Wullie Gillilann o Glenquhurrie

Author: John Erskine

Date: 1996

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

Reek on tha Brae Thar wusnae ocht biordnar thon simmer day in tha Zeir o tha Loard Saxtaen Hunner an Echtie-Yin. Tha man haed quät his clift on tha braes o Collin moontain in Anthrim ae forenoon an haed tuk hissel til tha burn in Glenquhurrie tae fäsh. A wheen o hoors efter bot, quhan he wus cummin bak, he saen a daeins at wus gey biordnar: thar wus reek, an unco fowk forbye, on thon Collin brae.

Richt aff, tha man thew hissel an his fäshin wann til tha grun fornenst a whun busch. He wus gey feart an tha hairt wus duntin. Reek! An sodgers? Wus thar sodgers an aa? Wud thai a sa him? Huilie he raxit his heid up an yinst mair tuk a luk. Frae ahint tha whun busch he cud see tha reek, ay, an sodgers an aa. Quhitwey haed thai foon his dorn oot? An tha reek wus spuein fae oot tha clift. His grew bot? An his mear? He cudnae see thaim. Quhur wur thai? He heert tha youchin o a dug, than a wee yowl, than nocht ava. Yin o tha sodgers cum oot o tha clift an than aa tha sodgers, lauchin an gey vauntie wi thar darg, lowpt til thair pownies an rid awa takin tha suddron gate, til Carrick.

Quhan thai wur awa, tha man winnit up an lukit yinst mair at tha reek on tha brae thonder. He cudnae see nor his grew nor his mear. Forbye tha claes as wus on him an tha fäshin wann, aa he haed wus in tha clift thonder on tha brae. Wus thar ocht left til him?

Tha Covénanter No lang syne Wullie Gillilann wus a laird o young yeirs in Scotlann. He haed pit in wi tha Covénanters an haed wrocht owre ocht in tha fechtin. Bot efter tha batailze o Bothwell Brig agin Monmooth an Bluidie Claver’se — him at ither fowks cries ‘Bonnie Dundee’ — tha Covénanters wus vanquest, an wus aa skailt tae tha fower wunns tae hiddle. Wullie an aa thae fowk at wus alang wi him wus pit til tha horn. Thai wur aa ootlins. Wullie haed nae hame nae mair.

Wi his grew, his mear an his swurd an a feck o claes, Wullie Gillilann pit oot an corset tha narra says atweesh Scotlann an Ullister tae fynn a bield on tha gowstie muirs o Glenquhurrie. He wusnae tha furst neether, for monie tha Covénanter haed cum tae hiddle here, in amang thaim Alexander Peden, him at fowk cryit ‘Tha Prophet’. Gillilann haed foon oot a clift on the braes o Collin an thar he stappt. He wrocht a hame in tha clift wi nocht bot haither plenishins an sic stuff.

Tha grew He run tae tha clift, quhaur tha reek wus spyoochin oot yit. He cudnae see onie sign o his grew, nor his mear neether. He gaed ben tha clift at wus reekin yit, an thar on tha haithrie fluir he saen tha grew, rittit frae grunzie til breist-bane. Bot o tha mear he cudnae see ocht. He huntit his swurd ablow his haithrie lair bot cudnae fynn it — tha sodgers maun hae tuk it forbye. Gillilann wus hairtsair. “Thai hae ma dug kilt an taen ma bonnie, leal-hairtit mear at saifit me frae Bluidie Claver’se an frae tha buits and tha thumbikins. Scho’ll no be gart thole tha spur, that A sweer.”

Gillilann haednae ocht tae answer fer wappen bot his fäshin wann. Sae he brok tha wann in twa bäts. He tuk tha enn at wus shod an shairpit tha airn tap on a whunstane til a pynte. Than he pit oot on tha suddron gate his ainsel an traivelt athort tha muirs lukin Carrick toun.

Carrick Qwathie days efter, ootbye tha norlin yett o tha toun o Carrick, a man wi a byue bunnet wus sut agin a wee bät waa, waitin. The mair he wus thar monies tha lang hoor, he wusnae daein ocht sae fowks didnae tak muckle tent o him. Aiblins thai jaloused at he wus a gaberlunzie man. No lang afore daligan tha yett o tha toun appens an oot cums a wheen o burghers an sodgers on thair pownies. Yin o tha cuddies wus kittlet an settin bot, fer scho cudnae thole tha sodger at wus on her bak. Tha man at wus waitin kent weel ferwhy — tha cuddie wus nane ither nor Gillilann’s ain mear. On a suddent, frae his hiddlin fornenst tha waa, Gillilann lep up an wi aa his poustie driv tha shairp enn o tha wann intae tha breist o tha sodger an cowpt him til tha grun, deid. Quhit a shirroy thar wus noo. Tha pownies wus aa pit in a gast, thai yunkit an nichert. Tha sodgers ettlet tae hannle thaim. Tha fowks wus aa rinnin this gate an thon, skirlin an scraichin. In tha stramash, Gillilann lowpt on tha mear an wi a gulder gien her rein an tuk aff at a skelp tae tha norlin airts, tae tha muirs o Glenquhurrie at he kent sae weel. Quhan tha sodgers haed gat thairsels thegither thai pit oot efter Gillilann, bot in tha gloamin thai didnae follae him owre lang. Monies tha day tha sodgers huntit Gillilann, bot thai nivver foon him. An frae tha hälls an on tha mosses twa shairp, waukrife een wus aye on thaim.

• • • • •

Thae fowk at is buik-larnit an haes daen muckle speirin anent the batailze o Bothwell Brig haesnae foon tha neam o Wullie Gillilann yit amang thae fowk at wus kent tae be at tha fechtin at Bothwell Brig. Hooaniver this is tha historie at tha fowk o Glenquhurrie telt lang an affen o tha Covénanter o tha moss. Wullie bideit in Glenquhurrie an tuk til hissel a guidwife. Thai haed twa sinns, an thar’s monies a boadie at houds Gillilann tae be thair fore-elder, in amang thaim tha historie-man o tha kirk, W. D. Killen, an tha makar, Sir Samuel Ferguson. Quhit we hae telt here is taen frae tha ballate ‘Willy Gilliland’ at Forgysin scrievit hissel anent his kenspeckle fore-elder. An Forgysin enns tha ballate this gate:

Ah! Little thought Willy Gilliland, when he on Skerry side

Drew bridle first, and wiped his brow after that weary ride,

That where he lay like hunted brute, a cavern’d outlaw lone,

Broad lands and yeoman tenantry should yet be there his own;

Yet so it was; and still from him descendants not a few

Draw birth and lands and, let me trust, draw love of Freedom too.

John Erskine

Glossary of archaic Ulster-Scots used

(‘z’ = the old Scots letter ‘yogh’, and is pronounced ‘y’; and ‘quh’ is the old Scots form of ‘wh’)

clift — cave, cleft

dorn — secret place

gaberlunzie — beggar, tramp

gast, pit in a — frightened

gowstie — vast, desolate

grunzie — snout

hiddle — hide, shelter

horn, pit till tha — proclaim as an outlaw

kittlet — restive

mear — mare

ootlin — outlaw

poustie — strength, force

pynte — point

qwathie — a few

rit — slit, stab

settin — refusing to obey a rider

thumbikins — thumbscrews

vauntie — pleased, boastful

waukrife — watchful, vigilant

win up — get to one’s feet

yett — gate

youchin — barking

yunk — kick and rear



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