Monday, 15 February 2010


This week in the Irish Times (15 February), Diarmaid O Muirithe erxplains the word rowt, which was sent in by a reader in Tyrone.  He says that it refers to the bellow of a bull, the low of a cow, or the bray of an ass.  The reader had also heard it used of the efforts of a singer who has to raise his voice above the din ain a public house.  Thw word is also used as a verb meaning to bellow or roar and is of Scots origin.  It appears in the Dictionary of the Scots Language, which gives examples of its use by Burns, Ramsay and Fergusson, and notes its use in Ulster in 1880 and 1953.

Independently I have come across two examples of its use in Ulster-Scots placenames.  The Routing Burn or ‘roaring stream’ is a boundary stream in Tyrone. There is a description of the parish of Termonmaguirk in the Down Survey, which was executed by Sir William Petty in 1657, and it states that ‘The Owen ne Coggreeght is the stream now called the Routing Burn, which separates on the south the parish of Clogherny from that of Clogher.'

There is also the Routing Wheel, which is a tidal whirlpool in the mouth of the narrow entrance to Strangford, near Portaferry.  In his description of the area in 1683 William Montgomery said, ‘there is a whirle poole called by ye Scotts ye rowting weele from ye loud sound it some tymes makes’.

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