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Irish/English
2.

Ardmore Memory and Story - Traditions

2. Irish/English
It is fascinating to observe how many Irish words are still used in ordinary every-day speech here in Ardmore, as well as phrases, the constructions of which are a direct translation from Irish. John O'Donohue in the chapter on 'Taste of Speech' in his well-known book 'Anam Chara', says, "One of the factors that makes spoken English so interesting is the colourful ghost of the Gaelic language behind it". I have put together a few paragraphs in this idiom, which of course is getting more out of date as we move from our Irish origins and as our speech is more and more moulded by radio and T.V.

A Seanchas on the Bóithrín

I went down the bóithrín yesterday and saw Fitzgeralds had a big carn (heap) of beet there waiting for the lorry. Who did I run into but that gligín of a one of the Connors. Not a splanc (spark) of sense has she and she's an awful straoill (untidy person) into the bargain with her clothes hanging off of her, and a little bit of taoibhín (soft leather) wouldn't go astray on her shoes. Such an áilleán (good for nothing person) of a one, and what's more, she's an awful cráiteachán (grumbler), always olagóning (complaining) about this, that and the other, never stopped cnáimhsealing. Well, she put her good morra on me and there we were gabbing away for the best part of an hour and not a dish washed at home.

Well, of course, I had the news of the three parishes from her, about the wedding over the hill at Flanagans and young Flynn gone in there, a cliamhain isteach (son-in-law who takes up the father-in-law's holding). She told me, there was a big meitheal at the threshing over at Foleys last week.

The old man over the road is only ag stracadh leis (struggling along), a great amadán of a fellow, and sure the father and mother there haven't a bit of smacht (discipline) on the youngsters. And, no wonder, how often did you see the father go up the road in the night and he maith go leor (good enough, i.e a little bit drunk), he's a right cearrbhach (gambler), playing 45 every night at the pub.

The poor aindeiseoir (pronounced ang-ish-eoir, wretch) Brigid Murphy passed along. God love her, there isn't a pick on her. She's in right mí-ádh (bad luck) since the mother and father left, only pulling the devil by the tail.

Who came along after that was Barbara Barron. She saluted us in her grand, stuck-up kind of accent. A right seoinín (an aper of foreign ways) that one is and not meas madra has she on any of the neighbours. She's all for the other seoinín in town. The bridge and golf crowd. But sure, she's only making a ceap magaidh (laughing stock) of herself over-right the neighbours, sure all the world and Garret Reilly know well she hasn't a copper to her name.

Poor Noreen came along, all in giobals (rags) and right aindeas (ang-ish, miserable) looking, God help her. Sure, she's as cract (cracked, crazy) as Pierce na Gaoithe. I'm familiar with Garret Reilly and Pierce na Gaoithe in the context with which I've presented them, but can't account for them otherwise.

Well, the time went by and do you know I was mar eadh (as it were) gone to the shop. Wasn't I the great óinseach to keep gabbing away to that áilleán instead and not a dish washed at home, but sure, we had a great seanchas all right.

Mary's New Look

Its Mary Drohan who has the great garden over. I passed by and there she was with her bucket of sciolláns ( a portion of potato containing an 'eye') going and setting them and not so long ago, that field was a right fásach (place overgrown), full of copógs (dock leaves) and buachallans (ragweed). There wasn't deil nor deamhair (appearance) on the way things were going on there before, no riar nor eagar (order) on anything, but now, there's not a lúb ar lár (figuritive, stitch left down), not a máchail (defect) on anything. Everything was tré chéile (figurative, upside down) up to this; now there's a new buaic (ridge) on the thatch and not before its time; it was being put on the long finger for ages. She has her chickens and hens and calves and banbhs. She's done a great gaisce (feat) since she came. It must be a great sólás to the old couple to have her there.

Mary's real flaithiúl. Nothing would do her but to give me a slog (swallow) of the fresh milk. A small taoscán (small quantity) would have done me but I had to drain it down to the dríodar (dregs), but sure, I was glad of the sos (rest) and the seanchas (chat) after walking over the bóithrín.

Ruílle búille at Morrisseys

I called to Morrisseys yesterday and a mhic-eo (son, a familiar greeting) you never heard such rí-rá and ruílle búille. The young lad was wearing an aghaidh fidil (mask) he'd bought for Halloween, and he went fooling around with a camán inside in the house, and whatever way he managed it, he made smidiríns of the mirror and made brus (small fragments) of the frame as well. His father gave him a good palltóg (a thump) so there was mor olagóning.

The big lads came in then, all sceitimíní (excitement) after winning the match. I must say I couldn't give a tráithnin (blade of grass) who won; I had no suim (interest) at all in the match, but they were all excitement, talking of the great poc Sean gave right into the goal and that was the one that won the match for them.

A few phrases, the constructions of which are based on Irish.

Between two minds what to do (idir dhá chomhairle)
With a long time (le fada)
She let a screech out of her (lig sí scread aisti)
I saw her and I going down the road (agus mé ag dul síos an bóthar)
I was only after coming in the door (ní raibh mé ach díreach tar éis teacht isteach)
I was just making for the gate when (bhí mé díreach ag déamh ar an geata nuair)

Other Words
Mallacht: Curse, he put his mallacht on me.
Aguisín, a little piece (from the word agus, and)
Siabhra (phantom, spectre), often used in derision, e.g. the little siabhra
Piseog, leadránach (slow dragging)
Bladar (coaxing talk)
Goílín (gully or small rocky inlet, pronounced guy-lean
Fayrin (férín, present). She got her fayrin for the Pattern.
Suarach (miserable)
Sásamh (satisfaction)
Feileastram (iris, a bog flower)
Ag stracadh leis, generally used as an adjective, sure she's only stracadh leis (struggling along)
A mhic-eo, alanna, a ghrá, a stór, a chroi, a mhaoineach are familiar greetings.

Sean Riabhac: this refers to the beginning days of April. If the weather is bad, it is said April got a loan of a few days from March to kill the speckled cow who had been dying pronounced Shoun-dríoch.

There are picturesque phrases, a few of which I recall. I remember somebody asking Paddy Flynn how was the fishing going and he answered "Sure I didn't wet a net with three days."

Then there was Jack Flynn who came in to see my father after a period in hospital. My father evidently waxed eloquent on the subject of his injections, and Jacks rejoinder was "Sure some of them nurses are that handy, they'd put an injection in a 'flay' (flea) for your". What a wonderful picture.

I have merely touched on the subject here, and I hope it jogs your memories so that you can catch glimpses once again of what John O'Donohue calls, "the colourful ghost of the Irish Language (Gaelic).

Author: Siobhan Lincoln

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