The Orthography of Ulster-Scots

III. Transcriptions by Robert Gregg

1. , by John Clifford (reprinted from Ullans 2 [1994], 12-13)

Haaleve cums but yänst a year

The oul foaks yooce tae say.

So Wully aakst me tae his hooce

Tae dränk a cup o tae.

Weel! ower Aa goes an — Boys o Dear!

We haad a wile guid time.

At the enn o the galrevitch

We could haarly see a stime.

On Haaleve Näkht.

The table — sure it nyaerly groaned

Wae ävrythin ye'd name.

If onnythin wuz left avaw,

It wuznae usyans' blame!

The table claeth wuz then rouled up

Tae let the fun begän.

Aa hope the träcks the yungsters played

Wud no be cawed a sän.

Thaun Haaleve Näkht.

'Gawney!' says Wul, hwaw could thaat be

At's dunnerin on the duir?

It maan be aw the neybour's waens

Up tae their träcks Aa'm sure.

Juist then we aw begun tae sneeze

No yän o uz could speak:

The hooce wuz fälled fae ruif tae fluir

Wae pepper an tow reek —

Thaun Haaleve Näkht.

Whunävver thäs had cleared awaw,

The bäg tub wuz braukht än,

An fur the räd-cheekt epples

Suin the dookin could begän.

Anither yan swung fae the ruif

Beside a läkhtet splät

An munny a bluidy mooth wuz gawt

Bae haanshin fur a bät

Thaun Haaleve Näkht.

A turnip peelin wuz hung up

Withoot a brek ur flaw,

An yän young laad he ett a haern —

The heid, an baens an aw.

Some wraukht at träcks wae a luckin gless

An ithers wae a plate.

The hael idea wuz tae fän

Hwaw'd likely be their mate,

Some Haaleve Näkht.

But naethin baet the burrnin näts

An hoo they bleezed thegither.

It wuznae aafen, Aa wud think,

They seemed tae faancy ither.

But is the cause no at the haert?

Fur some o them hiz nane,

An some hiz baad, an some hiz guid

An wuz usyins no the same,

Thaun Haaleve näkht?

John Clifford, Raloo

(Ed. R. J. Gregg)

2. A Ballamaena Legend (source unknown - incomplete)

Weel, yän daark näkht throo the Dauctor's duïr,

Mefästo, the bäg blaak dug, släpt än.

The dävil hizsel wuz aat 'iz heels,

Shoor, withoot a doot, that thäs game he'd wän.

Oul Nick then putt the dug ootside,

Turrned roon an saed, quo he:

'Noo! Doctor Colvin, we maun hae

a talk aboot ma fee,

Furr ye kno räkht weel ma aid man be repaid

when it comes tae the reckonin day:

Whaat wull ye taak — an ghee yer sowl

Fur ävvermaer tae me?'

'It's a räsky jaab' the Doctor saed,

'An munny yoo hae fooled,

but Aa'll agree if you fäl me

this buit wae guinea goold'.

The buït wuz saut on the fluïr o the laaft

Whaur a hole had bin cut räkht throo.

So the deil had tae fäl the ruïm doonstairs

Afore the buït wuz foo!

Fur thäs he had ta rubb a baank

An nyuck the Laanlord's rent

Fur ye kno oul Hoarny Cluïtty: —

He wuz nävver wurrth a cent,

'iz richest day.

The wurrk went aun - mile efter mile —

They bägged the famous waw.

Guïd masons wraukht fae moarn tae näkht:

They haarly staapt avaw.

But nooadays they wudnae wurrk

Lik thaat fur aukht, aa'd swaer!

An äf they däd, they'd waant sae much

An ey bae aaskin maer

Fae day tae day.

The hooce wuz bägged, the gerrden bluïmed,

The goold nävver staapt its flow,

But the dävil cum baak tae claim iz aen,

an tae lugg 'im doon below.

The Dauctor wuz readin bae caanel-läkht

Fae the Guïd Buïk praapt on 'iz knees

When the notion cum äntae 'iz twustit brain

At hae'd chaet oul Näck, if ye please!

Thaun fearsome day.

He saed tae Oul Näck: 'Aa'll go wae ye ma freen —

An thaat withoot a doot —

Whunävver thäs wee caanel dowp

Hiz burrnt itsel räkht oot.'

Then he caulft aw the goold in an errn käst

An sleekitly oot he stole.

An he throwed it äntae a waal they know

As 'Dauctor Colvin's hole'

Tae thäs very day!

NOTE: To my knowledge the first reference to this tale and to 'Colvin's Well' was made by the late Dr Richard Hayward when acting as guide to a group of Belfast Naturalists Field Club members on a bus trip to the area north west of Ballymena to study items of historical and traditional interest. Subsequently, Dr Hayward's nephew — the late Brendan Adams — was able to record and transcribe (phonetically) the whole text of the 'Legend' during an interview with an elderly man who had grown up in the neighbourhood of Cullybackey and was familiar with the topography of the area involved as the background to the tale.

