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Title: English As We Speak It in Ireland
Author: Joyce, P. W. (Patrick Weston), 1827-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      In this e-text e-breve is represented by [)e], a-breve by [)a],
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      and Index (Chapter XIII).



P. W. JOYCE, LL.D., T.C.D., M.R.I.A.

One of the Commissioners for the Publication of the Ancient Laws of

Late Principal of the Government Training College,
Marlborough Street, Dublin

Late President of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, Ireland

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

London: Longmans, Green, & Co.
Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, Ltd.



This book deals with the Dialect of the English Language that is spoken in

As the Life of a people--according to our motto--is pictured in their
speech, our picture ought to be a good one, for two languages were
concerned in it--Irish and English. The part played by each will be found
specially set forth in Chapters IV and VII; and in farther detail
throughout the whole book.

The articles and pamphlets that have already appeared on this interesting
subject--which are described below--are all short. Some are full of keen
observation; but very many are mere lists of dialectical words with their
meanings. Here for the first time--in this little volume of mine--our
Anglo-Irish Dialect is subjected to detailed analysis and systematic

I have been collecting materials for this book for more than twenty years;
not indeed by way of constant work, but off and on as detailed below. The
sources from which these materials were directly derived are mainly the

_First._--My own memory is a storehouse both of idiom and vocabulary; for
the good reason that from childhood to early manhood I spoke--like those
among whom I lived--the rich dialect {vi} of Limerick and Cork--and indeed
to some extent speak it still in the colloquial language of everyday life.

I have also drawn pretty largely on our Anglo-Irish Folk Songs of which I
have a great collection, partly in my memory and partly on printed sheets;
for they often faithfully reflect our Dialect.

_Second._--Eighteen years ago (1892) I wrote a short letter which was
inserted in nearly all the Irish newspapers and in very many of those
published outside Ireland, announcing my intention to write a book on
Anglo-Irish Dialect, and asking for collections of dialectical words and
phrases. In response to this I received a very large number of
communications from all parts of Ireland, as well as from outside Ireland,
even from America, Australia, and New Zealand--all more or less to the
point, showing the great and widespread interest taken in the subject.
Their importance of course greatly varied; but many were very valuable. I
give at the end of the book an alphabetical list of those contributors: and
I acknowledge the most important of them throughout the book.

_Third._--The works of Irish writers of novels, stories, and essays
depicting Irish peasant life in which the people are made to speak in
dialect. Some of these are mentioned in Chapter I., and others are quoted
throughout the book as occasion requires. {vii}

_Fourth._--Printed articles and pamphlets on the special subject of
Anglo-Irish Dialect. Of these the principal that I have come across are the

'The Provincialisms of Belfast and Surrounding District pointed out and
corrected,' by David Patterson. (1860.)

'Remarks on the Irish Dialect of the English Language,' by A. Hume, D.C.L.
and LL.D. (1878.)

'A Glossary of Words in use in the Counties of Antrim and Down,' by Wm.
Hugh Patterson, M.R.I.A. (1880)--a large pamphlet--might indeed be called a

'Don't, Pat,' by 'Colonel O'Critical': a very good and useful little
pamphlet, marred by a silly title which turns up perpetually through the
whole pamphlet till the reader gets sick of it. (1885.)

'A List of Peculiar Words and Phrases at one time in use in Armagh and
South Donegal': by D. A. Simmons. (1890.) This List was annotated by me, at
the request of Mr. Simmons, who was, at or about that time, President of
the Irish National Teachers' Association.

A Series of Six Articles on _The English in Ireland_ by myself, printed in
'The Educational Gazette'; Dublin. (1890.)

'The Anglo-Irish Dialect,' by the Rev. William Burke (an Irish priest
residing in Liverpool); published in 'The Irish Ecclesiastical Record' for
1896. A judicious and scholarly essay, which I have very often used. {viii}

'The Irish Dialect of English; its Origins and Vocabulary.' By Mary Hayden,
M.A., and Prof. Marcus Hartog (jointly): published in 'The Fortnightly
Review' (1909: April and May). A thoughtful and valuable essay. Miss Hayden
knows Irish well, and has made full use of her knowledge to illustrate her
subject. Of this article I have made much use.

Besides these there were a number of short articles by various writers
published in Irish newspapers within the last twenty years or so, nearly
all of them lists of dialectical words used in the North of Ireland.

In the Introduction to the 'Biglow Papers,' Second Series, James Russell
Lowell has some valuable observations on modern English dialectical words
and phrases derived from Old English forms, to which I am indebted for much
information, and which will be found acknowledged through this book: for it
touches my subject in many places. In this Introduction Mr. Lowell remarks
truly:--'It is always worth while to note down the erratic words or phrases
one meets with in any dialect. They may throw light on the meaning of other
words, on the relationship of languages, or even history itself.'

Of all the above I have made use so far as served my purpose--always with

_Fifth._ For twenty years or more I have kept a large note-book lying just
at my hand; and {ix} whenever any peculiar Irish-English expression, or
anything bearing on the subject, came before me--from memory, or from
reading, or from hearing it in conversation--down it went in the
manuscript. In this way an immense mass of materials was accumulated almost

The vast collection derived from all the above sources lay by till early
last year, when I went seriously to work at the book. But all the materials
were mixed up--_three-na-haila_--'through-other'--and before a line of the
book was written they had to be perused, selected, classified, and
alphabetised, which was a very heavy piece of work.

A number of the Irish items in the great 'Dialect Dictionary' edited for
the English Dialect Society by Dr. Joseph Wright were contributed by me and
are generally printed with my initials. I have neither copied nor avoided
these--in fact I did not refer to them at all while working at my book--and
naturally many--perhaps most--of them reappear here, probably in different
words. But this is quite proper; for the Dialect Dictionary is a book of
reference--six large volumes, very expensive--and not within reach of the
general public.

Many of the words given in this book as dialectical are also used by the
people in the ordinary sense they bear in standard English; such as
_break_:--'Poor Tom was broke yesterday' (dialect: dismissed from
employment): 'the bowl {x} fell on the flags and was broken in pieces'
(correct English): and _dark_: 'a poor dark man' (dialect: blind): 'a dark
night' (correct English).

This is essentially a subject for popular treatment; and accordingly I have
avoided technical and scientific details and technical terms: they are not

When a place is named in connexion with a dialectical expression, it is not
meant that the expression is confined to that place, but merely that it is,
or was, in use there.

  P. W. J.

DUBLIN: _March, 1910_.

       *       *       *       *       *



  Chapter                                           Page

  I. SOURCES OF ANGLO-IRISH DIALECT,                   1




  V. THE DEVIL AND HIS 'TERRITORY,'                   56

  VI. SWEARING,                                       66

  VII. GRAMMAR AND PRONUNCIATION,                     74

  VIII. PROVERBS,                                    105

  IX. EXAGGERATION AND REDUNDANCY,                   120

  X. COMPARISONS,                                    136


  XII. A VARIETY OF PHRASES,                         185

  XIII. VOCABULARY AND INDEX,                        209

  Alphabetical List of Persons who sent
  Collections of Dialectical Words and
  Phrases,                                           353

       *       *       *       *       *





Our Anglo-Irish dialectical words and phrases are derived from three main

_First_: the Irish language.

_Second_: Old English and the dialect of Scotland.

_Third_: independently of these two sources, dialectical expressions have
gradually grown up among our English-speaking people, as dialects arise

In the following pages whenever a word or a phrase is not assigned to any
origin it is to be understood as belonging to this third class:--that is so
far as is known at present; for I have no doubt that many of these will be
found, after further research, to be either Irish-Gaelic or Old English. It
is to be also observed that a good many of the dialectical expressions
given in this book as belonging to Ireland may possibly be found current in
England or in Scotland or in both. But that is no reason why they should
not be included here.

_Influence of Irish._

The Irish language has influenced our Irish-English speech in several ways.
To begin with: it {2} has determined the popular pronunciation, in certain
combinations, of three English consonants, _t_, _d_, and _th_, but in a way
(so far as _t_ and _d_ are concerned) that would not now be followed by
anyone even moderately well educated. The sounds of _English t_ and _d_ are
not the same as those of the _Irish t_ and _d_; and when the people began
to exchange the Irish language for English, they did not quite abandon the
Irish sounds of these two letters, but imported them into their English,
especially _when they came before r_. That is why we hear among the people
in every part of Ireland such vulgarisms as (for _t_) _bitther_, _butther_,
_thrue_; and (for _d_) _laddher_ (ladder), _cidher_ (cider), _foddher_, &c.
Yet in other positions we sound these letters correctly, as in _fat_,
_football_, _white_; _bad_, _hide_, _wild_, &c. No one, however uneducated,
will mispronounce the _t_ and _d_ in such words as these. Why it is that
the _Irish_ sound is retained before _r_ and not in other combinations--why
for instance the Irish people sound the _t_ and _d_ incorrectly in
_platter_ and _drive_ [platther, dhrive] and correctly in _plate_ and
_dive_--is a thing I cannot account for.

As for the English _th_, it may be said that the general run of the Irish
people never sound it at all; for it is a very difficult sound to anyone
excepting a born Englishman, and also excepting a small proportion of those
born and reared on the east coast of Ireland. It has two varieties of
sound, heard in _bath_ and _bathe_: and for these two our people use the
Irish _t_ and _d_, as heard in the words given above.

A couple of centuries ago or more the people had another substitute for
this _th_ (in _bathe_) namely _d_, which held its place for a considerable
time, and this {3} sound was then considered almost a national
characteristic; so that in the song of 'Lillibulero' the English author of
the song puts this pronunciation all through in the mouth of the
Irishman:--'_Dere_ was an ould prophecy found in a bog.' It is still
sometimes heard, but merely as a defect of speech of individuals:--'_De_
books are here: _dat_ one is yours and _dis_ is mine.' Danny Mann speaks
this way all through Gerald Griffin's 'Collegians.'

There was, and to a small extent still is, a similar tendency--though not
so decided--for the other sound of _th_ (as in _bath_):--'I had a hot _bat_
this morning; and I remained in it for _tirty_ minutes': 'I _tink_ it would
be well for you to go home to-day.'

Another influence of the Irish language is on the letter _s_. In Irish,
this letter in certain combinations is sounded the same as the English
_sh_; and the people often--though not always--in similar combinations,
bring this sound into their English:--'He gave me a blow of his _fisht_';
'he was _whishling_ St. Patrick's Day'; 'Kilkenny is _sickshty_ miles from
this.' You hear this sound very often among the more uneducated of our

In imitation of this vulgar sound of _s_, the letter _z_ often comes in for
a similar change (though there is no such sound in the Irish language).
Here the _z_ gets the sound heard in the English words _glazier_,
_brazier_:--'He bought a _dozhen_ eggs'; ''tis _drizzhling_ rain'; 'that is
_dizhmal_ news.'

The second way in which our English is influenced by Irish is in
vocabulary. When our Irish forefathers began to adopt English, they brought
with them from their native language many single Irish {4} words and used
them--as best suited to express what they meant--among their newly acquired
English words; and these words remain to this day in the current English of
their descendants, and will I suppose remain for ever. And the process
still goes on--though slowly--for as time passes, Irish words are being
adopted even in the English of the best educated people. There is no need
to give many examples here, for they will be found all through this book,
especially in the Vocabulary. I will instance the single word _galore_
(plentiful) which you will now often see in English newspapers and
periodicals. The adoption of Irish words and phrases into English nowadays
is in great measure due to the influence of Irishmen resident in England,
who write a large proportion--indeed I think the largest proportion--of the
articles in English periodicals of every kind. Other Irish words such as
_shamrock_, _whiskey_, _bother_, _blarney_, are now to be found in every
English Dictionary. _Smithereens_ too (broken bits after a smash) is a
grand word, and is gaining ground every day. Not very long ago I found it
used in a public speech in London by a Parliamentary candidate--an
Englishman; and he would hardly have used it unless he believed that it was
fairly intelligible to his audience.

The third way in which Irish influences our English is in idiom: that is,
idiom borrowed from the Irish language. Of course the idioms were
transferred about the same time as the single words of the vocabulary. This
is by far the most interesting and important feature. Its importance was
pointed out by me in a paper printed twenty years {5} ago, and it has been
properly dwelt upon by Miss Hayden and Professor Hartog in their recently
written joint paper mentioned in the Preface. Most of these idiomatic
phrases are simply translations from Irish; and when the translations are
literal, Englishmen often find it hard or impossible to understand them.
For a phrase may be correct in Irish, but incorrect, or even
unintelligible, in English when translated word for word. Gerald Griffin
has preserved more of these idioms (in 'The Collegians,' 'The Coiner,'
'Tales of a Jury-room,' &c.) than any other writer; and very near him come
Charles Kickham (in 'Knocknagow'), Crofton Croker (in 'Fairy Legends') and
Edward Walsh. These four writers almost exhaust the dialect of the South of

On the other hand Carleton gives us the Northern dialect very fully,
especially that of Tyrone and eastern Ulster; but he has very little idiom,
the peculiarities he has preserved being chiefly in vocabulary and

Mr. Seumas MacManus has in his books faithfully pictured the dialect of
Donegal (of which he is a native) and of all north-west Ulster.

In the importation of Irish idiom into English, Irish writers of the
present day are also making their influence felt, for I often come across a
startling Irish expression (in English words of course) in some English
magazine article, obviously written by one of my fellow-countrymen. Here I
ought to remark that they do this with discretion and common sense, for
they always make sure that the Irish idiom they use is such as that any
Englishman can understand it. {6}

There is a special chapter (iv) in this book devoted to Anglo-Irish phrases
imported direct from Irish; but instances will be found all through the

It is safe to state that by far the greatest number of our Anglo-Irish
idioms come from the Irish language.

_Influence of Old English and of Scotch._

From the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion, in the twelfth century,
colonies of English and of Welsh-English people were settled in
Ireland--chiefly in the eastern part--and they became particularly numerous
in the time of Elizabeth, three or four centuries ago, when they were
spread all over the country. When these Elizabethan colonists, who were
nearly all English, settled down and made friends with the natives and
intermarried with them, great numbers of them learned to use the Irish
language; while the natives on their part learned English from the
newcomers. There was give and take in every place where the two peoples and
the two languages mixed. And so the native Irish people learned to speak
Elizabethan English--the very language used by Shakespeare; and in a very
considerable degree the old Gaelic people and those of English descent
retain it to this day. For our people are very conservative in retaining
old customs and forms of speech. Many words accordingly that are discarded
as old-fashioned--or dead and gone--in England, are still
flourishing--alive and well--in Ireland. They are now regarded as
vulgarisms by the educated--which no doubt they are--but they are
vulgarisms of respectable origin, {7} representing as they do the classical
English of Shakespeare's time.

Instances of this will be found all through the book; but I may here give a
passing glance at such pronunciations as _tay_ for _tea_, _sevare_ for
_severe_, _desaive_ for _deceive_; and such words as _sliver_, _lief_,
_afeard_, &c.--all of which will be found mentioned farther on in this
book. It may be said that hardly any of those incorrect forms of speech,
now called vulgarisms, used by our people, were invented by them; they are
nearly all survivals of usages that in former times were correct--in either
English or Irish.

In the reign of James I.--three centuries ago--a large part of
Ulster--nearly all the fertile land of six of the nine counties--was handed
over to new settlers, chiefly Presbyterians from Scotland, the old Catholic
owners being turned off. These settlers of course brought with them their
Scotch dialect, which remains almost in its purity among their descendants
to this day. This dialect, it must be observed, is confined to Ulster,
while the remnants of the Elizabethan English are spread all over Ireland.

As to the third main source--the gradual growth of dialect among our
English-speaking people--it is not necessary to make any special
observations about it here; as it will be found illustrated all through the

Owing to these three influences, we speak in Ireland a very distinct
dialect of English, which every educated and observant Englishman perceives
the moment he sets foot in this country. It is most marked among our
peasantry; but in fact none of us are free from it, no matter how well
educated. {8} This does not mean that we speak bad English; for it is
generally admitted that our people on the whole, including the peasantry,
speak better English--nearer to the literary standard--than the
corresponding classes of England. This arises mainly--so far as we are
concerned--from the fact that for the last four or five generations we have
learned our English in a large degree from books, chiefly through the

So far as our dialectical expressions are vulgar or unintelligible, those
who are educated among us ought of course to avoid them. But outside this a
large proportion of our peculiar words and phrases are vivid and
picturesque, and when used with discretion and at the right time, give a
sparkle to our conversation; so that I see no reason why we should wipe
them out completely from our speech so as to hide our nationality. To be
hypercritical here is often absurd and sometimes silly.

I well remember on one occasion when I was young in literature perpetrating
a pretty strong Hibernicism in one of my books. It was not forbidding, but
rather bright and expressive: and it passed off, and still passes off very
well, for the book is still to the fore. Some days after the publication, a
lady friend who was somewhat of a pedant and purist in the English
language, came to me with a look of grave concern--so solemn indeed that it
somewhat disconcerted me--to direct my attention to the error. Her manner
was absurdly exaggerated considering the occasion. Judging from the serious
face and the voice of bated breath, you might almost imagine that I had
committed a secret murder and {9} that she had come to inform me that the
corpse had just been found.

       *       *       *       *       *



The various Irish modes of affirming, denying, &c., will be understood from
the examples given in this short chapter better than from any general

The Irish _ní'l lá fós é_ [neel law fo-say: it isn't day yet] is often used
for emphasis in asseveration, even when persons are speaking English; but
in this case the saying is often turned into English. 'If the master didn't
give Tim a tongue-dressing, _'tisn't day yet_' (which would be said either
by day or by night): meaning he gave him a very severe scolding. 'When I
saw the mad dog running at me, if I didn't get a fright,

'I went to town yesterday in all the rain, and if I didn't get a wetting
_there isn't a cottoner in Cork_': meaning I got a very great wetting. This
saying is very common in Munster; and workers in cotton were numerous in
Cork when it was invented.

A very usual emphatic ending to an assertion is seen in the
following:--'That horse is a splendid animal _and no mistake_.'

'_I'll engage_ you visited Peggy when you were in town': i.e. I assert it
without much fear of contradiction: I warrant. Much in the same sense we
use _I'll go bail_:--'I'll go bail you never got that {10} money you lent
to Tom': 'An illigant song he could sing I'll go bail' (Lever): 'You didn't
meet your linnet (i.e. your girl--your sweetheart) this evening I'll go
bail' (Robert Dwyer Joyce in 'The Beauty of the Blossom Gate').

'I'll hold you' introduces an assertion with some emphasis: it is really
elliptical: I'll hold you [a wager: but always a fictitious wager]. I'll
hold you I'll finish that job by one o'clock, i.e. I'll warrant I will--you
may take it from me that I will.

The phrase 'if you go to that of it' is often added on to a statement to
give great emphasis, amounting almost to a sort of defiance of
contradiction or opposition. 'I don't believe you could walk four miles an
hour': 'Oh don't you: I could then, or five if you go to that of it': 'I
don't believe that Joe Lee is half as good a hurler as his brother Phil.'
'I can tell you he is then, and a great deal better if you go to that of
it.' Lowry Looby, speaking of St. Swithin, says:--'He was then, buried more
than once if you go to that of it.' (Gerald Griffin: 'Collegians':

'Is it cold outside doors?' Reply, 'Aye is it,' meaning 'it is certainly.'
An emphatic assertion (after the Gaelic construction) frequently heard is
'Ah then, 'tis I that wouldn't like to be in that fight.' 'Ah 'tis my
mother that will be delighted.'

'What did he do to you?' 'He hit me with his stick, _so he did_, and it is
a great shame, so it is.' 'I like a cup of tea at night, so I do.' In the
South an expression of this kind is very often added on as a sort of
clincher to give emphasis. Similar are the very usual endings as seen in
these {11} assertions:--'He is a great old schemer, _that's what he is_':
'I spoke up to the master and showed him he was wrong--_I did begob_.'

I asked a man one day: 'Well, how is the young doctor going on in his new
place?' and he replied 'Ah, how but well'; which he meant to be very
emphatic: and then he went on to give particulars.

A strong denial is often expressed in the following way: 'This day will
surely be wet, so don't forget your umbrella': 'What a fool I am': as much
as to say, 'I should be a fool indeed to go without an umbrella to-day, and
I think there's no mark of a fool about me.' 'Now Mary don't wait for the
last train [from Howth] for there will be an awful crush.' 'What a fool I'd
be ma'am.' 'Oh Mr. Lory I thought you were gone home [from the dance] two
hours ago': 'What a fool I am,' replies Lory ('Knocknagow'), equivalent to
'I hadn't the least notion of making such a fool of myself while there's
such fun here.' This is heard everywhere in Ireland, 'from the centre all
round to the sea.'

Much akin to this is Nelly Donovan's reply to Billy Heffernan who had made
some flattering remark to her:--'Arrah now Billy what sign of a fool do you
see on me?' ('Knocknagow.')

An emphatic assertion or assent: 'Yesterday was very wet.' Reply:--'You may
say it was,' or 'you may well say that.'

'I'm greatly afeard he'll try to injure me.' Answer:--''Tis fear _for_ you'
(emphasis on _for_), meaning 'you have good reason to be afeard': merely a
translation of the Irish _is eagal duitse_. {12}

'Oh I'll pay you what I owe you.' ''Tis a pity you wouldn't indeed,' says
the other, a satirical reply, meaning 'of course you will and no thanks to
you for that; who'd expect otherwise?'

'I am going to the fair to-morrow, as I want to buy a couple of cows.'
Reply, 'I know,' as much as to say 'I see,' 'I understand.' This is one of
our commonest terms of assent.

An assertion or statement introduced by the words 'to tell God's truth' is
always understood to be weighty and somewhat unexpected, the introductory
words being given as a guarantee of its truth:--'Have you the rest of the
money you owe me ready now James?' 'Well to tell God's truth I was not able
to make it all up, but I can give you £5.'

Another guarantee of the same kind, though not quite so solemn, is 'my hand
to you,' or 'I give you my hand and word.' 'My hand to you I'll never rest
till the job is finished.' 'Come and hunt with me in the wood, and my hand
to you we shall soon have enough of victuals for both of us.' (Clarence
Mangan in Ir. Pen. Journ.)

 'I've seen--and here's my hand to you I only say what's true--
  A many a one with twice your stock not half so proud as you.'

'Do you know your Catechism?' Answer, 'What would ail me not to know it?'
meaning 'of course I do--'twould be a strange thing if I didn't.' 'Do you
think you can make that lock all right?' 'Ah what would ail me,' i.e., 'no
doubt I can--of course I can; if I couldn't do that it would be a sure sign
{13} that something was amiss with me--that something ailed me.'

'Believe Tom and who'll believe you': a way of saying that Tom is not
telling truth.

An emphatic 'yes' to a statement is often expressed in the following
way:--'This is a real wet day.' Answer, 'I believe you.' 'I think you made
a good bargain with Tim about that field.' 'I believe you I did.'

A person who is offered anything he is very willing to take, or asked to do
anything he is anxious to do, often answers in this way:--'James, would you
take a glass of punch?' or 'Tom, will you dance with my sister in the next
round?' In either case the answer is, 'Would a duck swim?'

A weak sort of assent is often expressed in this way:--'Will you bring
Nelly's book to her when you are going home, Dan?' Answer, 'I don't mind,'
or 'I don't mind if I do.'

To express unbelief in a statement or disbelief in the usefulness or
effectiveness of any particular line of action, a person says 'that's all
in my eye,' or ''Tis all in my eye, Betty Martin--O'; but this last is
regarded as slang.

Sometimes an unusual or unexpected statement is introduced in the following
manner, the introductory words being usually spoken quickly:--'_Now do you
know what I'm going to tell you_--that ragged old chap has £200 in the
bank.' In Derry they make it--'Now listen to what I'm going to say.'

In some parts of the South and West and Northwest, servants and others have
a way of replying to directions that at first sounds strange or even {14}
disrespectful:--'Biddy, go up please to the drawing-room and bring me down
the needle and thread and stocking you will find on the table.' 'That will
do ma'am,' replies Biddy, and off she goes and brings them. But this is
their way of saying 'yes ma'am,' or 'Very well ma'am.'

So also you say to the hotel-keeper:--'Can I have breakfast please
to-morrow morning at 7 o'clock?' 'That will do sir.' This reply in fact
expresses the greatest respect, as much as to say, 'A word from you is
quite enough.'

'I caught the thief at my potatoes.' 'No, but did you?' i.e., is it
possible you did so? A very common exclamation, especially in Ulster.

'Oh man' is a common exclamation to render an assertion more emphatic, and
sometimes to express surprise:--'Oh man, you never saw such a fine race as
we had.' In Ulster they duplicate it, with still the same application:--'Oh
man-o-man that's great rain.' 'Well John you'd hardly believe it, but I got
£50 for my horse to-day at the fair.' Reply, 'Oh man that's a fine price.'

'Never fear' is heard constantly in many parts of Ireland as an expression
of assurance:--'Now James don't forget the sugar.' 'Never fear ma'am.' 'Ah
never fear there will be plenty flowers in that garden this year.' 'You
will remember to have breakfast ready at 7 o'clock.' 'Never fear sir,'
meaning 'making your mind easy on the point--it will be all right.' _Never
fear_ is merely a translation of the equally common Irish phrase, _ná bí
heagal ort_.

Most of our ordinary salutations are translations from Irish. _Go
m-beannuighe Dia dhuit_ is literally {15} 'May God bless you,' or 'God
bless you' which is a usual salutation in English. The commonest of all our
salutes is 'God save you,' or (for a person entering a house) 'God save all
here'; and the response is 'God save you kindly' ('Knocknagow'); where
_kindly_ means 'of a like kind,' 'in like manner,' 'similarly.' Another but
less usual response to the same salutation is, 'And you too,' which is
appropriate. ('Knocknagow.') 'God save all here' is used all over Ireland
except in the extreme North, where it is hardly understood.

To the ordinary salutation, 'Good-morrow,' which is heard everywhere, the
usual response is 'Good-morrow kindly.' 'Morrow Wat,' said Mr. Lloyd.
'Morrow kindly,' replied Wat. ('Knocknagow.') 'The top of the morning to
you' is used everywhere, North and South.

In some places if a woman throws out water at night at the kitchen door,
she says first, 'Beware of the water,' lest the 'good people' might happen
to be passing at the time, and one or more of them might get splashed.

A visitor coming in and finding the family at dinner:--'Much good may it do

In very old times it was a custom for workmen on completing any work and
delivering it finished to give it their blessing. This blessing was called
_abarta_ (an old word, not used in modern Irish), and if it was omitted the
workman was subject to a fine to be deducted from his hire equal to the
seventh part of the cost of his feeding. (_Senchus Mór_ and 'Cormac's
Glossary.') It was especially incumbent on women to bless the work of other
women. This custom, which is more than a thousand years old, has {16}
descended to our day; for the people on coming up to persons engaged in
work of any kind always say 'God bless your work,' or its equivalent
original in Irish, _Go m-beannuighe Dia air bhur n-obair_. (See my 'Social
History of Ancient Ireland,' II., page 324.)

In modern times tradesmen have perverted this pleasing custom into a new
channel not so praise-worthy. On the completion of any work, such as a
building, they fix a pole with a flag on the highest point to ask the
employer for his _blessing_, which means money for a drink.

       *       *       *       *       *



Assertions are often made by using the negative of the opposite assertion.
'You must be hungry now Tom, and this little rasher will do you no harm,'
meaning it will do you good. An old man has tired himself dancing and
says:--'A glass of whiskey will do us no harm after that.' (Carleton.) A
lady occupying a furnished house at the seaside near Dublin said to the boy
who had charge of the premises:--'There may be burglars about here;
wouldn't it be well for you to come and close the basement shutters at
night?' 'Why then begob ma'am _'twould be no har-um_.' Here is a bit of
rustic information (from Limerick) that might be useful to food experts:--

 'Rye bread will do you good,
    Barley bread _will do you no harm_,
  Wheaten bread will sweeten your blood,
    Oaten bread will strengthen your arm.'


This curious way of speaking, which is very general among all classes of
people in Ireland and in every part of the country, is often used in the
Irish language, from which we have imported it into our English. Here are a
few Irish examples; but they might be multiplied indefinitely, and some
others will be found through this chapter. In the Irish tale called 'The
Battle of Gavra,' the narrator says:--[The enemy slew a large company of
our army] 'and that was no great help to us.' In 'The Colloquy,' a piece
much older than 'The Battle of Gavra,' Kylta, wishing to tell his audience
that when the circumstance he is relating occurred he was very young,
expresses it by saying [at that time] 'I myself was not old.'

One night a poet was grossly insulted: 'On the morrow he rose and he was
not thankful.' (From the very old Irish tale called 'The Second Battle of
Moytura': Rev. Celt.)

Another old Irish writer, telling us that a certain company of soldiers is
well out of view, expresses it in this way:--_Ní fhuil in cuire gan
chleith_, literally, 'the company is not without concealment.'

How closely these and other old models are imitated in our English will be
seen from the following examples from every part of Ireland:--

'I can tell you Paddy Walsh is no chicken now,' meaning he is very old. The
same would be said of an old maid:--'She's no chicken,' meaning that she is
old for a girl.

