Made in Dundee

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    29 Nov 2018
    Clock 70min      Length2mi
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    Gilfillian Memorial Church

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    On your left you should see the Gilfillian Memorial Church. This church was dedicated to the memory of Reverend George Gilfillian. Stop here for a moment.

    Nowadays Gilffilian is best remembered as the inspiration and subject for McGonagall's very first poem, which he wrote in 1877.

    McGonagall is often called 'the world's worst poet'. However his first performances were actually as an actor. When he was a young man he worked as a handloom weaver. But he cherished a dream to become an actor and was allowed to play Macbeth in a local show – although only after he had paid the producers for the privilege. This he funded by doing a whip-round of his colleagues who all turned up to see him. However, when it came to Macbeth's tragic death scene he was enjoying himself so much that he refused to die.

    McGonagall was an excellent self-promoter. He sent some of his early work to Queen Victoria. It was returned by one of her secretaries. McGonagall took this as a ringing endorsement. He decided to make the trip from Dundee to Balmoral Castle, the Queen's holiday home. He had very little money so he made the 60-mile journey on foot, despite the snow he got caught in. When he arrived at the castle he presented his letter from the Queen and asked to see her. The Royal policeman turned him away. McGonagall was undeterred. He started printing his poetry with the royal coat of arms and the inscription 'poet and tragedian to the queen'.

    Continue walking in the same direction along the street.