages, and he is read world-wide," Kader says. "He was truly the poet laureate of romance."

For more information about the club, the supper or to find out more about Robert Burns, go to

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.