'How are your potato gardens going on this year?' 'Why then they're not too
good'; i.e. only middling or bad.

A usual remark among us conveying mild approval {18} is 'that's not bad.' A
Dublin boy asked me one day:--'Maybe you wouldn't have e'er a penny that
you'd give me, sir?' i.e., 'Have you a penny to give me?' 'You wouldn't
like to have a cup of tea, would you?' An invitation, but not a cordial
one. This is a case of '_will you_ was never a good fellow' (for which see

'No joke' is often used in the sense of 'very serious.' 'It was no joke to
be caught in our boat in such a storm as that.' 'The loss of £10 is no joke
for that poor widow.'

 'As for Sandy he worked like a downright demolisher--
  Bare as he is, yet _his lick is no polisher_.'

  (THOMAS MOORE in the early part of his career.)

You remark that a certain person has some fault, he is miserly, or
extravagant, or dishonest, &c.: and a bystander replies, 'Yes indeed, and
'tisn't to-day or yesterday it happened him'--meaning that it is a fault of
long standing.

A tyrannical or unpopular person goes away or dies:--'There's many a dry
eye after him.' (Kildare.)

'Did Tom do your work as satisfactorily as Davy?' 'Oh, it isn't alike': to
imply that Tom did the work very much better than Davy.

'Here is the newspaper; and 'tisn't much you'll find in it.'

'Is Mr. O'Mahony good to his people?' 'Oh, indeed he is no great things':
or another way of saying it:--'He's no great shakes.' 'How do you like your
new horse?' 'Oh then he's no great shakes'--or 'he's {19} not much to boast
of.' Lever has this in a song:--'You think the Blakes are no great shakes.'
But I think it is also used in England.

A consequential man who carries his head rather higher than he ought:--'He
thinks no small beer of himself.'

Mrs. Slattery gets a harmless fall off the form she is sitting on, and is
so frightened that she asks of the person who helps her up, 'Am I killed?'
To which he replies ironically--'Oh there's great fear of you.'

[Alice Ryan is a very purty girl] 'and she doesn't want to be reminded of
that same either.' ('Knocknagow.')

A man has got a heavy cold from a wetting and says: 'That wetting did me no
good,' meaning 'it did me great harm.'

'There's a man outside wants to see you, sir,' says Charlie, our office
attendant, a typical southern Irishman. 'What kind is he Charlie? does he
look like a fellow wanting money?' Instead of a direct affirmative, Charlie
answers, 'Why then sir I don't think he'll give you much anyway.'

'Are people buried there now?' I asked of a man regarding an old graveyard
near Blessington in Wicklow. Instead of answering 'very few,' he replied:
'Why then not too many sir.'

When the roads are dirty--deep in mire--'there's fine walking overhead.'

In the Irish Life of St. Brigit we are told of a certain chief:--'It was
not his will to sell the bondmaid,' by which is meant, it was his will
_not_ to sell her. {20}

So in our modern speech the father says to the son:--'It is not my wish
that you should go to America at all,' by which he means the positive
assertion:--'It is my wish that you should not go.'

Tommy says, 'Oh, mother, I forgot to bring you the sugar.' 'I wouldn't
doubt you,' answers the mother, as much as to say, 'It is just what I'd
expect from you.'

When a message came to Rory from absent friends, that they were true to

'"My _sowl_, I never doubted them" said Rory of the hill.' (Charles

'It wouldn't be wishing you a pound note to do so and so': i.e. 'it would
be as bad as the loss of a pound,' or 'it might cost you a pound.' Often
used as a sort of threat to deter a person from doing it.

'Where do you keep all your money?' 'Oh, indeed, _it's not much I have_':
merely translated from the Gaelic, _Ní mórán atâ agum_.

To a silly foolish fellow:--'There's a great deal of sense outside your

'The only sure way to conceal evil is not to do it.'

'I don't think very much of these horses,' meaning 'I have a low opinion of

'I didn't pretend to understand what he said,' appears a negative
statement; but it is really one of our ways of making a positive one:--'I
pretended not to understand him.' To the same class belongs the common
expression 'I don't think':--'I don't think you bought that horse too
dear,' meaning 'I think you did not buy him too dear'; 'I don't think this
day will be wet,' equivalent to 'I think it will not be wet.' {21}

Lowry Looby is telling how a lot of fellows attacked Hardress Cregan, who
defends himself successfully:--'Ah, it isn't a goose or a duck they had to
do with when they came across Mr. Cregan.' (Gerald Griffin.) Another way of
expressing the same idea often heard:--'He's no sop (wisp) in the road';
i.e. 'he's a strong brave fellow.'

'It was not too wise of you to buy those cows as the market stands at
present,' i.e. it was rather foolish.

'I wouldn't be sorry to get a glass of wine, meaning, 'I would be glad.'

An unpopular person is going away:--

 'Joy be with him and a bottle of moss,
  And if he don't return he's no great loss.'

'How are you to-day, James?'

'Indeed I can't say that I'm very well': meaning 'I am rather ill.'

'You had no right to take that book without my leave'; meaning 'You were
wrong in taking it--it was wrong of you to take it.' A translation of the
Irish _ní cóir duit_. 'A bad right' is stronger than 'no right.' 'You have
no right to speak ill of my uncle' is simply negation:--'You are wrong, for
you have no reason or occasion to speak so.' 'A bad right you have to speak
ill of my uncle:' that is to say, 'You are doubly wrong' [for he once did
you a great service]. 'A bad right anyone would have to call Ned a screw'
[for he is well known for his generosity]. ('Knocknagow.') Another way of
applying the word--in the sense of _duty_--is seen in the following:--A
member at an Urban Council {22} meeting makes an offensive remark and
refuses to withdraw it: when another retorts:--'You have a right to
withdraw it'--i.e. 'it is your duty.' So:--'You have a right to pay your

'Is your present farm as large as the one you left?' Reply:--'Well indeed
it doesn't want much of it.' A common expression, and borrowed from the
Irish, where it is still more usual. The Irish _beagnach_ ('little but')
and _acht ma beag_ ('but only a little') are both used in the above sense
('doesn't want much'), equivalent to the English _almost_.

A person is asked did he ever see a ghost. If his reply is to be negative,
the invariable way of expressing it is: 'I never saw anything worse than
myself, thanks be to God.'

A person is grumbling without cause, making out that he is struggling in
some difficulty--such as poverty--and the people will say to him
ironically: 'Oh how bad you are.' A universal Irish phrase among high and

A person gives a really good present to a girl:--'He didn't affront her by
that present.' (Patterson: Antrim and Down.)

How we cling to this form of expression--or rather how it clings to us--is
seen in the following extract from the Dublin correspondence of one of the
London newspapers of December, 1909:--'Mr. ---- is not expected to be
returned to parliament at the general election'; meaning it _is_ expected
that he will _not_ be returned. So also:--'How is poor Jack Fox to-day?'
'Oh he's not expected'; i.e. not expected to live,--he is _given over_.
This expression, _not expected_, is a very common Irish phrase in cases of
death sickness. {23}

       *       *       *       *       *



In this chapter I am obliged to quote the original Irish passages a good
deal as a guarantee of authenticity for the satisfaction of Irish scholars:
but for those who have no Irish the translations will answer equally well.
Besides the examples I have brought together here, many others will be
found all through the book. I have already remarked that the great majority
of our idiomatic Hibernian-English sayings are derived from the Irish

When existence or modes of existence are predicated in Irish by the verb
_tá_ or _atá_ (English _is_), the Irish preposition _in_ (English _in_) in
some of its forms is always used, often with a possessive pronoun, which
gives rise to a very curious idiom. Thus, 'he is a mason' is in Irish _tá
sé 'n a shaor_, which is literally _he is in his mason_: 'I am standing' is
_tá mé a m' sheasamh_, lit. _I am in my standing_. This explains the common
Anglo-Irish form of expression:--'He fell on the road out of his standing':
for as he is 'in his standing' (according to the Irish) when he is standing
up, he is 'out of his standing' when he falls. This idiom with _in_ is
constantly translated literally into English by the Irish people. Thus,
instead of saying, 'I sent the wheat thrashed into corn to the mill, and it
came home as flour,' they will rather say, 'I sent the wheat _in corn_ to
the mill, and it came home _in flour_.' Here the _in_ denotes identity:
'Your {24} hair is in a wisp'; i.e. it _is_ a wisp: 'My eye is in whey in
my head,' i.e. it _is_ whey. (John Keegan in Ir. Pen. Journ.)

But an idiom closely resembling this, and in some respects identical with
it, exists in English (though it has not been hitherto noticed--so far as I
am aware)--as may be seen from the following examples:--'The Shannon ...
rushed through Athlone _in_ a deep and rapid stream (Macaulay), i.e. it
_was_ a deep and rapid stream (like our expression 'Your handkerchief is in

 'Where heaves the turf _in_ many a mouldering heap.'

  (GRAY'S 'Elegy.')

 'Hence bards, like Proteus, long in vain tied down,
  Escape _in_ monsters and amaze the town.'

  (POPE: 'Dunciad.')

'The bars forming the front and rear edges of each plane [of the
flying-machine] are always _in_ one piece' (Daily Mail). Shelley's 'Cloud'
says, 'I laugh _in_ thunder' (meaning I laugh, and my laugh _is_ thunder.)
'The greensand and chalk were continued across the weald _in_ a great
dome.' (Lord Avebury.)

'Just to the right of him were the white-robed bishops _in a group_.'
(Daily Mail.) 'And men _in_ nations' (Byron in 'The Isles of Greece'): 'The
people came _in_ tens and twenties': 'the rain came down _in_ torrents':
'I'll take £10 _in_ gold and the rest _in_ silver': 'the snow gathered _in_
a heap.' 'The money came [home] sometimes _in_ specie and sometimes _in_
goods' (Lord Rothschild, speech in House of Lords, 29th November, 1909),
exactly like 'the corn came home _in_ flour,' quoted above. The {25}
preceding examples do not quite fully represent the Irish idiom in its
entirety, inasmuch as the possessive pronouns are absent. But even these
are sometimes found, as in the familiar phrases, 'the people came _in
their_ hundreds.' 'You are _in your_ thousands' [here at the meeting],
which is an exact reproduction of the Gaelic phrase in the Irish classical
story:--_Atá sibh in bhur n-ealaibh_, 'Ye are swans' (lit. 'Ye are in your

When mere existence is predicated, the Gaelic _ann_ (_in it_, i.e. 'in
existence') is used, as _atá sneachta ann_, 'there is snow'; lit. 'there is
snow _there_,' or 'there is snow _in it_,' i.e. in existence. The _ann_
should be left blank in English translation, i.e. having no proper
representative. But our people will not let it go waste; they bring it into
their English in the form of either _in it_ or _there_, both of which in
this construction carry the meaning of _in existence_. Mrs. Donovan says to
Bessy Morris:--'Is it yourself that's _in it_?' ('Knocknagow'), which would
stand in correct Irish _An tusa atá ann_? On a Sunday one man insults and
laughs at another, who says, 'Only for the day that's _in it_ I'd make you
laugh at the wrong side of your mouth': 'the weather that's _in it_ is very
hot.' 'There's nothing at all _there_ (in existence) as it used to be'
(Gerald Griffin: 'Collegians'): 'this day is bad for growth, there's a
sharp east wind _there_.'

I do not find this use of the English preposition _in_--namely, to denote
identity--referred to in English dictionaries, though it ought to be.

The same mode of expressing existence by _an_ or _in_ is found in the
Ulster and Scotch phrase for {26} _to be alone_, which is as follows,
always bringing in the personal pronoun:--'I am in my lone,' 'he is in his
lone,' 'they are in their lone'; or more commonly omitting the preposition
(though it is always understood): 'She is living her lone.' All these
expressions are merely translations from Gaelic, in which they are
constantly used; 'I am in my lone' being from _Tá me am' aonar_, where
_am'_ is 'in my' and _aonar_, 'lone.' _Am' aonar seal do bhiossa_, 'Once as
I was alone.' (Old Irish Song.) In north-west Ulster they sometimes use the
preposition _by_:--'To come home by his lone' (Seumas Mac Manus). Observe
the word _lone_ is always made _lane_ in Scotland, and generally in Ulster;
and these expressions or their like will be found everywhere in Burns or in
any other Scotch (or Ulster) dialect writer.

Prepositions are used in Irish where it might be wrong to use them in
corresponding constructions in English. Yet the Irish phrases are
continually translated literally, which gives rise to many incorrect
dialect expressions. Of this many examples will be found in what follows.

'He put lies _on_ me'; a form of expression often heard. This might have
one or the other of two meanings, viz. either 'he accused me of telling
lies,' or 'he told lies about me.'

'The tinker took fourpence _out of_ that kettle,' i.e. he earned 4d. by
mending it. St. Patrick left his name _on_ the townland of Kilpatrick: that
nickname remained _on_ Dan Ryan ever since.

'He was vexed _to_ me' (i.e. with me): 'I was _at him_ for half a year'
(with him); 'You could find no fault _to it_' (with it). All these are in
use. {27}

'I took the medicine according to the doctor's order, but I found myself
nothing the better _of it_.' 'You have a good time _of it_.' I find in
Dickens however (in his own words) that the wind 'was obviously determined
to make a night _of it_.' (See p. 10 for a peculiarly Irish use of _of

In the Irish poem _Bean na d-Tri m-Bo_, 'The Woman of Three Cows,' occurs
the expression, _As do bhólacht ná bí teann_, 'Do not be haughty _out of_
your cattle.' This is a form of expression constantly heard in
English:--'he is as proud as a peacock _out of_ his rich relations.' So
also, 'She has great thought _out of_ him,' i.e. She has a very good
opinion of him. (Queen's Co.)

'I am without a penny,' i.e. I haven't a penny: very common: a translation
from the equally common Irish expression, _tá me gan pinghín_.

In an Irish love song the young man tells us that he had been vainly trying
to win over the colleen _le bliadhain agus le lá_, which Petrie correctly
(but not literally) translates 'for a year and for a day.' As the Irish
preposition _le_ signifies _with_, the literal translation would be '_with_
a year and _with_ a day,' which would be incorrect English. Yet the
uneducated people of the South and West often adopt this translation; so
that you will hear such expressions as 'I lived in Cork _with_ three

There is an idiomatic use of the Irish preposition _air_, 'on,' before a
personal pronoun or before a personal name and after an active verb, to
intimate injury or disadvantage of some kind, a violation of right or
claim. Thus, _Do bhuail Seumas mo ghadhar orm_ [where _orm_ is _air me_],
'James struck my dog {28} _on me_,' where _on me_ means to my detriment, in
violation of my right, &c. _Chaill sé mo sgian orm_; 'he lost my knife _on

This mode of expression exists in the oldest Irish as well as in the
colloquial languages--both Irish and English--of the present day. When St.
Patrick was spending the Lent on Croagh Patrick the demons came to torment
him in the shape of great black hateful-looking birds: and the Tripartite
Life, composed (in the Irish language) in the tenth century, says, 'The
mountain was filled with great sooty-black birds _on him_' (to his torment
or detriment). In 'The Battle of Rossnaree,' Carbery, directing his men how
to act against Conor, his enemy, tells them to send some of their heroes
_re tuargain a sgéithe ar Conchobar_, 'to smite Conor's shield _on him_.'
The King of Ulster is in a certain hostel, and when his enemies hear of it,
they say:--'We are pleased at that for we shall [attack and] take the
hostel _on him_ to-night.' (Congal Claringneach.) It occurs also in the
_Amra_ of Columkille--the oldest of all--though I cannot lay my hand on the

This is one of the commonest of our Anglo-Irish idioms, so that a few
examples will be sufficient.

 'I saw thee ... thrice _on Tara's champions_ win the goal.'

  (FERGUSON: 'Lays of the Western Gael.')

I once heard a grandmother--an educated Dublin lady--say, in a charmingly
petting way, to her little grandchild who came up crying:--'What did they
do to you on me--did they beat you on me?'

The Irish preposition _ag_--commonly translated 'for' in this connexion--is
used in a sense much like _air_, viz. to carry an idea of some sort of
injury {29} to the person represented by the noun or pronoun. Typical
examples are: one fellow threatening another says, 'I'll break your head
_for you_': or 'I'll soon _settle his hash for him_.' This of course also
comes from Irish; _Gur scoilt an plaosg aige_, 'so that he broke his skull
_for him_' (Battle of Gavra); _Do ghearr a reim aige beo_, 'he shortened
his career for him.' ('The Amadán Mór.') See 'On' in Vocabulary.

There is still another peculiar usage of the English preposition _for_,
which is imitated or translated from the Irish, the corresponding Irish
preposition here being _mar_. In this case the prepositional phrase is
added on, not to denote injury, but to express some sort of mild
depreciation:--'Well, how is your new horse getting on?' 'Ah, I'm tired of
him _for a horse_: he is little good.' A dog keeps up a continuous barking,
and a person says impatiently, 'Ah, choke you _for a dog_' (may you be
choked). Lowry Looby, who has been appointed to a place and is asked how he
is going on with it, replies, 'To lose it I did _for a place_.'
('Collegians.') In the Irish story of _Bodach an Chota Lachtna_ ('The Clown
with the Grey Coat'), the Bodach offers Ironbones some bones to pick, on
which Ironbones flies into a passion; and Mangan, the translator, happily
puts into the mouth of the Bodach:--'Oh, very well, then we will not have
any more words about them, _for bones_.' Osheen, talking in a querulous
mood about all his companions--the Fena--having left him, says, [were I in
my former condition] _Ni ghoirfinn go bráth orruibh, mar Fheinn_, 'I would
never call on you, _for Fena_.' This last and its like are the models on
which the Anglo-Irish phrases are formed. {30}

'Of you' (where _of_ is not intended for _off_) is very frequently used in
the sense of _from you_: 'I'll take the stick _of you_ whether you like it
or not.' 'Of you' is here simply a translation of the Irish _díot_, which
is always used in this connexion in Irish: _bainfead díot é_, 'I will take
it of you.' In Irish phrases like this the Irish _uait_ ('from you') is not
used; if it were the people would say 'I'll take it _from you_,' not _of
you_. (Russell.)

'Oh that news was _on_ the paper yesterday.' 'I went _on_ the train to
Kingstown.' Both these are often heard in Dublin and elsewhere. Correct
speakers generally use _in_ in such cases. (Father Higgins and Kinahan.)

In some parts of Ulster they use the preposition _on_ after _to be
married_:--'After Peggy McCue had been married _on_ Long Micky Diver'
(Sheumas MacManus).

'To make a speech _takes a good deal out of me_,' i.e. tires me, exhausts
me, an expression heard very often among all classes. The phrase in italics
is merely the translation of a very common Irish expression, _baineann sé
rud éigin asam_, it takes something out of me.

'I am afraid of her,' 'I am frightened at her,' are both correct English,
meaning 'she has frightened me': and both are expressed in Donegal by 'I am
afeard _for_ her,' 'I am frightened _for_ her,' where in both cases _for_
is used in the sense of 'on account of.'

In Irish any sickness, such as fever, is said to be _on_ a person, and this
idiom is imported into English. If a person wishes to ask 'What ails you?'
he often {31} gives it the form of 'What is on you?' (Ulster), which is
exactly the English of _Cad é sin ort_?

A visitor stands up to go. 'What hurry is on you?' A mild invitation to
stay on (Armagh). In the South, 'What hurry are you in?'

She had _a nose on her_, i.e. looked sour, out of humour ('Knocknagow').
Much used in the South. 'They never asked me had I a mouth on me':
universally understood and often used in Ireland, and meaning 'they never
offered me anything to eat or drink.'

I find Mark Twain using the same idiom:--[an old horse] 'had a neck _on
him_ like a bowsprit' ('Innocents Abroad'); but here I think Mark shows a
touch of the Gaelic brush, wherever he got it.

'I tried to knock another shilling out of him, but all in vain': i.e. I
tried to persuade him to give me another shilling. This is very common with
Irish-English speakers, and is a word for word translation of the equally
common Irish phrase _bain sgilling eile as_. (Russell.)

'I came against you' (more usually _agin you_) means 'I opposed you and
defeated your schemes.' This is merely a translation of an Irish phrase, in
which the preposition _le_ or _re_ is used in the sense of _against_ or _in
opposition to_: _do tháinic me leat annsin_. (S. H. O'Grady.) 'His sore
knee came _against him_ during the walk.'

_Against_ is used by us in another sense--that of meeting: 'he went against
his father,' i.e. he went to meet his father [who was coming home from
town]. This, which is quite common, is, I think, pure {32} Anglo-Irish. But
'he laid up a supply of turf against the winter' is correct English as well
as Anglo-Irish.

 'And the cravat of hemp was surely spun
  _Against_ the day when their race was run.'

  ('Touchstone' in 'Daily Mail.')

A very common inquiry when you meet a friend is:--'How are all your care?'
Meaning chiefly your family, those persons that are under your care. This
is merely a translation of the common Irish inquiry, _Cionnos tá do chúram
go léir_?

A number of idiomatic expressions cluster round the word _head_, all of
which are transplanted from Irish in the use of the Irish word _ceann_
[cann] 'head'. _Head_ is used to denote the cause, occasion, or motive of
anything. 'Did he really walk that distance in a day?' Reply in Irish,
_Ní'l contabhairt air bith ann a cheann_: 'there is no doubt at all _on the
head of it_,' i.e. about it, in regard to it. 'He is a bad head to me,'
i.e. he treats me badly. Merely the Irish _is olc an ceann dom é_. _Bhi
fearg air da chionn_, he was vexed on the head of it.

A dismissed clerk says:--'I made a mistake in one of the books, and I was
sent away _on the head of_ that mistake.'

A very common phrase among us is, 'More's the pity':--'More's the pity that
our friend William should be so afflicted.'

 'More's the pity one so pretty
  As I should live alone.'

  (Anglo-Irish Folk-Song.)

This is a translation of a very common Irish expression as seen in:--_Budh
mhó an sgéile Diarmaid_ {33} _do bheith marbh_: 'More's the pity Dermot to
be dead.' (Story of 'Dermot and Grania.')

'Who should come up to me in the fair but John.' Intended not for a
question but for an assertion--an assertion of something which was hardly
expected. This mode of expression, which is very common, is a Gaelic
construction. Thus in the song _Fáinne geal an lae:--Cia gheabhainn le
m'ais acht cúilfhionn deas_: 'Whom should I find near by me but the pretty
fair haired girl.' 'Who should walk in only his dead wife.' (Gerald
Griffin: 'Collegians.') 'As we were walking along what should happen but
John to stumble and fall on the road.'

The pronouns _myself_, _himself_, &c., are very often used in Ireland in a
peculiar way, which will be understood from the following examples:--'The
birds were singing _for themselves_.' 'I was looking about the fair _for
myself_' (Gerald Griffin: 'Collegians'): 'he is pleasant _in himself_
(ibid.): 'I felt dead [dull] _in myself_' (ibid.). 'Just at that moment I
happened to be walking by myself' (i.e. alone: Irish, _liom féin_).
Expressions of this kind are all borrowed direct from Irish.

We have in our Irish-English a curious use of the personal pronouns which
will be understood from the following examples:--'He interrupted me _and I
writing_ my letters' (as I was writing). 'I found Phil there too _and he
playing_ his fiddle for the company.' This, although very incorrect
English, is a classic idiom in Irish, from which it has been imported as it
stands into our English. Thus:--_Do chonnairc me Tomás agus é n'a shuidhe
cois na teine_: 'I saw Thomas _and he sitting_ beside the fire.' 'How could
you see {34} me there _and I to be in bed at the time_?' This latter part
is merely a translation from the correct Irish:--_agus meise do bheith mo
luidhe ag an am sin_ (Irish Tale). Any number of examples of this usage
might be culled from both English and Irish writings. Even so classical a
writer as Wolfe follows this usage in 'The Burial of Sir John Moore':--

 'We thought ...
  That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
  _And we far away_ on the billow.'

(I am reminded of this by Miss Hayden and Prof. Hartog.)

But there is a variety in our English use of the pronouns here, namely,
that we often use the objective (or accusative) case instead of the
nominative. 'How could you expect Davy to do the work _and him so very
sick_?' 'My poor man fell into the fire a Sunday night _and him hearty_'
(_hearty_, half drunk: Maxwell, 'Wild Sports of the West'). 'Is that what
you lay out for me, mother, _and me after turning the Voster_' (i.e. after
working through the whole of Voster's Arithmetic: Carleton). 'John and Bill
were both reading and _them eating their dinner_' (while they were eating
their dinner). This is also from the Irish language. We will first take the
third person plural pronoun. The pronoun 'they' is in Irish _siad_: and the
accusative 'them' is the Irish _iad_. But in some Irish constructions this
_iad_ is (correctly) used as a nominative; and in imitation of this our
people often use 'them' as a nominative:--'_Them_ are just the gloves I
want.' '_Them_ are the boys' is exactly translated from the correct Irish
_is_ {35} _iad sin na buachaillidhe_. 'Oh she melted the hearts of the
swains in _them_ parts.' ('The Widow Malone,' by Lever.)

In like manner with the pronouns _sé_, _sí_ (he, she), of which the
accusatives _é_ and _í_ are in certain Irish constructions (correctly) used
for the nominative forms, which accusative forms are (incorrectly) imported
into English. _Do chonnairc mé Seadhán agus é n'a shuidhe_, 'I saw Shaun
and _him_ sitting down,' i.e. 'as he was sitting down.' So also 'don't ask
me to go and _me_ having a sore foot.' 'There's the hen and _her_ as fat as
butter,' i.e. 'she (the hen) being as fat as butter.'

The little phrase 'the way' is used among us in several senses, all
peculiar, and all derived from Irish. Sometimes it is a direct translation
from _amhlaidh_ ('thus,' 'so,' 'how,' 'in a manner'). An old example of
this use of _amhlaidh_ in Irish is the following passage from the _Boroma_
(_Silva Gadelica_):--_Is amlaid at chonnaic [Concobar] Laigin ocus Ulaid
mán dabaig ocá hól_: 'It is how (or 'the way') [Concobar] saw the Lagenians
and the Ulstermen [viz. they were] round the vat drinking from it.' _Is
amhlaidh do bhi Fergus_: 'It is thus (or the way) Fergus was [conditioned;
that his shout was heard over three cantreds].'

This same sense is also seen in the expression, 'this is the way I made my
money,' i.e. 'this is how I made it.'

When this expression, 'the way,' or 'how,' introduces a statement it means
''tis how it happened.' 'What do you want, James?' ''Tis the way ma'am, my
mother sent me for the loan of the {36} shovel.' This idiom is very common
in Limerick, and is used indeed all through Ireland.

Very often 'the way' is used in the sense of 'in order that':--'Smoking
carriages are lined with American cloth _the way_ they wouldn't keep the
smell'; 'I brought an umbrella _the way_ I wouldn't get wet'; 'you want not
to let the poor boy do for himself [by marrying] _the way_ that you
yourself should have all.' (Ir. Pen. Mag.) You constantly hear this in
Dublin, even among educated people.

Sometimes the word _way_ is a direct translation from the Irish _caoi_, 'a
way,' 'a road'; so that the common Irish salutation, _Cad chaoi bh-fuil
tu_? is translated with perfect correctness into the equally common
Irish-English salute, 'What way are you?' meaning 'How are you?'

'This way' is often used by the people in the sense of 'by this
time':--'The horse is ready this way,' i.e. 'ready by this time.' (Gerald
Griffin, 'Collegians.')

The word _itself_ is used in a curious way in Ireland, which has been
something of a puzzle to outsiders. As so used it has no gender, number, or
case; it is not in fact a pronoun at all, but a substitute for the word
_even_. This has arisen from the fact that in the common colloquial Irish
language the usual word to express both _even_ and _itself_, is _féin_; and
in translating a sentence containing this word _féin_, the people rather
avoided _even_, a word not very familiar to them in this sense, and
substituted the better known _itself_, in cases where _even_ would be the
correct word, and _itself_ would be incorrect. Thus _da mbeith an meud sin
féin agum_ is correctly rendered 'if I had {37} even that much': but the
people don't like _even_, and don't well understand it (as applied here),
so they make it 'If I had that much _itself_.' This explains all such
Anglo-Irish sayings as 'if I got it itself it would be of no use to me,'
i.e. 'even if I got it': 'If she were there itself I wouldn't know her';
'She wouldn't go to bed till you'd come home, and if she did itself she
couldn't sleep.' (Knocknagow.) A woman is finding some fault with the
arrangements for a race, and Lowry Looby (Collegians) puts in 'so itself
what hurt' i.e. 'even so what harm.' (Russell and myself.)

The English _when_ is expressed by the Irish _an uair_, which is literally
'the hour' or 'the time.' This is often transplanted into English; as when
a person says 'the time you arrived I was away in town.'

When you give anything to a poor person the recipient commonly utters the
wish 'God increase you!' (meaning your substance): which is an exact
translation of the equally common Irish wish _Go meádaighe Dia dhuit_.
Sometimes the prayer is 'God increase your store,' which expresses exactly
what is meant in the Irish wish.

