A Reekin Buck-Goat, a Ringle E’ed Doag and a Wheepin Whitrick

Author: Isobel McCulloch

Date: 1997

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 5 Simmer1997

Weans theday wud gie ye an oul-fashioned luk, gif ye taaked o waakin til schule — the wudnae waak the lenth o theirsels so the wudnae. Forouten ween, times haes changed, hae — for a moter-caur wus a rare sicht in ma young day — deed thar wurnae sae monie bikes aboot ether. Weans wus mebbe mair siccar on tha roads bot.

In thaim days schule wasnae the same as noo. Tha cane wus a quare ‘deterrent’ whiles (mine ye, we cudnae a toul ye whit a ‘deterrent’ wus gif we met yin in wur supper) — yinst ye had tha cane ye didnae want it agane. Tha boys wud hae bin reddy fur it bot, for the aye kep horse-hair in thair pockets tae pit owre thair hauns — A doot it didnae work aa that weel ava. Mine ye, tha boys wus ‘gallant’ fur the wurnae allood cum intil tha lassies’ playgrun — in oor schule the did bot, for me an anither wee cuttie wus brave an guid at tha fitba an tha weefellas had need o us. When the wur catched the aye got a canin’ bot — an tha teacher nivir laid haans on us. We didnae nyirm bot for we kent we wur weel aff. Oor teacher wus coortin ye see — she wus goin wi this fella an her heid wus fu o wee sweetie mice. Whiles we wud hae bin oot spoartin for twa hoors an mair. We didnae ken aboot ‘love’ (an o coorse ‘sex’ hadnae bin inventit then) bot we wur nae dozers. Boys a dear we wur plaised whan we heerd tha wee moter ootside an tha teacher’s face gaed pink an her een shone — we knowed we’d hae a lang playtime! We nivir let on at home bot — we wur owre cute for that — there’d a bin some ructions anent us no gittin schuled.

Dinnae be thinkin it wus aa fun bot! Heth an seng A had some near shaves waakin til tha schule an bak. A had tae waak aboot thie mile and it wus a brave step fae ma hoose til tha nixt yin. A wean cudnae dae that her lane theday, sae she cudnae. Is that whit they caa ‘progress’? Ma ‘hazards’ wus aa o a differs bot — an lukin bak, the dinnae seem much tae git fashed owre — but hoo cum A didnae grow up wi ‘complexes’ aboot animals, A cudnae say! A wusnae owre feered o tha fairy thorn that wus in a fiel A had tae go by — A wud gie it a skelly aa tha same jist in case — thair wus worse things nor tha wee fowk bot.

Tha furst go-aff wus tha goát. We caa’d him a buck-goát — mebbe we shud hae caa’d him a billy-goat gif we spake Inglis. Onieroads, he wus aye waitin on me iviry morn — divil tha mind whit ye caa’d him — he knowed tha time better nor any clock. Step for step he’d waak wi me — him on tha yin side o tha dyke an me on tha tither. It wusnae much o a hedge (tha man at owned tha laun wusnae in a guid wye o daein) an thar wus slaps tha goát cud hae got thru gif he tuk tha notion — an weel A kent it. Ma hairt wud gan like tha clappers an me wunnerin whit A cud dae gif he tuk a lep thru tha slap. Hiv ye ivir smelt tha reek o a buck-goat? Gif the cud bottle it the wudnae need til use ‘chemical warfare’ — powerfu sae it is.

Onieroads, A’d jist got ma heid shired whan A cum til tha nixt ‘hazard’. Tha furst hoose A cum til, tha road wus thair street, an tha doag wud be lyin thair waitin on me — aiblins tha goát gien him tha whud! Oh, a bad-lukin brute he wus tae an sleekit wi it — a wile ringle-e’ed divil. He wud rin at me an then jouk doon on his hunkers an folly me at ma heels — A doot he cud aisy scent ma fear. Likely that’s whit he went tha hail hog fur an bit me yin morn. Man dear, bot that wus wile sair an it stertit tae beel. Ye wud harly credit it, bot the mair it was the day the schule nurse cum (she cum yinst or twicet a yeir tae luk for nits in tha weans’ heids) A nivir toul her aboot tha bite — A nivir let on me. Did A no git the quare tonguin for that whan A got hame — aye, an a dose o iodine on tha bites that had me leppin like a hare! A had tha mairks o thaim bites roon ma ankle for monies a lang yeir.

