[From Manx Soc vol XXI]


A DIALOGUE between a Manx housewife and her husband, wherein is shown why the Kirk Bride people eat their meat before they sup their broth ; and wherein is likewise recorded one of the surprising feats of the renowned Galloway chieftain, Cutlar MacCulloch.


Huan.—" Jean siyr 1 yen y thie" 2 —pack up and away,
Cutlar MacCulloch will be here to-day.

Sheval.—The Galloway chief !—it never can be;
He’s chasing the herring-boats out at sea.
The breeze blows fresh,
‘Tis off the land—
The sea-king hath other work in hand.

Huan.—Siyrree, 3 yen y the, or, as I’m a sinner,
MacCulloch will surely be first to dinner;
I saw his broad sail as I stood on the brow,
And he’ll only be here too soon I trow;
So up and away
While yet we may,
His flotilla stands for Ramsey Bay.

Sheval.—Augh, the breeze blows fresh, and the sea is rough,
To-morrow wifi surely be " time enough !"
BenVarrey 4 hath bound the broad beach with a chain,
To-day is the wedting of Mylecharane!
There’s broth and there’s mutton,
The table to put on,
‘And the barn floor swept, the dancers to foot on.

Huan.—O list what I say ! for ‘tis no joke,
Cutlar MacCulloch hath seen the smoke ; 5
And if you wait longer on Traa dy-liooar,6
The Galloway men will darken our door,
Seize on the victual,
Lift all the cattle,
And knock down the boys who show any mettle.

Sheval.—Well, haste then from church, an’ I’ll hurry the feast;
We’ll eat all we can, and we’ll drink of the best;
Theii the rovers may step ashore when the tide flows,
And be welcome to bones with a sauce of hard blows.
There’s the Dhooney Moar,
Yourself, and a score,
Will pin these catherans down to the floor.

Huan.—Your counsel is good, and your spirit is bold;
That Manxmen have faint hearts shall never be told.
A fig for MacCulloch ! so bring out the wine,
And ask Dhooney Moar to come hither and dine.
He shall sit by Jean,
His heart’s bragh queen,
And drink jough vie to his " vuddy-veg-veen."

I’ll look to the corn, the sheep, and the bullock,
And keep them from witches and Cutlar MacCulloch.
How long shall the robber-chief come with his levy,
And carry off all not too hot and too heavy? Too late to be running
When Cutlar is coming—

Sheval.—O, Ven Varrey’s out, and she’ll rule the tonney.7

Huan.—’Twould soften the heart of a man full of wrath,
To see your kind face and smell your good broth,
But here comes the wedding-train, blithesome and grand,
All ready for dinner, so lend me a hand,
And here fix the table,
We’ll eat all we’re able;
MacCulloch may go to the fish with his cable.

The noggins of broth had gone merrily round,
The spoon was just plunged in the haggis profound,
Each trencher was stretched for a share of the cheer,
When, " Hark to the tramp, oh, MacCulloch is here!
Boys ! spring to your feet;
Girls ! hide all the meat,
We’ll soon make the vagabonds sound a retreat."

MacCulloch stepped over the threshold the while,
And gazed on the plentiful board with a smile;
" Gudefolk, gudefolk, ye hurry too late,
MacCulloch is here, and his ship at the Yate.8
For broth he don’t care,
The broth he can spare,
But haggis and mutton are MacCulloch’s share."

The rovers were many, the wedding-guests few,
So the rovers sat down to the mutton and stew;
But from that day to this, as our north custom tells,
We trust neither to wind, nor to mermaid spells,
But first of all eat
Our coveted meat,
And, over the broth, tell of MacCulloch’s feat.

1 Jean siyr.—Make haste.
2 Yen y thie.—Housewife, woman of the house.
3 Siyrree.—Make royal speed.
4 BenYarrey.—Mermaid. Hath bound with a chain.—The myth here alluded to is, that the sunlight flashes on the ripple of the sea wavelet (as it breaks on the pebbly beach at high water) are jewels airing, and being prepared to adorn the hair of the mermaids on festive occasions. When these chains are in full sparkle, strict watch is kept on the adjacent cliff or crag that no marauder approach unawares. Should any monster of the sea or land prove too wary to be enticed away by the wiles of the syrens, or too strong to be successfully resisted, the mermaids instantly dive down to their sparry caves, the jewels vanish, and a dark shadow is thrown over the whole line of wave. These water-sprites and fairies will, on rare occasions, unite for the protection of some mutual interest ; moved either by enmity against such rude syren. despisers as Cutlar MacCulloch, or in a caprice of friendship for some fair daughter of earth’s mould, and then the spell-bound shore cannot be approached ; but their favour is unstable as the elements. There is a similar superstition among the Arabs of the Red Sea.

5 Seen the smoke—The smoke from the Kirk Bride chimneys can be seen on a fine summer’s day on the Scotch coast opposite. The tradition is that Cutlar and his crew watched for this proof that good cooking was going on amongst their better-fed neighbours, and at the desired signals pushed off from the shore, and generally accomplished the run across in time to seize the good cheer, for which the hospitable Manx were celebrated, and then proceeded to carry off everything that lay convenient. On more than one occasion these freebooters arrived at the identical moment described in the ballad.
6 The husband’s remonstrance on his wife’s procrastination passed into a proverb—" Traa dy-liooar " denoting irretrievable delay.
7 Rule the tonney. —Rule the waves.
8 The Yate is a well-known landing place in the north of the Isle of Man.

This ballad is printed in Miss Cookson’s Legends of Manx Land, second series ; Douglas, 1859. The custom is alluded to in the first part of Mona Miscellany. It is the composition of an old resident, and one well acquainted with the traditions of the country.


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