Tuesday, 14 June 2011


I was just reading Darren G's thoughts on a subject close to the heart of most of us Ulster-Scots - Tay - and I thought I'd post a wee rhyme of my own.


A cudnae dae wioot ma tay,
Tae stairt me aff maist ivery day,

“A wee drap in yer haun”, the’ say,
Wairm, wat an strang,
Tha thang tae keep tha drouth at bay
Tha hale day lang.

Ma mammie larned me fae a wean
Tae wairm tha pot an no pit tay in,
Tae tha watter’s fairly plumpin, an
Then ye dae it.
“Ye teem tha watter owre tha tay, an
There ye hae it.”

“Them tay-bags irnae guid fur ocht”, ir
“It’s aye tha loose tay we hae bocht”, ir
“Yin spoon fur ivery boadie, dochter,
‘An yin fur tha pot.

An pit it doon fornent tha fire
Tae keep it hot”.

Noo maist fowk cannae be annoyed.
The’r no parteeclar hoo it’s made
The’ hinnae larned tak a pride
In ocht daen richt.
Och, it’s mair nor tay’s haes me dismayed -
(A waesome sicht.)

But nooadays, iz A wus sayin,
A cannae thole tha wye it’s daen.
Y’ir gien an empie bicker an,
Ye mak yer brew,
Wi pumpie flesk, taybag an spoon,
T’wud gar ye grue.

Tha hale thing is jist quare an reuch,
Thon watter’s niver hot eneuch,
Luks lik it cum strecht fae a sheugh,
Tha brew’s aa gray.
Gin thon’s “gan forrits”! A say “Yugh!”

Fur thon’s no tay.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A Stitch In Time

I was glancing through a recent edition of The Scots magazine when I came across an interesting article about the Prestonpans Tapestry.

More than 200 volunteer embroiderers worked over 25,000 hours from January to June 2010 to create the 104 X 1 meter panels, which is now the longest tapestry in the world and contains over 10 million stitches. The tapestry commemorates Bonnie Prince Charlie's journey from France to his victory at Prestonpans in 1745 and is said to "celebrate the enduring triumph of youthful Hope and Ambition".

Now I know that readers will have differing opinions on Bonnie Prince Charlie, or The Young Prestender, or whatever you want to call him, but you've got to admit that it was a quare interesting period in history, whatever your viewpoint.

The tapestry even has its own website - http://www.prestonpanstapestry.org/tapestry/default.aspx where you can view each of the panels. This is a great website and includes background on the historical events depicted, the research and design which went into the making of the tapestry, and education resources.

Wouldn't it be great if the Ulster-Scots could take a leaf out of the Scots' book and produce something similar depicting significant events in our history. Apart from the artistic, historical and cultural significance, this would be a great educational resource relevant to various subjects within the school curriculum.

That said, before I get the needle and thread out, I have to admit that the last thing I embroidered (when I was about 18) was the back of my Wrangler jacket, with the name of the wee rock band I knocked around with - No Hot Ashes (as in the stickers they used to put on the wheelybins) in red silk.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Another New Challenge

Yesterday afternoon, Keep 'Er Lit were playing at an event in Donaghadee where there were displays of military weapons and regalia, a re-enactment group in period costumes with horses, cannons and muskets, plus a lovely lady making soda farls on a griddle, who normally does this at the Cockle Row cottages in Groomsport (see http://www.northdowntourism.com/Events/Walk1-(2).aspx). Davy Angus, who plays with The Ulster-Scots Folk Orchestra, also had a stand selling his hand-made wooden fifes (website http://www.angusfifes.com/).

Needless to say, I came away stuffed to the gills with soda farls, with half a jar of delicious home-made raspberry jam in one pocket and a fife in the other, and have had to add "learn to play the fife" to a very long list of things to do. At least I can now get a note out of her, so that's some progress - and I can't blame the instrument as I heard it played beautifully by the maker!

