Schools Competition

The Editor


Early in 2002, Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch, through its administrative arm the Ulster-Scots Agency, invited applicants for sponsorship funding to be applied to specific standalone projects. In response, the Ulster-Scots Language Society applied for funding for a pilot schools competition in the North Antrim area. This was to be modelled on the long-running schools competition organised by the Scots Language Society, and it was hoped that through this initiative, children in the primary 5 to primary 7 age group would be encouraged to think about and write in the language.

The Society was successful in obtaining the sponsorship. However, between the application and the grant, Lee Reynolds, who had worked on the proposal and had been vital to its success, had moved on. The decision was made to continue with the competition, and towards the end of the year the Society was fortunate to obtain for a limited period the services of Marty McNeely, who, with his wide experience of promotional work, was ideally suited to the job of organising it.

In January 2003, all primary schools within the North-Eastern Board area were notified about the competition, the theme of which was “Ate up, ye’r at yer Grannie’s!” Entries were sought in any format, with a content based on food, cooking or the kitchen. Schools would be competing for substantial cash prizes in two categories. The McCulloch Prize, so named in recognition of the contribution to the language revival of Isobel McCulloch, a founder member and dedicated first Secretary of the Society, was designated for the best class effort, while the Gregg Memorial Prize, in memory of Professor RJ Gregg, the Society’s first President and pioneer of the academic study of the Ulster-Scots language, was to be awarded for individual entries.

On arrival of the entries, the judging panel, which was looking primarily for two things — “creativity and originality” and “Ulster-Scots content” — settled to its task. The adjudicators were impressed by the quality of the entries and delighted by the range, inventiveness, creativity and variety of the work submitted by each school. After much discussion, the judges concluded that joint prizes were unavoidable in view of the high standard displayed.

The list of prizewinners was as follows:

Joint first prize:

Balnamore Primary School
(with special commendation for drama and video production) and

Buick Memorial Primary School, Cullybackey
(with special commendation for community involvement)

Second prize:

Glynn Primary School
(with special commendation for the use of local Ulster-Scots)

Joint third prize:

Damhead Primary School
(with special commendation for drama and pupil involvement) and

Longstone Primary School
(with special commendation for song and the involvement of a wide age-range of pupils).

Over two hectic weeks at the end of the summer term, members of the Ulster-Scots Language Society committee were able to re-live their childhood and go back to school. They attended prize-givings and special assemblies, giving a word of praise and encouragement to the pupils and handing over the prizes. All those who did so would like to take this opportunity to thank the schools for their hospitality (which was calorie-loaded but delicious!) and to say how much they enjoyed meeting board members, teachers, parents and pupils at these events. The Society also wishes to reiterate its congratulations to all the prizewinners and hopes that they and many others will enter our next schools competition, which we intend to extend further than simply the North-Eastern Board area. We would also like to thank Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch, whose sponsorship met a large proportion of the costs, and Marty McNeely, who “went the second mile” and not only contacted schools and organised the competition, but also assisted in arranging the handing over of prizes.

In this issue of Ullans, we reproduce extracts from the winning entries that are in paper format.

Balnamore Primary School’s entry — a drama entitled:

“Ate up, ye’r at yer Grannie’s”

