Diarmaid O Muirithe has brought us some more Ulster-Scots words in his Irish Times column when a reader from Drumbracken in county Monaghan brought him the word skift. O Muirithe said that he hadn't come across the word in the South but but the reader explained that it meant 'a light, passing shower'.
According to O Muirithe, 'it is a Scots word .. meaning to rain or snow slightly. ... The word came to Drumbracken from Scotland, and there is no doubt that the Scots borrowed the word from Scandinavia.
He also noted 'a word still used in south Donegal, and first recorded by Simmons in his 1890 glossary of the English of that region. The word is scow is glossed by Simmons as 'a broad flat-bottomed boat of shallow draught' and it also appears in W H Patterson's glossry of Antrim words (1892) as 'Scow; a large flat barge, used to receive the mud raised by a dredging machine. Jamieson's dictionary of Scots defined scow as 'a lighter employed in rivers and canals' and it also recorded the meaning 'a small boat made of willows and covered with skins'.
Like many Ulster folk I was familiar with the word skift, but this was my first introduction to the word scow.