Friday, 20 August 2010


Our wee group, Keep 'Er Lit, is only starting to develop the singing side of our act and I'm currently experimenting with all kinds of songs, including:
  • Bonniewood Green
  • Carrickfergus
  • The Flower Of The County Down
  • The Ballad Of William Bloat
  • Maids When You're Young Never Wed An Old Man
  • The Lea Rig (Burns)
  • Ye Banks And Braes (Burns)
  • The Diel's Awa Wi The Exciseman (Burns)
  • Willie Brewed A Peck O Maut (Burns)
  • The Wee Cooper Of Fife
  • Wild Mountain Thyme (Will Ye Go Lassie, Go)

I'm also looking at Jackie Boyce's Songs Of The County Down and the Ulster-Scots poets such as James Orr and Robert Huddleston for inspiration, as I'd like to include some local material, particuarly songs that haven't already been done to death and your ideas on this would be most welcome.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Another County Down reference

Following on from my recent "Changing Times" post, I found another County Down reference last night, this time in Bernard Cornwell's Peninsula War novel "Sharpe's Honour" (yes, I probably do have unusual tastes in books for a female!).

Anyway, to set the scene, Richard Sharpe is flat broke and discussing with Patrick Harper the possibility of selling the battalion tents and mule to the storekeeper:

Sharpe swore again. He could doubtless get five pounds out of the battalion accounts to bribe the storekeeper, but the job would be a nuisance. 'He's no friend of your's this storekeeper?'
'He's from County Down.' Harper said it meaningfully. 'Sell his own bloody mother for a shilling.'
'You've got nothing on the bastard?'
'No.' Harper shook his head. 'He's tighter than an orangeman's drum.'

As an aside, I was wandering through the streets of Queenstown New Zealand in 1999 when my (now) husband shouted, "there's that wee man you like". I had no idea who he was talking about and scanned the area for the nearest person of small stature, to no avail. Turned out it was Sharpe himself, actor Sean Bean, bearded and looking distinctly scruffy, on a break from filming his role as Boramir in Lord Of The Rings. Now, I wouldn't call Sean Bean small, but it seems my other half thinks anyone under six foot is a midget. Anyway I caught sight of him as he went into a pizza restaurant and, somewhat sheepishly, followed him in and asked for his autograph. I'm sure actors get totally fed up with this, but he very kindly fulfilled the request on the back of the restaurant's business card and I exited stage left, totally embarassed as I hadn't had a clue what to say to him.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Keep 'Er Lit

2011 Gigs

Saturday 13th August, Vintage Tractor Rally, Rosemount, Greyabbey
Thursday 8th June, TV show with Paul Rankin/Nick Nairn, D'dee
Saturday 4th June, Portavogie International Fish Fest
TBC for March/April, Conlig LOL, Ulster-Scots Night
Friday 29th April, Ballyhalbert Orange Hall
Friday 15th April, Kirkcubbin LOL at the Yacht Club
Thursday 17th March, Donaghadee Orange Hall, St Patrick's Night
Friday 4th March, Glastry High School, Ulster-Scots Showcase
Wednesday 9th February, Castlereagh Borough Council Burns Supper

2010 Gigs

Saturday 11th September, Private Party, Millisle
Saturday 21st August, 1.00-2.00pm, Donaghadee Orange Hall
Friday 20th August, 7.30pm, BBQ, Aughlisnafin Orange Hall, Clough.
Saturday 14th August, 7.30pm, Men On A Mission Hog Roast, Scrabo GC
Saturday 14th August, 2.30pm, Vintage Tractor Rally, Greyabbey
Saturday 31st July, 2.00pm, Party In The Park, Comber
Saturday 3rd July, 8.30pm, Ballyhalbert Orange Hall
Friday 23rd April, 8.00pm, Marie Curie Concert, Greyabbey Village Hall
Saturday 20th March, 8.00pm, Dinner, Causnagh Orange Hall, Loughgall
Wednesday 17th March, 8.00pm, Fundraiser, Gatsby Hairdressers, Comber
Friday 5th March, 7.30pm, Ulster-Scots Night, Kirkcubbin Sailing Club
Thursday 18th February, 7.30pm, Private Birthday Party, Comber

2009 Gigs

22nd August, 2.00pm, Glebeside Ulster-Scots Street Party, Ballymoney
5th August, 7.30pm, Private Birthday Party, Millisle

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Tha bonnie wee lass abune is yin o ma grannies an, as ye can see, she's houlin a skippin raip in her hauns. Noo, A haed a skippin raip whun A wus a wean, an guid use A made o't fur A wus aye leppin aboot. A freen telt me no sae lang beck that she'd bocht a skippin raip fur her wee lass (sieven yeir oul) an tha chile didnae hae a notion whut tae dae wi it - noo gie her a DS ir a Wii an it's a differnt metter aathegither, but a weechile no knowin hoo tae skip - whut's tha warl cumin tae, A esk ye?