Scene 1At home
Discussion between mother and daughter about what happened at Granny’s
Scene 2In school
Daughter discusses with friends that Granny is coming to stay at the weekend while Mother is away.
Granny arriving.
Scene 3Carson’s shop in Bushmills Buying ingredients for cooking.
Scene 4Back home Cooking!
Scene 1
DaughterHi, I’m home
MumHow did you get on?
DaughterIt was terrible! I missed my crisps and my late nights and I even missed Coronation Street!
MumWhat did Granny make you eat?
DaughterWhere do I begin? She made me eat sloppy, lumpy brochans for breakfast and mealacrochie for dinner and even worse — big fish and dulse for supper! Yuck!
MumWhat did you get to drink?
DaughterWee draps o tay and buttermilk tae mae dinner!
MumWell, I’ve got bad news for you I’m afraid. I have to go away this weekend to a conference and Granny’s coming here to look after you.
DaughterAh, Mum! Not again! Not two weekends of Granny!
Mum’Fraid so! Have a whole lot of fun!
Scene 2
DaughterYou are not going to believe this — This is so NOT cool!
Friend 1What?
DaughterGranny is coming to our house this weekend. As if last weekend wasn’t bad enough!
Friend 1Brill! I thought that I was coming to stay at your house this weekend.
DaughterI’ll ask Mum if that’s still OK. We could suffer together!
Friend 1No way! Your Granny sounds like a nightmare!
Friend 2I’ve met your Granny. She’s not THAT bad. Grannies are just like that.
Friend 1Like what?
Friend 2Well, they have odd notions about things and they eat rare things. Any time we go to the sea, my granny always wants limpets. She boils them and thinks they’re great.
Friend 1Gross! I hope your Granny doesn’t eat limpets?
DaughterOh no! She cooks lovely things. Say you’ll come too?
Friend 1OK — but just so long as some of the rest of you call round and keep us sane
Scene 2 Act 2
GrannyAn Ah howl ye ye’ss nae guess what we’re gantae hae fur th’ tay?
GDAn Ah howl ye Ah will.
GrannyWe’re fur mealacrochie an praetas.
(GD mouths this)
GDGranny! Why dae ye naw ate things lake pizza ur lasagne?
GAch! Doses made wi a lock ++ E numbers an things ye nivir hard o.
Ah lake tae ken whaat A’m ateing. A guid run o hungerin thaat’s whaat you yung yins need tae mak them think mare o ther mate.
GDGranny, dinnae start in aboot sneddin’ neeps an praeta an point.
GThat awl chat’s an affront.
GDSorry Granny, sure ye ken Ah didnae mean ocht. What aboot th’ tay?
GGone yous doon tae Carson Glesses an get me a wheen o praetas an twathre onions and a lump o salted fish. An tak that whole tribe wi ye tae Ah get me heed shared.
Scene 3
Friend 1What was all that about? I didn’t know what you were talking about! Why do YOU speak so funny when you are talking to your Granny?
Daughter(Laughs) Och, that’s just the way we talk when we’re with Granny.
Friend 1So what are we getting at the shop?
Friend 2Praetas!
Friend 3Twathre onions
Friend 4A lump o salted fish
Friend 1Right! Don’t suppose there’s any point in asking what they are?
DaughterWatch and learn!
In the shop
Scene 4
Granny’s FriendBoys aren’t you lucky th’ day Rose tae hae aa these weelasses tae gie ye a han?
GrannyAye. Er ye stying fur yer tae?
GFMaybe ther’s oor mony o iz tae feed
GrannyTher’ll be plenty fur th’ whole o iz. You can help some o these weelasses tae mak champ an Big Fish an Ah’ll get th’ mealacrochie gaing.
GFYer on!
GrannyYou peel a wheen o praetas for Shiela’s champ.
Noo — the mealacrochie. Er you gaing tae peel iz an onion?
We man get the bacon frying. Clod it oot tae we fry th’ onion.
Add yer oatmale. Dinnae let it stick tae th’ pan.
Pit yer bacon bak in.
Guid stiff
GFWe’ll get the ling on tae boil. We’ll change th’ waater or it’ll be oor salty.
Get the milk tae boil.
Pit th’ cooked ling intae th’ milk.
GrannyEr we aa ready tae ate?
Friend 1Is this it?
Friend 2Looks OK to me.
Friend 3Tastes OK to me!
Friend 1Not bad… Could I have some more please?
GrannyGone ahead th’ girl ye! Ate Up Yer at Yer Granny’s!
Friend 1Three cheers for —’s Granny and her mealacrochie and Big Fish!

Balnamore pupils also included recipes for Big Fish and Mealacrochie, the dishes that were cooked in the drama, which was filmed and supplied on video tape.

Buick Memorial Primary School’s entry —

A Wheen o’ Staughies frae Cullybackey

Chosen and edited by the Primary 7 pupils of Buick Memorial Primary School

Buick Memorial is situated close to the ancestral home of President Chester Alan Arthur, and the children dressed in period costume for a visit to the homestead. There, with the Arthur Cottage staff, the pupils had the experience of cooking old Ulster-Scots recipes over an open fire.

