P. 1
Country Yarns

Country Yarns

|Views: 1,123|Likes:
Published by Nevin

More info:

Published by: Nevin on Oct 18, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Tommy McKaig's Country Yarns

The Dervock Donkey R.J. McIlmoyle, the famed Dervock preacher, sheepbreeder and storyteller, was once faced with a rather unusual query: "What will we do with the donkey?" A group of travelling people had departed from their roadside camp on the edge of Dervock, leaving behind the remains of a dead donkey. It was said to be traditional for them to move to new quarters on the death of a traveller or one of their animals. Following the request from the local people R.J. said that he would ring the Ballymoney Rural District Council to see what they could do. "What's your problem?" said the council officer. R.J. described the situation and said that his neighbours wanted the dead animal "taken away out of this". "Isn't it one of your jobs to see about burying the dead, Mr McIlmoyle?" "You'd be quite right thinking that", said R.J., " but it's also another of my duties to inform the next of kin!" Just a Penny A long time ago, when a weekly newspaper cost 1d, two sisters owned a little shop in Islandranny. In those days, there seemed to be one of those businesses every two miles. The sisters were called Elizabeth and Mary McKeeman and they supplied the little extras that added variety to what would otherwise have been a very plain and monotonous diet. On a Friday evening, regular as clockwork, William Boyd walked the half-mile to collect his weekly paper. He did not pay at the time but settled-up at the end of the year. When the appointed Friday arrived William inquired "Well Mary, what do I owe you for the paper?" " That'll be fifty-two pence, William", said Mary. He handed over the money and headed for home. About half an hour later William arrived back in the shop in a great state of agitation and determination. "Mary, I'm afraid there has been a bit of a mistake about the paper", said William. "Oh",said Mary,"I'm very sorry to hear about that. What seems to be the matter?". "When I went home, I did a wee bit of checking and found that there were only fifty-one weekly papers printed last year!" Mary apologetically handed back the extra penny and William walked home happy. Smelling a Rat When Joe McKaig was a wee bit of a lad he had a terrier dog which was very good at killing rats. His uncle Joseph McKeeman, who lived across the fields, invited the youngster to come over one day as he was going to thresh corn in the barn. "Why don't you bring over the wee dog", said the uncle, "Ther'll be plenty of rats in the bottom of the stacks". "What'll he get for killing the rats?", said Joe, not one to miss a chance for making a bit of money. "Every rat the dog kills, I'll give you a penny", said the uncle. The threshing got under way and soon there were rats running in all directions. In no time at all there were twelve rats laid out side by side, much to the uncle's consternation. "Look", said Joe, "I've a shilling's worth already!". At that time one shilling could buy a lot of sweets. "I doubt I couldn't give you a penny for all them", said the uncle, hoping to renegotiate terms, " A ha'penny will have to do". Joe rushed over to the stack and pulled the dog out from amongst the sheaves. He gathered the little terrier up in his arms and glowered defiantly at his uncle. " That's one thing he'll never do", said Joe, "Sink his teeth in them for less than a penny!". McKaig's Revenge Maggie Graham lived in a little dwelling at the end of a single-storied row of thatched houses at the Whinhill, Carnmoon. The windows were quite small, letting in only a little natural light, and in the winter evenings a small oil lamp barely illuminated the interior of the small working kitchen. Maggie's home was the rendevous for the young fellows from round about

Tommy McKaig's Country Yarns
who gathered together in the evenings for a bit of crack and occasional mischief. One Friday evening the lads were sitting on stools, drawn up in an arc around the big open peat fire, telling stories. At that time they all had long handle-bar type moustaches, apart from McFaul. He had shaved his off earlier that day, in the mistaken notion that the rest intended to do likewise. William John McKaig arrived in from his home across the moss at The Islands and slipped into his customary seat in the corner. He was wearing his favourite moleskin trousers. These had been washed many times and had now acquired a classy white sheen and the envy of his mates. The conversation, which had been bubbling along, slowly dried up. Some of them started to giggle. "Why don't you move over closer to the fire, William John?", said one. William John rose and there was a loud burst of laughter as the imprint of the freshly painted seat rails appeared on the seat of the once immaculate moleskins. The following day William John was back at the Whinhill to scale dung in a nearby field. When the time was right he made an excuse and slipped over to Maggie's house. He slipped into the bedroom and lifted the blue serge "Sunday" suit, of one of his friends, from the wardrobe. From his pocket he took a brush and a small tin of paint. Very carefully he drew a fine red line around the edge of the coat lapels and likewise down the outside seams of the trousers - in the style of a postman's uniform. Revenge was sweet! The Boxer Big Herbie fancied himself as a bit of a boxer. On a Saturday night Herbie would select his target, offer a certain amount of provocation and then fell his victim with several well placed blows. "Where did you hit him, Herbie?", said one of his fellow peatcutters. Herbie explained his technique in graphic detail. Now his mates had heard this boasting before and had their strategy well thought out. The outline of a man had been traced on the soft wet black face of the peat bank and the buttons were marked on the jacket. An old hard peat had been pushed into the face of the bank and lay just behind the third button. "Come on Herbie, show us where exactly you hit him." Herbie clenched his fist, drew back the arm, took careful aim and slammed his fist right on to the third button. The roars from Herbie could have been heard a mile away. A Man of Many Talents Jamie McAleese lived alone in a little thatched house on the Islandranney road but was more than capable of looking after himself. It was said that he could bake scones, churn butter and fix a puncture on a bicycle tube all at the same time. Alec Campbell was sometimes there to offer advice. "Look, Jamie", says Alec, "There's a rat up there in the thatch". Jamie would reach into the corner for the pitchfork and shove it up in the direction that Alec was pointing. A cloud of sods and dust would descend on the griddle where the scones were baking. "Oh look, Jamie", says Alec, "You're going to ruin your scones!", knowing all along what was going to happen. Jamie's mother had been a very cleanly woman. She used to take butter to Liscolman for sale in the shop. When she died Jamie continued on making the butter but without the same success or concern for hygiene. "When my mother was alive", says Jamie,"They would meet you at the Watches crying "Tell Maggie to keep me a pound! Now, nobody in Liscolman wants to buy butter". These yarns were based on stories from Tommy McKaig of the Islands of Carnmoon, and give a flavour of life in the Route about 50 years ago. They were recorded in the spring of 1993 and published in Portcaman Vol 1, the magazine of the Bushmills Folklore and History Group.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->