Sunday, December 27, 2009

Linties and Yellayoughs

Was talking with my parents this evening about the changes in local wildlife that they've observed over the years - and as ever some Ulster-Scots words came up naturally as part of the conversation. My da mentioned a man he knew when he was wee called Alec Stewart who used to spend his evenings going round the hedges to "blin linties" with a flashlight - he then grabbed them, put them in a bag and then took them home to one of his many cages. He then sold them on (or, during WW2, even ate them). Here's a linty (in English a linnet)


The yellayough (or yellayorlin or yellayowt / yellayite) was the Ards Peninsula name for the Yellowhammer


To make things even more confusing, apparently was even once a fish called the Portaferry Chicken! I googled it and sure enough it seems to have been a name for the sand smelt. This is the type of local knowledge that is still alive and well in rural communities across Ulster, has never been captured in academic textbooks or old historical volumes which were written by the smart folk, not the plain folk.

A huge amount of the future task for Ulster-Scots is not just in the ivory towers of universities, or the all-too-often trivial fluff of entertainment and media. It's in giving a respectful voice, and encouraging a sense of value, within the quiet communities whose lives have always been far removed from either of those fake worlds - and whose hearts still beat with the real thing.