|Above Carnlough, Antrim Coast Road, Co. Antrim|
September 03, 2009
We were talking last time about 'Co. Down, bye', but a friend recently lent me a wee book produced by the children of a Primary School up in 'North Antrim, hey!' In north Antrim, (and Co. Derry, too), people tend to put 'Hey' on the end of nearly every sentence - a bit like my Canadian friends, eh? - whereas in Co. Down, we tend to say, 'bye', instead.
This book's called, 'Some Handlin', which is an expression that manes 'a bit of an undertakin'.' It goes along with a few other similar expressions, like, 'Keep 'er lit' and, 'Now we're suckin' diesel!' - for instance, ye might say, 'That sports car's some handlin', hey!
North Antrim is pretty close to Scotland - only about 20 miles away across the North Channel - so a lot a' 'Scauts' expressions have found their way into the local dialect, hey. 'Lang may yer lum reek', is an example - it means, 'Long may yer chimney smoke', in other words, 'May you live for a long time'.
Other Scots expressions like, 'cannae', dinnae, willnae, and hav'nae are used regularly in Antrim and also in the Lower Ards peninsula in eastern Co. Down - which is also strong in Scots dialect. For instance, 'Yez dinnae hae yer chores done yet, and if ye hav'nae gau' them done be taytime, yez willnae be gaein oot, at ahll!' A stream is called a 'burn', ye might hae 'stiraboot', (instead a' porridge), for yer breakfast and quite often ye would'nae know whah' they're takin aboot!
I have some friends from near Ballymoney, in north Antrim, and they would be quite likely to go, 'roon the toon for some cackleberries and pratie roots'! That would be to go round the town for some egg 'n' chips, (French fries to some!). Or maybe they'd ask for a 'root 'n' troot supper'? That's fish 'n' chips to you'n' me! And if you happen to offend someone from north Antrim, they might get 'all affronted, so they might'!
As yez can probably gather, a visit to different parts of Northern Ireland can be a bit of a 'cultural experience'!
Now, if ye can describe Co. Down as 'up 'n' down', then Co. Antrim is mostly up! The Antrim plateau rises gently east from the River Bann, to a series of hills - Mount Slemish, for instance - then drops suddenly to the sea as a series of cliffs and glens - the nine 'Glens of Antrim'.
They are full of beautiful scenery and songs and poems have been written about them. The best known glen is called, Glenarriff. And all along the east and north coast of Antrim, linking all the glens and lots of small fishing villages, is the Antrim Coast Road - with a view of Scotland's Mull of Kintyre and the Hebrides on the sea-ward side.
A few years ago I sailed my boat, 'Warrior Maid', across from the Mull of Kintyre to Glenarm, in Co. Antrim, and then home to Groomsport on the south side of Belfast Lough. A very relaxing kind of holiday! We haven't sailed the boat anywhere this year, but we did manage to get it into the water, at least! We were on board having a barbeque the other Sunday, after the Tall Ships had sailed past on their way homewards from Belfast. Front row seats!
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