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Echoes of My Past

Echoes of My Past


“Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph

Put your base boot balls on

And speak properly” cries Mammy

Betraying her own Dundalk roots

Pure affronted by our Ballymoney tongue

Dropping h’s and t’s for speed

She threatens to take us to someone

Called Ella Cushion


For badness we lay it on thicker

“’Bout ye Sham, stoll thon gulpin

Wae jist a simmet on

He’ll be starvin’ cold wae oot a gansey” *

Ballymoney, where they can tell

Which foot you kick with

By the way you pronounce ‘h’

Without knowing if you are Billy or Brendan


To Newry cousins we’re Ballymoor Grousebeaters

Culchies from the far north

We emigrate to Ballycastle

Sixteen miles but to us a world apart

Where everything is pure class or dirty hallions

And the rain falls in shaars

Belfast tourists are angry wasps, narr, narr, narr

Sore on the ears, an old revving Vespa


Angus, Lothians and years settled in Fife

A scotch broth of new phrases and sounds

Clootie dumpling, neeps, cranachan

Replacing my Irish stew of words

Fae and ken now a familiar couple

Same sectarianism in a different guise

“You can tell he’s a Tim from the beanie”

What the actual?


These precious phrases from my youth

Comfort of happy times

Reminders of loss

Of those no longer here

Now leaching from memory, a strained brew

Percolating through the perforations

Of my mind, running brown

As sheugh water


Ulster Scots Glossary

* “How are you mate, Look at that idiot with just a vest on. He’ll be freezing without a pullover”

Ballymoor Grousebeaters- group of animated characters in 1970’s McEwans lager advert with broad North Antrim accents

Culchie- an unsophisticated country person

Hallion- a disreputable person

Sheugh- a field ditch usually full of water

52 views6 comments

6 Comments


What a wonderful rich dialect to play with. Ella cushion?

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Unknown member
Jan 02
Replying to

My school kept insisting on me having Ellie Kooshun too!

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I know it well... my wife was Ballymena born; her father was manager of Stewarts Supermarket in Ballymoney, and the family moved to Portrush... I wrote a poem, 'Proof', about Bushmills and the 'turf' around Dunluce Castle...

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Replying to

Just read Proof- excellent. It is indeed a small world.

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Unknown member
Jan 01

Would love to hear this spoken aloud Lots of rich dialect.

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