Document 618

Dipper: 06 - The Byllies

Author(s): Dr James A Begg

Copyright holder(s): Dr James A Begg


Dedicated to all the Doon Byllies with whom I spent many exciting and often hilarious nights patrolling the river and staking out pools. The great decline in poaching, and the subsequent recovery of the River Doon as a fine salmon river is due in large measure to their efforts. J.A.B.

They're niver whaur they're wantit
When the nets gang throu a dub,
An the siller fish are poued ashore,
Syne skelpit wi a club;
Then hidden weel aneath a bush
T' await the dawn o day,
When a wee broun caur comes doun the road
An speerits them away.

They're niver whaur they're wantit
When the Deil's Ain dae their waurst,
An tuim in their evil potions –
(May they be for ever curst!)
As saumon thresh aboot the puil,
Then faa tae graspin haun,
While future stocks o fry an paur
Lie deein on the saun.

They're niver whaur they're wantit
When the howkers' gear they ply,
An treble heuks an big leid wechts
Gae fleein throu the sky;
Syne fricht the wits o fish an fishers,
An pit them in a dither,
For gin they dinnae heuk the yin,
They're shuir tae heuk the tither!

They're niver whaur they're wantit
When the fish are in the burn,
An hauf the toun wi licht an cleek
Are queuin for their turn,
Wi'oot a thocht that these puir fish,
Last o their generation,
Shuid be laed alane tae consummate
Their tryst o procreation.

Whaur they're at they're niver wantit
By a certain class o chiel,
Wha niver buys a ticket -
- Ye ken the type gey weel -
They mooch aboot in twas an threes,
Wi treble heuks an gaff,
An sweir an curse an threiten
When the byllies pit them aff.

Whaur they're at they're niver wantit,
By the puil at deid o nicht,
When the lichts gae on, an Poacher John
Near draps doun died o fricht;
Syne draps his gear in mortal fear
As his cronies rin an scatter,
Leavin nets an claes ahint,
As they soum across the watter.

The Byllies gether nets an claes,
Wi the thocht they've won the day,
But hopin mebbe neist time
They'll get the poachers tae!
Then up the brae an throu the wid,
Leanin weary on their sticks,
Hame tae bed at hauf-past three
- An up for wark at six!

Sae mark this weel aa fishermen,
Wha greit an girn an moan,
An haud back information
That wad help trap Poacher John.
The Byllies aa are workin lads,
Daein a thenkless job for free;
An wad raither juist be fishin
- The same as you an me!

dub/slow-moving pool
paur/young salmon parr
howker/poacher who foul-hooks fish using large hooks
treble heuk/three-barbed hook
leid wechts/lead weights
tither/the other
licht an cleek/torch and gaff

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APA Style:

Dipper: 06 - The Byllies. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 24 July 2024, from

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 618

Dipper: 06 - The Byllies


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 1981
Word count 498
General description Anthology of prizewinning and other Scots poems, and short stories in Ayrshire Scots.

Text medium

Other Audiocassette

Text publication details

Publisher Luath Press
Publication year 1991
Place of publication Barr, Ayrshire
ISBN/ISSN 0946487227
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in The Dipper an the Three Wee Deils: Tales and Poems in Ayrshire Scots
Editor Authors: Dr. J. A. Begg and J. Reid
Page numbers 8-9

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 623
Title Dr
Forenames James
Initials A
Surname Begg
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Medical Practitioner
Place of birth New Cumnock
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Ayr
Region of residence S Ayr
Residence CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Clerical Officer, NCB
Father's place of birth Sandbank
Father's region of birth Argyll
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Arg
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Primary Teacher
Mother's place of birth New Cumnock
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
Danish No No No No A little
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially, at work
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Holidaying in France
Norwegian No No No No A little
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially, at work