They also tried their hand at the ‘readyin’ with Jenny Bristow, the local celebrity cook. Another useful activity was collecting recipes from the parents, grandparents and friends of the school, all of which went into the recipe book, together with some recipes contributed by Jenny Bristow.

The resulting book was sold by the pupils for school funds, and achieved something like ‘bestseller’ status, not only at home but overseas. Below, we give something of the flavour of the recipe book, with the poem that begins the book, a snatch of the Foreword by Jenny Bristow, and a selection of the recipes that have been rendered in Ulster-Scots. We wouldn’t want to spoil their market!

Aroon the turn o’ this new year whun hogmanay wus by

A wheen o’ oor pupils thocht they wud hae a try

At finin’ oot a wheen o’ things aroon these airts an’ pairts

O’ oor Ulster Scotish cultcher frae the days o’ horse an’ cairts.

Alang wi Mrs. McQuiston tae gie them a’ a han’

They progged the hilp o’ ithers tae kerry oot their plan

A girl ca’ed May Kirkpatrick wus asked tae poo us oot

An’ fin’ a wheen o’ recipes frae the oul folk roon aboot.

We waaked tae Erthur Cottage tae meet hir an’ hir freen

An’ tae hilp oot in oor venture they baith wir affy keen.

While May gabbed o’ the oul’ days an’ the tools frae lang ago,

Mrs Gregg made Staughies ooty buttermilk an’ dough.

She geen a demonstration an’ showed us hoo tae dae it,

An’ we aal lukked an’ listened an’ larned a hale lot frae it.

There up roon thon wee cottage wus a bak groon tae be gleaned

O’ a president’s fore fethers who had there been reared an’ weaned —

A leevin’ eeked free fermin’ wi twarthy hens an’ pigs,

An’ a drill or twa o’ turnips an’ prootas set in rigs.

Noo the pickin’s they wur basic wi’ food thin on the grun —

Joost prootas on their lonesome on the table aften fun’ —

But whiles there wus aplenty tae fry or boil or cook

Wi the griddle on the apen hearth hung frae chain an’ crook.

The tay pot on the hearth stane burnt blak wi kel an’ soot,

An’ ye aften boiled yer egg in it afore ye poored it oot.

There wus soda breed an’ pancakes an’ a farl or twa o’ fadge

A’ ate het aff the griddle wi’ butter by the wadge.

There wus meal o’ crushy in the pan, an’ a slice o’ drycure bacon,

An’ as ye sturred an’ turned it it wus sparkin’ an’ a crackin’.

Egg-nog an’ paneada an’ buttermilk an champ,

A’ dished oot on the table aside the tilly-lamp.

Thick parritch fer yer breaksit washed doon wi’ slurps o’ tay

Follied by an Ulster fry tae kape ye ga’in’ a’ day.

There wur mony ither Staughies geen tae us tae ate,

Al’ quare halesome pakin’ for we aften licked the plate.

An’ noo we’ve put them intae print tae mak’ them known again

So a’ you Cullybackey folk ken cape them as yer ain.

Written by William Livingstone (Our School Caretaker)


…The final result is an excellent cookbook based on Ulster-Scots, combined with a living language, which is the result of our own local history; it gives us all an opportunity to expand our knowledge a little further on this subject, and to celebrate diversity.

Well done to everyone involved in this excellent Ulster-Scots Cook Book.

Jenny Bristow

Ould Fashioned Vegetable Soup


a wheen o’ prootas an carrots, a taste o’ celery an a leek

knob o’ butter

a muckle o’ flure

a guid amount o’ stock

a nick o’ mixed herbs

sahlt an pepper


Creesh vegetables in butter fer 3 minutes approximately.

Mix in flure an’ add stock.

Bring tae boil, season an’ add herbs.

Soddle fer 1½ hours in a pan or twa hours in oor wee fire.



