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The Quarterclift;  or  The Life and Adventures of Hudy McGuigan,  by Hugh Harkin

published in booklet form 1841; published in facsimile 1993 by Ballinascreen Historical Society
(144pp, + brief introduction and notes)
available from Ballinascreen Historical Society, Draperstown, Co Derry

an edited transcript, with notes and a glossary

characters may replace dashes in the original publication,
 eg "Lord Caledon" replaces "Lord C──n"

A Letter from Hudy in Belfast

The following "letter" was published in a Belfast newspaper The Vindicator on Saturday 25 April 1840.  This letter is referred to in a later "letter" from Hudy.


From the celebrated Quarter-clift, Hudy M'Guigan, to Denis Dominick O'Crilly and Brien Phadie M'Glade, both of the townland of Fanagh, parish of Ballinascreen.


Whew! your sowls!──botheration!──bad luck to it, boys, darlin's, sure here I am in Belfast, as fresh as a lark, and as sound as a throut!  By the powers, this is the ground for the splores!──devil a betther!──but you'll hear.  On coming into the town, sure I met an ould friend, and divil a kindlier one of yourselves could be, though I know you would melt a pound in good fellowship as fast as any other.  But what would you have of it?──sure we sent for the man that wrote all the splores, you see! but we daren't mention his name, for fear he would write no more.  Augh, by the powers! he's──but wheesht!──little said's easy mended!  Well, maybe I haven't given him plenty to write about!  But sure I was burnin' the whole time to let you know how I was gettin' on; and at last I says to the man, "I wish to God I had Brien Phadie and Denis O'Crilly here!"  "Who are they?" says he.  "My two best friends, barrin' yourself," says I.  "Write to them," says he, "and the Vindicator'll be proud to prent it."  "Augh, murdher in Irish!" says I; "many's a splore I've been in, and many's the stramash I've come through; but to write a letter!  Augh, bad scran to me, but that would fairly pass my thumb!  The divil a schoolmasther ivir bent birch upon me!──by my sowl, you might trust me for that!──it's myself was as wild a coult as ivir run loose on the side of Slieve Gallian!"  "No matther for that," says he; "sure you can talk?"  "Faix can I," says I.  "Well, shut your eyes," says he, "and suppose yourself between your two friends, and say your say, and I'll write."  "Capitial, by the powers!" says I; "so here goes!"──and to it we went.

Well, Brien, darlin', and Denis, honey, I came into Belfast on Saturday evenin', at five o'clock, dressed in my full flowin' white robe, my military cap and plume of feathers, afther travellin' thirty-three miles──Not a bad tramp that for a man of seventy-three years!  Augh! the day was──but, na bocklish!  The spirit's here yet.──I had almost forgot to tell you that Serjeant C────, of Randalstown, pitched my ould caubeen into the river, and gave in its place a head-dress that led me into some splores.  Well, that fared well, and I got along quietly till I came into the town, when, comin' down Donegall-street, a fellow steps up and says, "What regiment?" says he.  "It's that," says I; and I threw myself into fence, and showed my hanging George.──"Would you list to me?" says he.  "In throth would I," says I; "and there's a shillin' for you."  Smack came Black Bess acrass his jaw.  Whew! down he went.──Bad luck to such sodgers, say I.  By my sowl, you may thank Brien Phadie for makin' me swap the real Black Bess to this windle-straw.  Augh! one salute from the ould lady would make you kick for an hour yet.  Well, an I goes; and just at the corner of Academy-street, there was I surrounded by fifty rapscallions, shoutin' like as many beagles.  Begone, says I, you unquiltivated hounds! or, by the powers of Moll Kelly! I'll switch you from hence to hencewhere!  The vagabones laughed in my face; but a twirl of Black Bess, and, whew! your souls! two on the right and two on the left fell, like ripe apples blown from a tree.  Well, boys, darlin's, says I, wasn't that capitial "hand-waftin'" for a man of seventy-three.

Well, that night passed an, and Sunday came and went quietly.  But on Monday──Easter-Monday!  Augh, that was the day for the splores!  That's the day for the Cave-hill! and bad luck to the spalpeen or rapscallion in the whole town that's not out on the move and the spree!──a dacent man dare hardly show his face; but whew! by my own sowl! I was in the middle of them.  Comin' down Hill-street, and a dirty, ugly narrow stripe it is, a fellow steps up, puts his hand to my feathers──"What regiment?"  "The Peelers, says I, "and there's the bounty." Smack!──he fell like a bullock; and when he got up, his hat, as they say here, was like one Sam Weller's──"a parfect wentilator," split from the middle of the crown down to the very buckle.  Well, that didn't sarve.  A sea-captain comes up, with "three sheets in the wind."  "Can you wrestle any?" says he.  "A little," says I.──"How do you take it?" says he. "Is it shouldher and elbow, long grips or short grips?"  And well becomes the chap, he collars myself.  By my sowl, you'll rue that, my bouchal!  My hand to his breast──a touch of the toe──whew! down went the captain, blowin' like a sea-hog!  I was just then on my way to dine with a gentleman.  So that finished the splores on Monday.

But Tuesday came, and that was the day!──it was like the ould fair-days at home, you see.  There was the fellows goin' about, as happy as if the divil had them, all longin' "for a hair of the dog that bit them."  Well, what would you have of it?  I'm an early bird, you know.  And before five o'clock in the mornin', a whole crowd of Sathan's own spawn, both male and female, gathered round myself; and the yells, the oaths, the──the──the abominations!  Augh, by my sowl! it's do or die wid ye now, "Godwino," says I to myself.  Whew!  Cris-Chreestie atwixt us, you born divils!──and before the watchman could say thrap-sticks, six of the ragamuffins and their dhirty trulls were scramblin' for pavin'-stones!  "Augh, you're the broth of a boy!" says the watchman; "might I take the liberty of axin' your name?"  "Hudy M'Guigan, at your sarvice."  "Well-be-brook your name," says he, kindly; "but are you the gentleman," says he, "that rode the bull in Moneymore?"  "The very man," says I.  "Blood-an-oundhers!" says he, "let me see the man dare lay a hand upon you."  "I would be glad to see him myself," says I.  "You may say that," says he; and so he saw me safe to the gentleman's house where I was to breakfast.

Well, after breakfast, the gentleman was very kind, and, when I was lavin' him, he charged me to keep clear of all splores.  So I will, if I can, says I.  Well, out I goes──loses my way, and in ten minutes finds myself among a crowd of the quay-boys.  The top of the mornin' to you, says one──what regiment, serjeant? says another, and, before you could wink, a third makes a blow at my head wid a long powl.  Now's the time to let Belfast see what you can do, says I to myself.  So, up flew Black Bess, and to it we went.  Down goes the powl-bearer──capitial, roared the crowd.  Forward jumps another, and, smack, down he went too, on the top of his friend.  A third fellow was hangin' on my skirts.  I turned to him, and, like a bouchan, he fled, but a switch of Black Bess acrass the ham-strings larned him the new way to make curtshees.  So, that settled the splores.  But, what would you have of it, the man that writes the stories has got my picture drawn, as he says, in full costume, and has promised to send a score of them down to my ould friends!  Augh, it's myself has come through the scenes──but I'll tell you all when I get home; so no more from your friend,             Hudy M'Guigan

This page was last updated 23 Oct 2018