Peterhead writer creates unique Doric versions of classic nursery rhymes

A unique volume of children’s nursery rhymes in Doric has just been published by a Peterhead author.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 12:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 12:42 pm
Gordon hopes his latest book – ‘Doric Nursery Rhymes for Loons & Quines’ – proves popular with both children and grown ups.

Retired solicitor Gordon M Hay has just launched what is believed to be the first ever Doric book of favourite English nursery rhymes: ‘Doric Nursery Rhymes for Loons & Quines’.

Native Doric speaker Gordon is already known for his translation of The Bible’s New Testament, which was published in 2012, and he is currently working on a translation of the Old Testament which is planned for 2022.

He has also won several awards for his short stories, has translated the visitor’s guide to Aberdeen’s Gordon Highlanders’ Museum and has even translated into the Doric work by Charles Dickens for a world conference in Aberdeen in 2016.

Now Gordon has turned his attention to producing a beautifully illustrated retelling of a collection of well-known nursery rhymes where childhood favourite The Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe becomes ‘The Aul Wifie fa Bade in a Shee’ and Old Mother Hubbard becomes ‘Aul Mither Haumry’.

Whilst some are direct translations, other rhymes have undergone a fun relocation to the North-east including Dr Foster whose ill-fated trip to Gloucester is retold as ‘Dr Murra Gaed tae Turra’.

Bringing the rhymes to life are beautiful illustrations by Glasgow-based Rosemary Cunningham who has created artwork for various sectors including retail and charity through her business, Illustration etc. A graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Rosemary’s work includes The Glasgow Alphabet and associated hand-drawn map, which brings some of the city’s iconic landmarks and locations colourfully to life.

The publication of Gordon’s latest book, which is dedicated to his grandchildren and Rosemary’s parents, was supported by The Doric Board, which exists to support and promote the distinctive the Doric tongue and associated culture.

Gordon – who lives in Longside and was a solicitor with Stewart & Watson in Peterhead until his retirement – said: “I was brought up on the family farm to be a native speaker of the Doric but my interest in its literature really began when I learned a Charles Murray poem for a school concert at Easterfield Primary School when I was eight.

“It’s been a passion of mine ever since and it occurred to me that, whilst there are several books of Scottish nursery rhymes, there is nothing retelling traditional English rhymes in the Doric.

“Some of them, however, have been sanitised for the 21st century and the old woman who lives in the shoe doesn’t beat her children in my new Doric version!

“It’s not just a book for children though, and I hope that lots of adults, native speakers and learners of the Doric will enjoy it too.”

Rosemary added: “Stories are the things I connect to and I love bringing words and pictures together in a new way, driven by a sense of people, place and perspective.

“I try to make things different yet relatable and bring diversity to my work so that the reader can see something of themselves on the page.”

‘Doric Nursery Rhymes for Loons & Quines’ by Gordon M Hay and Rosemary Cunningham is available from various outlets, including a range of North-east bookshops. It can also be ordered direct from Gordon M Hay on (01779) 821206 or via [email protected]