Wadge o’ prootas, peeled and quartered

A wheen o’ scallions, trimmed but retaining their green tops

A taste o’ creamy milk

Shalt an’ black pepper

Muckle o’ melted creesh


Boil the prootas in lightly sahlted watter an drain wile weel. Cover wie a clean tayclot tae absorb the steam and keep warm. Chop the scallions finely; add tae the milk an boil thegither in a pan fer a few minutes. Mash the prootas an season well, poor in the milk an’ scallions and beat well thegither. Divide the mashed prootas between four warm bowls, make a well in the centre o’ each and pour in melted creesh tae mak’ a pool. Traditionally champ is eten wie a spoon, each spoonfu’ o’ mashed prootas being first dipped in the creesh.

Champ is minded in the rhyme, “There was an oul unman who lived in a lamp; who had no room to beetle her champ”; a beetle being a pestle once used to mash potatoes. It is also known as Cally, Pandy or poundies and in Ulster, young nettle tops, parsley or peas were sometimes added to the mixture.

Left-overs Broth


12 oz cooked turkey

3 oz o’ creesh

wan pook o’ lythenin

wan and a half pints o’ stock

half a pint o’ craimy milk

wan onion, wan wile big proota and celery

parsley, sahlt and pepper


Melt creesh, add a muckle o’ chopped vegetables.

Soddle fur a wheen o’ minutes an’ melder in yir milk.

Add a wee bit at a time whilst yir adding herbs and meat.

Soddle gentle for 40-50 minutes.

Add a taste o’ buttermilk, an soddle for a wheen o’ minutes.

Griddle Soda Bread


a gopin o’ flour

a melder o’ buttermilk

a taste o’ these three: baking soda, cream of tartar and salht


Heat the griddle wile slow.

Lift up al o’ the ingredients ta put in plenty o’ air, melder the buttermilk tae mak a dough.

Mak inta farls.

Rowl oot on yer bakeboord.

Cook on a het griddle for a wheen o’ minutes.

Dinny eat it till it’s cowl.

The book ends with the following advice, which the children obviously took to heart, going by the expressions on the faces!

We have a guid wheen fer you tae take a gleek at.

Try some oot, wet the tae and ale up!

If these recipes have whetted your appetite, you can get “the lave o’t” by handing over £2.50. Ye cudnae be bad tae that!

Glynn Primary School’s Entry —

Text of PowerPoint presentation of a short play by the P6 & P7 pupils

Mammy:It’s after 3. As sure as there’s an eye in a goat, the wains’ll be hame frae school soon… Away oot to thon coo an bring oany stribbins til I get this sodabreed made. (wains come in)
Doyt:Mammy a’m quare starvin.
Eggie:Mammy whut ir ye at? That’s brave luckin fadge.
Mammy:It isnae fadge, it’s sodabreed.
Mattha:Och naw, I daenae wan te hae sodabreed the day.
Mammy:Ye’ll be wantin naen then?
Mattha:Weel if there’s naethin else, I suppose I’ll hidae tak it.
Doyt:Mammy can I gie ye a han?
Mammy:Weet the tay.
Doyt:I canae fin the tipit an the snippie isnae boiled.
Mammy:Ower thonder on the sideboord.
(Daddy comes in an puts doon stribbins)
Daddy:Where’s the han-churn til I get the soor dook made?
Mattha:Aw Daddy I wanted tae strib the coo.
Shuzzan:Mammy how dae ye mak sodabreed?
Mammy:Hurry on an get yer aperns on til I learn ye how tae mak sodabreed… Get oot a big bowl.
Doyt:Dae ye need coarnflure Mammy?
Mammy:Naw jus plen flure… Ye put 6 gopins o’ flure in the bowl. Nixt twa tayspoons o’ bakin poother. Yin tayspoon o’ salt. Then mix her up.
Shuzzan:Wae this wuddenspoon Mammy?
Mammy:Aye… Noo put in jus enugh soor dook.
Doyt:How much?
Mammy:Ye’ll know when ye see it. Noo I aye put in a drap fur luck… Noo flure the bakboord and lash the mixture oot ontae it… Gie it a good kneaden and mak it in tae a roun shape…
Daddy:Hey ye the tay weet yit?
Doyt:Aye, the tipits on the draininboord.
Shuzzan:Mammy I dinae want soda breed. I want an egg beat up in a cup.
Mammy:Ach howld yer wheest an get thon soda breed doon yer thrapple.
Doyt:Mammy I want traicle on mae soda breed.
Shuzzan:Mammy I want tatty breed.
Mammy:Would ye wains stap yer nyitterin, get oot an gie mae heid peace, til I hey a quait cup o’ tay.

