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  Orkney's 'Teu Neems'

The North Isles

Gairsay Buckies
These are whelks - shellfish - used mainly for bait. Another name occasionally ap­plied to the Gairsay folk was Kiddy baes.
Wyre Wilks (whelks)
Egilsay Burstin-lumps
Lumps of dough made from scorched bere mixed with buttermilk and eaten without further cook­ing. Perhaps implying that Egilsay folk were fat?
Rousay Mares
There are three possibilities for this name. The first is a mocking tradition that when the inhabitants of Rousay wanted to establish a breed of horses on the island, they sent one of their number to buy stock at a horse fair. The foolish man returned with no stallion, only mares.

The second is that the name stems from the name Rousay's similarity to the Old Norse word "hryssa" - a mare.

A third possibility may be found in the words of the Rev George Low. He stated in 1773 that Orkney people had "a vast antipathy to mares, they would keep none, were affronted if they rode one, and the names they gave them were those of contempt."
Shapinsay Sheep.
Possibly from a misunderstanding that Shapinsay meant "sheep island"
Stronsay Limpets.
While this may simply refer to a food-source, it is still used to ridicule sailors whose boats never leave port (for whatever reason) but instead "stick to the pier like limpets". Perhaps what we have here is another insulting nickname directed at the Stronsay seamen.
Sanday Gruelly Belkies.
This has always been interpreted as "porridge bellies" or "porridge bags" referring to an alleged Sanday custom of mixing whisky with oatmeal after a night of drinking. The term is also in Orkney dialect to refer to a fat person.

Dr. Hugh Marwick wrote in the Proceedings of Orkney Antiquarian Society: "The Sanday nickname probably harks back to the days when Sanday was regarded as the ' granary of Orkney and other starving islesmen looked with envious eyes at their abundance of oats."

I tend to favour an idea put forward by Ernest Marwick that a gruelly belkie was a kind of trow. In Shetland, a grøli was a troll with a pronounced skill in witchcraft; and in the North Isles of Orkney they used to quote a rhyme about a monster called the Grulyan.

A third theory is that "Gruelly" is a corruption of the Norse "gor-ål" meaning "shit-shooter". "Belky" is a form of "belly".
Sanday - Burness Kirners.
There was an old Sanday rhyme about the Burness folk:

The Kirners o' Burness,
Whin they gaed oot tae woo,
Every breek that they pat on
Wid haud a seck o' 'oo'.

The Kirners o' Burness,
As they cam' ower the sand,
Every een hed a kirn-staff
Daddan i' his hand.

The Kirners o' Burness,
Whin they gaed tae their wark.
They'd a silken ruff aboot their necks An' feenty bit o' sark.
Sanday - North End Ruggies (big lean cod).
Sanday - Broughstun Sookans.
This is here a shortened form ot sookaners, meaning tenants who are thirled to a mill.
North Ronaldsay Selkies or Tangie Whessos.
Both words are dialect terms for seals. Other teu-names were Hoydes (hides) and Rullies. The word rullie is very like the Icelandic rolla, meaning an old ewe in poor condition. Hugh Marwick suggested that the word could have been "transferred derisively from the sheep to their owners."

Hides is a North Ronaldsay word for seal.
Eday Scarfs. (dialect term for the cormorant)
Westray Auks. (dialect term for the Common Guillemot)
North Faray Spickos (big limpets)
Papa Westray Dundies (dialect term for Spent Cod)
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