The Reel of Tullich
by: Wheeler, Les
The Reel o Tullich or ‘Tulloch’ if ye like, cam aboot in the oddest wye. Tullich Kirk is nae that far fae Ballater, but is fairly oot o the wye for mony folk. The widder can be gey teuch in yon airt an the minister at Tullich widna bother wi a service if the widder wis affa bad an the sna ower deep for fowk tae get aboot. Back in yon days lang ago, fan the roads wirna fit they noo are, it wis a sair tchaav tae get aboot fan the widder wis roch.
Noo, ae Sunday mornin the widder wis gey stormy, but a fyow o the local fowk wint tae the kirk onywye jist in case there wid be a service. It wis gey caul in the kirk but the fowk jist rubbed their hauns thegither and tried tae keep warm. The minister, fa bade at Milton o Tullich, thocht the widder wis ower bad an didna shift fae his ingle neuk.
But, back at his kirk, his congregation hid mair steel in their banes an the crood wis getting bigger, but nae ony warmer. It wisna lang afore the younger loons an quines wir joshin wi een anither an a bittie o birlin got gyan tae warm things up. Aa this fit shufflin got up the waarmth an afore lang the auler eens were jinin in. The aul kir wis getting livelier.
“Fit aboot a wee dram, jist a wee sensation tae haud oot the caul?” suggested a bricht spark. “A drappie o the real dew tae keep life gyan!”
“By St. Nathalan, we were nivver in greater need o’t,” said somebody else. “We’ll hae a ‘jine’ sae pass roon a bonnet.”
Weel, the bonnet wint roon an wi the siller collected a fyow o the lads set aff tae the ale-hoose at Stile o Tullich, nae far fae the monument tae the laird o Monaltrie. Fowk hid their wee dram an afore ye kent it a second, third and syne fourth ‘jine’ wis arranged an seen ‘jines’ wis the order o the day. The company wis getting jauntier an friskier.
The ‘gweed ale’ hid its affect, jist as ye micht think,an seen fowks’ feet stertit tae get yokie an the taes began tae tap. Seen the whirlin an birlin were aa the rage as fowk kept the heat in an the caul oot. Fit wis needit wis a fiddler an Tullich wis aye ‘fertile in fiddlers’ sae it wisna lang afore the fiddlers wis at the bow an the fowk were dancinlike they’d nivver danced afore. The aul kirk rang tae wi whoops an hurrahs, a lot o skirlin an jist as muckle clappin o hauns an snappin o fingers. Sentries hid bin placed tae gie a warnin in case the minister wis roused but they seen got caul an got steamed intae the dancin.
The fiddler seen caught up wi the ithers, as far as suppin wis concerned, an his bow danced, galloped, whirled, flew an jumped on the strings. An still the splore grew more uproarious.
The souter got intae the pulpit an held forth wi enough energy an noise tae mak Knox ashamed o himsel. Twa wyvers an three tailors set themselves up as elders an the blacksmith, as the precentor, tried tae mak himsel heard abeen the din as he sang oot
John, come kiss me noo,
John, come kiss me noo,
John, come kiss me by an by
And mak nae mair ado!
The music got wilder still, the souter shouted oot louder than iver an the smith wis aye roarin his heid aff. The kirk could hud them nae langer an seen there were some ootside an even on the reef o the biggin.
Ower the kirk, and ower the kirk
An ower the kirk tae Ballater.
The fiddler seen improvised something new an seen aabody wis dancing tae the new tune – The Reel o Tullich. Fit a stramash an sic an occasion!
But dawn aye follows the nicht, an afore lang word spread an the minister wis clyped till. Doon he cam tae his kirk an an affa curse wis pit on the congregation fa hid taen pairt in the Reel o Tullich. Did the curse come true? Weel, naebody kens for sure, but I’ll tell ye this o’t: it is said that achteen pairs o Ritchies were there fan the fiddler played howdie tae the Reel o Tullich, but less than a year wint by afore ilk een o them wis kistit an eeried in the mools o the kirk. D’ye think the Reel o Tullich wis worth it?