(Ed. R. J. Gregg)

3. The Källin o the Soo, by Thomas Hugh Robinson (reprinted from Ullans 2 [1994], 11)

true Byoo wuz cummin fae Raloo

The näkht he källt McCaamont's soo.

He hut her fair between the een —

The cleanest clout ye ävver seen.

Whun doon she went withoot a squeal

The oul colie dug wuz at her heel.

He turrned aboot an laut a yell

an än the gate he run lik hell.

McCammont heerd the noise an fuss,

Lukkt ower the waw an seen the bus.

Then oot he cum tae hae a squaat.

Says he: 'Boy! Whut made ye dae thaat?'

true Byoo says: 'Maan, can ye no see?

Yer päg run oot in frunt o me.

Fur on ma brake an clutch Aa stuid

But thaat aw prooved tae be nae guid'.

Then the poaliss cum up fae oot the toon

An they mäzhured the road baith up an doon.

Yän poalissman tae the ither saes:

'Nae maer on this road-side she'll graze'.

The owner's sän — Ah heerd a whäd —

allooed the soo wuz wurrth fäfteen quäd.

But his brither says: 'Ye'r maakin fun,

that soo was weel wurrth thurrty pun!'

Then the soo wuz tukk tae the abatwaur

An buttshers cum fae the Lord knows whaur.

Each hopin there in his greedy sowl

Tae buy the päg chaep that wuz noo staen-coul.

Weel! the buttsher at baukht the soo, they say,

He wunnered whut he'd better dae,

Fur the clout she got, the soo t'would spoil.

'Whut diznae dae tae fry' says he, 't'wull mebby dae tae boil'.

So, he made some intae sausage meat:

Her heid, her lugs, an aw her feet.

Whut wudnae sell as saussage meat,

he sore he'd caw it veal.

Aa'll tell ye hoo he ended up — he only loast


Thomas Hugh Robinson, Larne

(Ed. R. J. Gregg)

4. Thrawen Oul Jone an' his Nebby Nybour (reprinted from Ullans 2 [1994], 13). (For source, see below.)

N.N.: Thaat's a graan' moarnin, Jone.

Jone: Weel, ye hae yer share o't!

N.N.: Did ye git aw thon rain yästeday, Jone?

Jone: Aa got whut fell on me.

N.N.: Irr ye taakin thon wee coo tae the fair, Jone?

Jone: Aa'm shoor she's no fur taakin me!

N.N.: Irr ye fur sellin 'er Jone?

Jone: Aa'm shoor Aa'm no fur bestowin 'er.

N.N.: Is thaat yer sän ye hae wae ye, Jone?

Jone: Weel, Aa raired 'im onnywey.

N.N.: Ye'r gey an' shoart the day, Jone.

Jone: Aa'm jist as laang as ävver Aa wuz!

N.N.: Ärr ye awaw, Jone?

Jone: Aa'm nether a waw nur a stane dyke!

NOTE: This duologue is part of Glenoe's oral tradition. I have never seen it nor heard of it in print. It was often quoted by people from the area. When, at the end of a visit, someone rose to leave the host might say 'Ärr ye awaw, X?' and X would reply: 'Aa'm nether a waw nur a stane dyke', evoking laughter. In our family, growing up in Larne, we heard it so often from my mother that we knew it all by heart. Back in the fifties, while waiting in a Belfast bus depot I was chatting with a man from the Laggan district in Donegal. I was naturally interested in his dialect, and found to my surprise that he was familiar with the above duologue. He had only one variant. His reply to: 'Ye'r gey an' shoart' had the word 'e'er' (pronounced like air, and notvver').

(Ed. R. J. Gregg)

5. The Rhymers, by John Clifford (reprinted from Ullans 3 [1995], 62-63)

Whun days iz chälly, dreekh an dreer,

An Chräsmas Time iz drawin near,

The laang foresupper wull provide

Contentment roon the haem fireside.

A kinely neybour daanners än,

A freenly yaarn ur twaw tae spän

The weary waens iz waasht an fed

An suin'll be snugly haapt in bed.

The baarns, the byres, the stable dorrs,

Iz safely closed wae bolts an baars.

Peace noo reigns — a haapy peace

Comes doon alike on maan an beece.

The kätchen dorr iz on the laatch,

Whaur the oul coalie keeps his waatch.

His bärses rise wae waarnin baark,

As oot he waadles throo the daark.

He tries his best tae keep at bae,

A score o Chräsmas Rhymers gay,

They know him weel, they caw his name,

An in the enn he leads them haem.

Lord knows the places they hae been,

They're dung an gutters tae the een,

Rhymin their wey fur miles an miles

Throo shukhs an loanins, slaaps and stiles.

dresst up lik lords an knights of yore

They claatter roon the faerm-hooce dorr,

Strekhten their wägs, an maasks, an swords,

An check their entrance cues an wurrds,

Then flängin wide the kätchen dorr:

'Ruim! ruim! ma gaalant boys!' they roar.

Feard, the wee weans in terror flee

Fur safety tae their paerents' knee.

