Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Talking Irish right at home

Mom and Dad in Ireland, about 1986.

I guess once you're Irish, you're always Irish, even down through the generations. Both Mom and Dad can claim their Irish heritage so I get to as well. Mom's Irish DNA goes back to her great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Farrell who was born in 1835 in a county that still eludes us. Dad's Irish goes back to his great, great grandfather John Kelly who was born in Shannonbridge, County Offlay, Ireland. The funny thing is that I've listened to common Irish sayings all my life and use them too, not knowing where they came from. And I'm not talking about the really corny stuff that passes for "Irish talk" on St. Patrick's day.

Just ran across an article entitled, "Irish brogue for dummies," courtesy of Irish Central and was amazed at how many pieces of common daily Irish language found their way down through three or four generations and still counting. So here they are, and I swear, the family all still uses these... and a few more salty ones;)

OK, you know what body part that means, so no need for explaining there. But it's about the way we use it. Mostly we say, "he's such an arse." But once in a while we'll say, "so get off your arse," mostly when someone complains in such a way that subtly implies they wish you'd do it for them. So, get off your arse isn't meant to be harsh because it's said with a snide smile and the use of the word "so" which underlines that it's meant as an introduction to the way to get their problem solved: get off your arse and do it yourself.

You probably know which body part this word references. But our family uses the word as a way of saying, oh darn, or a more emphatic way of saying oh shucks. And the tone goes down as you say it expressing the negative aspect of the situation, such as after spilling an entire 32 oz. container of honey on the kitchen floor. Bullocks.

Your man
As we use it, it refers to the patriarch of the family, the head man. "Is that your man I saw downtown last night at the tap room?"

And again, you know what this means: come on over here. The family has always said it with an excited tone as though the person being summoned would receive a prize if they did come on over.

You're all right
The meaning here is, whatever happened, it's all fine now. I didn't take offense, no damage done, we'll all get over it. In today's language one would use, "we're good."

Idiot, just pronounced differently. The meaning is that whomever the word is referencing did a stupid thing and could have done much better.

A Do
Let's have a real do and celebrate! It's a party, a gathering, a get together, and above all, a real good time no matter where it's held.

If I think about it a little while I can probably come up with a number of other phrases the family uses and maybe a couple that the grandparents used. It's fun to remember these and connect the dots all the way back to their Irish roots. And I like to keep them alive by bringing them into daily use in our family too. My husband, the Jewish guy from the Bronx, regularly call out to me, "C'mere," because now it's part of his own vocabulary. Have to admit, you'll hear me say, "Oy" too, and that didn't come from Ireland.

John Kelly's tombstone in St. Michaels's Cemetery, Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland.
John came from Ireland to Western Maryland and the big clue to where his homeland was there is on the tombstone.

Difficult to make out, it says he came from Shannonbridge, Clonmacnoise, Ireland. And that lead us all the way here...
Clonmacnoise, the name of the historical site as well as the parish where John came from.
Here is the graveyard at the historical site.

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