The very common aspiration 'God help us' [you, me, them, &c.] is a
translation of the equally common _Go bh-fóireadh Dia orruinn_ [_ort_,

In the north-west instead of 'your father,' 'your sister,' &c., they often
say 'the father of you,' 'the sister of you,' &c.; and correspondingly as
to things:--'I took the hand of her' (i.e. her hand) (Seumas Mac Manus).

All through Ireland you will hear _show_ used instead of _give_ or _hand_
(verb), in such phrases as {38} 'Show me that knife,' i.e. hand it to me.
'Show me the cream, please,' says an Irish gentleman at a London
restaurant; and he could not see why his English friends were laughing.

'He passed me in the street _by the way_ he didn't know me'; 'he refused to
give a contribution _by the way_ he was so poor.' In both, _by the way_
means 'pretending.'

'My own own people' means my immediate relations. This is a translation of
_mo mhuinterse féin_. In Irish the repetition of the emphatic pronominal
particles is very common, and is imported into English; represented here by
'own own.'

A prayer or a wish in Irish often begins with the particle _go_, meaning
'that' (as a conjunction): _Go raibh maith agut_, '_that_ it may be well
with you,' i.e. 'May it be well with you.' In imitation or translation of
this the corresponding expression in English is often opened by this word
_that_: 'that you may soon get well,' i.e., 'may you soon get well.'
Instead of 'may I be there to see' (John Gilpin) our people would say 'that
I may be there to see.' A person utters some evil wish such as 'may bad
luck attend you,' and is answered 'that the prayer may happen the
preacher.' A usual ending of a story told orally, when the hero and heroine
have been comfortably disposed of is 'And if they don't live happy _that we

When a person sees anything unusual or unexpected, he says to his
companion, 'Oh do you mind that!'

'You want me to give you £10 for that cow: well, I'm not so soft _all
out_.' 'He's not so bad as that _all out_.' {39}

A common expression is 'I was talking to him to-day, and I _drew down
about_ the money,' i.e. I brought on or introduced the subject. This is a
translation of the Irish form _do tharraing me anuas_ 'I drew down.'

Quite a common form of expression is 'I had like to be killed,' i.e., I was
near being killed: I had a narrow escape of being killed: I escaped being
killed _by the black of my nail_.

Where the English say _it rains_, we say 'it is raining': which is merely a
translation of the Irish way of saying it:--_ta se ag fearthainn_.

The usual Gaelic equivalent of 'he gave a roar' is _do léig sé géim as_
(met everywhere in Irish texts), 'he let a roar out of him'; which is an
expression you will often hear among people who have not well mastered
English--who in fact often speak the Irish language with English words.

'I put it before me to do it,' meaning I was resolved to do it, is the
literal translation of _chuireas rómhaim é to dheunamh_. Both Irish and
Anglo-Irish are very common in the respective languages.

When a narrator has come to the end of some minor episode in his narrative,
he often resumes with the opening 'That was well and good': which is merely
a translation of the Gaelic _bhí sin go maith_.

Lowry Looby having related how the mother and daughter raised a terrible
_pillilu_, i.e., 'roaring and bawling,' says after a short pause 'that was
well and good,' and proceeds with his story. (Gerald Griffin:

A common Irish expression interjected into a narrative or discourse, as a
sort of stepping stone {40} between what is ended and what is coming is
_Ní'l tracht air_, 'there is no talking about it,' corresponding to the
English 'in short,' or 'to make a long story short.' These Irish
expressions are imported into our English, in which popular phrases like
the following are very often heard:--'I went to the fair, and _there's no
use in talking_, I found the prices real bad.'

 'Wisha my bones are exhausted, and _there's no use in talking_,
  My heart is scalded, _a wirrasthru_.'

  (Old Song.)

'Where is my use in staying here, so there's no use in talking, go I will.'
('Knocknagow.') Often the expression takes this form:--'Ah 'tis a folly to
talk, he'll never get that money.'

Sometimes the original Irish is in question form. _Cid tracht_ ('what
talking?' i.e. 'what need of talking?') which is Englished as follows:--'Ah
what's the use of talking, your father will never consent.' These
expressions are used in conversational Irish-English, not for the purpose
of continuing a narrative as in the original Irish, but--as appears from
the above examples--merely to add emphasis to an assertion.

'It's a fine day that.' This expression, which is common enough among us,
is merely a translation from the common Irish phrase _is breagh an lá é
sin_, where the demonstrative _sin_ (that) comes last in the proper Irish
construction: but when imitated in English it looks queer to an English
listener or reader.

'_There is no doubt_ that is a splendid animal.' This expression is a
direct translation from the Irish _Ní'l contabhairt ann_, and is equivalent
to the English 'doubtless.' It occurs often in the Scottish dialect
also:--'Ye need na doubt I held my whisht' (Burns). {41}

You are about to drink from a cup. 'How much shall I put into this cup for
you?' 'Oh you may give me _the full of it_.' This is Irish-English: in
England they would say--'Give it to me full.' Our expression is a
translation from the Irish language. For example, speaking of a
drinking-horn, an old writer says, _a lán do'n lionn_, literally, 'the full
of it of ale.' In Silva Gadelica we find _lán a ghlaice deise do losaibh_,
which an Irishman translating literally would render 'the full of his right
hand of herbs,' while an Englishman would express the same idea in this
way--'his right hand full of herbs.'

Our Irish-English expression 'to come round a person' means to induce or
_circumvent_ him by coaxing cuteness and wheedling: 'He came round me by
his _sleudering_ to lend him half a crown, fool that I was': 'My
grandchildren came round me to give them money for sweets.' This expression
is borrowed from Irish:--'When the Milesians reached Erin _tanic a ngáes
timchioll Tuathi De Danand_, 'their cuteness circumvented (lit. 'came
round') the Dedannans.' (Opening sentence in _Mesca Ulad_ in Book of
Leinster: Hennessy.)

'Shall I do so and so?' 'What would prevent you?' A very usual
Hibernian-English reply, meaning 'you may do it of course; there is nothing
to prevent you.' This is borrowed or translated from an Irish phrase. In
the very old tale _The Voyage of Maildune_, Maildune's people ask, 'Shall
we speak to her [the lady]?' and he replies _Cid gatas uait ce atberaid
fria_. 'What [is it] that takes [anything] from you though ye speak to
her,' as much as to say, 'what harm will it do you if you speak to her?'
{42} equivalent to 'of course you may, there's nothing to prevent you.'

That old horse is _lame of one leg_, one of our very usual forms of
expression, which is merely a translation from _bacach ar aonchois_.
(MacCurtin.) 'I'll seem to be lame, quite useless of one of my hands.' (Old

Such constructions as _amadán fir_ 'a fool of a man' are very common in
Irish, with the second noun in the genitive (_fear_ 'a man,' gen. _fir_)
meaning 'a man who is a fool.' _Is and is ail ollamhan_, 'it is then he is
a rock of an _ollamh_ (doctor), i.e. a doctor who is a rock [of learning].
(Book of Rights.) So also 'a thief of a fellow,' 'a steeple of a man,' i.e.
a man who is a steeple--so tall. This form of expression is however common
in England both among writers and speakers. It is noticed here because it
is far more general among us, for the obvious reason that it has come to us
from two sources (instead of one)--Irish and English.

'I removed to Dublin this day twelve months, and this day two years I will
go back again to Tralee.' 'I bought that horse last May was a twelvemonth,
and he will be three years old come Thursday next.' 'I'll not sell my pigs
till coming on summer': a translation of _air theacht an t-samhraidh_. Such
Anglo-Irish expressions are very general, and are all from the Irish
language, of which many examples might be given, but this one from 'The
Courtship of Emer,' twelve or thirteen centuries old, will be enough. [It
was prophesied] that the boy would come to Erin that day seven years--_dia
secht m-bliadan_. (Kuno Meyer.) {43}

In our Anglo-Irish dialect the expression _at all_ is often duplicated for
emphasis: 'I'll grow no corn this year at all at all': 'I have no money at
all at all.' So prevalent is this among us that in a very good English
grammar recently published (written by an Irishman) speakers and writers
are warned against it. This is an importation from Irish. One of the Irish
words for 'at all' is _idir_ (always used after a negative), old forms
_itir_ and _etir_:--_nir bo tol do Dubthach recc na cumaile etir_,
'Dubthach did not wish to sell the bondmaid at all.' In the following old
passage, and others like it, it is duplicated for emphasis _Cid beac, itir
itir, ges do obar_: 'however little it is forbidden to work, at all at
all.' ('Prohibitions of beard,' O'Looney.)

When it is a matter of indifference which of two things to choose, we
usually say 'It is equal to me' (or 'all one to me'), which is just a
translation of _is cuma liom_ (best rendered by 'I don't care'). Both Irish
and English expressions are very common in the respective languages. Lowry
Looby says:--'It is equal to me whether I walk ten or twenty miles.'
(Gerald Griffin.)

 'I am a bold bachelor, airy and free,
  Both cities and counties are equal to me.'

  (Old Song.)

'Do that out of the face,' i.e. begin at the beginning and finish it out
and out: a translation of _deun sin as eudan_.

'The day is rising' means the day is clearing up,--the rain, or snow, or
wind is ceasing--the weather is becoming fine: a common saying in Ireland:
a translation of the usual Irish expression _tá an lá_ {44} _ag éirghidh_.
During the height of the great wind storm of 1842 a poor _shooler_ or
'travelling man' from Galway, who knew little English, took refuge in a
house in Westmeath, where the people were praying in terror that the storm
might go down. He joined in, and unconsciously translating from his native
Irish, he kept repeating 'Musha, that the Lord may rise it, that the Lord
may rise it.' At which the others were at first indignant, thinking he was
asking God to _raise_ the wind higher still. (Russell.)

Sometimes two prepositions are used where one would do:--'The dog got _in
under_ the bed:' 'Where is James? He's _in in_ the room--or inside in the

 'Old woman, old woman, old woman,' says I,
 'Where are you going up so high?'
 'To sweep the cobwebs _off o'_ the sky.'

Whether this duplication _off of_ is native Irish or old English it is not
easy to say: but I find this expression in 'Robinson Crusoe':--'For the
first time since the storm _off of_ Hull.'

Eva, the witch, says to the children of Lir, when she had turned them into
swans:--_Amach daoibh a chlann an righ_: 'Out with you [on the water] ye
children of the king.' This idiom which is quite common in Irish, is
constantly heard among English speakers:--'Away with you now'--'Be off with

'Are you going away now?' One of the Irish forms of answering this is _Ní
fós_, which in Kerry the people translate 'no yet,' considering this nearer
to the original than the usual English 'not yet.' {45}

The usual way in Irish of saying _he died_ is _fuair sé bás_, i.e. 'he
found (or got) death,' and this is sometimes imitated in Anglo-Irish:--'He
was near getting his death from that wetting'; 'come out of that draught or
you'll get your death.'

The following curious form of expression is very often heard:--'Remember
you have gloves to buy for me in town'; instead of 'you have to buy me
gloves.' 'What else have you to do to-day?' 'I have a top to bring to
Johnny, and when I come home I have the cows to put in the stable'--instead
of 'I have to bring a top'--'I have to put the cows.' This is an imitation
of Irish, though not, I think, a direct translation.

What may be called the Narrative Infinitive is a very usual construction in
Irish. An Irish writer, relating a past event (and using the Irish
language) instead of beginning his narrative in this way, 'Donall O'Brien
went on an expedition against the English of Athlone,' will begin 'Donall
O'Brien _to go_ on an expedition,' &c. No Irish examples of this need be
given here, as they will be found in every page of the Irish Annals, as
well as in other Irish writings. Nothing like this exists in English, but
the people constantly imitate it in the Anglo-Irish speech. 'How did you
come by all that money?' Reply:--'To get into the heart of the fair'
(meaning 'I got into the heart of the fair'), and to cry _old china_, &c.
(Gerald Griffin.) 'How was that, Lowry?' asks Mr. Daly: and Lowry
answers:--'Some of them Garryowen boys sir to get about Danny Mann.'
(Gerald Griffin: 'Collegians.') 'How did the mare get that hurt?' 'Oh Tom
Cody to leap {46} her over the garden wall yesterday, and she to fall on
her knees on the stones.'

The Irish language has the word _annso_ for _here_, but it has no
corresponding word _derived from annso_, to signify _hither_, though there
are words for this too, but not from _annso_. A similar observation applies
to the Irish for the words _there_ and _thither_, and for _where_ and
_whither_. As a consequence of this our people do not use _hither_,
_thither_, and _whither_ at all. They make _here_, _there_, and _where_ do
duty for them. Indeed much the same usage exists in the Irish language too:
_Is ann tigdaois eunlaith_ (Keating): 'It is _here_ the birds used to
come,' instead of _hither_. In consequence of all this you will hear
everywhere in Anglo-Irish speech:--'John came here yesterday': 'come here
Patsy': 'your brother is in Cork and you ought to go _there_ to see him':
'_where_ did you go yesterday after you parted from me?'

'Well Jack how are you these times?' 'Oh, indeed Tom I'm purty well thank
you--_all that's left of me_': a mock way of speaking, as if the hard usage
of the world had worn him to a thread. 'Is Frank Magaveen there?' asks the
blind fiddler. 'All that's left of me is here,' answers Frank. (Carleton.)
These expressions, which are very usual, and many others of the kind, are
borrowed from the Irish. In the Irish tale, 'The Battle of Gavra,' poor old
Osheen, the sole survivor of the Fena, says:--'I know not where to follow
them [his lost friends]; and this makes _the little remnant that is left of
me_ wretched. (_D'fúig sin m'iarsma_).

Ned Brophy, introducing his wife to Mr. Lloyd, says, 'this is _herself_
sir.' This is an extremely {47} common form of phrase. 'Is _herself_ [i.e.
the mistress] at home Jenny?' 'I'm afraid himself [the master of the house]
will be very angry when he hears about the accident to the mare.' This is
an Irish idiom. The Irish chiefs, when signing their names to any document,
always wrote the name in this form, _Misi O'Neill_, i.e. 'Myself O'Neill.'

A usual expression is 'I have no Irish,' i.e. I do not know or speak Irish.
This is exactly the way of saying it in Irish, of which the above is a
translation:--_Ní'l Gaodhlainn agum_.

To _let on_ is to pretend, and in this sense is used everywhere in Ireland.
'Oh your father is very angry': 'Not at all, he's only letting on.' 'If you
meet James don't let on you saw me,' is really a positive, not a negative
request: equivalent to--'If you meet James, let on (pretend) that you
didn't see me.' A Dublin working-man recently writing in a newspaper says,
'they passed me on the bridge (Cork), and never let on to see me' (i.e.
'they let on not to see me').

'He is all _as one as_ recovered now'; he is nearly the same as recovered.

At the proper season you will often see auctioneers' posters:--'To be sold
by auction 20 acres of splendid meadow _on foot_,' &c. This term _on foot_,
which is applied in Ireland to _growing_ crops of all kinds--corn, flax,
meadow, &c.--is derived from the Irish language, in which it is used in the
oldest documents as well as in the everyday spoken modern Irish; the usual
word _cos_ for 'foot' being used. Thus in the Brehon Laws we are told that
a wife's share of the flax is one-ninth if it be on foot (_for a cois_,
{48} 'on its foot,' modern form _air a chois_) one-sixth after being dried,
&c. In one place a fine is mentioned for appropriating or cutting furze if
it be 'on foot.' (Br. Laws.)

This mode of speaking is applied in old documents to animals also. Thus in
one of the old Tales is mentioned a present of a swine and an ox _on foot_
(_for a coiss_, 'on their foot') to be given to Mac Con and his people,
i.e. to be sent to them alive--not slaughtered. (Silva Gadelica.) But I
have not come across this application in our modern Irish-English.

To give a thing 'for God's sake,' i.e. to give it in charity or for mere
kindness, is an expression very common at the present day all over Ireland.
'Did you sell your turf-rick to Bill Fennessy?' Oh no, I gave it to him for
God's sake: he's very badly off now poor fellow, and I'll never miss it.'
Our office attendant Charlie went to the clerk, who was chary of the pens,
and got a supply with some difficulty. He came back grumbling:--'A person
would think I was asking them for God's sake' (a thoroughly Hibernian
sentence). This expression is common also in Irish, both ancient and
modern, from which the English is merely a translation. Thus in the Brehon
Laws we find mention of certain young persons being taught a trade 'for
God's sake' (_ar Dia_), i.e. without fee: and in another place a man is
spoken of as giving a poor person something 'for God's sake.'

The word _'nough_, shortened from _enough_, is always used in English with
the possessive pronouns, in accordance with the Gaelic construction in such
phrases as _gur itheadar a n-doithin díobh_, 'So that {49} they ate their
enough of them' ('Diarmaid and Grainne'): _d'ith mo shaith_ 'I ate my
enough.' Accordingly uneducated people use the word _'nough_ in this
manner, exactly as _fill_ is correctly used in 'he ate his fill.' Lowry
Looby wouldn't like to be 'a born gentleman' for many reasons--among others
that you're expected 'not to ate half your 'nough at dinner.' (Gerald
Griffin: 'Collegians.')

The words _world_ and _earth_ often come into our Anglo-Irish speech in a
way that will be understood and recognised from the following
examples:--'Where in the world are you going so early?' 'What in the world
kept you out so long?' 'What on earth is wrong with you?' 'That cloud looks
for all the world like a man.' 'Oh you young thief of the world, why did
you do that?' (to a child). These expressions are all thrown in for
emphasis, and they are mainly or altogether imported from the Irish. They
are besides of long standing. In the 'Colloquy'--a very old Irish
piece--the king of Leinster says to St. Patrick:--'I do not know _in the
world_ how it fares [with my son].' So also in a still older story, 'The
Voyage of Maildune':--'And they [Maildune and his people] knew not whither
_in the world_ (_isan bith_) they were going. In modern Irish, _Ní
chuirionn sé tábhacht a n-éinidh san domhuin_: 'he minds nothing in the
world.' (Mac Curtin.)

But I think some of the above expressions are found in good English too,
both old and new. For example in a letter to Queen Elizabeth the Earl of
Ormond (an Irishman--one of the Butlers) designates a certain Irish chief
'that most arrogant, {50} vile, traitor of the world Owney McRorye'
[O'Moore]. But perhaps he wrote this with an Irish pen.

A person does something to displease me--insults me, breaks down my
hedge--and I say 'I will not let that go with him': meaning I will bring
him to account for it, I will take satisfaction, I will punish him. This,
which is very usual, is an Irish idiom. In the story of The Little Brawl of
Allen, Goll boasts of having slain Finn's father; and Finn answers _bud
maith m'acfainnse ar gan sin do léicen let_, 'I am quite powerful enough
not to let that go with you.' ('Silva Gadelica.') Sometimes this
Anglo-Irish phrase means to vie with, to rival. 'There's no doubt that old
Tom Long is very rich': 'Yes indeed, but I think Jack Finnerty _wouldn't
let it go with him_.' Lory Hanly at the dance, seeing his three companions
sighing and obviously in love with three of the ladies, feels himself just
as bad for a fourth, and sighing, says to himself that he 'wouldn't let it
go with any of them.' ('Knocknagow.')

'I give in to you' means 'I yield to you,' 'I assent to (or believe) what
you say,' 'I acknowledge you are right': 'He doesn't give in that there are
ghosts at all.' This is an Irish idiom, as will be seen in the
following:--[A lion and three dogs are struggling for the mastery and]
_adnaigit [an triur eile] do [an leomain]_ 'And the three others gave in to
the [lion].'

This mode of expression is however found in English also:--[Beelzebub]
'proposes a third undertaking which the whole assembly gives in to.'
(Addison in 'Spectator.') {51}

_For_ is constantly used before the infinitive: 'he bought cloth _for to_
make a coat.'

 'And "Oh sailor dear," said she,
 "How came you here by me?"
    And then she began _for to cry_.'

  (Old Irish Folk Song.)

 'King James he pitched his tents between
    His lines _for to retire_.'

  (Old Irish Folk Song: 'The Boyne Water.')

This idiom is in Irish also: _Deunaidh duthracht le leas bhur n-anma a
dheunadh_: 'make an effort _for to accomplish_ the amendment of your
souls.' ('Dunlevy.') Two Irish prepositions are used in this sense of
_for_: _le_ (as above) and _chum_. But this use of _for_ is also very
general in English peasant language, as may be seen everywhere in Dickens.

_Is ceangailte do bhidhinn_, literally 'It is bound I should be,' i.e. in
English 'I should be bound.' This construction (from 'Diarmaid and
Grainne'), in which the position of the predicate as it would stand
according to the English order is thrown back, is general in the Irish
language, and quite as general in our Anglo-Irish, in imitation or
translation. I once heard a man say in Irish _is e do chailleamhuin do rinn
me_: 'It is to lose it I did' (I lost it). The following are everyday
examples from our dialect of English: ''Tis to rob me you want': 'Is it at
the young woman's house the wedding is to be?' ('Knocknagow'): 'Is it
reading you are?' ''Twas to dhrame it I did sir' ('Knocknagow'): 'Maybe
'tis turned out I'd be' ('Knocknagow'): 'To lose it I did' (Gerald Griffin:
'Collegians'): 'Well John I am glad to {52} see you, and it's right well
you look': [Billy thinks the fairy is mocking him, and says:--] 'Is it
after making a fool of me you'd be?' (Crofton Croker): 'To make for
Rosapenna (Donegal) we did:' i.e., 'We made for Rosapenna': 'I'll tell my
father about your good fortune, and 'tis he that will be delighted.'

In the fine old Irish story the 'Pursuit of Dermot and Grania,' Grania says
to her husband Dermot:--[Invite guests to a feast to our daughter's house]
_agus ní feas nach ann do gheubhaidh fear chéile_; 'and there is no knowing
but that there she may get a husband.' This is almost identical with what
Nelly Donovan says in our own day--in half joke--when she is going to Ned
Brophy's wedding:--'There'll be some likely lads there to-night, and who
knows what luck I might have.' ('Knocknagow.') This expression 'there is no
knowing but' or 'who knows but,' borrowed as we see from Gaelic, is very
common in our Anglo-Irish dialect. 'I want the loan of £20 badly to help to
stock my farm, but how am I to get it?' His friend answers:--'Just come to
the bank, and who knows but that they will advance it to you on my
security:' meaning 'it is not unlikely--I think it rather probable--that
they will advance it'

'He looks like a man _that there would be_ no money in his pocket':
'there's _a man that his wife leaves him_ whenever she pleases.' These
phrases and the like are heard all through the middle of Ireland, and
indeed outside the middle: they are translations from Irish. Thus the
italics of the second phrase would be in Irish _fear dá d-tréigeann a bhean
é_ (or _a thréigeas a bhean é_). 'Poor brave honest Mat Donovan that
everyone is proud of _him_ and fond {53} of _him_' ('Knocknagow'): 'He was
a descendant of Sir Thomas More that Henry VIII. cut his head off' (whose
head Henry VIII. cut off). The phrases above are incorrect English, as
there is redundancy; but they, and others like them, could generally be
made correct by the use of _whose_ or _of whom_:--'He looks like a man in
whose pocket,' &c.--'A man whose wife leaves him.' But the people in
general do not make use of _whose_--in fact they do not know how to use it,
except at the beginning of a question:--'Whose knife is this?' (Russell.)
This is an excellent example of how a phrase may be good Irish but bad

A man possesses some prominent quality, such as generosity, for which his
father was also distinguished, and we say 'kind father for him,' i.e. 'He
is of the same _kind_ as his father--he took it from his father.' So also
''Tis kind for the cat to drink milk'--'cat after kind'--''Tis kind for
John to be good and honourable' [for his father or his people were so
before him]. All this is from Irish, in which various words are used to
express the idea of _kind_ in this sense:--_bu cheneulta do_--_bu dhual
do_--_bu dhuthcha do_.

Very anxious to do a thing: ''Twas all his trouble to do so and so'
('Collegians'): corresponding to the Irish:--'_Is é mo chúram uile_,' 'He
(or it) is all my care.' (MacCurtin.)

Instead of 'The box will hold all the parcels' or 'All the parcels will fit
into the box,' we in Ireland commonly say 'All the parcels _will go_ into
the box.' This is from a very old Gaelic usage, as may be seen from this
quotation from the 'Boroma':--_Coire mór uma í teigtís dá muic déc_: 'A
large bronze caldron {54} into which _would go_ (téigtís) twelve [jointed]
pigs.' ('Silva Gadelica.')

_Chevilles._ What is called in French a _cheville_--I do not know any Irish
or English name for it--is a phrase interjected into a line of poetry
merely to complete either the measure or the rhyme, with little or no use
besides. The practice of using chevilles was very common in old Irish
poetry, and a bad practice it was; for many a good poem is quite spoiled by
the constant and wearisome recurrence of these _chevilles_. For instance
here is a translation of a couple of verses from 'The Voyage of Maildune'
with their _chevilles_:--

 'They met with an island after sailing--
                  _wonderful the guidance_.
 'The third day after, on the end of the rod--
                  _deed of power_--
  The chieftain found--_it was a very great joy_--
                  a cluster of apples.'

In modern _Irish_ popular poetry we have _chevilles_ also; of which I think
the commonest is the little phrase _gan go_, 'without a lie'; and this is
often reflected in our Anglo-Irish songs. In 'Handsome Sally,' published in
my 'Old Irish Music and Songs,' these lines occur:--

 'Young men and maidens I pray draw near--
          _The truth to you I will now declare_--
  How a fair young lady's heart was won
          All by the loving of a farmer's son.'

And in another of our songs:--

 'Good people all I pray draw near--
        _No lie I'll tell to ye_--
  About a lovely fair maid,
        And her name is Polly Lee.'


This practice is met with also in English poetry, both classical and
popular; but of course this is quite independent of the Irish custom.

_Assonance._ In the modern Irish language the verse rhymes are
_assonantal_. Assonance is the correspondence of the vowels: the consonants
count for nothing. Thus _fair_, _may_, _saint_, _blaze_, _there_, all rhyme
assonantally. As it is easy to find words that rhyme in this manner, the
rhymes generally occur much oftener in Anglo-Irish verse than in pure
English, in which the rhymes are what English grammarians call _perfect_.

Our rustic poets rhyme their English (or Irish-English) verse assonantally
in imitation of their native language. For a very good example of this, see
the song of Castlehyde in my 'Old Irish Music and Songs'; and it may be
seen in very large numbers of our Anglo-Irish Folk-songs. I will give just
one example here, a free translation of an elegy, rhyming like its
original. To the ear of a person accustomed to assonance--as for instance
to mine--the rhymes here are as satisfying as if they were _perfect_
English rhymes.

  You remember our _neigh_bour Mac_Bra_dy we buried last YEAR;
  His death it _amaz_ed me and _daz_ed me with sorrow and GRIEF;
  From _cra_dle to _grave_ his _name_ was held in ESTEEM;
  For at _fairs_ and at _wakes_ there was no one like him for a SPREE;
  And 'tis he knew the _way_ how to _make_ a good cag of potTHEEN.
  He'd make verses in _Gael_ic quite _ais_y most _plaz_ing to READ;
  And he knew how to _plaze_ the fair _maids_ with his soothering SPEECH.
  He could clear out a _fair_ at his _aise_ with his ash clehalPEEN;
  But ochone he's now _laid_ in his _grave_ in the churchyard of KEEL.


       *       *       *       *       *



Bad as the devil is he has done us some service in Ireland by providing us
with a fund of anecdotes and sayings full of drollery and fun. This is all
against his own interests; for I remember reading in the works of some good
old saint--I think it is St. Liguori--that the devil is always hovering
near us watching his opportunity, and that one of the best means of scaring
him off is a good honest hearty laugh.

Those who wish to avoid uttering the plain straight name 'devil' often call
him 'the Old Boy,' or 'Old Nick.'

In some of the stories relating to the devil he is represented as a great
simpleton and easily imposed upon: in others as clever at everything. In
many he gets full credit for his badness, and all his attributes and all
his actions are just the reverse of the good agencies of the world; so that
his attempts at evil often tend for good, while anything he does for
good--or pretending to be for good--turns to evil.

When a person suffers punishment or injury of any kind that is well
deserved--gets his deserts for misconduct or culpable mismanagement or
excessive foolishness of any kind--we say 'the devil's cure to him,' or
'the devil mend him' (as much as to say {57} in English 'serve him right');
for if the devil goes to cure or to mend he only makes matters ten times
worse. Dick Millikin of Cork (the poet of 'The Groves of Blarney') was
notoriously a late riser. One morning as he was going very late to
business, one of his neighbours, a Quaker, met him. 'Ah friend Dick thou
art very late to-day: remember the early bird picks the worm.' 'The devil
mend the worm for being out so early,' replied Dick. So also 'the devil
bless you' is a bad wish, because the devil's blessing is equivalent to the
curse of God; while 'the devil's curse to you' is considered a good wish,
for the devil's curse is equal to God's blessing. (Carleton.) The devil
comes in handy in many ways. What could be more expressive than this
couplet of an old song describing a ruffian in a rage:--

 'He stamped and he cursed and he swore he would fight,
  And I saw the _ould_ devil between his two eyes.'

