Orkney Heritage Society

Orkney Dialect Poetry Competition's

Winning Poems

NEW: See Videos featuring a Selection of the Winners here


Overall Winner:  Marlene Mainland, Holm, Orkney (Home Truths)

Adult: Home - Marlene Mainland "Home Truths"

Adult: Humour - Marlene Mainland "High Coo"

Adult: The Land - Jane Harris, Stirling "Me Laand"

Adult: The Sea - Fiona A Cowan, Finstown "Boreas domus mare amicus?"

Secondary: Home - Courtney Peace, Stronsay "The 'Guid' Life"

Primary: Home - Anja Hall, Evie "Poosack"


There were no entries in the Primary/Secondary age groups for 'Home', 'The Land' or 'The Sea', so special prizes were awarded.


Best Use of Sounds - Ellen Forkin, Deerness "Sea o Dunder"

Best Use of a Traditional Theme - Fran Flett Hollinrake, Quoyloo "Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm"

The Judges Choice - Ragnhild Ljosland, Kirkwall "New"



Overall Winner & Category, Adult: Home

Marlene Mainland, Holm


Home Truths

Granny? Whar's Bessie geen?

Shi's geen tae whar the good dogs go, bairn.

Run thoo oot tae play

Thir's kettleens in the barn.


Granny? Whar daes gablos come fae?

Fae atween the flags and in the wa

Don't be faird o them

Thir aa hermless peedie things


Granny? Whar's that uncan wife?

That's Nellie the tinkler wae haar pack

If thoo're a good lass

Thoo'll mibbe get a bonie frock.


Whaar's Granny at? Is shae ben?

Shae's feelan trowie.  Laev haar be.

Run thoo oot and play

Wae the kettleens in the barn.

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Category, Adult: Humour

Marlene Mainland, Holm


High Coo

Black coo on the brae

Lyan snushan chowan ceud

Tae the Mart the morn.


(Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.)

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Category, Adult, The Land

Jane Harris, Stirling


Me Laand

"Yur no gittan hid!"

Sharged the peedie ould wife.

Horn mad.

Laan har man hid bowt

An they hid wrowt



Wis hid har reuts?

The claas o the laan

Clewran at har hert?

Ur a last dugged whess

In the face o daeth?



I doot

Sheu'll no can tak hid wae har.


"Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.."


Fur seun sheu'll be

Cheust a grin o stoor


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Category, Adult: The Sea

Fiona A Cowan, Finstown


Boreas domus mare amicus?

The North is wur home, but is the sea wur freend?

Hid deudno seem that wey the streen.


Whitna' freend wid himmer doon the door

Haeve salt apae the windows

Dad the shaws aff the tatties

Rummel doon the dykes

Fleud the new girse

And tak back the tangles wae'd gathered all winter?


...but this morneen


Glimmeran and sheenan'

Lappan quietly under the banks

Fleud tide clearan awey the tang

Nee more bruck fae the ebb

Six bonnie skiffs settan oot tae sail

Gae'an us ceuithes fur wur supper..


...a freend indeed.  

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Category Primary: Home

Anja Hall, Evie



Sleekit puss wae his furry lugs

And his stripy tiger tail

He always comes in tae me bed,

Purran tae himsel.


I'm writing this upon me bed

Wae poosack sittan here.

Soon Dad'll come in through the door

And say "Lights oot noo, Dear".


And then he'll notice poosack there

and say "That's no alood!"

And tak the cat oot o me bed

I ken I've no been good!


Tonight I hiv a clever ploy -

When Dad comes up the stairs

I'll stick puss under the cover

(And hope it doesna tear).


Here he comes - thump, thump, thump.

As I planned tae do,

I stick puss under the covers

Quiet poosack noo!


"Whaur is that blinkin cat" dad says

"He'll be oot side again"

"You mind on whit I said last night"

"Poor puss oot in the rain"


We go tae sleep, the hoose is still

But then I feel a tickle

Pussy's needan oot again

Noo I'm in a pickle.


Puss puss stop hid, listen noo!

I canna git tae the door

Fur me claes are all

Scattered on the floor


"Whit's all that racket", I hear dad say,

"The cat is in her room!"

Pussy girns and greets and pleeps -

Ah'm in fur it noo!

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Category, Secondary: Home

Courtney Peace, Stronsay


The 'Guid' Life

I palled up me breeks, pit oan me baits,

Me glivs were waarm fae the fire,

Stack oan me pernee - hid lukked gey cauld ootside -

An heeded oot the dower.

