Leezie M‘Minn

Author: Samuel Turner

Date: 1998

Source: Ullans: The Magazine for Ulster-Scots, Nummer 6 Simmer 1998


Samuel Turner (1840)

They talk o’ the spaewife o’ misty Glenramer,

O’ Madge o’ the hill-tap, an’ Kate o’ the Linn;

But trew me for devilrie cantraips and glamour

They may a’ cast their caps at auld Leezie M‘Minn.

Sune as her loof ye hae cross’d wi’ the siller

She birls roun’ a cup, an’ she bids ye leuk in.

Och the foul thief himsel’ sure the words whispers till her,

That fa’ frae the lips o’ auld Leezie M‘Minn.

Wauters o’ men come ilk day Leezie seekin’,

Frae hill an’ frae valley, frae hut an’ frae ha’;

Some in gay cleedin’, some barely a steek on,

Wee gilpies, young widows, auld maidens, an’ a’.

They come in the spring time, they come in the simmer,

They come when the snaw-drifts hae lang setten in,

They come o’ Fate’s black book to get a bit glimmer,

For wha can unravel’t like Leezie M‘Minn?

She hecht to wee Mary the han’ o’ the Gauger,

Tho’ lang syne his troth he had plighted to Nell;

To Jeannie she spoke o’ a cuddy creel cadger,

An’ as she predicted, just sae it befel.

The cross-bones, the coffin, a ring that was broken,

Betocken’d that Nannie wad never get ane.

Nan swore it was lies the fause spaewife had spoken;

But as yet, true’s the word o’ auld Leezie M‘Minn.

Should prowlers by nicht or by day rype your biggin’,

Despoilin’ your coffers o’ gowd and o’ gear,

On the tip-toe o’ hope to auld Leezie gae jeegin’.

Regardless how scoffers an’ scorners may jeer.

She’ll tell ye what’s stolen, she’ll tell ye wha did it,

An’ gin ye hae courage her glass to keek in,

The face o’ the thief to your e’e she’ll exhibit,

Sae great is the power o’ auld Leezie M‘Minn.

Gin’ Hawkie fa’ back o’ her milk an’ her butter,

Or haply lies rowtin’ elf-shot i’ the straw,

Let Leezie but sain ’er, some mystic words mutter,

An’ sune deil haet ails the puir beastie ava!

She’s far kent an’ noted for a’ I hae quoted,

An’ sair she’ll be miss’d when death tucks up her chin.

Tho’ frail noo, an’ feckless, an’ mair than half doted,

Yet show me the peer o’ auld Leezie M‘Minn.

The foregoing poem, “Leezie M‘Minn” was discovered and sent to us by Robert McClung. Ernie Scott, in response to this, has sent in a whole book of poems by Samuel Turner. He was a school teacher from Ballyeaston, who had a book of his Ulster-Scots poems published as “Gleanings from Ballyboley Braes”. Samuel Turner was born in 1804, and by 1830 was appointed schoolmaster in Loughmourne National School, near Carrickfergus, moving to Ballyclare as a teacher at Ballycor in 1835. He died in 1861, and his book of collected poems was published soon after his death. Most of his Scotch Poems were first published in local papers and journals in the 1840s. Undoubtedly, we must add Turner as another “new discovery” to our list of significant Ulster-Scots poets. The following is another poem from the same collection.


Yestreen I got a Kebbuck fine,

Press’d out in June richt early,

And for her sake wha’ made it mine,

Wow but I’ll hoard it rarely!

I’ll hap it frae the prying stare

O’ chiels wha’d mak’ their sport o’t,

An’ tent it wi’ the nicest care,

Lest cannie mice come ’thort it.

There’s some I’d share baith maut an’ meal,

Nay, ee’n my penny fees wi’,

But trust me lass, I’ll ken them weel,

I’ll share my bit o’ cheese wi’.

Let gentles dine aff ilk thing nice,

Nor ance thank Him wha sent them’t;

Be mine the dainty Kebbuck slice,

An’ oat-cake and contentment.

Samuel Turner, Ballyclare (1848)



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