Sometimes the devil is taken as the type of excellence or of great
proficiency in anything, or of great excess, so that you often hear 'That
fellow is as old as the devil,' 'That beefsteak is as tough as the devil,'
'He beats the devil for roguery,' 'My landlord is civil, but dear as the
divil.' (Swift: who wrote this with a pen dipped in Irish ink.)

A poor wretch or a fellow always in debt and difficulty, and consequently
shabby, is a 'poor devil'; and not very long ago I heard a friend say to
another--who was not sparing of his labour--'Well, there's no doubt but
you're a hard-working old devil.' {58}

Very bad potatoes:--'Wet and watery, scabby and small, thin in the ground
and hard to dig, hard to wash, hard to boil, and _the devil to eat them_.'

'I don't wonder that poor Bill should be always struggling, for he has the
devil of an extravagant family.'

 'Oh confusion to you Dan,' says the T. B. C.,
 'You're the devil of a man,' says the T. B. C.

  (Repeal Song of 1843.)

(But this form of expression occurs in Dickens--'Our Mutual Friend'--'I
have a devil of a temper myself'). An emphatic statement:--'I wouldn't like
to trust him, for he's the _devil's own_ rogue.'

'There's no use in your trying that race against Johnny Keegan, for Johnny
is the very devil at running.' 'Oh your reverence,' says Paddy Galvin,
'don't ax me to fast; but you may put as much prayers on me as you like:
for, your reverence, I'm very bad at fasting, but I'm the divel at the
prayers.' According to Mr. A. P. Graves, in 'Father O'Flynn,' the 'Provost
and Fellows of Trinity' [College, Dublin] are 'the divels an' all at
Divinity.' This last expression is truly Hibernian, and is very often
heard:--A fellow is boasting how he'll leather Jack Fox when next he meets
him. 'Oh yes, you'll do the _devil an' all_ while Jack is away; but wait
till he comes to the fore.'

In several of the following short stories and sayings the simpleton side of
Satan's character is well brought out.

Damer of Shronell, who lived in the eighteenth century, was reputed to be
the richest man in Ireland--a sort of Irish Croesus: so that 'as rich as
{59} Damer' has become a proverb in the south of Ireland. An Irish peasant
song-writer, philosophising on the vanity of riches, says:--

 'There was ould Paddy Murphy had money galore,
  And Damer of Shronell had twenty times more--
  They are now on their backs under nettles and stones.'

Damer's house in ruins is still to be seen at Shronell, four miles west of
Tipperary town. The story goes that he got his money by selling his soul to
the devil for as much gold as would fill his boot--a top boot, i.e. one
that reaches above the knee. On the appointed day the devil came with his
pockets well filled with guineas and sovereigns, as much as he thought was
sufficient to fill any boot. But meantime Damer had removed the heel and
fixed the boot in the floor, with a hole in the boards underneath, opening
into the room below. The devil flung in handful after handful till his
pockets were empty, but still the boot was not filled. He then sent out a
signal, such as they understand in hell--for they had wireless telegraphy
there long before Mr. Marconi's Irish mother was born--on which a crowd of
little imps arrived all laden with gold coins, which were emptied into the
boot, and still no sign of its being filled. He had to send them many times
for more, till at last he succeeded in filling _the room beneath_ as well
as the boot; on which the transaction was concluded. The legend does not
tell what became of Damer in the end; but such agreements usually wind up
(in Ireland) by the sinner tricking Satan out of his bargain.

When a person does an evil deed under cover of some untruthful but
plausible justification, or utters {60} a wicked saying under a disguise:
that's 'blindfolding the devil in the dark.' The devil is as cute in the
dark as in the light: and blindfolding him is useless and foolish: he is
only laughing at you.

'You're a very coarse Christian,' as the devil said to the hedgehog.

The name and fame of the great sixteenth-century magician, Dr. Faust or
Faustus, found way somehow to our peasantry; for it was quite common to
hear a crooked knavish man spoken of in this way:--'That fellow is a match
for the devil and _Dr. Fosther_.' (Munster.)

The magpie has seven drops of the devil's blood in its body: the
water-wagtail has three drops. (Munster.)

When a person is unusually cunning, cute, and tricky, we say 'The devil is
a poor scholar to you.' ('Poor scholar' here means a bad shallow scholar.)

'Now since James is after getting all the money, _the devil can't howld
him_': i.e. he has grown proud and overbearing.

'_Firm and ugly_, as the devil said when he sewed his breeches with gads.'
Here is how it happened. The devil was one day pursuing the soul of a
sinner across country, and in leaping over a rough thorn hedge, he tore his
breeches badly, so that his tail stuck out; on which he gave up the chase.
As it was not decent to appear in public in that condition, he sat down and
stitched up the rent with next to hand materials--viz. slender tough osier
withes or _gads_ as we call them in Ireland. When the job was finished he
spread out the garment before him on his {61} knees, and looking admiringly
on his handiwork, uttered the above saying--'Firm and ugly!'

The idea of the 'old boy' pursuing a soul appears also in the words of an
old Anglo-Irish song about persons who commit great crimes and die

 'For committing those crimes unrepented
    The devil shall after them run,
  And slash him for that at a furnace
    Where coal sells for nothing a ton.'

A very wet day--teeming rain--raining cats and dogs--_a fine day for young
ducks_:--'The devil wouldn't send out his dog on such a day as this.'

 'Did you ever see the devil
  With the wooden spade and shovel
  Digging praties for his supper
          And his tail cocked up?'

A person struggling with poverty--constantly in money difficulties--is said
to be 'pulling the devil by the tail.'

'Great noise and little wool,' as the devil said when he was shearing a

'What's got over the devil's back goes off under the devil's belly.' This
is another form of _ill got ill gone_.

Don't enter on a lawsuit with a person who has in his hands the power of
deciding the case. This would be 'going to law against the devil with the
courthouse in hell.'

Jack hates that man and all belonging to him 'as the devil hates holy

_Yerra_ or _arrah_ is an exclamation very much in use in the South: a
phonetic representation of the Irish _air[)e]_, meaning _take care_, _look
out_, _look you_:--'Yerra {62} Bill why are you in such a hurry?' The old
people didn't like our continual use of the word; and in order to deter us
we were told that _Yerra_ or _Arrah_ was the name of the devil's mother!
This would point to something like domestic conditions in the lower
regions, and it is in a way corroborated by the words of an old song about
a woman--a desperate old reprobate of a virago--who kicked up all sorts of
ructions the moment she got inside the gate:--

 'When she saw the _young devils_ tied up in their chains
  She up with her crutch and knocked one of their brains.'

'Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.' The people of Munster do not
always put it that way; they have a version of their own:--'Time enough to
bid the devil good-morrow when you meet him.' But an intelligent
correspondent from Carlow puts a somewhat different interpretation on the
last saying, namely, 'Don't go out of your way to seek trouble.'

'When needs must the devil drives': a man in a great fix is often driven to
illegal or criminal acts to extricate himself.

When a man is threatened with a thrashing, another will say to
him:--'You'll get Paddy Ryan's supper--_hard knocks and the devil to eat_':
common in Munster.

'When you sup with the devil have a long spoon': that is to say, if you
have any dealings with rogues or criminals, adopt very careful precautions,
and don't come into closer contact with them than is absolutely necessary.
(Lover: but used generally.)

'Speak the truth and shame the devil' is a very common saying. {63}

'The devil's children have the devil's luck'; or 'the devil is good to his
own': meaning bad men often prosper. But it is now generally said in joke
to a person who has come in for an unexpected piece of good luck.

A holy knave--something like our modern Pecksniff--dies and is sent in the
downward direction: and--according to the words of the old folk-song--this
is his reception:--

 'When hell's gate was opened the devil jumped with joy,
  Saying "I have a warm corner for you my holy boy."'

A man is deeply injured by another and threatens reprisal:--'I'll make you
smell hell for that'; a bitter threat which may be paraphrased: I'll
persecute you to death's door; and for you to be near death is to be near
hell--I'll put you so near that you'll smell the fumes of the brimstone.

A usual imprecation when a person who has made himself very unpopular is
going away: 'the devil go with him.' One day a fellow was eating his dinner
of dry potatoes, and had only one egg half raw for _kitchen_. He had no
spoon, and took the egg in little sips intending to spread it over the
dinner. But one time he tilted the shell too much, and down went the whole
contents. After recovering from the gulp, he looked ruefully at the empty
shell and blurted out--_the devil go with you down_!

Many people think--and say it too--that it is an article of belief with
Catholics that all Protestants when they die go straight to hell--which is
a libel. Yet it is often kept up in joke, as in this and other {64}
stories:--The train was skelping away like mad along the main line to
hell--for they have railways _there_ now--till at last it pulled up at the
junction. Whereupon the porters ran round shouting out, 'Catholics change
here for purgatory: Protestants keep your places!'

This reminds us of Father O'Leary, a Cork priest of the end of the
eighteenth century, celebrated as a controversialist and a wit. He was one
day engaged in gentle controversy--or _argufying religion_ as we call it in
Ireland--with a Protestant friend, who plainly had the worst of the
encounter. 'Well now Father O'Leary I want to ask what have you to say
about purgatory?' 'Oh nothing,' replied the priest, 'except that you might
go farther and fare worse.'

The same Father O'Leary once met in the streets a friend, a witty
Protestant clergyman with whom he had many an encounter of wit and
repartee. 'Ah Father O'Leary, have you heard the bad news?' 'No,' says
Father O'Leary. 'Well, the bottom has fallen out of purgatory, and all the
poor Papists have gone down into hell.' 'Oh the Lord save us,' answered
Father O'Leary, 'what a crushing the poor Protestants must have got!'

Father O'Leary and Curran--the great orator and wit--sat side by side once
at a dinner party, where Curran was charmed with his reverend friend. 'Ah
Father O'Leary,' he exclaimed at last, 'I wish you had the key of heaven.'
'Well Curran it might be better for you that I had the key of the other

A parish priest only recently dead, a well-known wit, sat beside a
venerable Protestant clergyman at {65} dinner; and they got on very
agreeably. This clergyman rather ostentatiously proclaimed his liberality
by saying:--'Well Father ---- I have been for _sixty years in this world_
and I could never understand that there is any great and essential
difference between the Catholic religion and the Protestant.' 'I can tell
you,' replied Father ----, 'that when you die you'll not be _sixty minutes
in the other world_ before you will understand it perfectly.'

The preceding are all in joke: but I once heard the idea enunciated in
downright earnest. In my early life, we, the village people, were a mixed
community, about half and half Catholics and Protestants, the latter nearly
all Palatines, who were Methodists to a man. We got on very well together,
and I have very kindly memories of my old playfellows, Palatines as well as

One young Palatine, Peter Stuffle, differed in one important respect from
the others, as he never attended Church Mass or Meeting. He emigrated to
America; and being a level headed fellow and keeping from drink, he got on.
At last he came across Nelly Sullivan, a bright eyed colleen all the way
from Kerry, a devoted Catholic, and fell head and ears in love with her.
She liked him too, but would have nothing to say to him unless he became a
Catholic: in the words of the old song, 'Unless that you turn a _Roman_ you
ne'er shall get me for your bride.' Peter's theology was not proof against
Nelly's bright face: he became a Catholic, and a faithful one too: for once
he was inside the gate his wife took care to instruct him, and kept him
well up to his religious duties. {66}

They prospered; so that at the end of some years he was able to visit his
native place. On his arrival nothing could exceed the consternation and
rage of his former friends to find that instead of denouncing the Pope, he
was now a flaming papist: and they all disowned and boycotted him. So he
visited round his Catholic neighbours who were very glad to receive him. I
was present at one of the conversations: when Peter, recounting his
successful career, wound up with:--'So you see, James, that I am now well
off, thanks be to God and to Nelly. I have a large farm, with ever so many
horses, and a fine _baan_ of cows, and you could hardly count the sheep and
pigs. I'd be as happy as the days are long now, James, only for one thing
that's often troubling me; and that is, to think that my poor old father
and mother are in hell.'

       *       *       *       *       *



The general run of our people do not swear much; and those that do commonly
limit themselves to the name of the devil either straight out or in some of
its various disguised forms, or to some harmless imitation of a curse. You
do indeed come across persons who go higher, but they are rare. Yet while
keeping themselves generally within safe bounds, it must be confessed that
many of the people have a sort of sneaking admiration--lurking secretly and
seldom expressed in words--for a good well-balanced curse, so long as it
does not shock by its profanity. I once knew a doctor--not in {67}
Dublin--who, it might be said, was a genius in this line. He could, on the
spur of the moment, roll out a magnificent curse that might vie with a
passage of the Iliad in the mouth of Homer. 'Oh sir'--as I heard a fellow
say--''tis grand to listen to him when he's in a rage.' He was known as a
skilled physician, and a good fellow in every way, and his splendid
swearing crowned his popularity. He had discretion however, and knew when
to swear and when not; but ultimately he swore his way into an extensive
and lucrative practice, which lasted during his whole life--a long and
honourable one.

Parallel to this is Maxwell's account of the cursing of Major Denis
O'Farrell--'the Mad Major,' who appears to have been a dangerous rival to
my acquaintance, the doctor. He was once directing the evolutions at a
review in presence of Sir Charles, the General, when one important movement
was spoiled by the blundering of an incompetent little adjutant. In a
towering passion the Mad Major addressed the General:--'Stop, Sir Charles,
do stop; just allow me two minutes to curse that rascally adjutant.' To so
reasonable a request (Maxwell goes on to say), Sir Charles readily
assented. He heard the whole malediction out, and speaking of it
afterwards, he said that 'he never heard a man cursed to his perfect
satisfaction until he heard (that adjutant) anathematised in the Phoenix

The Mad Major was a great favourite; and when he died, there was not a dry
eye in the regiment on the day of the funeral. Two months afterwards when
an Irish soldier was questioned on the merits of his successor:--'The man
is well enough,' said Pat, {68} with a heavy sigh, 'but where will we find
the equal of the Major? By japers, it was a comfort to be cursed by him!'
('Wild Sports of the West.')

In my part of the country there is--or was--a legend--a very circumstantial
one too--which however I am not able to verify personally, as the thing
occurred a little before my time--that Father Buckley, of Glenroe, cured
Charley Coscoran, the greatest swearer in the barony--cured him in a most
original way. He simply directed him to cut out a button from some part of
his dress, no matter where--_to whip it out on the instant_--every time he
uttered a serious curse, i.e, one involving the Sacred Name. Charley made
the promise with a light heart, thinking that by only using a little
caution he could easily avoid snipping off his buttons. But inveterate
habit is strong. Only very shortly after he had left the priest he saw a
cow in one of his cornfields playing havoc: out came a round curse, and off
came a button on the spot. For Charley was a manly fellow, with a real
sense of religion at bottom: and he had no notion of shirking his penance.
Another curse after some time and another button. Others again
followed:--coat, waistcoat, trousers, shirt-collar, were brought under
contribution till his clothes began to fall off him. For a needle and
thread were not always at hand, and at any rate Charley was no great shakes
at the needle. At last things came to that pass with poor Charley, that
life was hardly worth living; till he had to put his mind seriously to
work, and by careful watching he gradually cured himself. But many score
buttons passed through his hands during the process. {69}

Most persons have a sort of craving or instinct to utter a curse of some
kind--as a sort of comforting interjection--where there is sufficient
provocation; and in order to satisfy this without incurring the guilt,
people have invented ejaculations in the form of curses, but still
harmless. Most of them have some resemblance in sound to the forbidden
word--they are near enough to satisfy the craving, but still far enough off
to avoid the guilt: the process may in fact be designated _dodging a
curse_. Hence we have such blank cartridges as _begob_, _begor_, by my
_sowkins_, by _Jove_, by the _laws_ [Lord], by _herrings_ [heavens], by
_this and by that_, _dang_ it, &c.; all of them ghosts of curses, which are
very general among our people. The following additional examples will
sufficiently illustrate this part of our subject.

The expression _the dear knows_ (or correctly _the deer knows_), which is
very common, is a translation from Irish of one of those substitutions. The
original expression is _thauss ag Dhee_ [given here phonetically], meaning
_God knows_; but as this is too solemn and profane for most people, they
changed it to _Thauss ag fee_, i.e. _the deer knows_; and this may be
uttered by anyone. _Dia_ [Dhee] God: _fiadh_ [fee], a deer.

Says Barney Broderick, who is going through his penance after confession at
the station, and is interrupted by a woman asking him a
question:--'Salvation seize your soul--God forgive me for cursing--be off
out of that and don't set me astray!' ('Knocknagow.') Here the substitution
has turned a wicked imprecation into a benison: for the first word in the
original is not _salvation_ but _damnation_. {70}

'By the hole in my coat,' which is often heard, is regarded as a harmless
oath: for if there is no hole you are swearing by nothing: and if there is
a hole--still the hole is nothing.

'Bad manners to you,' a mild imprecation, to avoid 'bad luck to you,' which
would be considered wicked: reflecting the people's horror of rude or
offensive manners.

'By all the goats in Kerry,' which I have often heard, is always said in
joke, which takes the venom out of it. In Leinster they say, 'by all the
goats in Gorey'--which is a big oath. Whether it is a big oath now or not,
I do not know; but it was so formerly, for the name _Gorey_ (Wexford), like
the Scotch _Gowrie_, means 'swarming with goats.'

'Man,' says the pretty mermaid to Dick Fitzgerald, when he had captured her
from the sea, 'man will you eat me?' '_By all the red petticoats and check
aprons between Dingle and Tralee_,' cried Dick, jumping up in amazement,
'I'd as soon eat myself, my jewel! Is it I to eat you, my pet!' (Crofton

'Where did he get the whiskey?' 'Sorrow a know I know,' said Leary. 'Sorrow
fly away with him.' (Crofton Croker.) In these and such like--which you
often hear--_sorrow_ is a substitute for _devil_.

Perhaps the most general exclamations of this kind among Irish people are
_begor_, _begob_, _bedad_, _begad_ (often contracted to _egad_), _faith_
and _troth_. _Faith_, contracted from _in faith_ or _i' faith_, is looked
upon by many people as not quite harmless: it is a little too serious to be
used indiscriminately--'Faith I feel this day very cold': 'Is that tea
good?' {71} 'Faith it is no such thing: it is very weak.' 'Did Mick sell
his cows to-day at the fair?' 'Faith I don't know.' People who shrink from
the plain word often soften it to _faix_ or _haith_ (or _heth_ in Ulster).
An intelligent contributor makes the remark that the use of this word
_faith_ (as above) is a sure mark of an Irishman all over the world.

Even some of the best men will occasionally, in an unguarded moment or in a
hasty flash of anger, give way to the swearing instinct. Father John Burke
of Kilfinane--I remember him well--a tall stern-looking man with heavy
brows, but really gentle and tender-hearted--held a station at the house of
our neighbour Tom Coffey, a truly upright and pious man. All had gone to
confession and Holy Communion, and the station was over. Tom went out to
bring the priest's horse from the paddock, but in leading him through a gap
in the hedge the horse stood stock still and refused obstinately to go an
inch farther. Tom pulled and tugged to no purpose, till at last his
patience went to pieces, and he flung this, in no gentle voice, at the
animal's head:--'Blast your _sowl_ will you come on!' Just then unluckily
Father Burke walked up behind: he had witnessed and heard all, and you may
well say that Tom's heart dropped down into his shoes; for he felt
thoroughly ashamed. The crime was not great; but it looked bad and
unbecoming under the circumstances; and what could the priest do but
perform his duty: so the black brows contracted, and on the spot he gave
poor Tom _down-the-banks_ and no mistake. I was at that station, though I
did not witness the horse scene. {72}

If a person pledges himself to anything, clinching the promise with an
adjuration however mild or harmless, he will not by any means break the
promise, considering it in a manner as a vow. The old couple are at tea and
have just one egg, which causes a mild dispute. At last the father says
decisively--'The divel a bit of it I'll eat, so there's an end of it': when
the mother instantly and with great solemnity--'FAITH I won't eat it--there
now!' The result was that neither would touch it; and they gave it to their
little boy who demolished it without the least scruple.

I was one time a witness of a serio-comic scene _on the head of_ one of
these blank oaths when I was a small boy attending a very small school. The
master was a truly good and religious man, but very severe (a _wicked_
master, as we used to say), and almost insane in his aversion to swearing
in any shape or form. To say _begob_ or _begor_ or _by Jove_ was
unpardonably wicked; it was nothing better than blindfolding the devil in
the dark.

One day Jack Aimy, then about twelve years of age--_the saint_ as we used
to call him--for he was always in mischief and always in trouble--said
exultingly to the boy sitting next him:--'Oh _by the hokey_, Tom, I have my
sum finished all right at last.' In evil hour for him the master happened
to be standing just behind his back; and then came the deluge. In an
instant the school work was stopped, and poor Jack was called up to stand
before the judgment seat. There he got a long lecture--with the usual
quotations--as severe and solemn as if he were a man and had perjured
himself half a {73} dozen times. As for the rest of us, we sat in the
deadly silence shivering in our skins; for we all, to a man, had a guilty
consciousness that we were quite as bad as Jack, if the truth were known.
Then poor Jack was sent to his seat so wretched and crestfallen after his
lecture that a crow wouldn't pick his bones.

'By the hokey' is to this day common all over Ireland.

When we, Irish, go abroad, we of course bring with us our peculiarities and
mannerisms--with now and then a little meteoric flash of
eccentricity--which on the whole prove rather attractive to foreigners,
including Englishmen. One Sunday during the South African war, Mass was
celebrated as usual in the temporary chapel, which, after the rough and
ready way of the camp, served for both Catholics and Protestants: Mass
first; Protestant Service after. On this occasion an Irish officer, a
splendid specimen of a man, tall, straight, and athletic--a man born to
command, and well known as a strict and devoted Catholic--was serving
Mass--aiding and giving the responses to the priest. The congregation was
of course of mixed nationalities--English, Irish, and Scotch, and the
chapel was filled. Just outside the chapel door a nigger had charge of the
big bell to call the congregations. On this day, in blissful ignorance and
indifference, he began to ring for the Protestant congregation too
soon--while Mass was still going on--so as greatly to disturb the people at
their devotions. The officer was observed to show signs of impatience,
growing more and more restless as the ringing went {74} on persistently,
till at last one concentrated series of bangs burst up his patience
utterly. Starting up from his knees during a short interval when his
presence was not required--it happened to be after the most solemn part of
the Mass--he strode down the middle passage in a mighty rage--to the
astonishment of everybody--till he got to the door, and letting fly--in the
midst of the perfect silence,--a tremendous volley of _damns_, _blasts_,
_scoundrels_, _blackguards_, &c., &c., at the head of the terrified nigger,
he shut him up, himself and his bell, while a cat would be licking her ear.
He then walked back and resumed his duties, calm and collected, and
evidently quite unconscious that there was anything unusual in the

The whole thing was so sudden and odd that the congregation were convulsed
with suppressed silent laughter; and I am afraid that some people observed
even the priest's sides shaking in spite of all he could do.

This story was obtained from a person who was present at that very Mass;
and it is given here almost in his own words.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Shall_ and _Will_. It has been pretty clearly shown that the somewhat
anomalous and complicated niceties in the English use of _shall_ and _will_
have been developed within the last 300 years or so. It is of course well
known that our Irish popular manner of using these {75} two particles is
not in accordance with the present correct English standard; yet most of
our shall-and-will Hibernianisms represent the classical usage of two or
three centuries ago: so that this is one of those Irish 'vulgarisms' that
are really survivals in Ireland of the correct old English usages, which in
England have been superseded by other and often incorrect forms. On this
point I received, some years ago, a contribution from an English gentleman
who resided long in Ireland, Mr. Marlow Woollett, a man of wide reading,
great culture, and sound judgment. He gives several old examples in
illustration, of which one is so much to the point--in the use of
_will_--that you might imagine the words were spoken by an Irish peasant of
the present day. Hamlet says:

    'I will win for him an (if) I can; if not I _will_ gain nothing but my
    shame and the odd hits.' ('Hamlet,' Act v., scene ii.)

This (the second _will_) exactly corresponds with what many of us in
Ireland would say now:--'I will win the race if I can; if not I _will_ get
some discredit': 'If I go without my umbrella I am afraid I will get wet.'
So also in regard to _shall_; modern English custom has departed from
correct ancient usage and etymology, which in many cases we in Ireland have
retained. The old and correct sense of _shall_ indicated obligation or duty
(as in Chaucer:--'The faith I shal to God') being derived from A.S. _sceal_
'I owe' or 'ought': this has been discarded in England, while we still
retain it in our usage in Ireland. You say to an attentive Irish waiter,
'Please have breakfast for me at 8 o'clock to-morrow morning'; and he
answers, 'I shall sir.' When I was a boy I was {76} present in the chapel
of Ardpatrick one Sunday, when Father Dan O'Kennedy, after Mass, called on
the two schoolmasters--candidates for a school vacancy--to come forward to
him from where they stood at the lower end of the chapel; when one of them,
Mat Rea, a good scholar but a terrible pedant, called out magniloquently,
'Yes, doctor, we SHALL go to your reverence,' unconsciously following in
the footsteps of Shakespeare.

The language both of the waiter and of Mat Rea is exactly according to the
old English usage.

 '_Lady Macbeth_ (_to Macbeth_):--Be bright and jovial among your guests

 '_Macbeth_:--So shall I, love.' ('Macbeth,' Act iii. scene ii.)

 '_Second Murderer_:--We shall, my lord,
        Perform what you command us.' (_Ibid._, Act iii. scene i.)

But the Irish waiter's answer would now seem strange to an Englishman. To
him, instead of being a dutiful assent, as it is intended to be, and as it
would be in England in old times, it would look too emphatic and assertive,
something like as if it were an answer to a command _not_ to do it.

The use of _shall_ in such locutions was however not universal in
Shakespearian times, as it would be easy to show; but the above
quotations--and others that might be brought forward--prove that this usage
then prevailed and was correct, which is sufficient for my purpose. Perhaps
it might rather be said that _shall_ and _will_ were used in such cases

 '_Queen_:--Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
  For a few words.

 '_Servant_: Madam, I will.'    ('Macbeth,' Act iii. scene ii.)


Our use of _shall_ and _will_ prevails also in Scotland, where the English
change of custom has not obtained any more than it has in Ireland. The
Scotch in fact are quite as bad (or as good) in this respect as we are.
Like many another Irish idiom this is also found in American society
chiefly through the influence of the Irish. In many parts of Ireland they
are shy of using _shall_ at all: I know this to be the case in Munster; and
a correspondent informs me that _shall_ is hardly ever heard in Derry.

The incorrect use of _will_ in questions in the first person singular
('Will I light the fire ma'am?' 'Will I sing you a song?'--instead of
'Shall I?') appears to have been developed in Ireland independently, and
not derived from any former correct usage: in other words we have created
this incorrect locution--or vulgarism--for ourselves. It is one of our most
general and most characteristic speech errors. _Punch_ represents an Irish
waiter with hand on dish-cover, asking:--'Will I sthrip ma'am?'

What is called the _regular_ formation of the past tense (in _ed_) is
commonly known as the weak inflection:--_call, called_: the _irregular_
formation (by changing the vowel) is the strong inflection:--_run, ran_. In
old English the strong inflection appears to have been almost universal;
but for some hundreds of years the English tendency is to replace strong by
weak inflection. But our people in Ireland, retaining the old English
custom, have a leaning towards the strong inflection, and not only use many
of the old-fashioned English strong past tenses, but often form strong ones
in their own way:--We use _slep_ and _crep_, old English; and we coin
others. 'He _ruz_ his hand {78} to me,' 'I _cotch_ him stealing the turf,'
'he _gother_ sticks for the fire,' 'he _hot_ me on the head with his
stick,' he _sot_ down on the chair' (very common in America). Hyland, the
farm manager, is sent with some bullocks to the fair; and returns. 'Well
Hyland, are the bullocks sold?'--'Sowld and _ped_ for sir.' _Wor_ is very
usual in the south for _were_: 'tis long since we _wor_ on the road so late
as this.' (Knocknagow.)

 '_Wor_ you at the fair--did you see the wonder--
  Did you see Moll Roe riding on the gander?'

_E'er_ and _ne'er_ are in constant use in Munster:--'Have you e'er a penny
to give me sir? No, I have ne'er a penny for you this time.' Both of these
are often met with in Shakespeare.

The Irish schoolmasters knew Irish well, and did their best--generally with
success--to master English. This they did partly from their neighbours, but
in a large measure from books, including dictionaries. As they were
naturally inclined to show forth their learning, they made use, as much as
possible, of long and unusual words, mostly taken from dictionaries, but
many coined by themselves from Latin. Goldsmith's description of the
village master with his 'words of learned length and thundering sound,'
applies exactly to a large proportion of the schoolmasters of the
eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century all over Ireland. You
heard these words often in conversation, but the schoolmasters most
commonly used them in song-writing. Here also they made free use of the
classical mythology; but I will not touch on this {79} feature, as I have
treated of it, and have given specimens, in my 'Old Irish Folk Music and
Songs,' pp. 200-202.

