The Muttonburrn Stream

Author: Robert J Gregg (Transcription)

Date: 1996

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 4 Spring 1996

“The Muttonburn Stream” is the name of an Ulster-Scots traditional song, popularised by the Richard Hayward recording in the 1930s. Our Ordnance Survey maps call this river the “Kilroot River” and it runs from Ballycarry through the townland of Ballyhill (locally; Bellahill), past the townland of Crossmary, and through the Castle Dobbs demesne and into Belfast Lough at Kilroot. The river is called the “Muttonburn” north of Crossmary, and the Thie Airches (Three Arches) south of Dobb’s demesne. “Crossmary” townland does not get its name from any religious site, but was part of the marshal or seneschal of Ulster’s holding in late medieval times. “Marshalstown” was originally granted on the edge of the town territory of Carrickfergus, and actually straddled its “county” boundary with Antrim. A lease of 1656 from the Earl of Donegall to Timothy Taylor was for all that “town or townland tenement and farm commonly called Marshalstowne situate lying and being in the county of the town of Carrickfergus and all that parcel of land or tenement commonly called Crossmary Situate lying and being within the parish of Killroote in the county of Antrim”. Crossmary was no more than part of the medieval Seneschal of Ulster’s grant that lay “Across the Mearing” of the County of the Town of Carrickfergus. The following version of the song “The Muttonburn Stream” has been transcribed by the Society’s President, Professor R J Gregg, using the Ulster-Scots spelling system pioneered by himself and the late Brendan Adams over 30 years ago:

Aa hae mine o ma yung days,

— Fur yung Aa hae been —

Aa hae mine o ma yung days,

Bae the Muttonburrn STReam.

It’s no maarkt on the wurrld’s maap,

Nae place tae be seen,

Thon wee räver in UlsTer:

The Muttonburrn STReam.

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 STReam.

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!

R J Gregg

• • • • •


Jist let on yer lukin for tae road her tha exaict conthrarie gate, an efter a bit, let on ye hae give up. Then mak tae jook by it unnoance, like yer wur jist owre oul-farrant for it; an, sowl, afore ye cud say Jack Roabysin, it’ll be aff like sticks a-brackin tha verie road ye want it. Tha ae thing wrang in aa this is, whiles yer pig micht be sae thran as tae obleege ye tha furst time, an dae quhit its toul. Then ye winnae ken quhit ye hae — a gey guid päg; or a gey cliver yin.



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