Saturday, 31 March 2012


contained in the BALLADS OF DOWN by GEORGE


The Goodwife of the house had risen up
And cleared the liberal board of plate and cup,
And Maxwell to his press had turned about, .
To bring his best of gin and whiskey out.
When someone came a-knocking at the door,
And in, amid the night-wind's ocean-roar.
The Elder, Gordon, staggered, scared and cold,
And all at once his late experience told : —

“ Thon Ha'nted Glen sae murk wi' trees,
Wi' win's an' waters plainin',
It male's the bluid wi' terror freeze
Its paths tae walk alane in ;
Whun evenin's glooms aroon it fa'
An' dismal night grows thicker,
Ugh, then the wailin' voices ca'.
An' then the derk shapes flicker.

" It 's no that A believe the Deed
Can ha'nt an' scaur the leevin';
Tae Mon the Blessed Buik haes said
Tae dee but yince is given.
An', haevin' deed, anither Ian'
Becomes the sperrit's centre ;
It 's bad' this Airth far'weel, an' can
Nae mair this Airth reenter.

" It 's nae the Deed A fear, fur they
Can wark nae herm tae mortal ;
But dear ! sich shapes an' soon's uv wae
The staniest heart wud startle !
They 're moanin' there, they 're jibberin' here,
Ahint, afore, they 're flittin'.
They 're getherin' far, they 're crowdin' near,
Or cloak'd an' dumb they 're sittin';

" An' a' sae sudden ower my sight
The spectral forms come gl'amin',
A shiver ower wi' tinglin' fright.
My een wi' draps ir str'amin'.
It 's no that A believe the Deed,
Ye ken, can ha'nt the leevin';
But thon Glen's paths alane A '11 tread
Nae mair by night or even.

" A jist wuz walkin' frae the Kirk,
An' tuk the beechwud loanin' . .
An' my ! the night is wild an' murk.
An' hoo the wuds ir groanin'! . .
A miss'd the turn, an', ugh, A stray'd
Adoon the way A dreadit,
An' as it wound through deeper shade
A scarce had stren'th tae tread it.

"Ootstertit jist afore my fit
A rat, or weasel, slidin';
An' roon' aboot me seem'd tae flit
A grey owl frae his hidin';
An' then the Shapes begood tae talc'
Their sates on bank an' hollow ; —
An', ugh, A heerd ahint my back
A dismal futstep follow !

" A turn'd aroon', an' there A seed —
Great Gude ! — a ghaistly figure
Wi' bluid-stain'd neck and mangled heed !
A summon'd a' my vigour,
A strud alang, an' nae luik'd roon',
But onward strain'd a-trem'lin',
And aye A heerd the futstep's soon'
Through a' the tempest's rem'lin'.

" A gasp'd fur braith, my heart stud still,
My stren'th tae water meltit,
My fit, thrust doon tae climb the hill,
Scarce reach'd the road or felt it.
At last I spied the cheerfu' glame
Here shinin' frae yer wundee,
An', Gude be praised, ye 're a' at hame.
An' gie an' kin' A 've faund ye !

"It's no that A believe the Deed—
Ye min' — can ha'nt the Leevin';
But thon Glen's paths alane A '11 tread
Nae mair by night or even."

" Dear ! " said the Goodwife, " Mister Gurdon, Sir,
Thon wuz a fearfu' veesion ! . . Wully, stir
The greesugh. . . Sit ye. Mister Gurdon, doon,
An' Wully '11 mak' ye up a jorum soon,
An' thon 'ull scaur the spectres frae yer ee,
An' werm yer buzzom. Tak' thon erm-chair, see ! "
And Maxwell in his hand a tumbler set
And bade the Elder, cold and dazed and wet,
Sit in beside the hearth, and dry his feet
Before the glowing pile of logs and peat...

Tha Appen Fire

Tha Appen Fire

Ivir tha past wheen o weeks I hae bin taakin aboot things ye cudnae bate wae a big stick. Weel maebae it's because I hanae got yin oany mere but I fair miss an appen fire. Och I know thur a locth o work: trapesin ashes through the hoose, trying to get the pan emptied wioot gettin covered in stoor, brushin oot tha hearth, I havenae forgotten the botheration. But the heartsome glow was a great company on a cowl nicht.

Maebae thons why it a pits me in mind o sittin roon tha fire as a wean. In thon days wae wernae spreatoot a iver the hoose o an evenin. Ivreyboady sat in the yin room. Ma faither readin tha paper, ma mither knittin' and ma sister drying' her hair yin side at a time. It's true tha rest o tha hoose wud o foundered ye but Im no sae sure that the cowl was the ainly reason wae stayed thagither, standing fornenst the mantle tae oor backs wus measelt wae tha heat.

Tha fire just made iverythin mere hamely. Even the toast we broont iver the flames on a lang toastin' fork tasted better than the slices that jumped oot o tha toaster. Bit maebae thon was a the way fir a hae mind o mae mither tellin mae aboot tha soda breed she had as a wean, baked on the gridel hangin fae the crook, an hoo it was better thon oany fae the oven.

Sitting here wae tha oil fired central heating gaen full bast. I simtimes wunder which is the waarmer hoose? The yin wae tha plumpim radiators or the home with smouldering peats and glowing logs. So if ye still hae an open fire enjoy it an until next time Lang may yer lum reek an yer spicket dribble.

An Aul Han

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

An Ulster Fry

Fae tha han o a low country lad - The Newtownards Chronicle - 8th March 2012

There are a wheen o things ye cannae bate wae a big stick. Tak an Ulster fry. It’s the yin feed ye can hae at onay time o’ tha day oor nicth.  Noo I’m no takkin aboot a mixed grill or a full English breakfast. Or yin o thon places where they gie ye thon dried oot hash broon American nonsense an tak awa yer proota breed and replace it with toast. An as much as I like baked beans thons no in an Ulster Fry. The same goes for mushrooms. Fungus belongs on deed trees no in a pan.

Tae aa thon whas education may be lacking an Ulster Fry should contain: sausages, bacon, fried eggs ( an ainly fried eggs, unless the last line o yer hame address contains the letters USA or your coming aff the drink they should never be scrambled),  black puddin’ (but not white puddin’, wae lee thon tae oor freens wha leeve iver tha sheugh), vegetable roll (sausage meat stuff with scallions), proota an soda breed (potato and soda farls) and a tomato sliced in half and fried tae it’s saft.

Once you have assembled these ingredients you are almost ready to start. The only thing left to do is grease your pan. To cook an Ulster Fry the pan needs to be weel creesed. Those of a more mature vintage will tell you that the correct way to do this is with beef drippin’. I’m no sae sure. For me white cap lard is hard tae bate. Of course if you’re concerned about living past your forties you may wish to use vegetable oil. 

The cooking of the fry is an art form in itself and takes many years to master. While you are learning just be sure no tae git sparked or japed. Whether you heid mae advice ir no. I hope ye enjoy yer fry. Until next time lang may yer lum reek and yer spicket dribble.

A wee song aboot tha guid oul Ulster Fry