As might be expected, the schoolmasters, as well as others, who used these
strange words often made mistakes in applying them; which will be seen in
some of the following examples. Here is one whole verse of a song about a
young lady--'The Phoenix of the Hall.'

 'I being quite captivated and so infatuated
  I then prognosticated my sad forlorn case;
  But I quickly ruminated--suppose I was _defaited_,
  I would not be implicated or treated with disgrace;
  So therefore I awaited with my spirits elevated,
  And no more I ponderated let what would me befall;
  I then to her _repated_ how Cupid had me _thrated_,
  And thus expostulated with The Phoenix of the Hall.'

In another verse of this song the poet tells us what he might do for the
Phoenix if he had greater command of language:--

 'Could I indite like Homer that celebrated _pomer_.'

One of these schoolmasters, whom I knew, composed a poem in praise of Queen
Victoria just after her accession, of which I remember only two lines:--

 'In England our queen resides with _alacrity_,
  With civil authority and kind urbanity.'

Another opens his song in this manner:--

 'One morning serene as I roved in solitude,
  Viewing the magnitude of th' orient ray.

The author of the song in praise of Castlehyde speaks of

 'The bees _perfuming_ the fields with music';

{80} and the same poet winds up by declaring,

 'In all my ranging and _serenading_
  I met no _aiquel_ to Castlehyde.'

_Serenading_ here means wandering about leisurely.

The author of 'The Cottage Maid' speaks of the danger of Mercury abducting
the lady, even

 'Though an _organising_ shepherd be her guardian';

where _organising_ is intended to mean playing on an _organ_, i.e. a
shepherd's reed.

But endless examples of this kind might be given.

Occasionally you will find the peasantry attempting long or unusual words,
of which some examples are scattered through this chapter; and here also
there are often misapplications: 'What had you for dinner to-day?' 'Oh I
had bacon and goose and several other _combustibles_' (comestibles). I have
repeatedly heard this word.

Sometimes the simple past tense is used for one of the subjunctive past
forms. 'If they had gone out in their boat that night they were lost men';
i.e. 'they would have been lost men.' 'She is now forty, and 'twas well if
she was married' ('it would be well').

 'Oh Father Murphy, had aid come over, the green flag floated from shore to

(i.e. would have floated). See my 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs,' p. 242.

 'A summons from William to Limerick, a summons to open their gate,
  Their fortress and stores to surrender, else the sword and the gun _were_
      their fate.'

  (R. D. JOYCE: Ballads of Irish Chivalry, p. 15.)


_See_ is very often used for _saw_:--'Did you ever see a cluricaun Molly?'
'Oh no sir, I never see one myself.' (Crofton Croker.) 'Come here Nelly,
and point out the bride to us.' 'I never see her myself Miss' [so I don't
know her] replied Nelly. (Knocknagow.) This is a survival from old English,
in which it was very common. It is moreover general among the English
peasantry at the present day, as may be seen everywhere in Dickens.

The imperative of verbs is often formed by _let_:--instead of 'go to the
right 'or 'go you to the right,' our people say 'let you go to the right':
'let you look after the cows and I will see to the horses.' A fellow is
arrested for a crime and dares the police with:--'Let ye prove it.'

In Derry porridge or stirabout always takes the plural: 'Have you dished
_them_ yet?'

'I didn't go to the fair _'cause why_, the day was too wet.' This
expression _'cause why_, which is very often heard in Ireland, is English
at least 500 years old: for we find it in Chaucer.

You often hear _us_ for _me_: 'Give us a penny sir to buy sweets' (i.e.
'Give me').

In Waterford and South Wexford the people often use such verbal forms as is
seen in the following:--'Does your father grow wheat still?' 'He _do_.'
'Has he the old white horse now?' 'He _have_.' As to _has_, Mr. MacCall
states that it is unknown in the barony of Forth: there you always hear
'that man _have_ plenty of money'--he _have_--she _have_, &c.

The Rev. William Burke tells us that _have_ is found as above (a third
person singular) all through the old Waterford Bye-Laws; which would render
it {82} pretty certain that both _have_ and _do_ in these applications are
survivals from the old English colony in Waterford and Wexford.

In Donegal and thereabout _the yon_ is often shortened to _thon_, which is
used as equivalent to _that_ or _those_: 'you may take _thon_ book.'

In Donegal 'such a thing' is often made _such an a thing_.' I have come
across this several times: but the following quotation is decisive--'No,
Dinny O'Friel, I don't want to make you say any such an a thing.' (Seamus

There is a tendency to put _o_ at the end of some words, such as boy-o,
lad-o. A fellow was tried for sheep-stealing before the late Judge Monahan,
and the jury acquitted him, very much against the evidence. 'You may go
now,' said the judge, 'as you are acquitted; but you stole the sheep all
the same, my buck-o.'

 'I would hush my lovely laddo
  In the green arbutus shadow.'

  (A. P. GRAVES: 'Irish Songs and Ballads.')

This is found in Irish also, as in '_a vick-o_' ('my boy,' or more exactly
'my son,' where _vick_ is _mhic_, vocative of _mac_, son) heard universally
in Munster: 'Well Billy a vick-o, how is your mother this morning?' I
suppose the English practice is borrowed from the Irish.

In Irish there is only one article, _an_, which is equivalent to the
English definite article _the_. This article (_an_) is much more freely
used in Irish than _the_ is in English, a practice which we are inclined to
imitate in our Anglo-Irish speech. Our use of _the_ {83} often adds a sort
of emphasis to the noun or adjective:--'Ah John was the man,' i.e. the real
man, a man pre-eminent for some quality--bravery, generosity, &c. 'Ah that
was the trouble in earnest.' The Irish chiefs of long ago 'were the men in
the gap' (Thomas Davis):--i.e. the real men and no mistake. We often use
the article in our speech where it would not be used in correct
English:--'I am perished with _the_ cold.' 'I don't know much Greek, but I
am good at _the_ Latin.'

'That was the dear journey to me.' A very common form of expression,
signifying that 'I paid dearly for it'--'it cost me dear.' Hugh Reynolds
when about to be hanged for attempting the abduction of Catherine McCabe
composes (or is supposed to compose) his 'Lamentation,' of which the verses
end in 'She's the dear maid to me.' (See my 'Old Irish Folk Music and
Songs,' p. 135.) A steamer was in danger of running down a boat rowed by
one small boy on the Shannon. 'Get out of the way you young rascal or we'll
run over you and drown you!' Little Jacky looks up defiantly and cries
out:--'Ye'll drownd me, will ye: if ye do, I'll make it the dear drownding
to ye!' In such expressions it is however to be observed that the
indefinite article _a_ is often used--perhaps as often as _the_:--'That was
a dear transaction for me.' 'Oh, green-hilled pleasant Erin you're a dear
land to me!' (Robert Dwyer Joyce's 'Ballads of Irish Chivalry,' p. 206.)

In Ulster they say:--'When are you going?' 'Oh I am going _the day_,' i.e.
to-day. I am much better _the day_ than I was yesterday. In this _the day_
{84} is merely a translation of the Irish word for to-day--_andiu_, where
_an_ is 'the' and _diu_ a form of the Irish for 'day.'

The use of the singular of nouns instead of the plural after a numeral is
found all through Ireland. Tom Cassidy our office porter--a Westmeath
man--once said to me 'I'm in this place now forty-four year': and we always
use such expressions as _nine head of cattle_. A friend of mine, a
cultivated and scholarly clergyman, always used phrases like 'that bookcase
cost thirteen _pound_.' This is an old English survival. Thus in Macbeth we
find 'this three mile.' But I think this phraseology has also come partly
under the influence of our Gaelic in which _ten_ and numerals that are
multiples of _ten_ always take the singular of nouns, as _tri-caogad
laoch_, 'thrice fifty heroes'--lit. 'thrice fifty _hero_.'

In the south of Ireland _may_ is often incorrectly used for _might_, even
among educated people:--'Last week when setting out on my long train
journey, I brought a book that I _may_ read as I travelled along.' I have
heard and read, scores of times, expressions of which this is a type--not
only among the peasantry, but from newspaper correspondents, professors,
&c.--and you can hear and read them from Munstermen to this day in Dublin.

In Ulster _till_ is commonly used instead of _to_:--'I am going _till_
Belfast to-morrow': in like manner _until_ is used for _unto_.

There are two tenses in English to which there is nothing corresponding in
Irish:--what is sometimes called the perfect--'I _have finished_ my work';
and the pluperfect--'I _had finished_ my work' [before you {85} arrived].
The Irish people in general do not use--or know how to use--these in their
English speech; but they feel the want of them, and use various expedients
to supply their places. The most common of these is the use of the word
_after_ (commonly with a participle) following the verb _to be_. Thus
instead of the perfect, as expressed above, they will say 'I am after
finishing my work,' 'I am after my supper.' ('Knocknagow.') 'I'm after
getting the lend of an American paper' (_ibid._); and instead of the
pluperfect (as above) they will say 'I was after finishing my work' [before
you arrived]. Neither of these two expressions would be understood by an
Englishman, although they are universal in Ireland, even among the higher
and educated classes.

This word _after_ in such constructions is merely a translation of the
Irish _iar_ or _a n-diaigh_--for both are used in corresponding expressions
in Irish.

But this is only one of the expedients for expressing the perfect tense.
Sometimes they use the simple past tense, which is ungrammatical, as our
little newsboy in Kilkee used to do: 'Why haven't you brought me the
paper?' 'The paper didn't come from the station yet sir.' Sometimes the
present progressive is used, which also is bad grammar: 'I am sitting here
waiting for you for the last hour' (instead of 'I have been sitting').
Occasionally the _have_ or _has_ of the perfect (or the _had_ of the
pluperfect) is taken very much in its primary sense of having or
possessing. Instead of 'You have quite distracted me with your talk,' the
people will say 'You have me quite distracted,' &c.: {86} 'I have you found
out at last.' 'The children had me vexed.' (Jane Barlow.)

 'And she is a comely maid
  That has my heart betrayed.'

  (Old Irish Folk-Song.)

                     '... I fear,
  That some cruel goddess _has him captivated_,
    And has left here in mourning his dear Irish maid.'

  (See my Old Irish Folk Music and Songs, p. 208.)

Corresponding devices are resorted to for the pluperfect. Sometimes the
simple past is used where the pluperfect ought to come in:--'An hour before
you came yesterday I finished my work': where it should be 'I had
finished.' Anything to avoid the pluperfect, which the people cannot

In the Irish language (but not in English) there is what is called the
consuetudinal tense, i.e. denoting habitual action or existence. It is a
very convenient tense, so much so that the Irish, feeling the want of it in
their English, have created one by the use of the word _do_ with _be_: 'I
do be at my lessons every evening from 8 to 9 o'clock.' 'There does be a
meeting of the company every Tuesday.' ''Tis humbuggin' me they _do be_.'

Sometimes this is expressed by _be_ alone without the _do_; but here the
_be_ is also often used in the ordinary sense of _is_ without any
consuetudinal meaning. 'My father _bees_ always at home in the morning':
'At night while I _bees_ reading my wife bees knitting.' (Consuetudinal.)
'You had better not wait till it bees night.' (Indicative.)

 'I'll seek out my Blackbird wherever he be.' (Indicative.)

  (Old Folk Song--'The Blackbird.')

{87} This use of _be_ for _is_ is common in the eastern half of Ireland
from Wexford to Antrim.

Such old forms as _anear_, _adown_, _afeard_, _apast_, _afore_, &c., are
heard everywhere in Ireland, and are all of old English origin, as it would
be easy to show by quotations from English classical writers. 'If my child
was standing _anear_ that stone.' (Gerald Griffin: 'Collegians.') 'She was
never a-shy or ashamed to show' [her respect for me]. ('Knocknagow.') The
above words are considered vulgar by our educated people: yet many others
remain still in correct English, such as _aboard_, _afoot_, _amidst_, &c.

I think it likely that the Irish language has had some influence in the
adoption and retention of those old English words; for we have in Irish a
group of words identical with them both in meaning and structure: such as
_a-n-aice_ (a-near), where _aice_ is 'near.' (The _n_ comes in for a
grammatical reason.)

'I be to do it' in Ulster is used to express 'I have to do it': 'I am bound
to do it'; 'it is destined that I shall do it.' 'I be to remain here till
he calls,' I am bound to remain. 'The only comfort I have [regarding some
loss sure to come on] is that it be to be,' i.e. that 'it is fated to
be'--'it is _unavoidable_.' 'What bees to be maun be' (must be).

Father William Burke points out that we use 'every other' in two different
senses. He remains at home always on Monday, but goes to town 'every other'
day--meaning every day of the week except Monday: which is the most usual
application among us. 'My father goes to town every other day,' i.e. {88}
every alternate day. This last is rarely used by our people, who prefer to
express it 'My father goes to town _every second day_.' Of two persons it
is stated:

 'You'd like to see them drinking from one cup,
  They took so loving _every second sup_.'

  (Old Irish Folk Song.)

The simple phrase 'the other day' means a few days ago. 'When did you see
your brother John?' 'Oh I saw him the other day.'

 'The other day he sailed away and parted his dear Nancy.'

  (Old Folk Song.)

The dropping of _thou_ was a distinct loss to the English language: for now
_you_ has to do double duty--for both singular and plural--which sometimes
leads to obscurity. The Irish try to avoid this obscurity by various
devices. They always use _ye_ in the plural whenever possible: both as a
nominative and as an objective: 'Where are ye going to-day?' 'I'm afeard
that will be a dear journey to ye.' Accepting the _you_ as singular, they
have created new forms for the plural such as _yous_, _yez_, _yiz_, which
do not sound pleasant to a correct speaker, but are very clear in sense. In
like manner they form a possessive case direct on _ye_. Some English
soldiers are singing 'Lillibulero'--

 'And our skeans we'll make good at de Englishman's throat,'

on which Cus Russed (one of the ambush) says--'That's true for ye at any
rate. I'm laughing at the way we'll carry out _yeer_ song afore the day is
over.' ('The House of Lisbloom,' by Robert D. Joyce.) Similarly '_weer_
own' is sometimes used for 'our own.' {89}

The distributive _every_ requires to be followed by pronouns in the
singular: but this rule is broken even by well-known English
writers:--'Every one for themselves' occurs in Robinson Crusoe; and in
Ireland plurals are almost universally used. '_Let every one mind
themselves_ as the ass said when he leaped into a flock of chickens.'

Father Burke has shown--a matter that had escaped me--that we often use the
verbs _rest_ and _perish_ in an active sense. The first is seen in the very
general Irish prayer 'God rest his soul.' Mangan uses the word in this
sense in the Testament of Cathaeir Mór:--

 'Here is the Will of Cathaeir Mór,
                      God rest him.'

And John Keegan in 'Caoch O'Leary':--

 'And there he sleeps his last sweet sleep--
          God rest you, Caoch O'Leary.'

_Perish_ is quoted below in the saying--'That breeze would perish the

We have many intensive words, some used locally, some generally:--'This is
a _cruel_ wet day'; 'that old fellow is _cruel_ rich': that's a _cruel_
good man (where _cruel_ in all means _very_: Ulster). 'That girl is _fine
and fat_: her cheeks are _fine and red_.' 'I was _dead fond_ of her' (very
fond): but _dead certain_ occurs in 'Bleak House.' 'That tree has a
_mighty_ great load of apples.' 'I want a drink badly; my throat is
_powerful_ dry.' ('Shanahan's Ould Shebeen,' New York.) 'John Cusack is the
finest dancer _at all_.' 'This day is _mortal_ cold.' 'I'm _black out_ with
you.' {90} 'I'm very glad _entirely_ to hear it.' 'He is very sick
_entirely_.' This word _entirely_ is one of our most general and
characteristic intensives. 'He is a very good man _all out_.' 'This day is
_guy and_ wet': 'that boy is _guy and_ fat' (Ulster). A half fool of a
fellow looking at a four-wheeled carriage in motion: 'Aren't the little
wheels _damn good_ not to let the big wheels overtake them.' In the early
days of cycling a young friend of mine was riding on a five-foot wheel past
two countrymen; when one remarked to the other:--'Tim, that's a _gallows_
way of travelling.' 'I was up _murdering_ late last night.' (Crofton

In the Irish language there are many diminutive terminations, all giving
the idea of 'little,' which will be found fully enumerated and illustrated
in my 'Irish Names of Places,' vol. ii, chap. ii. Of these it may be said
that only one--_ín_ or _een_--has found its way into Ireland's English
speech, carrying with it its full sense of smallness. There are
others--_án_ or _aun_, and _óg_ or _oge_; but these have in great measure
lost their original signification; and although we use them in our
Irish-English, they hardly convey any separate meaning. But _een_ is used
everywhere: it is even constantly tacked on to Christian names (especially
of boys and girls):--_Mickeen_ (little Mick), _Noreen_, _Billeen_,
_Jackeen_ (a word applied to the conceited little Dublin citizen). So also
you hear _Birdeen_, _Robineen_-redbreast, _bonniveen_, &c. A boy who apes
to be a man--puts on airs like a man--is called a _manneen_ in contempt
(exactly equivalent to the English _mannikin_). I knew a boy named Tommeen
Trassy: and the name stuck to him even when he {91} was a great big whacker
of a fellow six feet high. In the south this diminutive is long (_een_) and
takes the accent: in the north it is made short (_in_) and is unaccented.

It is well known that three hundred years ago, and even much later, the
correct English sound of the diphthong _ea_ was the same as long _a_ in
_fate_: _sea_ pronounced _say_, &c. Any number of instances could be
brought together from the English poets in illustration of this:--

 'God moves in a mysterious way,
    His wonders to perform;
  He plants His footsteps in the _sea_,
    And rides upon the storm.'

  (COWPER (18th century).)

This sound has long since been abandoned in England, but is still preserved
among the Irish people. You will hear everywhere in Ireland, 'a pound of
_mate_,' 'a cup of _tay_,' 'you're as deep as the _say_,' &c.

 'Kind sir be _aisy_ and do not _taize_ me with your false _praises_ most
     jestingly.'--(Old Irish Folk Song.)

(In this last line _easy_ and _teaze_ must be sounded so as to
rhyme--assonantally--with _praises_).

Many years ago I was travelling on the long car from Macroom to Killarney.
On the other side--at my back--sat a young gentleman--a 'superior person,'
as anyone could gather from his _dandified_ speech. The car stopped where
he was to get off: a tall fine-looking old gentleman was waiting for him,
and nothing could exceed the dignity and kindness with which he received
him. Pointing to {92} his car he said 'Come now and they'll get you a nice
refreshing cup of _tay_.' 'Yes,' says the dandy, 'I shall be very glad to
get a cup of _tee_'--laying a particular stress on _tee_. I confess I felt
a shrinking of shame for our humanity. Now which of these two was the

The old sound of _ea_ is still retained--even in England--in the word
_great_; but there was a long contest in the English Parliament over this
word. Lord Chesterfield adopted the affected pronunciation (_greet_),
saying that only an Irishman would call it _grate_. 'Single-speech
Hamilton'--a Dublin man--who was considered, in the English House of
Commons, a high authority on such matters, stoutly supported _grate_, and
the influence of the Irish orators finally turned the scale. (Woollett.)

A similar statement may be made regarding the diphthong _ei_ and long _e_,
that is to say, they were both formerly sounded like long _a_ in _fate_.

 'Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
  In quiet flow from Lucrece to _Lucrece_.'

  (POPE: 'Essay on Man.')

In the same essay Pope rhymes _sphere_ with _fair_, showing that he
pronounced it _sphaire_. Our _hedge_ schoolmaster did the same thing in his

  Of all the maids on this terrestrial _sphaire_
  Young Molly is the fairest of the fair.

 'The plots are fruitless which my foe
    Unjustly did _conceive_;
  The pit he digg'd for me has proved
    His own untimely grave.'



Our people generally retain the old sounds of long _e_ and _ei_; for they
say _persaive_ for perceive, and _sevare_ for _severe_.

 'The pardon he gave me was hard and _sevare_;
 'Twas bind him, confine him, he's the rambler from Clare.'

Our Irish way of sounding both _ea_ and long _e_ is exemplified in what I
heard a man say--a man who had some knowledge of Shakespeare--about a girl
who was becoming somewhat of an old maid: 'She's now getting into the
_sair_ and _yallow laif_.'

Observe, the correct old English sound of _ie_ and _ee_ has not changed: it
is the same at present in England as it was formerly; and accordingly the
Irish people always sound these correctly. They never say _praste_ for
priest, _belave_ for believe, _indade_ for indeed, or _kape_ for keep, as
some ignorant writers set down.

_Ate_ is pronounced _et_ by the educated English. In Munster the educated
people pronounce it _ait_: 'Yesterday I _ait_ a good dinner'; and when _et_
is heard among the uneducated--as it generally is--it is considered very

It appears that in correct old English _er_ was sounded _ar_--Dryden rhymes
_certain_ with _parting_--and this is still retained in correct English in
a few words, like _sergeant_, _clerk_, &c. Our people retain the old sound
in most such words, as _sarvant_, _marchant_, _sartin_. But sometimes in
their anxiety to avoid this vulgarity, they overdo the refinement: so that
you will hear girls talk mincingly about _derning_ a stocking. This is like
what happened in the case of one of our servant girls who took it into her
head that {94} _mutton_ was a vulgar way of pronouncing the word, like
_pudden'_ for _pudding_; so she set out with her new grand pronunciation;
and one day rather astonished our butcher by telling him she wanted a small
leg of _mutting_. I think this vulgarism is heard among the English
peasantry too: though we have the honour and glory of evolving it

All over Ireland you will hear the words _vault_ and _fault_ sounded _vaut_
and _faut_. 'If I don't be able to shine it will be none of my _faut_.'
(Carleton, as cited by Hume.) We have retained this sound from old English:

  Let him not dare to vent his dangerous thought:
  A noble fool was never in a _fault_ [faut].

  (POPE, cited by Hume.)

Goldsmith uses this pronunciation more than once; but whether he brought it
from Ireland or took it from classical English writers, by whom it was used
(as by Pope) almost down to his time, it is hard to say. For instance in
'The Deserted Village' he says of the Village Master:--

 'Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught
  The love he bore to learning was in _fault_' [faut].

I remember reading many years ago a criticism of Goldsmith by a well-known
Irish professor of English literature, in which the professor makes great
fun, as a 'superior person,' of the _Hibernicism_ in the above couplet,
evidently ignorant of the fact, which Dr. Hume has well brought out, that
it is classical English. {95}

In many parts of Munster there is a tendency to give the long _a_ the sound
of _a_ in _car_, _father_:--

  Were I Paris whose deeds are _vaarious_
    And _arbithraather_ on Ida's hill.

  (Old Folk Song--'The Colleen Rue.')[1]

  The _gladiaathers_ both bold and darling,
    Each night and morning to watch the flowers.

  (Old Folk Song--'Castlehyde.')[1]

So, an intelligent peasant,--a born orator, but illiterate in so far as he
could neither read nor write,--told me that he was a _spectaathor_ at one
of O'Connell's Repeal meetings: and the same man, in reply to a strange
gentleman's inquiry as to who planted a certain wood up the hill, replied
that the trees were not planted--they grew _spontaan-yus_.

I think this is a remnant of the old classical teaching of Munster: though
indeed I ought to mention that the same tendency is found in Monaghan,
where on every possible occasion the people give this sound to long a.

_D_ before long _u_ is generally sounded like _j_; as in _projuce_ for
_produce_: the _Juke_ of Wellington, &c. Many years ago I knew a fine old
gentleman from Galway. He wished to make people believe that in the old
fighting times, when he was a young man, he was a desperate _gladiaathor_;
but he really was a gentle creature who never in all his born days hurt man
or mortal. Talking one day to some workmen in Kildare, and recounting his
exploits, he told them {96} that he was now _harrished_ every night by the
ghosts of all the _min_ he killed in _juels_.

So _s_ before long _u_ is sounded _sh_: Dan Kiely, a well-to-do young
farmer, told the people of our neighbourhood that he was now looking out
for a wife that would _shoot_ him. This pronunciation is however still
sometimes heard in words of correct English, as in _sure_.

There are some consonants of the Irish language which when they come
together do not coalesce in sound, as they would in an English word, so
that when they are uttered a very short obscure vowel sound is heard
between them: and a native Irish speaker cannot avoid this. By a sort of
hereditary custom this peculiarity finds its way into our pronunciation of
English. Thus _firm_ is sounded in Ireland _ferrum_--two distinct
syllables: 'that bird is looking for a _wurrum_.' _Form_ (a seat) we call a

 'His sire he'd seek no more nor descend to Mammon's shore,
    Nor venture on the tyrant's dire _alaa-rums_,
  But daily place his care on that emblematic fair,
    Till he'd barter coronations for her _chaa-rums_.'

  (Old Folk Song.)[2]

_Herb_ is sounded _errub_: and we make two syllables of the name Charles
[Char-less]. At the time of the Bulgarian massacres, I knew a Dublin
doctor, a Tipperary man, who felt very strongly on the subject and was
constantly talking about the poor _Bullugarians_.

In the County Monaghan and indeed elsewhere {97} in Ireland, _us_ is
sounded _huz_, which might seem a Cockney vulgarism, but I think it is not.
In Roscommon and in the Munster counties a thong is called a _fong_.

_Chaw_ for _chew_, _oncet_ [wonst] for _once_, _twiced_ for _twice_, and
_heighth_, _sighth_, for _height_, _sight_, which are common in Ireland,
are all old English survivals. Thus in the 'Faerie Queene' (Bk. I., Canto
IV., XXX.):--

 'And next to him malicious Envy rode
  Upon a ravenous wolfe and still did _chaw_
  Between his cankred teeth a venomous tode.'

_Chaw_ is also much used in America. '_Onst_ for once, is in the Chester
Plays' (Lowell); and _highth_ for _height_ is found all through 'Paradise
Lost.' So also we have _drooth_ for _drought_:--

 'Like other historians I'll stick to the truth
  While I sing of the monarch who died of the _drooth_.'


_Joist_ is sounded _joice_ in Limerick; and _catch_ is everywhere
pronounced _ketch_.

The word _hither_ is pronounced in Ireland _hether_, which is the correct
old English usage, but long since abandoned in England. Thus in a State
Paper of 1598, we read that two captains returned _hether_: and in
Spenser's 'View,' he mentions a 'colony [sent] _hether_ out of Spaine.'

 'An errant knight or any other wight
  That _hether_ turns his steps.' ('Faerie Queene.')

Hence we have coined the word _comether_, for _come-hether_, to denote a
sort of spell brought about {98} by coaxing, wheedling, making love,
&c.--as in the phrase 'she put her _comether_ on him, so that he married
her up at once.' 'There'll not be six girls in the fair he'll not be
putting the _comether_ on.' (Seumas MacManus.)

The family name 'Bermingham' is always made _Brimmigem_ in Ireland, which
is a very old English corruption. In Friar Clyn's Annals (Latin) written in
the fourteenth century, the death is recorded in 1329 of Johannes de
_Brimegham_, i.e., the celebrated Sir John Bermingham who defeated Edward
Bruce at Faughart.

Leap is pronounced _lep_ by our people; and in racing circles it is still
so pronounced by all classes. The little village of Leap in the County Cork
is always called _Lep_.

There is a curious tendency among us to reverse the sounds of certain
letters, as for instance _sh_ and _ch_. 'When you're coming home to-morrow
bring the spade and _chovel_, and a pound of butter fresh from the
_shurn_.' 'That _shimney_ doesn't draw the smoke well.' So with the letters
_u_ and _i_. 'When I was crossing the _brudge_ I dropped the sweeping
_brish_ into the _ruvver_.' 'I never saw _sich_ a sight.' But such words
are used only by the very uneducated. _Brudge_ for _bridge_ and the like
are however of old English origin. 'Margaret, mother of Henry VII, writes
_seche_ for _such_' (Lowell). So in Ireland:--'_Jestice_ is all I ax,' says
Mosy in the story ('Ir. Pen. Mag.); and _churries_ for _cherries_
('Knocknagow'). This tendency corresponds with the vulgar use of _h_ in
London and elsewhere in England. 'The 'en has just laid a _hegg_': 'he was
singing My 'art's in the {99} 'ighlands or The Brave Old _Hoak_.'
(Washington Irving.)

_Squeeze_ is pronounced _squeedge_ and _crush_ _scroodge_ in Donegal and
elsewhere; but corruptions like these are found among the English
peasantry--as may be seen in Dickens.

'You had better _rinsh_ that glass' is heard everywhere in Ireland: an old
English survival; for Shakespeare and Lovelace have _renched_ for _rinced_
(Lowell): which with the Irish sound of short _e_ before _n_ gives us our
word _rinshed_.

