“Broo o’ brinkie, eye o life, bubbly jock, pen knife”
Passing on more than names and dates
Now, over fifty years later, I recite the same rhyme with my three and a half year old grand-nephew for this is part of our shared family history. Did granny learn it from her own mother? Or perhaps even from her grandmother, Helen Ross, born on the island of Stroma in 1827? I don’t know and perhaps it doesn’t matter.
My young grand-nephew may struggle now to understand who great-great granny (my granny) was, but I hope her little action rhyme will stick with him to pass on to his own children. With some memory of his grand-aunt Jane too, I hope.
This is a reminder to me that I am a gate-keeper to a good deal of family information that is at risk. It’s very easy to sigh over relatives who won’t tell but what are we doing for the next generation?
Names and dates are the skeleton of family history, the framework or foundation. The ‘flesh’ comes from wider information: places, photos, events, family stories, traditions, recipes and more. With the caveat always that some family stories do need to be checked for accuracy.
What are the things you could pass on to your descendants and the next generation?
Broo o’ brinkie, in various forms, is known quite widely in Scotland. You can find some examples on the Scottish Book Trust website. Or here is my sister reciting it with her grandson, my grand-nephew: Broo o’ brinkie
Another of granny’s face rhymes was: Knock at the door (forehead), peep in (eye), lift the latch (nose), wipe your feet (chin) and pop in (mouth).