Mounthill Fair

Them was the days, lang, lang ago'
When Mounthill Fair was like a show.
And folks frae all the distant pairts,
Came trottin' in their low wheeled cairts.

Frae early morn', afore 'twas clear,
The meres an' foals, they wud appear
An' kye an' heifers tae as weel
An' cairts o' pigs, wi' mony a squeal.

The hale Fair Hill frae end tae end
Was covered thick wi beasts an' men.
Frae Tammy's corner richt alang
Tae Robert Howie's was a thrang.

And just inside the oul' Fair Hill
Ach, boys o' dear; I see her still
Was 'Jean,' her stall sae spick and span
Wi' apples, nuts and yellow man.

And then, the lasses, man o' dear;
They'd mak' ye smile frae ear tae ear:
And many's a match, for good or ill,
Was made inside that oul' Fair Hill.

The Gipsies wi' their piebald steeds'
Their weemin wi' their scarves and beads,
Like folk frae some far foreign shore,
You'd see them there, full many a score.

The foals, them days, was something great:
They bred them roun' an' strong an' straight.
The Mullaghsandal Boys, for years,
Held pride o' place for 'Shelty' meres.

The daelin', it was fun tae hear,
Wi' mony's a curse and mony's a swear:
The din wud nearly deave your ears
Wi' squealin' pigs and nigherin' meres.

An' as the efternoon wore on
Wi' a' the daelin' nearly done,
They'd meet in 'Rabs', an' ha'e a spree
An' shout an' sing an' dance wi' glee.

But them that didn'y taka gill
Wud smash an' tear aroun' the Hill,
Helterin' foals and ridin' clibs:
Riskin' their necks, or broken ribs.

Ructions wud start in 'Rabert's' Bar
There's arguments, there's threats, there's war.
The lads come runnin' frae the Hill
Like warriors flockin' tae the kill.

There's scattered teeth, there's blackened e'en
The wil'est mess ye've iver seen.
Every man's your frien' or foe'
Speak oot o' turn and doun ye go.

And as the day comes tae a close,
There's mony a swollen, broken nose.
You'd think there'd be a score o' deaths'
Wi bodies scattered roun' the place.

But though they're tired and drunk and lame,
They somehow set their ecorse for hame'
Wi' many's a threat and many's a swear,
Until they meet anither year.

Each cairt soon has it's human load,
Their sturdy 'Shelties' hit the road.
There's mony a 'hooch', an' mony's a sang
As thro' the nicht, they pelt alang.

John Clifford (1931)

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John Clifford