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Eating Meat Before Supping Broth

by Bernadette Weyde
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Enter Cutlar Mac Culloch, a powerful rover from Galloway who made repeated excursions into the northern parts of the Isle of Man around 1507. He would carry off all that was ‘not too hot or too heavy’ so the Manx people used to eat their meat before they supped broth otherwise the meat might end up on Cutlar’s table.

The tradition was that Cutlar and his crew watched for proof that good cooking was going on amongst their better-fed neighbours on the Island and on a fine summer’s day the smoke from the Kirk Bride chimneys could be seen on the Scottish coast opposite. At the desired signal Cutlar and his crew pushed off from the shore and generally accomplished the run across in time to seize the good cheer for which the hospitable Manx were celebrated. Cutlar then proceeded to carry off everything that lay convenient and he interrupted so many festivals that he was remembered in their prayers and graces:

The Poor Manxman’s Prayer:
God keep the house and all within,
From Cut Mac Cullock and all his kin.”

 

 

The Rich Manxman’s Prayer:
God keep the good corn,
The sheep and the bullock,
From Satan, from sin,
And from Cutlar Mac Cullock.”

These incursions were in retaliation of a raid made by Thomas, the second Earl of Derby on the town of Kirkcudbright which he pillaged and this was severely revenged. The gentlemen of the line Mac Culloch, a clan powerful in Galloway, had at their head at the time, a chief of courage and activity, named Cutlar Mac Culloch. He was an excellent seaman and speedily equipped a predatory flotilla with which he made repeated descents on the northern shores of the Island, the dominion of the Earl of Derby.

On one of these occasions, as the master of the Manx house had just repeated one of these prayers, Cutlar in person made his appearance with this reply: –

“Gudeman! Gudemnan! Ye pray o’er late,
Mac Culloch’s ship is at the Yaite!”

The Yaite is a well-known landing-place on the north side of the island.


(source: Mona Miscellaney by Wm. Harrison (1869); Notes section in Peveril of the Peak by Sir Walter Scott; painting by unknown artist http://bit.ly/1cDPCCn

You can read a ‘dialogue between a Manx housewife and her husband’ on Cutlar’s exploits by Elizabeth Cookson in her book Poems on Manxland (1868) from page 51: http://bit.ly/2wBnemW

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