An then begäns the age-oul tale

Hoo 'George' weel-claad in coat o mail

Sae forceful raamed his degger throo

That he the dredded dreggon slew.

The kätchen fluir is suin a stage

On which these rustic ecters rage.

The audience, getherd roon the haerth,

Enjoy this chaance o haemly maerth.

Whiles the scaared wee waens 'll squeal

Whun throo the kätchen jumps the Deil,

Wae twaw laang hoarns an a hairy mane

An fae his mäddle hangs a chain.

Fae ootside, waetin in the coul

Impatient täl the story's toul,

Comes rushin än Wee Jonnie Funny,

He's the boy at caaries the money.

The Waens bae noo hae loast their fears

Whun än Wee Jonnie Funny teers,

An roon the hooce wae deevin dän

Seeks caupers fur his wee oul tän.

So än the enn weel saatisfied

They säng a saang o Chräsmas Tide,

A verse ur twaw o local lore

And then they claatter oot the dorr.

They'r gone; their noisy fraulics cease,

The hooce goes baack tae quaet an peace,

Täl by-an-by 'John Naud' appears

Tae coax the youngsters up the steers.

The laamps iz snubbed, an very suin

The waenin, lonely, mädnäkht muin

Wull enn her coorse — hide her laast rae:

'Waak up! waak up! It's Chräsmas Dae!'

John Clifford, Raloo

(Ed. R. J. Gregg)

6. Muttonburrn Stream (traditional song), reprinted from Ullans 4 (1996), 37-38.

Aa hae mine o ma yung days, —

Fur yung Aa hae been —

Aa hae mine o ma yung days,

Bae the Muttonburrn Streem.

It's no maarkt on the wurrld's maap,

Nae place tae be seen,

Thon wee räver in Ulster:

The Muttonburrn Streem.

It flows onder staen an stäck brägs —

Ticks munny's the turrn.

Shoor it turrns roon the mäl-wheel

that grines the folk's coarn.

An it träkels throo meedas

An keeps the laan clean.

Belfast Laukh it suin reaches —

Thäs Muttonburrn Streem.

Shoor the jucks likes tae sweem in it

Fae moarnin til een.

They may durrty the waater,

But, they maak theirsels clean.

Aa hae whiles seen them divin

Tae their tails wuznae seen,

Wuddelin doon on the bauttom

O the Muttonburrn Streem.

Noo the weemen o 'Caary

Aaft-times Aa hae seen

Tickin doon their fine waashin

Tae the Muttonburrn Streem,

An nae poother nur saep used —

A wee dunt maaks it aw clean.

It hiz great cleansin pooers:

Thon Muttonburrn Streem!

An it cures aw diseases,

Chronic though they hae been.

It'll redd ye o faatness

Ur cure ye o lean.

Shoor the Jaandies itsel, ur

Waek haert, ur strong spleen:

Aw ghee wey tae the pooers

O the Muttonburrn Streem.

Efter a paarty yän näkht-tim

Aa wuznae fät tae be seen.

— They ey hae guid galrevitches:

The folk at leeves roon the streem.

Comin haem, late, the näxt moarnin

Tänged! foo! but serene —

Shoor Aa cowpt an fell äntae

The Muttonburrn Streem!

7. The Boany Wee Bunch o Blaakberries (transcription in Gregg's personal papers, source unknown)

Thae wur yänst a wee gerrl wuz sweepin the fläer whun she fun a säxpenz. So whunävver she had redd up she went äntae the toon tae buy hersel a wee käd at the maarket. She seen a daeler wae a querr nice wee blaak yän laangelt fornenst häm so she baukht ït an cum strekht haem wae't. She trevled alaang the road a wee while an then turrned up a loanin, clämmed throo a slaap, an craussed ower a feil tae she cum tae a wudden bräg ower a wee burrn. At the ither enn o the stäk bräg she seen a wheen o breear bushes grouin on the burrn broo, an at the taap o them thae wur a nice wee bunsh o blaakberries. So she saez tae the käd shashee:

'Käd! käd! go haem an mine the hooce tae aa go ower the bräg and poo thaun boany wee bunsh o blaakberries'.

But the käd saed: 'Deed aa'll dae nithin o the soart. Shoor thaun blaakberries nävver duin me auny herrm'.

So she daanerd aun a wee bät faarder ower the meidaz tae she met a dug, an she saed: 'Dug! dug! bite Käd! Käd wudnae go haem an mine the hooce tae aa wud ga ower the bräg an poo thaun boany wee bunsh o blaakberries'.

But the dug saed: 'Deed aa'll dae nithin o the soart. Shoor the käd nävver duin me auny herrm'.

So she daanerd aun a bät faarder tae she cum aun a stäck, an she saed: 'Stäck! stäck! baet dug! Dug wudnae bite käd, an käd wudnae ga haem an mine the hooce tae aa wud ga ower the bräg an poo thaun boany wee bunsh o blaakberries'.

But the stäck saed: 'Deed aa'll dae nithin o the soart! Shoor the dug nävver duin me auny haerm'.

Editorial Preface | Orthography | Transcriptions | Notes