Such words as _old_, _cold_, _hold_ are pronounced by the Irish people
_ould_, _cowld_, _hould_ (or _howlt_); _gold_ is sounded _goold_ and _ford_
_foord_. I once heard an old Wicklow woman say of some very rich people
'why these people could _ait goold_.' These are all survivals of the old
English way of pronouncing such words. In the State Papers of Elizabeth's
time you will constantly meet with such words as _hoult_ and _stronghowlt_
(hold and stronghold.) In my boyhood days I knew a great large sinewy
active woman who lived up in the mountain gap, and who was universally
known as 'Thunder the _cowlt_ from Poulaflaikeen' (_cowlt_ for _colt_);
Poulaflaikeen, the high pass between Glenosheen and Glenanaar, Co.
Limerick, for which see Dr. R. D. Joyce's 'Ballads of Irish Chivalry,' pp.
102, 103, 120.

Old Tom Howlett, a Dublin job gardener, speaking to me of the management of
fruit trees, recommended the use of butchers' waste. 'Ah sir'--said he,
with a luscious roll in his voice as if he had been licking his lips--'Ah
sir, there's nothing for the roots of an apple tree like a big tub of fine
rotten _ould_ guts,' {100}

Final _d_ is often omitted after _l_ and _n_: you will see this everywhere
in Seumas MacManus's books for Donegal. Recently we were told by the
attendant boy at one of the Dublin seaside baths that the prices were--'a
shilling for the hot and sixpence for the _cowl_.' So we constantly use
_an'_ for _and_: in a Waterford folk song we have 'Here's to the swan that
sails on the _pon_' (the 'swan' being the poet's sweetheart): and I once
heard a man say to another in a fair:--'That horse is sound in win' and

Short _e_ is always sounded before _n_ and _m_, and sometimes in other
positions, like short _i_: 'How many arrived?' '_Tin min_ and five women':
'He always smoked a pipe with a long _stim_.' If you ask a person for a
pin, he will inquire 'Is it a brass pin or a writing _pin_ you want?'

_Again_ is sounded by the Irish people _agin_, which is an old English
survival. 'Donne rhymes _again_ with _sin_, and Quarles repeatedly with
_in_.' (Lowell.) An Irishman was once landed on the coast of some unknown
country where they spoke English. Some violent political dispute happened
to be going on there at the time, and the people eagerly asked the stranger
about his political views; on which--instinctively giving expression to the
feelings he brought with him from the 'ould sod'--he promptly replied
before making any inquiry--'I'm agin the Government.' This story, which is
pretty well known, is a faked one; but it affords us a good illustration.

_Onion_ is among our people always pronounced _ingion_: constantly heard in
Dublin. 'Go out Mike {101} for the _ingions_,' as I once heard a woman say
in Limerick.

 'Men are of different opinions,
  Some like leeks and some like _ingions_.'

This is old English; 'in one of Dodsley's plays we have _onions_ rhyming
with _minions_' (Lowell.)

The general _English_ tendency is to put back the accent as far from the
end of the word as possible. But among our people there is a contrary
tendency--to throw forward the accent; as in _ex-cel´lent_, his
_Ex-cel´-lency_--Nas-sau´ Street (Dublin), Ar-bu´-tus, commit-tee´,

 'Tele-mach´us though so grand ere the sceptre reached his hand.'

  (Old Irish Folk Song.)

In Gough's Arithmetic there was a short section on the laws of radiation
and of pendulums. When I was a boy I once heard one of the old
schoolmasters reading out, in his grandiloquent way, for the people grouped
round Ardpatrick chapel gate after Mass, his formidable prospectus of the
subjects he could teach, among which were 'the _raddiation_ of light and
heat and the vibrations of swinging _pen-joo´lums_.' The same fine old
scholarly pedant once remarked that our neighbourhood was a very
_moun-taan´-yus_ locality. A little later on in my life, when I had written
some pieces in high-flown English--as young writers will often do--one of
these schoolmasters--a much lower class of man than the last--said to me by
way of compliment: 'Ah! Mr. Joyce, you have a fine _voca-bull´ery_.'

_Mischievous_ is in the south accented on the second
syllable--_Mis-chee´-vous_: but I have come across this {102} in Spenser's
Faerie Queene. We accent _character_ on the second syllable:--

 'Said he in a whisper to my benefactor,
    Though good your _charac´ter_ has been of that lad.'

  (Song by Mr. Patrick Murray of Kilfinane,
  a schoolmaster of great ability: about 1840).

One of my school companions once wrote an ode in praise of Algebra, of
which unfortunately I remember only the opening line: but this fragment
shows how we pronounced the word in our old schools in the days of yore:--

 'Hail sweet _al-jib´era_, you're my heart's delight.'

There is an Irish ballad about the people of Tipperary that I cannot lay my
hands on, which speaks of the

                     'Tipperary boys,
  Although we are cross and _contrairy_ boys';

and this word 'contrairy' is universal in Munster.

In Tipperary the vowel _i_ is generally sounded _oi_. Mick Hogan a
Tipperary boy--he was a man indeed--was a pupil in Mr. Condon's school in
Mitchelstown, with the full rich typical accent. One morning as he walked
in, a fellow pupil, Tom Burke--a big fellow too--with face down on desk
over a book, said, without lifting his head--to make fun of him--'_foine_
day, Mick.' 'Yes,' said Mick as he walked past, at the same time laying his
hand on Tom's poll and punching his nose down hard against the desk. Tom
let Mick alone after that 'foine day.' Farther south, and in many places
all over Ireland, they do the reverse:--'The kettle is _biling_';

 'She smiled on me like the morning sky,
  And she won the heart of the prentice _bye_.'

  (Old Irish Folk Song.)


The old English pronunciation of _oblige_ was _obleege_:--

 'Dreaded by fools, by flatterers besieged,
  And so obliging that he ne'er obliged.'


Among the old-fashioned and better-educated of our peasantry you will still
hear this old pronunciation preserved:--I am very much obleeged to you. It
is now generally heard in Kildare among all classes. A similar tendency is
in the sound of _whine_, which in Munster is always made _wheen_: 'What's
that poor child _wheening_ for?' also everywhere heard:--'All danger [of
the fever] is now past: he is over his _creesis_.'

Metathesis, or the changing of the place of a letter or syllable in a word,
is very common among the Irish people, as _cruds_ for _curds_, _girn_ for
_grin_, _purty_ for _pretty_. I heard a man quoting from Shakespeare about
Puck--from hearsay: he said he must have been a wonderful fellow, for he
could put a _griddle_ round about the earth in forty minutes.' I knew a
fellow that could never say _traveller_: it was always _throlliver_.

There is a tendency here as elsewhere to shorten many words: You will hear
_garner_ for _gardener_, _ornary_ for _ordinary_. The late Cardinal Cullen
was always spoken of by a friend of mine who revered him, as _The Carnal_.

_My_ and _by_ are pronounced _me_ and _be_ all over Ireland: Now _me_ boy I
expect you home _be_ six o'clock.

The obscure sound of _e_ and _i_ heard in _her_ and _fir_ is hardly known
in Ireland, at least among the general run of people. _Her_ is made either
_herr_ or _hur_. They sound _sir_ either _surr_ (to rhyme with cur), {104}
or _serr_; but in this latter case they always give the _r_ or _rr_ what is
called the slender sound in Irish, which there is no means of indicating by
English letters. _Fir_ is also sounded either _fur_ or _ferr_ (a _fur_ tree
or a _ferr_ tree). _Furze_ is pronounced rightly; but they take it to be a
plural, and so you will often hear the people say _a fur bush_ instead of
_a furze bush_.

In other classes of words _i_ before _r_ is mispronounced. A young fellow,
Johnny Brien, objected to go by night on a message that would oblige him to
pass by an empty old house that had the reputation of being haunted,
because, as he said, he was afeard of the _sperrit_.

In like manner, _miracle_ is pronounced _merricle_. Jack Finn--a little
busybody noted for perpetually jibing at sacred things--Jack one day, with
innocence in his face, says to Father Tom, 'Wisha I'd be terrible thankful
entirely to your reverence to tell me what a merricle is, for I could never
understand it.' 'Oh yes Jack,' says the big priest good-naturedly, as he
stood ready equipped for a long ride to a sick call--poor old Widow Dwan up
in the mountain gap: 'Just tell me exactly how many cows are grazing in
that field there behind you.' Jack, chuckling at the fun that was coming
on, turned round to count, on which Father Tom dealt him a hearty kick that
sent him sprawling about three yards. He gathered himself up as best he
could; but before he had time to open his mouth the priest asked, 'Did you
feel that Jack?' 'Oh Blood-an ... Yerra of course I did your reverence, why
the blazes wouldn't I!' 'Well Jack,' replied Father Tom, benignly, 'If you
didn't feel it--_that_ would be a _merricle_.' {105}

       *       *       *       *       *



The Irish delighted in sententious maxims and apt illustrations compressed
into the fewest possible words. Many of their proverbs were evolved in the
Irish language, of which a collection with translations by John O'Donovan
may be seen in the 'Dublin Penny Journal,' I. 258; another in the Rev.
Ulick Bourke's Irish Grammar; and still another in the Ulster Journ. of
Archæology (old series) by Mr. Robert MacAdam, the Editor. The same
tendency continued when the people adopted the English language. Those that
I give here in collected form were taken from the living lips of the people
during the last thirty or forty years.

'Be first in a wood and last in a bog.' If two persons are making their
way, one behind the other, through a wood, the hinder man gets slashed in
the face by the springy boughs pushed aside by the first: if through a bog,
the man behind can always avoid the dangerous holes by seeing the first
sink into them. This proverb preserves the memory of a time when there were
more woods and bogs than there are now: it is translated from Irish.

In some cases a small amount added on or taken off makes a great difference
in the result: 'An inch is a great deal in a man's nose.' In the Crimean
war an officer happened to be walking past an Irish soldier on duty, who
raised hand to cap to salute. {106} But the hand was only half way when a
stray bullet whizzed by and knocked off the cap without doing any injury.
Whereupon Paddy, perfectly unmoved, stooped down, replaced the cap and
completed the salute. The officer, admiring his coolness, said 'That was a
narrow shave my man!' 'Yes your honour: an inch is as good as a mile.' This
is one of our commonest sayings.

A person is reproved for some trifling harmless liberty, and replies:--'Oh
a cat can look at a king.' (A translation from Irish.)

A person who fails to get what he was striving after is often glad to
accept something very inferior: 'When all fruit fails welcome haws.'

When a person shows no sign of gratitude for a good turn as if it passed
completely from his memory, people say 'Eaten bread is soon forgotten.'

A person is sent upon some dangerous mission, as when the persons he is
going to are his deadly enemies:--that is 'Sending the goose on a message
to the fox's den.'

If a dishonest avaricious man is put in a position of authority over people
from whom he has the power to extort money; that is 'putting the fox to
mind the geese.'

'You have as many kinds of potatoes on the table as if you took them from a
beggarman's bag': referring to the good old time when beggarmen went about
and usually got a _lyre_ of potatoes in each house.

'No one can tell what he is able to do till he tries,' as the duck said
when she swallowed a dead kitten. {107}

You say to a man who is suffering under some continued hardship:--'This
distress is only temporary: have patience and things will come round soon
again.' 'O yes indeed; _Live horse till you get grass_.'

A person in your employment is not giving satisfaction; and yet you are
loth to part with him for another: 'Better is the devil you know than the
devil you don't know.'

'Least said, soonest mended.'

'You spoke too late,' as the fool said when he swallowed a bad egg, and
heard the chicken chirp going down his throat.

'Good soles bad uppers.' Applied to a person raised from a low to a high
station, who did well enough while low, but in his present position is
overbearing and offensive.

I have done a person some service: and now he ill-naturedly refuses some
reasonable request. I say: 'Oh wait: _apples will grow again_.' He
answers--'Yes _if the trees baint cut_'--a defiant and ungrateful answer,
as much as to say--you may not have the opportunity to serve me, or I may
not want it.

Turf or peat was scarce in Kilmallock (Co. Limerick): whence the proverb,
'A Kilmallock fire--two sods and a _kyraun_' (a bit broken _off of_ a sod).

People are often punished even in this world for their misdeeds: 'God
Almighty often pays debts without money.' (Wicklow.)

I advise you not to do so without the master's permission:--'Leave is
light.' A very general saying. {108}

When a person gives much civil talk, makes plausible excuses or fair
promises, the remark is made 'Soft words butter no parsnips.' Sometimes
also 'Talk is cheap.'

A person who is too complaisant--over anxious to please everyone--is 'like
Lanna Mochree's dog--he will go a part of the road with everyone.' (Moran
Carlow.) (A witness said this of a policeman in the Celbridge
courthouse--Kildare--last year, showing that it is still alive.)

'The first drop of the broth is the hottest': the first step in any
enterprise is usually the hardest. (Westmeath.)

The light, consisting of a single candle, or the jug of punch from which
the company fill their tumblers, ought always to be placed on the middle of
the table when people are sitting round it:--'Put the priest in the middle
of the parish.'

'After a gathering comes a scattering.' 'A narrow gathering, a broad
scattering.' Both allude to the case of a thrifty man who gathers up a
fortune during a lifetime, and is succeeded by a spendthrift son who soon
_makes ducks and drakes_ of the property.

No matter how old a man is he can get a wife if he wants one: 'There never
was an old slipper but there was an old stocking to match it.' (Carlow.)

'You might as well go to hell with a load as with a _pahil_': 'You might as
well hang for a sheep as for a lamb': both explain themselves. A _pahil_ or
_paghil_ is a bundle of anything. (Derry.)

If a man treats you badly in any way, you threaten to pay him back in his
own coin by saying, 'The cat hasn't eaten the year yet.' (Carlow.) {109}

'A fool and his money are easily parted.'

'A dumb priest never got a parish,' as much as to say if a man wants a
thing he must ask and strive for it.

'A slip of the tongue is no fault of the mind.' (Munster.)

You merely hint at something requiring no further explanation:--'A nod is
as good as a wink to a blind horse.' (Sam Lover: but heard everywhere.)

A very wise proverb often heard among us is:--'Let well enough alone.'

'When a man is down, down with him': a bitter allusion to the tendency of
the world to trample down the unfortunate and helpless.

'The friend that can be bought is not worth buying.' (Moran: Carlow.)

'The life of an old hat is to cock it.' To cock an old hat is to set it
jauntingly on the head with the leaf turned up at one side. (S. E.

'The man that wears the shoe knows where it pinches.' It is only the person
holding any position that knows the troubles connected with it.

'Enough and no waste is as good as a _faist_.'

'There are more ways of killing a dog than by choking him with butter.'
Applied when some insidious cunning attempt that looks innocent is made to
injure another.

'Well James are you quite recovered now?' 'Oh yes, I'm _on the baker's
list_ again': i.e., I am well and have recovered my appetite.

'An Irishman before answering a question always asks another': he wants to
know why he is asked.

Dan O'Loghlin, a working man, drove up to our {110} house one day on an
outside car. It was a sixpenny drive, but rather a long one; and the carman
began to grumble. Whereupon Dan, in the utmost good humour, replied:--'Oh
you must take the little potato with the big potato.' A very apt maxim in
many of life's affairs, and often heard in and around Dublin.

'Good goods are tied up in small parcels': said of a little man or a little
woman, in praise or mitigation. (Moran: Carlow.)

'Easy with the hay, there are boys on the ladder.' When a man is on the top
of the stack forking down hay, he is warned to look out and be careful if
other _boys_ are mounting up the ladder, lest he may pitch it on their
heads. The proverb is uttered when a person is incautiously giving
expression to words likely to offend some one present. (Moran: Carlow.)

Be cautious about believing the words of a man speaking ill of another
against whom he has a grudge: 'Spite never spoke well.' (Moran: Carlow.)

Don't encroach too much on a privilege or it may be withdrawn: don't ask
too much or you may get nothing at all:--'Covetousness bursts the bag.'

Three things not to be trusted--a cow's horn, a dog's tooth, and a horse's

Three disagreeable things at home:--a scolding wife; a squalling child; and
a smoky chimney.

Three good things to have. I heard this given as a toast exactly as I give
it here, by a fine old gentleman of the old times:--'Here's that we may
always have a _clane_ shirt; a _clane_ conscience; and a guinea in our
pocket.' {111}

Here is another toast. A happy little family party round the farmer's fire
with a big jug on the table (a jug of what, do you think?) The old blind
piper is the happiest of all, and holding up his glass says:--'Here's, if
this be war may we never have peace.' (Edw. Walsh.)

Three things no person ever saw:--a highlander's kneebuckle, a dead ass, a
tinker's funeral.

'Take care to lay by for the sore foot': i.e., Provide against accidents,
against adversity or want; against the rainy day.

When you impute another person's actions to evil or unworthy motives: that
is 'measuring other people's corn in your own bushel.'

A person has taken some unwise step: another expresses his intention to do
a similar thing, and you say:--'One fool is enough in a parish.'

In the middle of last century, the people of Carlow and its neighbourhood
prided themselves on being able to give, on the spur of the moment, toasts
suitable to the occasion. Here is one such: 'Here's to the herring that
never took a bait'; a toast reflecting on some person present who had been
made a fool of in some transaction. (Moran: Carlow.)

'A man cannot grow rich without his wife's leave': as much as to say, a
farmer's wife must co-operate to ensure success and prosperity. (Moran:

When something is said that has a meaning under the surface the remark is
made 'There's gravel in that.'

 'Pity people barefoot in cold frosty weather,
  But don't make them boots with other people's leather.'

{112} That is to say: don't be generous at other people's expense. Many
years ago this proverb was quoted by the late Serjeant Armstrong in
addressing a jury in Wicklow.

'A wet night: a dry morning': said to a man who is _craw-sick_--thirsty and
sick--after a night's boozing. (Moran: Carlow.)

This last reminds me of an invitation I once got from a country gentleman
to go on a visit, holding out as an inducement that he would give me 'a dry
bed and a wet bottle.'

'If he's not fishing he's mending his nets': said of a man who always makes
careful preparations and lays down plans for any enterprise he may have in

'If he had a shilling in his pocket it would burn a hole through it': said
of a man who cannot keep his money together--a spendthrift.

'A bird with one wing can't fly': said to a person to make him take a
second glass. (Moran: Carlow.)

Protect your rights: 'Don't let your bone go with the dog.'

'An old dog for a hard road': said in commendation of a wary person who has
overcome some difficulty. _Hard_ in this proverb means 'difficult.' (Moran:

'No use sending a boy on a man's errand': Don't be satisfied with
inadequate steps when undertaking a difficult work: employ a sure person to
carry out a hard task.

Oh however he may have acted towards you he has been a good friend to me at
any rate; and I go by the old saying, 'Praise the ford as you find it.'
This {113} proverb is a translation from the Irish. It refers to a time
when bridges were less general than now; and rivers were commonly crossed
by fords--which were sometimes safe, sometimes dangerous, according to the

'Threatened dogs live long.' Abuses often go on for a long time, though
people are constantly complaining and threatening to correct them.

He who expects a legacy when another man dies thinks the time long. 'It is
long waiting for a dead man's boots.' (Moran: Carlow.)

A person waiting impatiently for something to come on always thinks the
time longer than usual:--'A watched pot never boils.'

'A poor man must have a poor wedding': people must live according to their

'I could carry my wet finger to him': i.e. he is here present, but I won't
name him.

'Oh that's all _as I roved out_': to express unbelief in what someone says
as quite unworthy of credit. In allusion to songs beginning 'As I roved
out,' which are generally fictitious.

'Your father was a bad glazier': said to a person who is standing in one's

'As the old cock crows the young cock learns': generally applied to a son
who follows the evil example of his father.

A person remarks that the precautions you are taking in regard to a certain
matter are unnecessary or excessive, and you reply 'Better be sure than

'She has a good many nicks in her horn': said of a girl who is becoming an
old maid. A cow is said to have a nick in her horn for every year. {114}

A man of property gets into hopeless debt and difficulty by neglecting his
business, and his creditors sell him out. 'Well, how did he get out of it?'
asks a neighbour. 'Oh, he got out of it just by a break-up, _as Katty got
out of the pot_.' This is how Katty got out of the pot. One day at dinner
in the kitchen Katty Murphy the servant girl sat down on a big pot (as I
often saw women do)--for seats were scarce; and in the middle of the
dinner, through some incautious movement, down she went. She struggled to
get up, but failed. Then the others came to help her, and tugged and pulled
and tried in every way, but had to give it up; till at last one of them
brought a heavy hammer, and with one blow made smithereens of the pot.

'Putting a thing on the long finger' means postponing it.

On the evil of procrastination:--'_Time enough_ lost the ducks.' The ducks
should have been secured at once as it was known that a fox was prowling
about. But they were not, and----

'_Will you_ was never a good fellow.' The bad fellow says 'Will you have
some lunch?' (while there is as yet nothing on the table), on the chance
that the visitor will say 'No, thank you.' The good hospitable man asks no
questions, but has the food brought up and placed before the guest.

'Cut the _gad_ next the throat': that is to say, attend to the most urgent
need first. You find a man hanging by a _gad_ (withe), and you cut him down
to save him. Cutting the _gad_ next the throat explains itself.

When a work must be done slowly:--'I will do {115} it by degrees as lawyers
go to heaven.' (Moran: Carlow.)

'That's not a good fit,' as the serpent said when he swallowed a buck goat,
horns and all.

Time and patience would bring a snail to America.

'The cold stone leaves the water on St. Patrick's Day.' About the 17th
March (St. Patrick's Day), the winter's cold is nearly gone, and the
weather generally takes a milder turn.

'There are more turners than dishmakers'; meaning, there may be many
members of a profession, but only few of them excel in it: usually pointed
at some particular professional man, who is considered not clever. It is
only the most skilful turners that can make wooden dishes.

A person who talks too much cannot escape saying things now and then that
would be better left unsaid:--'The mill that is always going grinds coarse
and fine.'

'If you lie down with dogs you will get up with fleas': if you keep company
with bad people you will contract their evil habits. (Moran: Carlow.)

If you do a kindness don't mar it by any unpleasant drawback: in other
words do a kind act graciously:--'If you give away an old coat don't cut
off the buttons.'

Two good things:--A young man courting, an old man smoking: Two bad
things:--An old man courting, a young man smoking. (MacCall: Wexford.)

What is the world to a man when his wife is a widow.

Giving help where it is needed is 'helping the lame dog over the stile.'

'Leave him to God': meaning don't you attempt to punish him for the injury
he has done you: let God deal with him. Often carried too far among us.

A hard man at driving a bargain:--'He always wants an egg in the
penn'orth.' (Kildare.)

A satirical expression regarding a close-fisted ungenerous man:--'If he had
only an egg he'd give you the shell.' (Kildare.)

A man wishes to say to another that they are both of about the same age;
and this is how he expresses it:--'When I die of old age you may quake with
fear.' (Kildare.)

Speaking of a man with more resources than one:--'It wasn't on one leg St.
Patrick came to Ireland.'

When there is a prospect of a good harvest, or any mark of
prosperity:--'That's no sign of small potatoes.' (Kildare.)

Your friend is in your pocket. (Kildare.)

[As a safe general principle]:--'If anybody asks you, say you don't know.'

'A good run is better than a bad stand.' When it becomes obvious that you
cannot defend your position (whatever it is), better yield than encounter
certain defeat by continuing to resist. (Queenstown.)

A man depending for success on a very uncertain contingency:--'God give you
better meat than a running hare.' (Tyrone.)

To express the impossibility of doing two inconsistent things at the same
time:--'You can't whistle and chaw meal.' {117}

A man who has an excess of smooth plausible talk is 'too sweet to be

'The fox has a good name in his own parish.' They say that a fox does not
prey on the fowls in his own neighbourhood. Often said of a rogue whose
friends are trying to _whitewash_ him.

'A black hen lays white eggs.' A man with rough manners often has a gentle
heart and does kindly actions.

Much in the same sense:--'A crabtree has a sweet blossom.'

A person who has smooth words and kind professions for others, but never
acts up to them, 'has a hand for everybody but a heart for nobody.'

A person readily finds a lost article when it is missed, and is suspected
to have hidden it himself:--'What the Pooka writes he can read.' (Munster.)

A man is making no improvement in his character or circumstances but rather
the reverse as he advances in life:--'A year older and a year worse.'

'A shut mouth catches no flies.' Much the same as the English 'Speech is
silvern, silence is golden.'

To the same effect is 'Hear and see and say nothing.'

A fool and his money are easily parted.

Oh I see you expect that Jack (a false friend) will stand at your back.
Yes, indeed, 'he'll stand at your back while your nose is breaking.'

'You wouldn't do that to your match' as Mick Sheedy said to the fox. Mick
Sheedy the gamekeeper had a hut in the woods where he often took {118}
shelter and rested and smoked. One day when he had arrived at the doorway
he saw a fox sitting at the little fire warming himself. Mick instantly
spread himself out in the doorway to prevent escape. And so they continued
to look at each other. At last Reynard, perceiving that some master-stroke
was necessary, took up in his mouth one of a fine pair of shoes that were
lying in a corner, brought it over, and deliberately placed it on the top
of the fire. We know the rest! (Limerick.)

'There's a hole in the house'; meant to convey that there is a tell-tale
listening. (Meath.)

We are inclined to magnify distant or only half known things: 'Cows far off
have long horns.'

'He'll make Dungarvan shake': meaning he will do great things, cut a great
figure. Now generally said in ridicule. (Munster.)

A man is told something extraordinary:--'That takes the coal off my pipe';
i.e. it surpasses all I have seen or heard.

A man fails to obtain something he was looking after--a house or a farm to
rent--a cow to buy--a girl he wished to marry, &c.--and consoles himself by
reflecting or saying:--'There's as good fish in the _say_ as ever was

Well, you were at the dance yesterday--who were there? Oh 'all the world
and Garrett Reilly' were there. (Wicklow and Waterford.)

When a fellow puts on empty airs of great consequence, you say to him, 'Why
you're _as grand as Mat Flanagan with the cat_': always said
contemptuously. Mat Flanagan went to London one time. After two years he
came home on a visit; but he was {119} now transformed into such a mass of
grandeur that he did not recognise any of the old surroundings. He didn't
know what the old cat was. 'Hallo, mother,' said he with a lofty air and a
killing Cockney accent, 'What's yon long-tailed fellow in yon _cawner_?'

A person reproaching another for something wrong says:--'The back of my
hand to you,' as much as to say 'I refuse to shake hands with you.'

To a person hesitating to enter on a doubtful enterprise which looks fairly
hopeful, another says:--Go on Jack, try your fortune: 'faint heart never
won fair lady.'

A person who is about to make a third and determined attempt at anything
exclaims (in assonantal rhyme):--

 'First and second go alike:
  The third throw takes the bite.'

I express myself confident of outwitting or circumventing a certain man who
is notoriously cautious and wide-awake, and the listener says to me:--'Oh,
what a chance you have--_catch a weasel asleep_' (general).

In connexion with this may be given another proverb: of a notoriously
wide-awake cautious man, it is said:--'He sleeps a hare's sleep--with one
eye open.' For it was said one time that weasels were in the habit of
sucking the blood of hares in their sleep; and as weasels had much
increased, the hares took to the plan of sleeping with one eye at a time;
'and when that's rested and _slep_ enough, they open it and shut the
other.' (From 'The Building of Mourne,' by Dr. Robert Dwyer Joyce.) {120}

This last perpetuates a legend as old as our literature. In one of the
ancient Irish classical tales, the story is told of a young lady so
beautiful that all the young chiefs of the territory were in love with her
and laying plans to take her off. So her father, to defeat them, slept with
only one eye at a time.

       *       *       *       *       *



I have included both in this Chapter, for they are nearly related; and it
is often hard to draw a precise line of distinction.

We in Ireland are rather prone to exaggeration, perhaps more so than the
average run of peoples. Very often the expressions are jocose, or the
person is fully conscious of the exaggeration; but in numerous cases there
is no joke at all: but downright seriousness: all which will be seen in the
following examples.

A common saying about a person of persuasive tongue or with a beautiful
voice in singing:--'He would coax the birds off the bushes.' This is
borrowed from the Irish. In the 'Lament of Richard Cantillon' (in Irish) he
says that at the musical voice of the lady 'the seals would come up from
the deep, the stag down from the mist-crag, and the thrush from the tree.'
(Petrie: 'Anc. Mus. of Ireland.')

Of a noted liar and perjurer it was said 'He would swear that a coal porter
was a canary.' {121}

A man who is unlucky, with whom everything goes wrong:--'If that man got a
hen to hatch duck eggs, the young ducks would be drowned.' Or again, 'If
that man sowed oats in a field, a crop of turnips would come up.' Or: 'He
is always in the field when luck is on the road.'

The following expression is often heard:--'Ah, old James Buckley is a fine
piper: _I'd give my eyes_ to be listening to him.'

That fellow is so dirty that if you flung him against a wall he'd stick.
(Patterson: Ulster.)

Two young men are about to set off to seek their fortunes, leaving their
young brother Rory to stay with their mother. But Rory, a hard active merry
cute little fellow, proposes to go with them:--'I'll follow ye to the
world's end.' On which the eldest says to him--a half playful threat:--'You
presumptious little atomy of a barebones, if I only see the size of a
thrush's ankle of you follyin' us on the road, I'll turn back and bate that
wiry and freckled little carcase of yours into frog's-jelly!' (Robert Dwyer
Joyce: 'The Building of Mourne.')