(Wains go oot) (Shout frae outside )
All wains: Mammy is it near taytim?

Damhead Primary School’s entry —

Drama on video by P6 and P7 pupils

[Only two of the pupils actually appeared in the drama, but all the children were involved in its preparation and presentation. The entry also contained research notes on the recipes, which included a series of very creative things to do with dulse!]

JonnyHello Granny are ye al richt.
GrannyOch, I’m tholin aches and pains, but apart frae that, I’m richtly. Ye’ll tak a wee cup o tae an a bun.
JonnyI’ll tak somethin, fer I haveny had acht frae this mairnin. Did ye hear aboot me and me fether last nicht.
GrannyNa, ye maun tell me. Here tak a cup o’ tae while yer tellin me.
JonnyMe fether an me were oot seein til the coos last nicht. We saw a bricht licht, brichter than awny star.
GrannyAn are ye sure it wasny a star Jonny?
JonnyNaw cause it neer blinded us it was so bricht. We got feered fer we thought itwas aliens landin. So me fether guldered at me tae raan hame fer the gun.
GrannyWhat wer ye goin tae dae wi a gun.
JonnyIt was fer shootin the aliens if they came at us.
GrannyOch na dinnae till me that.
JonnyWeel I ran tae the hoose, but I cudnae see awny sign o the gun, so I tuk a tare intae the barn, and couped owre the coo’s milk frae the churn and mae feet were ringin. But I tuk a scythe and heeded fer the fiel.
GrannyAnd what did ye dae then?
JonnyWeel I cudnae dae very much cause I landed in a sheugh on me back. So I guldered tae me fether an I was gae fered cause al o a sudden this bricht licht was abeen me.
GrannyWhat was it son?
JonnyWeel I cudnae believe it, or neighbour, you know, Dan McCurdy, was drivin a bran new tractor wi the brichtest licht ye’ve ever seen. You dinnae ken how weel I felt when I cudnae see awny aliens.
GrannyHere will mak you feel better. Ate up ye’r at yer Grannies.

Longstone Primary School’s entry —

Research notes, activity (cooking stirabout), Illustrations, Photographs, Wall Display and Song by P4 to P7 Pupils

In common with most of the other schools, Longstone’s pupils were being introduced by the competition to a language they really had not thought about before. One P7 girl speaks for all: “We’ve had great fun doing this project and it was an interesting experience to know that we used this new language without even knowing”. Longstone also has the distinction of having composed the only song that was entered in the competition.

Tune: She’ll be coming round the mountain

Wud ye come and hae a bite along wae us,

Wud ye come and hae a bite along wae us,

Wud ye come and hae a bite,

Ugh maybe sure ye micht,

Wud ye come and hae a bite along wae us.

We hae bowls o’ champ wud plase a cryin’ waen,

We hae bowls o’ champ wud plase a cryin’ waen,

We hae bowls o’ champ wae scallions

We cud gae it tae them hallions!

We hae bowls o’ champ wud plase a cryin’ wean

Wud ye sup a great big bowl o’ stirraboot?

Wud ye sup a great big bowl o’ stirraboot?

Dae ye ken how guid it daes ye?

Ken how guid it daes ye?

Wud ye sup a great big bowl o’ stirraboot?

We cud gae ye mealie crushie in the pan,

We cud gae ye mealie crushie in the pan,

We cud gae ye mealie crushie,

Guid n’ warm an’ mushie,

We cud gae ye mealie crushie in the pan.

Dae ye want tae grow to be a big strong man

Dae ye want tae grow to be a big strong man

Tak a bowl o’ clootie dumplin’

It’ll surely stap your humpin’

Dae ye want tae grow to be a big strong man



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)