The Ulster-Scots Language Society, formed to promote the Ulster-Scots language, our own hamely tongue

Jecky McNab

Laura Spence

From Ullans 11, 2010

[Laura has honed her writing skills at the Ballyboley class and has a great way with humorous verse and writing for children. She works for the BBC in the area of Ulster-Scots language provision, and is currently heavily involved in seeking out and editing website content that reflects the richness of the Ulster-Scots tradition. We congratulate her on her new role, and welcome her as a contributor to Ullans].

Ye'll a' ken tha story o auld Notre Dame
an tha hunchbeck wha rung tha kirk bell.
They say 'Quasimodo' the puir mon was ca'd:
a quare funny name, but tha French is gye odd,
but oniehoo, on wi me tale.

Tha puir love-struck hunchbeck haed croaked-it, ye see,
so they needed a bell-ringer noo.
Tha Bishop sent wurd throo tha streets o Par-ee
"If ye'r able fur ringin, cum strecht here til me
an ah'll gie ye a fair inner-view".

They pit owre tha tests in tha belfry itsel
an a wheen o fowk ettled til play;
they pu'ed an they grunted but hadnae tha kneck
or ocht like tha skill o thon doited hunchbeck —
so tha Bishop had ca'ed it a day.

But jist as the auld boy was quattin tha kirk,
this wee mon wi' nae airms hurpled up.
"Ah'm frae Irelan'," he tould him, "Ah'm here fur the jab:
thur's naeb'die rings bells like Wee Jecky McNab —
will ah gie ye a tune jist fur luck?"

Tha Bishop be'd hert-scar'd o turnin' him doon
in case he micht tak oot a case.
"Dinnae fash,"Jecky toul him, "Ah'll cum til nae hairm:
Ah'll no can streck bells wi me haun or me airm —
but ah'll gie them some dunt wi' me face".

Jecky geen him a rin owre 'Tha Moontins o Mourne'
an 'Tha Starn o tha Auld Coonty Doon'.
He rung wi his chin an' he rung wi his neb,
he rung "Danny Boy" jist uisin' his geb:
an ootby tha French fowk gether'd roon.

Tha dumfoonert Bishop — he'd ne'er seen tha like,
an he kent this cud bring him some fame —
he spat on his loof an he heeled it weel oot.
"Ah've nae hauns til shak wi' — tak houl o me snoot,
an Ah'll ring ye 'Tha Green Gress o Hame".

But jist as puir Jecky stepp't up til tha bell
an geen it a dunt wi his heid,
he tuk a quare stummle owre yin o his feet,
he flew oot tha wundy, doon ontil tha street —
an thaur tha puir ringer lay deid.

Tha guid fowk o Paris a' got a quare gunk
as they luk'd whur tha deid Jecky fell.
"Dae ye ken ocht aboot him, his faimlie or hame?"
The Bishop said sadly, "I jaist kent his name,
but I maun say — his face rung a bell".