'Did Johnny give you any of his sugar-stick?' 'Oh not very much indeed:
hardly the size of a thrush's ankle.' This term is often used.

Of a very morose sour person you will hear it said:--'If that man looked at
a pail of new milk he'd turn it into curds and whey.'

A very thin man, or one attenuated by sickness:--'You could blow him off
your hand.'

A poor fellow complains of the little bit of meat he got for his
dinner:--'It was no more than a daisy in a bull's mouth!' Another says of
_his_ dinner {122} when it was in his stomach:--'It was no more than a
midge in the Glen of the Downs.'

Exhorting a messenger to be quick:--'Don't be there till you're back
again.' Another way:--'Now run as quick as you can, and if you fall don't
wait to get up.' Warning a person to be expeditious in any work you put him
to:--'Now don't let grass grow under your feet.' Barney urging on the ass
to go quickly:--'Come Bobby, don't let grass grow under your feet.'

If a person is secretly very willing to go to a place--as a lover to the
house of the girl's parents:--'You could lead him there with a halter of

'Is this razor sharp?' 'Sharp!--why _'twould shave a mouse asleep_.'

A lazy fellow, fond of sitting at the fire, _has the A B C on his shins_,
i.e. they are blotched with the heat.

Of an inveterate talker:--That man would talk the teeth out of a saw.

A young fellow gets a great fright:--'It frightened him out of a year's

When Nancy saw the master so angry she was frightened out of her wits: or
frightened out of her seven senses. When I saw the horse ride over him I
was frightened out of my life.

A great liar, being suddenly pressed for an answer, told the truth for
once. He told the truth because he was _shook_ for a lie; i.e. no lie was
ready at hand. _Shook_, to be bad, in a bad way: shook for a thing, to be
badly in want of it and not able to get it.

Of a very lazy fellow:--He would not knock a coal off his foot: i.e. when a
live coal happens to {123} fall on his foot while sitting by the fire, he
wouldn't take the trouble to knock it off.

Says the dragon to Manus:--'If ever I see you here again I'll hang a
quarter of you on every tree in the wood.' (Crofton Croker.)

If a person is pretty badly hurt, or suffers hardship, he's _kilt_
(killed): a fellow gets a fall and his friend comes up to inquire:--'Oh let
me alone I'm kilt and speechless.' I heard a Dublin nurse say, 'Oh I'm kilt
minding these four children.' 'The bloody throopers are coming to kill and
quarther an' murther every mother's sowl o' ye.' (R. D. Joyce.) The parlour
bell rings impatiently for the third time, and Lowry Looby the servant
says, 'Oh murther there goes the bell again, I'll be kilt entirely.'
(Gerald Griffin.) If a person is really badly hurt he's _murthered
entirely_. A girl telling about a fight in a fair:--'One poor boy was kilt
dead for three hours on a car, breathing for all the world like a corpse!'

If you don't stop your abuse I'll give you a shirt full of sore bones.

Yes, poor Jack was once well off, but now he hasn't as much money as would
jingle on a tombstone.

That cloth is very coarse: why you could shoot straws through it.

Strong dislike:--I don't like a bone in his body.

'Do you know Bill Finnerty well?' 'Oh indeed I know every bone in his
body,' i.e. I know him and all his ways intimately.

A man is low stout and very fat: if you met him in the street you'd rather
jump over him than walk round him. {124}

He knew as much Latin as if he swallowed a dictionary. (Gerald Griffin.)

The word _destroy_ is very often used to characterize any trifling damage
easily remedied:--That car splashed me, and my coat is all destroyed.

'They kept me dancin' for 'em in the kitchen,' says Barney Broderick, 'till
I hadn't a leg to put under me.' ('Knocknagow.')

This farm of mine is as bad land as ever a crow flew over.

He's as great a rogue as ever stood in shoe-leather.

When Jack heard the news of the money that was coming to him he was
_jumping out of his skin_ with delight.

I bought these books at an auction, and I got them for a song: in fact I
got them for half nothing.

Very bad slow music is described as _the tune the old cow died of_.

A child is afraid of a dog: '_Yerra_ he won't touch you': meaning 'he won't
bite you.'

A man having a very bad aim in shooting:--'He wouldn't hit a hole in a

Carleton's blind fiddler says to a young girl: 'You could dance _the
Colleen dhas dhown_ [a jig] upon a spider's cobweb without breaking it.'

An ill-conducted man:--'That fellow would shame a field of tinkers.' The
tinkers of sixty years ago, who were not remarkable for their honesty or
good conduct, commonly travelled the country in companies, and camped out
in fields or wild places.

I was dying to hear the news; i.e. excessively anxious. {125}

Where an Englishman will say 'I shall be pleased to accept your
invitation,' an Irishman will say 'I will be delighted to accept,' &c.

Mick Fraher is always eating garlick and his breath has a terrible smell--a
smell of garlick strong enough to hang your hat on.

A mean thief:--He'd steal a halfpenny out of a blind beggarman's hat. (P.
Reilly: Kild.)

A dexterous thief:--He'd steal the sugar out of your punch.

An inveterate horse thief:--Throw a halter in his grave and he'll start up
and steal a horse.

Of an impious and dexterous thief:--'He'd steal the cross off an ass's
back,' combining skill and profanation. According to the religious legend
the back of the ass is marked with a cross ever since the day of our Lord's
public entry into Jerusalem upon an ass.

A man who makes unreasonably long visits--who outstays his welcome:--'If
that man went to a wedding he'd wait for the christening.'

I once asked a young Dublin lady friend was she angry at not getting an
invitation to the party: 'Oh I was fit to be tied.' A common expression
among us to express great indignation.

A person is expressing confidence that a certain good thing will happen
which will bring advantage to everyone, but which after all is very
unlikely, and someone replies:--'Oh yes: when the sky falls we'll all catch

A useless unavailing proceeding, most unlikely to be attended with any
result, such as trying to persuade a person who is obstinately bent on
having his {126} own way:--'You might as well be whistling jigs to a
milestone' [expecting it to dance].

'Would you know him if you saw him?' 'Would I know him!--why I'd know his
skin in a tan-yard'--'I'd know his shadow on a furze-bush!'

A person considered very rich:--That man is _rotten with money_. He doesn't
know what to do with his money.

You gave me a great start: you put the heart across in me: my heart jumped
into my mouth. The people said that Miss Mary Kearney put the heart across
in Mr. Lowe, the young Englishman visitor. ('Knocknagow.')

I heard Mat Halahan the tailor say to a man who had just fitted on a new
coat:--That coat fits you just as if you were melted into it.

He is as lazy as the dog that always puts his head against the wall to
bark. (Moran: Carlow.)

In running across the field where the young people were congregated Nelly
Donovan trips and falls: and Billy Heffernan, running up, says:--'Oh Nelly
did you fall: come here till I take you up.' ('Knocknagow.')

'The road flew under him,' to express the swiftness of a man galloping or
running afoot.

Bessie Morris was such a flirt that Barney Broderick said she'd coort a
haggard of sparrows. ('Knocknagow.')

  I wish I were on yonder hill,
 'Tis there I'd sit and cry my fill,
  Till ev'ry tear would turn a mill.

  (_Shool Aroon_: 'Old Irish Folk Song.')


But after all this is not half so great an exaggeration as what the
cultivated English poet wrote:--

              I found her on the floor
  In all the storm of grief, yet beautiful,
  Pouring forth tears at such a lavish rate,
  That were the world on fire it might have drowned
  The wrath of Heaven and quenched the mighty ruin.

A great dandy wears his hat on three hairs of his head.

He said such funny things that the company were _splitting their sides_

Matt Donovan (in 'Knocknagow') says of his potatoes that had fine stalks
but little produce--_desavers_ as he called them--Every stalk of 'em would
make a rafter for a house. But put the best man in the parish to dig 'em
and a duck would swallow all he'd be able to turn out from morning till

Sometimes distinct numbers come in where they hardly apply. Not long ago I
read in an article in the 'Daily Mail' by Mr. Stead, of British 'ships all
over the seven seas.' So also here at home we read 'round the four seas of
Ireland' (which is right enough): and 'You care for nothing in the world
but your own four bones' (i.e. nothing but yourself). 'Come on then, old
beer-swiller, and try yourself against the four bones of an Irishman' (R.
D. Joyce: 'The House of Lisbloom.') _Four bones_ in this sense is very

A person meeting a friend for the first time after a long interval says
'Well, it's a cure for sore eyes to see you.' 'I haven't seen you now for a
month of {128} Sundays,' meaning a long time. _A month of Sundays_ is
thirty-one Sundays--seven or eight months.

Said jokingly of a person with very big feet:--He wasn't behind the door
anyway when the feet were giving out.

When a man has to use the utmost exertion to accomplish anything or to
escape a danger he says: 'That business put me to the pin of my collar.'
The allusion is to a fellow whose clothes are falling off him for want of
buttons and pins. At last to prevent the final catastrophe he has to pull
out the brass pin that fastens his collar and pin waistcoat and
trousers-band together.

A poor woman who is about to be robbed shrieks out for help; when the
villain says to her:--'Not another word or I'll stick you like a pig and
give you your guts for garters.' ('Ir. Penny Magazine.')

A man very badly off--all in rags:--'He has forty-five ways of getting into
his coat now.' (MacCall: Wexford.)

A great miser--very greedy for money:--He heard the money jingling in his
mother's pockets before he was born. (MacCall: Wexford.)

  A drunken man is a terrible curse,
  But a drunken woman is twice as worse;
    For she'd drink Lough Erne dry.


To a person who habitually uses unfortunate blundering expressions:--'You
never open your mouth but you put your foot in it.'

A girl to express that it is unlikely she will ever be married says: 'I
think, miss, my husband's intended mother died an old maid.' ('Penelope in
Ireland.') {129}

A young man speaking of his sweetheart says, in the words of the old

 'I love the ground she walks upon, _mavourneen gal mochree_'
  (thou fair love of my heart).

A conceited pompous fellow approaches:--'Here comes _half the town_!' A
translation from the Irish _leath an bhaile_.

Billy Heffernan played on his fife a succession of jigs and reels that
might 'cure a paralytic' [and set him dancing]. ('Knocknagow.')

In 'Knocknagow' Billy Heffernan being requested to play on his fife longer
than he considered reasonable, asked did they think that he had the bellows
of Jack Delany the blacksmith in his stomach?

Said of a great swearer:--'He'd swear a hole in an iron pot.'

Of another:--'He'd curse the bladder out of a goat.'

Of still another:--'He could quench a candle at the other side of the
kitchen with a curse.'

A person is much puzzled, or is very much elated, or his mind is disturbed
for any reason:--'He doesn't know whether it is on his head or his heels
he's standing.

A penurious miserable creature who starves himself to hoard up:--He could
live on the smell of an oil-rag. (Moran: Carlow.)

A man complaining that he has been left too long fasting says:--'My stomach
will think that my throat is cut.' (MacCall: Wexford.)

'Do you like the new American bacon?' 'Oh not at all: I tried it once and
that's enough for me: _I_ {130} _wouldn't touch it with a tongs._' Very
common and always used in depreciation as here.

We in Ireland are much inclined to redundancy in our speech. It is quite
observable--especially to an outsider--that even in our ordinary
conversation and in answering simple questions we use more words than we
need. We hardly ever confine ourselves to the simple English _yes_ or _no_;
we always answer by a statement. 'Is it raining, Kitty?' 'Oh no sir, it
isn't raining at all.' 'Are you going to the fair to-day?' 'No indeed I am
not.' 'Does your father keep on the old business still?' 'Oh yes certainly
he does: how could he get on without it?' 'Did last night's storm injure
your house?' 'Ah you may well say it did.' A very distinguished Dublin
scholar and writer, having no conscious leanings whatever towards the Irish
language, mentioned to me once that when he went on a visit to some friends
in England they always observed this peculiarity in his conversation, and
often laughed at his roundabout expressions. He remarked to me--and an
acute remark it was--that he supposed there must be some peculiarity of
this kind in the Irish language; in which conjecture he was quite correct.
For this peculiarity of ours--like many others--is borrowed from the Irish
language, as anyone may see for himself by looking through an Irish book of
question and answer, such as a Catechism. 'Is the Son God?' 'Yes certainly
He is.' 'Will God reward the good and punish the wicked?' 'Certainly: there
is no doubt He will.' 'Did God always exist?' 'He did; because He has
neither beginning nor end.' And questions and answers like these--from
Donlevy's {131} Irish Catechism for instance--might be given to any length.

But in many other ways we show our tendency to this wordy overflow--still
deriving our mannerism from the Irish language--that is to say, from modern
and middle Irish. For in very old Irish--of the tenth, eleventh, and
earlier centuries for instance, the tendency is the very reverse. In the
specimens of this very old language that have come down to us, the words
and phrases are so closely packed, that it is impossible to translate them
either into English or Latin by an equal number of words.[3] But this old
language is too far off from us to have any influence in our present
every-day English speech; and, as already remarked, we derive this
peculiarity from modern Irish, or from middle Irish through modern. Here is
a specimen in translation of over-worded modern Irish (Battle of Gavra, p.
141), a type of what was very common:--'Diarmuid himself [fighting]
continued in the enjoyment of activity, strength, and vigour, without
intermission of action, of weapons, or of power; until at length he dealt a
full stroke of his keen hard-tempered sword on the king's head, by which he
clove the skull, and by a second stroke swept his head off his huge body.'
Examples like this, from Irish texts, both modern and middle, might be
multiplied to any extent.


But let us now have a look at some of our Anglo-Irish redundancies, mixed
up as they often are with exaggeration. A man was going to dig by night for
a treasure, which of course had a supernatural guardian, like all hidden
treasures, and what should he see running towards him but 'a great big red
mad bull, with fire flaming out of his eyes, mouth, and nose.' (Ir. Pen.
Mag.) Another man sees a leprechaun walking up to him--'a weeny deeny dawny
little atomy of an idea of a small taste of a gentleman.' (_Ibid._) Of a
person making noise and uproar you will be told that he was roaring and
screeching and bawling and making a terrible hullabulloo all through the

Of an emaciated poor creature--'The breath is only just in and out of him,
and the grass doesn't know of him walking over it.'

'The gentlemen are not so pleasant _in themselves_' [now as they used to
be]. (Gerald Griffin.) Expressions like this are very often heard: 'I was
dead in myself,' i.e., I felt dull and lifeless.

[Dermot struck the giant and] 'left him dead without life.' ('Dermot and
Grainne.') Further on we find the same expression--_marbh gan anam_, dead
without life. This Irish expression is constantly heard in our English
dialect: 'he fell from the roof and was _killed dead_.'

  Oh brave King Brian, he knew the way
  To keep the peace and to make the hay:
  For those who were bad he cut off their head;
  And those who were worse he killed them dead.

Similarly the words 'dead and buried' are used all through Munster:--Oh
indeed poor Jack Lacy is {133} dead and buried for the last two years: or
'the whole family are dead and gone these many years.'

A very common Irish expression is 'I invited _every single one_ of them.'
This is merely a translation from Irish, as we find in 'Gabhra':--_Do
bhéarmaois gach aon bhuadh_: we were wont to win every single victory.

'We do not want any single one of them,' says Mr. Hamilton Fyfe ('Daily
Mail'). He puts the saying into the mouth of another; but the phraseology
is probably his own: and at any rate I suppose we may take it as a phrase
from Scotch Gaelic, which is all but the same as Irish Gaelic.

Emphatic particles and words, especially the pronouns with _self_, are
often used to excess. I heard a highly educated fellow-countryman say, 'I
must say myself that I don't believe it': and I am afraid I often use such
expressions myself. 'His companions remained standing, but he found it more
convenient to sit down himself.' A writer or speaker has however to be on
his guard or he may be led into a trap. A writer having stated that some
young ladies attended a cookery-class, first merely looking on, goes on to
say that after a time they took part in the work, and soon learned _to cook

I once heard a man say:--'I disown the whole family, _seed, breed and
generation_.' Very common in Ireland. Goldsmith took the expression from
his own country, and has immortalised it in his essay, 'The Distresses of a
Common Soldier.'

He was on the tip-top of the steeple--i.e., the very top. This expression
is extended in application: that {134} meadow is tip-top, i.e., very
excellent: he is a tip-top hurler. 'By no means' is sometimes expanded:--'I
asked him to lend me a pound, but he answered that _by no manner of means_
would he do any such thing.'

'If you do that you'll be crying down salt tears,' i.e., 'you'll deeply
regret it.' _Salt tears_ is however in Shakespeare in the same sense.
('Hen. VI.')

'Down with you now on your two bended knees and give thanks to God.'

If you don't stop, I'll wring the head off o' your neck. (Rev. Maxwell

The roof of the house fell down on the top of him. (Father Higgins.)

The Irish _air sé_ ('says he') is very often repeated in the course of a
narrative. It is correct in Irish, but it is often heard echoed in our
English where it is incorrect:--And says he to James 'where are you going
now?' says he.

In a trial in Dublin a short time ago, the counsel asked of witness:--'Now
I ask you in the most solemn manner, had you hand, act, or part in the
death of Peter Heffernan?'

A young man died after injuries received in a row, and his friend
says:--'It is dreadful about the poor boy: they made at him in the house
and killed him there; then they dragged him out on the road and killed him
entirely, so that he lived for only three days after. I wouldn't mind if
they shot him at once and put an end to him: but to be murdering him like
that--it is terrible.'

The fairy says to Billy:--'I am a thousand years old to-day, and I think it
is time for me to get {135} married.' To which Billy replies:--'I think it
is quite time without any kind of doubt at all.' (Crofton Croker.)

The squire walks in to Patrick's cabin: and Patrick says:--'Your honour's
honour is quite welcome entirely.' (Crofton Croker.)

An expression you will often hear even in Dublin:--'Lend me the loan of
your umbrella.'

'She doats down on him' is often used to express 'She is very fond of him.'

 'So, my Kathleen, you're going to leave me
      All alone by myself in this place.'


He went to America seven years ago, and from that day to this we have never
heard any tale or tidings of him.

'Did he treat you hospitably?' 'Oh indeed he pretended to forget it
entirely, and I never took bit, bite, or sup in his house.' This form of
expression is heard everywhere in Ireland.

We have in Ireland an inveterate habit--from the highest to the
lowest--educated and uneducated--of constantly interjecting the words 'you
know' into our conversation as a mere expletive, without any particular
meaning:--'I had it all the time, you know, in my pocket: he had a seat,
you know, that he could arrange like a chair: I was walking, you know, into
town yesterday, when I met your father.' 'Why in the world did you lend him
such a large sum of money?' 'Well, you know, the fact is I couldn't avoid
it.' This expression is often varied to 'don't you know.'

In Munster a question is often introduced by the {136} words 'I don't
know,' always shortened to _I'd'no_ (three syllables with the _I_ long and
the _o_ very short--barely sounded) 'I'd'no is John come home yet?' This
phrase you will often hear in Dublin from Munster people, both educated and

'The t'other' is often heard in Armagh: it is, of course, English:--

 'Sirs,' cried the umpire, cease your pother,
  The creature's neither one nor t'other.

       *       *       *       *       *



Some of the items in this chapter would fit very well in the last; but this
makes no matter; for 'good punch drinks well from either dandy or tumbler.'

You attempt in vain to bring a shameless coarse-minded man to a sense of
the evil he has done:--'Ye might as well put a blister on a hedgehog.'

You're as cross all this day as _a bag of cats_.

If a man is inclined to threaten much but never acts up to his
threats--severe in word but mild in act:--His bark is worse than his bite.

That turf is as dry as a bone (very common in Munster.) _Bone-dry_ is the
term in Ulster.

When a woman has very thick legs, thick almost down to the feet, she is
'like a Mullingar heifer, beef to the heels.' The plains of Westmeath round
Mullingar are noted for fattening cattle. {137}

He died roaring like Doran's bull.

A person restless, uneasy, fidgety, and impatient for the time being, is
'like a hen on a hot griddle.'

Of a scapegrace it is said he is past _grace_ like a limeburner's brogue
(shoe). The point will be caught up when it is remembered that _grease_ is
pronounced _grace_ in Ireland.

You're as blind as a bat.

When a person is boastful--magnifies all his belongings--'all his geese are

She has a tongue that would _clip a hedge_. The tongue of another would
_clip clouts_ (cut rags). (Ulster.)

He went _as fast as hops_. When a fellow is hopping along on one leg, he
has to go fast, without stopping.

Of a coarse ill-mannered man who uses unmannerly language:--'What could you
expect from a pig but a _grunt_.' (Carlow.)

A person who seems to be getting smaller is growing down like a cow's tail.

Of a wiry muscular active man people say 'he's as hard as nails.'

A person who acts inconsiderately and rudely without any restraint and
without respect for others, is 'like a bull in a china shop.'

Of a clever artful schemer: 'If he didn't go to school he met the

An active energetic person is 'all alive like a bag of fleas.'

That man knows no more about farming _than a cow knows of a holiday_.

A tall large woman:--'That's a fine doorful of a woman.' (MacCall:
Wexford.) {138}

He has a face as yellow as a kite's claw. (Crofton Croker: but heard

Jerry in his new clothes is as proud as a whitewashed pig. (MacCall:

That man is as old as a field. (Common in Tipperary.)

'Are you well protected in that coat?' 'Oh yes I'm _as warm as wool_.'
(Very common in the south.)

Idle for want of weft _like the Drogheda weavers_. Said of a person who
runs short of some necessary material in doing any work. (Limerick.)

I watched him as closely as a cat watches a mouse.

He took up the book; but seeing the owner suddenly appear, he dropped it
_like a hot potato_.

'You have a head and so has a pin,' to express contempt for a person's

How are your new stock of books selling? Oh they are _going like hot
cakes_. Hot cakes are a favourite viand, and whenever they are brought to
table disappear quickly enough.

He's as poor as a church mouse.

A person expressing love mockingly:--'Come into my heart and pick sugar.'

An extremely thin emaciated person is _like death upon wires_; alluding to
a human skeleton held together by wires.

Oh you need never fear that Mick O'Brien will cheat you: _Mick is as honest
as the sun_.

A person who does not persevere in any one study or pursuit, who is
perpetually changing about from one thing to another, is 'like a
daddy-long-legs dancing on a window.' {139}

A bitter tongue that utters cutting words is like the keen wind of March
that blows at every side of the hedge.

A person praising strong whiskey says:--I felt it like a torchlight
procession going down my throat.

A man with a keen sharp look in his face:--'He has an eye like a questing
hawk.' Usually said in an unfavourable sense.

If any commodity is supplied plentifully it is knocked about _like snuff at
a wake_. Snuff was supplied free at wakes; and the people were not sparing
of it as they got it for nothing.

A chilly day:--'There's a stepmother's breath in the air.'

Now Biddy clean and polish up those spoons and knives and forks carefully;
don't stop till you make them shine _like a cat's eye under a bed_.

It is foolish to threaten unless you have--and show that you have--full
power to carry out your threats:--'Don't show your teeth till you're able
to bite.'

_Greasing the fat sow's lug_: i.e. giving money or presents to a rich man
who does not need them. (Kildare.)

I went on a visit to Tom and he _fed me like a fighting cock_.

That little chap is as cute as a pet fox.

A useless worthless fellow:--He's fit to mind mice at a cross-roads.

How did he look? Oh he had a weaver's blush--pale cheek and a red nose.

When a person clinches an argument, or puts a hard fact in opposition, or a
poser of any kind hard to answer:--'Put that in your pipe and smoke it.'

'My stomach is as dry as a lime-burner's wig.' There were professional
lime-burners then: alas, we have none now.

I want a drink badly: my throat is as dry as the pipe of Dick the
blacksmith's bellows.

Poor Manus was terribly frightened; he stood shaking _like a dog in a wet
sack_. (Crofton Croker: but heard everywhere in Ireland.)

'As happy as the days are long': that is to say happy while the days
last--uninterruptedly happy.

Spending your money before you get it--going in debt till pay day comes
round: that's 'eating the calf in the cow's belly.'

He hasn't as much land as would sod a lark; as much as would make a sod for
a lark in a cage.

That fellow is _as crooked an a ram's horn_; i.e. he is a great schemer.
Applied also in general to anything crooked.

'Do you mean to say he is a thief?' 'Yes I do; last year he stole sheep _as
often as he has fingers and toes_' (meaning very often).

You're as welcome as the flowers of May.

'Biddy, are the potatoes boiling?' Biddy takes off the lid to look, and
replies 'The _white horses_ are on 'em ma'am.' The _white horses_ are
patches of froth on the top of the pot when the potatoes are coming near

That's as firm as the Rock of Cashel--as firm as the hob of hell.

That man would tell lies as fast as a horse would trot.

A person who does his business briskly and energetically 'works like a
hatter'--'works like a {141} nailer'--referring to the fussy way of these
men plying their trade.

A conceited fellow having a dandy way of lifting and placing his legs and
feet in moving about 'walks like a hen in stubbles.'

A person who is cool and collected under trying circumstances is 'as cool
as a cucumber.' Here the alliteration helps to popularise the saying.

I must put up the horses now and have them 'as clean as a new pin' for the

A person who does good either to an individual or to his family or to the
community, but afterwards spoils it all by some contrary course of conduct,
is like a cow that fills the pail, but kicks it over in the end.

A person quite illiterate 'wouldn't know a B from a bull's foot.' The
catching point here is partly alliteration, and partly that a bull's foot
has some resemblance to a B.

Another expression for an illiterate man:--He wouldn't know a C from a
chest of drawers--where there is a weak alliteration.

He'll tell you a story as long as to-day and to-morrow. Long enough: for
you have to wait on indefinitely for 'to-morrow': or as they say 'to-morrow
come never.'

'You'll lose that handkerchief _as sure as a gun_.'

That furrow is _as straight as a die_.

A person who does neither good nor harm--little ill, little good--is 'like
a chip in porridge': almost always said as a reproach.

I was _on pins and needles_ till you came home: i.e. I was very uneasy.

The story went round like wildfire: i.e. circulated rapidly.

Of a person very thin:--He's 'as fat as a hen in the forehead.'

A man is staggering along--not with drink:--That poor fellow is 'drunk with
hunger like a showman's dog.'

Dick and Bill are 'as great as inkle-weavers:' a saying very common in
Limerick and Cork. _Inkle_ is a kind of broad linen tape: a Shakespearian
word. 'Several pieces of it were formerly woven in the same loom, by as
many boys, who sat close together on the same seat-board.' (Dr. A. Hume.)

William is 'the spit out of his father's mouth'; i.e. he is strikingly like
his father either in person or character or both. Another expression
conveying the same sense:--'Your father will never die while you are
alive': and 'he's a chip off the old block.' Still another, though not
quite so strong:--'He's his father's son.' Another saying to the same
effect--'kind father for him'--is examined elsewhere.

'I'm a man in myself like Oliver's bull,' a common saying in my native
place (in Limerick), and applied to a confident self-helpful person. The
Olivers were the local landlords sixty or seventy years ago. (For a tune
with this name see my 'Old Irish Music and Songs,' p. 46.)

A person is asked to do any piece of work which ought to be done by his
servant:--'Aye indeed, _keep a dog and bark myself_.'

That fellow walks as straight up and stiff as if he took _a breakfast of

A man who passes through many dangers or {143} meets with many bad
accidents and always escapes has 'as many lives as a cat.' Everyone knows
that a cat has nine lives.

_Putting on the big pot_ means empty boasting and big talk. Like a woman
who claps a large pot of water on the fire to boil a weeny little bit of
meat--which she keeps out of sight--pretending she has _launa-vaula_,
_lashings and leavings_, full and plenty.

If a man is in low spirits--depressed--down in the mouth--'his heart is as
low as a keeroge's kidney' (_keeroge_, a beetle or clock). This last now
usually said in jest.

James O'Brien is a good scholar, but he's not _in it_ with Tom Long:
meaning that he is not at all to be compared with Tom Long.

If a person is indifferent about any occurrence--doesn't care one way or
the other--he is 'neither glad nor sorry like a dog at his father's wake.'