The air wis theek, hid wisna warm,

The moon wis still in the sky,

I ambled doon by whaur the baes wur eatan,

An sterted tae dyte the byre.

Stow, ya hoarsegowk, yar still oot at this time?

No need fur yar squeckan noo,

in a guid puckle o hoors ye'll be aff fae here,

An I'll be bulderin doon tae school.

Scrapin at the walls, yin reek at six in the mornan,

Ah'm no carin fur being clerted in gutter,

Taakin the rookle oot tae the midden buddum,

Plitterin through hid wi me wheelbarra.

Yins the mornan's wark doan but no fur the rest of the day,

Change oot o me claes an in summin clean,

An oan the rod tae school is whaur ah'm maakin me wey,

Aalready a herd mornans wark am deen!


I can jist hear yin teachar aye sayan,

When aall the 'guid' bairns, that hid bin 'oan time',

Wid've likly got mare o a lie in!

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Special Prizes 


Best Use of Sounds

Ellen Forkin


Sea o Dunder

The icy jabble

And the frantic scrabble

O pebble ower pebble

The doonpour o icy drebble

The skelder o sea on shore

Ower the distant roar

Under the tinkle o shell

You wid nivver tell

The Finfolk King sits quiet

Amongst the dunder o riot

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Best Use of a Traditional Theme

Fran Flett Hollinrake


Assipattle and the Mester Stoorworm

Here’s a tale tae tell wur bairns – hid’s aal aboot this bonny isle,

Wi monsters, brave sowels, scary pairts, and mebbe waards tae mak ye smile.


Pityer a land o plenty, noo: wi oats and yows and kye (hid’s cattle);

And here’s a lad that’s good fur notheen – that’s oor hero, Assipattle!


Aa day he sits afore the hairth, ass gets in his hair and claes;

Aa aroond him, waark gies oan; a useless fleep, his mither says.


But Assipattle his high hops, that wan day soon he’ll save the land

‘Mither’, says he, ‘Ah’ll mak ye prood’: Ah’ll save the waarld wi me right hand!


Weel, right enough it wisnae lang afore a cry gaed through the air:

‘A muckle monster, oot at sea – hid’s craaled oot fae its secret lair!’


Hid’s wallie tail culd wrap aroond the earth an crush it wi a shak;

Fok called it Muckle Stoorworm, and they kennt whit hid culd brak!


Noo, Wormy et a haep of lasses, aa tied tae a graet big stane

And aa the dowters had tae gie their lives – the number spared wis….nane.


The Princess Gem-de-Lovely cam, the bonniest lass in aa the land

She wisne faerdie, nor yet prood, and strappit doon she lukked cheust grand.


‘Noo’s me chance,’ oor hero cried, laepin up to fetch his pail

I’ll tak this paet that’s burning yet – I’ve got this plan – it canna fail!


Assipattle took his paet and ran doon tae his peedie quill

Rowin hard he fund the Worm, and pocked it till it felt right ill.


Hid gied a roar and gullpit doon the peedie boat, the lad and paet

And Assipattle foond hissel right in the puggie’s stinkan haet!


He plittered here and yon until he fund the liver o the worm

And wi his gullie, cut a hale and stuffed the paet in good an firm!


The monster girned and gied a rift, and threw up ass and guffan reek

And up cam Assipattle’s boat, oor lad near feart tae tak a keek.


Noo, wormy’s heid wis shakkan bad, hid’s yackles brakked in muckle lumps:

Orkney, Shetland, Faroes too, were aa made fae they bits and bumps!


The Stoorworm died in aafil pain, hid’s body’s hot and burnan free:

Wi smok and bilin mud, it seems this is hoo Iceland cam tae be.


Assipattle took his quill and rowed hid tae the sandy shore

And fund the princess lying there, bonny as a flooer in voar.


The twa fell deep in love right there, and maerried after twathree days

And aa the fok were muckle glad and aal pit oan thur bonny claes.


They lived a heap o years I’m tellt, and not a single tear wis gret:

And if they arena deid, my freend, well surely then, thur livan yet!

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The Judges Choice

Ragnhild Ljosland



I am new


Pittan new soonds in me mooth

I even hiv a new nem

Cus no-one here can pronounce me auld one

Me gear cam in a container across the sea

But Ah've left the auld me


wae me bruck

No-one kens


I wis

But aal ken who

I am noo

I am new

I am new noo


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