Tha wurst thing cum aboot jist tha yinst — yinst wus eneuch bot! Och A’d heerd tell o it like roon the ingle at nicht whan A’d heerd aboot ghosts and banshees — ay an e’en Tam tha Divil hissel — an A’d taen it aa in tha wye weans daes. Wud ye no think A’d eneuch tae thole gangin tae schule wi’oot onie mair? Deng tha bit o it! Ah cum roon tha corner yin mom an thair it wus sut in tha middle o tha road. Mebbe it wus a whitrick, mebbe it wus a waisel. A wusnae aboot tae dae a David Attenborough on it bot. Aa A kent wus that when ye met a waisel on tha road it pit its tail in its mooth an wheeped an that brocht aa tha weasels fae aa owre tha kintra! Sae there’s me, hae, staunin on tha road like a mutton-dummy, lukin at tha baste an it lukin at me — ma hairt had stapped an whan it stairtit agane it wus daein twenty til tha dizzen. A wusnae muckle mair in heecht nor twa peats an a clod, sae A hadnae daen monie yeirs on tha yird — whit A had daen flashed in front o me then bot as A waitit on tha tail tae gang in tha mooth. Whit wud come aboot efter that wis beyont me for A cud jist thole yin daeins at a time. An whan that waisel shiftit intil tha sheugh A still stud waitin tae feel ma legs agane for the had turnt til watter. Efter that A covered tha nixt mile in record time — an that lang afore Roger Bannister wus a glint in his Da’s een!

Aye tha oul fowk tuk tha haun oot o weans then — bot sure we nivir needed ony fancy psychologists wi a string o letters efter thair names tae sort oot oor complexes. Aa we daen wus tell tha same yairns tae the yins wee’er nor us, sae as the’d be scaired forbye! Aye A mine yin day A wus cumin hame fae schule an A met tha man that belang’d tae tha goát. He had a doag wi him (no tha yin that bit me, noo) an A must hae luked a bit feerd, for he says tae me sez he “Dinna be afeerd lassie — tha last weelass he et he left her shuin”.

Whiles noo A think aboot aa thaim soart o things an A hae tae smile. Daes weans the day hae sich splores, ganin tae schule in tha bak o a moter-caur?

Isobel McCulloch



The Ulster-Scots Academy has been an integral part of the Ulster-Scots Language Society since 1993. The name "Ulster-Scots Academy" is registered to the USLS with the Intellectual Property Office.

Ulster Scots Academy


A new edition of Michael Montgomery’s From Ulster to America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English recounts the lasting impact that at least 150,000 settlers from Ulster in the 18th century made on the development of the English language of the United States. This new edition published by the Ulster-Scots Language Society documents over 500 ‘shared’ vocabulary items which are authenticated by quotations from both sides of the Atlantic. A searchable online version of this dictionary is now also available here.


The Ulster-Scots Academy is currently working on the digitisation of Dr Philip Robinson's seminal Ulster-Scots Grammar and the English/Ulster-Scots part (with circa 10,000 entries) of a two-way historical dictionary of Ulster-Scots. These projects are planned to be completed and available on the site in 2016.



This site is being developed on a purely voluntary basis by the Ulster-Scots Language Society at no cost to the taxpayer. USLS volunteers have been involved in preserving and promoting Ulster-Scots for more than 20 years. All donations, however small, will be most gratefully received and contribute towards the expansion of the project. Thank you!

This site is being developed by the Ulster-Scots Language Society (Charity No. XN89678) without external financial assistance. USLS volunteers have been involved in preserving and promoting Ulster-Scots for more than 20 years. All donations, however small, will be most gratefully received and contribute towards the expansion of the project. Thank you!

(Friends of the Ulster-Scots Academy group)