Tuesday 1 March 2011

It’s No Use Crying Over Spilt Milk

Milk Drop
According to John Ewen (Iain Eòghann) MacRury, from Torlum, Benbecula, the old people had a saying which they said whenever some milk had been accidently spilt. The phrase which he gives is: ‘Coma leibh dheth, tha beul feumach a’ feitheamh air’ which may be literally translated as ‘Never you mind, there is a needy mouth waiting for it.’ Given that milk and its derivative products was a staple part of the islanders’ diet, from which they produced many foodstuffs such as cheese, butter, buttermilk, crowdie, cream and so on, it seems that the above phrase reflects their rather philosophical stance: if even only a little was spilt then even that would still not go to waste:

Spilling Milk
In olden times the
Inhabitants of the
Outer Hebrides when
Milk was spilt would
say “Coma libh dheth,
tha bial feumach a
feathamh air,” mean-
ing that there was
a thirsty mouth –
waiting for it somewhere
else, and that the thirsty
party would get the[ir]
thirst quenched.

CW 1/60, f. 27r.
Image: Milk Drop.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [© carstenflieger.com]