The Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop will be among the speakers when the Cunninghame Graham Society and Historic Environment Scotland today unveil a memorial plaque to Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936) at the ferry point on the Lake of Menteith.

Thereafter, a party will cross to the island of Inchmahome, where a wreath will be laid to the flamboyant politician, journalist, author, and South-America traveller. Alan MacGillivray will read the specially commissioned poem below.

                  BOATS ON THE LAKE

With you Romance was never far away,

Horses on the pampas, disguises in the desert,

Scuffles in the Square, defiance in the House,

The adventure of being Don Roberto never far from mind.


The journey over water has its own emotive place.

SS. Patagonia started it, off to Montevideo

Back in 1870, sea-sick all the way.

So many other voyages in the later decades.


But, capping them all, the ultimate scene-stealers,

The real Arthurian Tennysonian deal.

Boats on the Lake seeking the holy isle,

Separate artistic echoing moments in time.


The lost wife, Gabriela, exiled from the family tombs,

Carried in open boat across the grey waters,

A Lady of Shalott finding her place of peace

And opening with her death the living eyes.


And, last, your own Arthurian departure,

When, from the port, another open boat set out,

A king’s descendant borne to his island rest,

While on the mere the pipers’ wailing died away.


So, Don Roberto, your life’s often harsh reality

Is tempered by these images of motion –

Boats over water, hooves over grass, stories over facts.

Keep on the go, viejo amigo, don’t let them pin you down.