       *       *       *       *       *



_Church_, _Chapel_, _Scallan_. All through Ireland it is customary to call
a Protestant place of worship a 'church,' and that belonging to Roman
Catholics a 'chapel': and this usage not only prevails among the people,
but has found its way into official documents. For instance, take the
Ordnance maps. In almost every village and town on the map you will {144}
see in one place the word 'Church,' while near by is printed 'R.C. Chapel.'
This custom has its roots far back in the time when it was attempted to
extend the doctrines of the Reformation to Ireland. Then wherever the
authority of the government prevailed, the church belonging to the
Catholics was taken from them; the priest was expelled; and a Protestant
minister was installed. But the law went much farther, and forbade under
fearful penalties the celebration of Mass--penalties for both priest and
congregation. As the people had now no churches, the custom began of
celebrating Mass in the open air, always in remote lonely places where
there was little fear of discovery. Many of these places retain to this day
names formed from the Irish word _Affrionn_ [affrin], the Mass; such as the
mountain called Knockanaffrinn in Waterford (the hill of the Mass),
Ardanaffrinn, Lissanaffrinn, and many others. While Mass was going on, a
watcher was always placed on an adjacent height to have a look-out for the
approach of a party of military, or of a spy with the offered reward in

After a long interval however, when the sharp fangs of the Penal Laws began
to be blunted or drawn, the Catholics commenced to build for themselves
little places of worship: very timidly at first, and always in some
out-of-the-way place. But they had many difficulties to contend with.
Poverty was one of them; for the great body of the congregations were
labourers or tradesmen, as the Catholic people had been almost crushed out
of existence, soul and body, for five or six generations, by the terrible
Penal Laws, which, with careful attention to details, omitted nothing {145}
that could impoverish and degrade them. But even poverty, bad as it was,
never stood decidedly in the way; for the buildings were not expensive, and
the poor people gladly contributed shillings coppers and labour for the
luxury of a chapel. A more serious obstacle was the refusal of landlords in
some districts to lease a plot of land for the building. In Donegal and
elsewhere they had a movable little wooden shed that just sheltered the
priest and the sacred appliances while he celebrated Mass, and which was
wheeled about from place to place in the parish wherever required. A shed
of this kind was called a _scallan_ (Irish: a shield, a protecting
shelter). Some of these _scallans_ are preserved with reverence to this
day, as for instance one in Carrigaholt in Clare, where a large district
was for many years without any Catholic place of worship, as the local
landlord obstinately refused to let a bit of land. You may now see that
very _scallan_--not much larger than a sentry-box--beside the new chapel in

And so those humble little buildings gradually rose up all over the
country. Then many of the small towns and villages through the country
presented this spectacle. In one place was the 'decent church' that had
formerly belonged to the Catholics, now in possession of a Protestant
congregation of perhaps half a dozen--church, minister, and clerk
maintained by contributions of tithes forced from the Catholic people; and
not far off a poor little thatched building with clay floor and rough walls
for a Roman Catholic congregation of 500, 1000, or more, all except the few
that found room within kneeling on {146} the ground outside, only too glad
to be able to be present at Mass under any conditions.

These little buildings were always called 'chapels,' to distinguish them
from what were now the Protestant churches. Many of these primitive places
of worship remained in use to a period within living memory--perhaps some
remain still. When I was a boy I generally heard Mass in one of them, in
Ballyorgan, Co. Limerick: clay floor, no seats, walls of rough stone
unplastered, thatch not far above our heads. Just over the altar was
suspended a level canopy of thin boards, to hide the thatch from the sacred
spot: and on its under surface was roughly painted by some rustic artist a
figure of a dove--emblematic of the Holy Ghost--which to my childish fancy
was a work of art equal at least to anything ever executed by Michael
Angelo. Many and many a time I heard exhortations from that poor altar,
sometimes in English, sometimes in Irish, by the Rev. Darby Buckley, the
parish priest of Glenroe (of which Ballyorgan formed a part), delivered
with such earnestness and power as to produce extraordinary effects on the
congregation. You saw men and women in tears everywhere around you, and at
the few words of unstudied peroration they flung themselves on their knees
in a passionate burst of piety and sorrow. Ah, God be with Father Darby
Buckley: a small man, full of fire and energy: somewhat overbearing, and
rather severe in judging of small transgressions; but all the same, a great
and saintly parish priest.

That little chapel has long been superseded by a solid structure, suitable
to the neighbourhood and its people. {147}

What has happened in the neighbouring town of Kilfinane is still more
typical of the advance of the Catholics. There also stood a large thatched
chapel with a clay floor: and the Catholics were just beginning to emerge
from their state of servility when the Rev. Father Sheehy was appointed
parish priest about the beginning of the last century. He was a tall man of
splendid physique: when I was a boy I knew him in his old age, and even
then you could not help admiring his imposing figure. At that time the lord
of the soil was Captain Oliver, one of that Cromwellian family to whom was
granted all the district belonging to their Catholic predecessors, Sir John
Ponsonby and Sir Edward Fitzharris, both of whom were impeached and

On the Monday morning following the new priest's first Mass he strolled
down to have a good view of the chapel and grounds, and was much astonished
to find in the chapel yard a cartload of oats in sheaf, in charge of a man
whom he recognized as having been at Mass on the day before. He called him
over and questioned him, on which the man told him that the captain had
sent him with the oats to have it threshed on the chapel floor, as he
always did. The priest was amazed and indignant, and instantly ordered the
man off the grounds, threatening him with personal chastisement,
which--considering the priest's brawny figure and determined look--he
perhaps feared more than bell book and candle. The exact words Father
Sheehy used were, 'If ever I find you here again with a load of oats or a
load of anything else, _I'll break your back for you_: and then I'll go up
and break your master's back too!' The {148} fellow went off hot foot with
his load, and told his master, expecting all sorts of ructions. But the
captain took it in good part, and had his oats threshed elsewhere: and as a
matter of fact he and the priest soon after met and became acquainted.

In sending his corn to be threshed on the chapel floor, it is right to
remark that the captain intended no offence and no undue exercise of power;
and besides he was always careful to send a couple of men on Saturday
evening to sweep the floor and clean up the chapel for the service of next
day. But it was a custom of some years' standing, and Father Sheehy's
predecessor never considered it necessary to expostulate. It is likely
enough indeed that he himself got a few scratches in his day from the Penal
Laws, and thought it as well to let matters go on quietly.

After a little time Father Sheehy had a new church built, a solid
slate-roofed structure suitable for the time, which, having stood for
nearly a century, was succeeded by the present church. This, which was
erected after almost incredible labour and perseverance in collecting the
funds by the late parish priest, the Very Rev. Patrick Lee, V.F., is one of
the most beautiful parish churches in all Ireland. What has happened in
Ballyorgan and Kilfinane may be considered a type of what has taken place
all over the country. Within the short space of a century the poor thatched
clay-floor chapels have been everywhere replaced by solid or beautiful or
stately churches, which have sprung up all through Ireland as if by magic,
through the exertions of the pastors, and the contributions of the people.

This popular application of the terms 'chapel' and 'church' found--and
still finds--expression in many ways. Thus a man who neglects religion: 'he
never goes to Church, Mass, or Meeting' (this last word meaning
Non-conformist Service). A man says, 'I didn't see Jack Delany at Mass
to-day': 'Oh, didn't you hear about him--sure he's going to _church_ now'
(i.e. he has turned Protestant). 'And do they never talk of those [young
people] who go to church' [i.e. Protestants]. (Knocknagow.)

The term 'chapel' has so ingrained itself in my mind that to this hour the
word instinctively springs to my lips when I am about to mention a Catholic
place of worship; and I always feel some sort of hesitation or reluctance
in substituting the word 'church.' I positively could not bring myself to
say, 'Come, it is time now to set out for church': it must be either 'Mass'
or 'the chapel.'

I see no reason against our retaining these two words, with their
distinction; for they tell in brief a vivid chapter in our history.

_Hedge-Schools._ Evil memories of the bad old penal days come down to us
clustering round this word. At the end of the seventeenth century, among
many other penal enactments,[4] a law was passed that Catholics were not to
be educated. Catholic schoolmasters were forbidden to teach, either in
schools or in private houses; and Catholic parents were forbidden to send
their children to any foreign country to be educated--all under heavy
penalties; from which it will be seen that care was taken to {150} deprive
Catholics--as such--altogether of the means of education.

But priests and schoolmasters and people combined all through the
country--and not without some measure of success--to evade this unnatural
law. Schools were kept secretly, though at great risk, in remote places--up
in the mountain glens or in the middle of bogs. Half a dozen young men with
spades and shovels built up a rude cabin in a few hours, which served the
purpose of a schoolhouse: and from the common plan of erecting these in the
shelter of hedges, walls, and groves, the schools came to be known as
'Hedge Schools.' These hedge schools held on for generations, and kept
alive the lamp of learning, which burned on--but in a flickering
ineffective sort of way--'burned through long ages of darkness and
storm'--till at last the restrictions were removed, and Catholics were
permitted to have schools of their own openly and without let or hindrance.
Then the ancient hereditary love of learning was free to manifest itself
once more; and schools sprang up all over the country, each conducted by a
private teacher who lived on the fees paid by his pupils. Moreover, the old
designation was retained; for these schools, no longer held in wild places,
were called--as they are sometimes called to this day--'hedge schools.'

The schools that arose in this manner, which were of different classes,
were spread all over the country during the eighteenth century and the
first half of the nineteenth. The most numerous were little elementary
schools, which will be described farther on. The higher class of schools,
which {151} answered to what we now call Intermediate schools, were found
all over the southern half of Ireland, especially in Munster. Some were for
classics, some for science, and not a few for both; nearly all conducted by
men of learning and ability; and they were everywhere eagerly attended.
'Many of the students had professions in view, some intended for the
priesthood, for which the classical schools afforded an admirable
preparation; some seeking to become medical doctors, teachers, surveyors,
&c. But a large proportion were the sons of farmers, tradesmen,
shopkeepers, or others, who had no particular end in view, but, with the
instincts of the days of old, studied classics or mathematics for the pure
love of learning. I knew many of that class.

'These schools continued to exist down to our own time, till they were
finally broken up by the famine of 1847. In my own immediate neighbourhood
were some of them, in which I received a part of my early education; and I
remember with pleasure several of my old teachers; rough and unpolished men
many of them, but excellent solid scholars and full of enthusiasm for
learning--which enthusiasm they communicated to their pupils. All the
students were adults or grown boys; and there was no instruction in the
elementary subjects--reading, writing, and arithmetic--as no scholar
attended who had not sufficiently mastered these. Among the students were
always half a dozen or more "poor scholars" from distant parts of Ireland,
who lived free in the hospitable farmers' houses all round: just as the
scholars from Britain and elsewhere {152} were supported in the time of
Bede--twelve centuries before.'[5]

In every town all over Munster there was--down to a period well within my
memory--one of those schools, for either classics or science--and in most
indeed there were two, one for each branch, besides one or more smaller
schools for the elementary branches, taught by less distinguished men.

There was extraordinary intellectual activity among the schoolmasters of
those times: some of them indeed thought and dreamed and talked of nothing
else but learning; and if you met one of them and fell into conversation,
he was sure to give you a strong dose as long as you listened, heedless as
to whether you understood him or not. In their eyes learning was the main
interest of the world. They often met on Saturdays; and on these occasions
certain subjects were threshed out in discussion by the principal men.
There were often formal disputations when two of the chief men of a
district met, each attended by a number of his senior pupils, to discuss
some knotty point in dispute, of classics, science, or grammar.

There was one subject that long divided the teachers of Limerick and
Tipperary into two hostile camps of learning--the verb _To be_. There is a
well-known rule of grammar that 'the verb _to be_ takes the same case after
it as goes before it.' One party headed by the two Dannahys, father and
son, very scholarly men, of north Limerick, held that the verb {153} _to be
governed_ the case following; while the other, at the head of whom was Mr.
Patrick Murray of Kilfinane in south Limerick, maintained that the
correspondence of the two cases, after and before, was mere _agreement_,
not _government_. And they argued with as much earnestness as the
Continental Nominalists and Realists of an older time.

Sometimes the discussions on various points found their way into print,
either in newspapers or in special broadsheets coarsely printed; and in
these the mutual criticisms were by no means gentle.

There were poets too, who called in the aid of the muses to help their
cause. One of these, who was only a schoolmaster in embryo--one of
Dannahy's pupils--wrote a sort of pedagogic Dunciad, in which he impaled
most of the prominent teachers of south Limerick who were followers of
Murray. Here is how he deals with Mr. Murray himself:--

  Lo, forward he comes, in oblivion long lain,
  Great Murray, the soul of the light-headed train;
  A punster, a mimic, a jibe, and a quiz,
  His acumen stamped on his all-knowing phiz:
  He declares that the subsequent noun should _agree_
  With the noun or the pronoun preceding _To be_.

Another teacher, from Mountrussell, was great in astronomy, and was
continually holding forth on his favourite subject and his own knowledge of
it. The poet makes him say:--

  The course of a comet with ease I can trail,
  And with my ferula I measure his tail;
  On the wings of pure Science without a balloon
  Like Baron Munchausen I visit the moon;
  Along the ecliptic and great milky way,
  In mighty excursions I soaringly stray;
  With legs wide extended on the poles I can stand,
  And like marbles the planets I toss in my hand.


The poet then, returning to his own words, goes on to say

  The gods being amused at his logical blab,
  They built him a castle near Cancer the Crab.

But this same astronomer, though having as we see a free residence, never
went to live there: he emigrated to Australia where he entered the
priesthood and ultimately became a bishop.

One of the ablest of all the Munster teachers of that period was Mr.
Patrick Murray, already mentioned, who kept his school in the upper story
of the market house of Kilfinane in south Limerick. He was particularly
eminent in English Grammar and Literature. I went to his school for one
year when I was very young, and I am afraid I was looked upon as very slow,
especially in his pet subject Grammar. I never could be got to parse
correctly such complications as 'I might, could, would, or should have been
loving.' Mr. Murray was a poet too. I will give here a humorous specimen of
one of his parodies. It was on the occasion of his coming home one night
very late, and not as sober as he should be, when he got 'Ballyhooly' and
no mistake from his wife. It was after Moore's 'The valley lay smiling
before me'; and the following are two verses of the original with the
corresponding two of the parody, of which the opening line is 'The candle
was lighting before me.' But I have the whole parody in my memory.

  MOORE: I flew to her chamber--'twas lonely
          As if the lov'd tenant lay dead;
        Ah would it were death and death only,
          But no, the young false one had fled.
        And _there_ hung the lute that could soften
          My very worst pains into bliss,
        And the hand that had waked it so often
          Now throbb'd to my proud rival's kiss.

        Already the curse is upon her
          And strangers her valleys profane;
        They come to divide--to dishonour--
          And tyrants there long will remain:
        But onward--the green banner rearing,
          Go flesh ev'ry brand to the hilt:
        On _our_ side is Virtue and Erin,
          And _theirs_ is the Saxon and Guilt.

         .    .    .    .    .    .

  MURRAY: I flew to the room--'twas _not_ lonely:
          My wife and her _grawls_ were in bed;
        You'd think it was then and then only
          The tongue had been placed in her head.
        For there raged the voice that could soften
          My very worst pains into bliss,
        And those lips that embraced me so often
          I dared not approach with a kiss.

        A change has come surely upon her:--
          The child which she yet did not _wane_
        She flung me--then rolled the clothes on her,
          And naked we both now remain.
        But had I been a man less forbearing
          Your blood would be certainly spilt,
        For on _my_ side there's plunging and tearing
          And on _yours_ both the blankets and quilt.

I was a pupil in four of the higher class of schools, in which was finished
my school education such as it was. The best conducted was that of Mr. John
Condon which was held in the upper story of the market house in
Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, a large apartment fully and properly furnished,
forming an admirable schoolroom. This was one of the best {156} schools in
Munster. It was truly an excellent Intermediate school, and was attended by
all the school-going students of the town, Protestant as well as
Catholic--with many from the surrounding country. Mr. Condon was a cultured
and scholarly man, and he taught science, including mathematics, surveying,
and the use of the globes, and also geography and English grammar. He had
an assistant who taught Greek and Latin. I was one of the very few who
attempted the double work of learning both science and classics. To learn
surveying we went once a week--on Saturdays--to Mr. Condon's farm near the
town, with theodolite and chain, in the use of which we all--i.e. those of
us learning the subject--had to take part in turn. Mr. Condon was thorough
master of the science of the Use of the Globes, a very beautiful branch of
education which gave the learners a knowledge of the earth, of the solar
system, and of astronomy in general. But the use of the globes no longer
forms a part of our school teaching:--more's the pity.

The year before going to Mitchelstown I attended a science school of a very
different character kept by Mr. Simon Cox in Galbally, a little village in
Limerick under the shadow of the Galty Mountains. This was a very rough
sort of school, but mathematics and the use of the globes were well taught.
There were about forty students. Half a dozen were grown boys, of whom I
was one; the rest were men, mostly young, but a few in middle
life--schoolmasters bent on improving their knowledge of science in
preparation for opening schools in their own parts of the country. {157}

In that school, and indeed in all schools like it through the country,
there were 'poor scholars,' a class already spoken of, who paid for
nothing--they were taught for nothing and freely entertained, with bed,
supper, and breakfast in the farmers' houses of the neighbourhood. We had
four or five of these, not one of whom knew in the morning where he was to
sleep at night. When school was over they all set out in different
directions, and called at the farmers' houses to ask for lodging; and
although there might be a few refusals, all were sure to be put up for the
night. They were expected however to help the children at their lessons for
the elementary school before the family retired.

In some cases if a farmer was favourably impressed with a poor scholar's
manner and character he kept him--lodging and feeding him in his
house--during the whole time of his schooling--the young fellow paying
nothing of course, but always helping the little ones at their lessons. As
might be expected many of these poor scholars were made of the best stuff;
and I have now in my eye one who was entertained for a couple of years in
my grandmother's house, and who subsequently became one of the ablest and
most respected teachers in Munster.

Let us remark here that this entertainment of poor scholars was not looked
upon in the light of a charity: it was regarded as a duty; for the instinct
ran in the people's blood derived from ancient times when Ireland was the
'Island of Saints and Scholars.'[6] It was a custom of long standing; for
{158} the popular feeling in favour of learning was always maintained, even
through the long dark night of the Penal Laws.

'Tis marvellous how I escaped smoking: I had many opportunities in early
life, of which surely the best of all was this Galbally school. For every
one I think smoked except the half dozen boys, and even of these one or two
were learning industriously. And each scholar took his smoke without
ceremony in the schoolroom whenever he pleased, so that the room was never
quite clear of the fragrant blue haze. I remember well on one occasion, a
class of ten, of whom I was one, sitting round the master, whose chair
stood on a slightly elevated platform, and all, both master and scholars,
were smoking, except myself. The lesson was on some of the hard problems in
Luby's Euclid, which we had been unable to solve, and of which Mr. Cox was
now showing us the solutions. He made his diagram for each problem on a
large slate turned towards us; and as we knew the meaning of almost every
turn and twist of his pencil as he developed the solution, he spoke very
little; and we followed him over the diagram, _twigging_ readily the
function of every point, line, angle, and circle. And when at last someone
had to ask a brief question, Mr. Cox removed his pipe with his left hand
and uttered a few monosyllabic words, which enabled us to pick up the lost
thread; then replacing the pipe, he went on in silence as before.

I was the delight and joy of that school; for I generally carried in my
pocket a little fife from which I could roll off jigs, reels, hornpipes,
hop-jigs, {159} song tunes, &c., without limit. The school was held in a
good-sized room in the second story of a house, of which the landlady and
her family lived in the kitchen and bedrooms beneath--on the ground-floor.
Some dozen or more of the scholars were always in attendance in the
mornings half an hour or so before the arrival of the master, of whom I was
sure to be one--what could they do without me?--and then out came the fife,
and they cleared the floor for a dance. It was simply magnificent to see
and hear these athletic fellows dancing on the bare boards with their
thick-soled well-nailed heavy shoes--so as to shake the whole house. And
not one in the lot was more joyous than I was; for they were mostly good
dancers and did full justice to my spirited strains. At last in came the
master: there was no cessation; and he took his seat, looking on
complacently till that bout was finished, when I put up my fife, and the
serious business of the day was commenced.

We must now have a look at the elementary schools--for teaching Reading,
Writing, and Arithmetic to children. They were by far the most numerous,
for there was one in every village and hamlet, and two or three or more in
every town. These schools were very primitive and rude. The parish priests
appointed the teachers, and kept an eye over the schools, which were
generally mixed--boys and girls. There was no attempt at classification,
and little or no class teaching; the children were taught individually.
Each bought whatever Reading Book he or his parents pleased. So there was
an odd mixture. A very usual book was a 'Spelling and {160} Reading book,'
which was pretty sure to have the story of Tommy and Harry. In this there
were almost always a series of lessons headed 'Principles of Politeness,'
which were in fact selected from the writings of Chesterfield. In these
there were elaborate instructions how we were to comport ourselves in a
drawing room; and we were to be particularly careful when entering not to
let our sword get between our legs and trip us up. We were to bear offences
or insults from our companions as long as possible, but if a fellow went
too far we were to 'call him out.' It must be confessed there was some of
the 'calling out' business--though not in Chesterfield's sense; and if the
fellows didn't fight with pistols and swords, they gave and got some black
eyes and bloody noses. But this was at their peril; for if the master came
to hear of it, they were sure to get further punishment, though not exactly
on the face.

Then some scholars had 'The Seven Champions of Christendom,' others 'St.
George and the Dragon,' or 'Don Bellianis of Greece,' 'The Seven Wonders of
the World,' or 'The History of Reynard the Fox,' a great favourite,
translated from an old German mock heroic. And sometimes I have seen girls
learning to read from a Catholic Prayerbook. Each had his lesson for next
day marked in pencil by the master, which he was to prepare. The pupils
were called up one by one each to read his own lesson--whole or part--for
the master, and woe betide him if he stumbled at too many words.

The schools were nearly always held in the small ordinary dwelling-houses
of the people, or perhaps a {161} barn was utilised: at any rate there was
only one room. Not unfrequently the family that owned the house lived in
that same room--the kitchen--and went on with their simple household work
while the school was buzzing about their ears, neither in any way
interfering with the other. There was hardly ever any _school_
furniture--no desks of any kind. There were seats enough, of a motley
kind--one or two ordinary forms placed at the walls: some chairs with
_sugaun_ seats; several little stools, and perhaps a few big stones. In
fine weather the scholars spent much of their time in the front yard in the
open air, where they worked their sums or wrote their copies with the
copybooks resting on their knees.

When the priest visited one of these schools, which he did whenever in the
neighbourhood, it was a great event for both master and scholars. Conor
Leahy was one of those masters--a very rough diamond indeed, though a good
teacher and not over severe--whose school was in Fanningstown near my home.
One day Billy Moroney ran in breathless, with eyes starting out of his
head, to say--as well as he could get it out--that Father Bourke was coming
up the road. Now we were all--master and scholars--mortally afraid of
Father Bourke and his heavy brows--though never was fear more misplaced (p.
71). The master instantly bounced up and warned us to be of good
behaviour--not to stir hand or foot--while the priest was present. He
happened to be standing at the fireplace; and he finished up the brief and
vigorous exhortation by thumping his fist down on the hob:--'By this stone,
if one of ye opens your mouth while the priest is here, I'll knock your
{162} brains out after he's gone away!' That visit passed off in great

These elementary teachers, or 'hedge teachers,' as they were commonly
called, were a respectable body of men, and were well liked by the people.
Many of them were rough and uncultivated in speech, but all had sufficient
scholarship for their purpose, and many indeed very much more. They were
poor, for they had to live on the small fees of their pupils; but they
loved learning--so far as their attainments went--and inspired their pupils
with the same love. These private elementary schools gradually diminished
in numbers as the National Schools spread, and finally disappeared about
the year 1850.

These were the schools of the small villages and hamlets, which were to be
found everywhere--all over the country: and such were the schools that the
Catholic people were only too glad to have after the chains had been struck
off--the very schools in which many men that afterwards made a figure in
the world received their early education.

The elementary schools of the towns were of a higher class. The attendance
was larger; there were generally desks and seats of the ordinary kind; and
the higher classes were commonly taught something beyond Reading, Writing,
and Arithmetic; such as Grammar, or Book-keeping, with occasionally a spice
of Euclid, Mensuration, Surveying, or Algebra.

It very often happened that the school took its prevailing tone from the
taste of the master; so that the higher classes in one were great at
Grammar, those of another at Penmanship, some at Higher {163} Arithmetic,
some at 'Short Accounts' (i.e. short methods of Mental Arithmetic), others
at Book-keeping. For there were then no fixed Programmes and no Inspectors,
and each master (in addition to the ordinary elementary subjects) taught
just whatever he liked best, and lit up his own special tastes among his

So far have these words, _church_, _chapel_, _scallan_, _hedge-school_, led
us through the bye-ways of History; and perhaps the reader will not be
sorry to turn to something else.

_Rattle the hasp: Tent pot._ During Fair-days--all over the country--there
were half a dozen or more booths or tents on the fair field, put up by
publicans, in which was always uproarious fun; for they were full of
people--young and old--eating and drinking, dancing and singing and
match-making. There was sure to be a piper or a fiddler for the young
people; and usually a barn door, lifted off its hinges--hasp and all--was
laid flat, or perhaps two or three doors were laid side by side, for the
dancers; a custom adopted elsewhere as well as in fairs--

 'But they couldn't keep time on the cold earthen floor,
  So to humour the music they danced on the door.'

  (CROFTON CROKER: _Old Song_.)

There was one particular tune--a jig--which, from the custom of dancing on
a door, got the name of 'Rattle the hasp.'

Just at the mouth of the tent it was common to have a great pot hung on
hooks over a fire sunk in the ground underneath, and full of pigs cheeks,
flitches of bacon, pigs' legs and _croobeens_ galore, kept {164}
perpetually boiling like the chiefs' caldrons of old, so that no one need
be hungry or thirsty so long as he had a penny in his pocket. These pots
were so large that they came to be spoken of as a symbol of plenty: 'Why
you have as much bacon and cabbage there as would fill a tent-pot.'

One day--long long ago--at the fair of Ardpatrick in Limerick--I was then a
little boy, but old enough to laugh at the story when I heard it in the
fair--a fellow with a wattle in his hand having a sharp iron spike on the
end, walked up to one of these tent-pots during the momentary absence of
the owner, and thrusting the spike into a pig's cheek, calmly stood there
holding the stick in his hand till the man came up. 'What are you doing
there?'--When the other looking sheepish and frightened:--'Wisha sir I have
a little bit of a pig's cheek here that isn't done well enough all out, and
I was thinking that may be you wouldn't mind if I gave it a couple of
_biles_ in your pot.' 'Be off out of that you impudent blaa-guard, yourself
and your pig's cheek, or I'll break every bone in your body.' The poor
innocent boy said nothing, but lifted the stick out of the pot with the
pig's cheek on the end of it, and putting it on his shoulder, walked off
through the fair with meek resignation.

More than a thousand years ago it was usual in Ireland for ladies who went
to banquets with their husbands or other near relations to wear a mask.
This lady's mask was called _fethal_, which is the old form of the word,
modern form _fidil_. The memory of this old custom is preserved in the name
now given to a mask by both English and Irish speakers--_i fiddle_,
_eye-fiddle_, _hi-fiddle_, or _hy-fiddle_ (the first two {165} being the
most correct). The full Irish name is _aghaidh-fidil_, of which the first
part _agaidh_, pronounced _i_ or _eye_, means the face:--_agaidh-fidil_,
'face-mask.' This word was quite common in Munster sixty or seventy years
ago, when we, boys, made our own _i-fiddles_, commonly of brown paper,
daubed in colour--hideous-looking things when worn--enough to frighten a
horse from his oats.

Among those who fought against the insurgents in Ireland during the
Rebellion of 1798 were some German cavalry called Hessians. They wore a
sort of long boots so remarkable that boots of the same pattern are to this
day called _Hessian boots_. One day in a skirmish one of the rebels shot
down a Hessian, and brought away his fine boots as his lawful prize. One of
his comrades asked him for the boots: and he answered 'Kill a Hessian for
yourself,' which has passed into a proverb. When by labour and trouble you
obtain anything which another seeks to get from you on easy terms, you
answer _Kill a Hessian for yourself_.

During the War of the Confederation in Ireland in the seventeenth century
Murrogh O'Brien earl of Inchiquin took the side of the Government against
his own countrymen, and committed such merciless ravages among the people
that he is known to this day as 'Murrogh the Burner'; and his name has
passed into a proverb for outrage and cruelty. When a person persists in
doing anything likely to bring on heavy punishment of some kind, the people
say 'If you go on in that way _you'll see Murrogh_,' meaning 'you will
suffer for it.' Or when a person seems scared or frightened:--'He saw
Murrogh or {166} the bush next to him.' The original sayings are in Irish,
of which these are translations, which however are now heard oftener than
the Irish.

In Armagh where Murrogh is not known they say in a similar sense, 'You'll
catch Lanty,' Lanty no doubt being some former local bully.

When one desires to give another a particularly evil wish he says, 'The
curse of Cromwell on you!' So that Cromwell's atrocities are stored up in
the people's memories to this day, in the form of a proverb.

In Ulster they say 'The curse of _Crummie_.'

'Were you talking to Tim in town to-day?' 'No, but I saw him _from me_ as
the soldier saw Bunratty.' Bunratty a strong castle in Co. Clare, so strong
that besiegers often had to content themselves with viewing it from a
distance. 'Seeing a person from me' means seeing him at a distance. 'Did
you meet your cousin James in the fair to-day?' 'Oh I just caught sight of
him _from me_ for a second, but I wasn't speaking to him.'

_Sweating-House._--We know that the Turkish bath is of recent introduction
in these countries. But the hot-air or vapour bath, which is much the same
thing, was well known in Ireland from very early times, and was used as a
cure for rheumatism down to a few years ago. The structures in which these
baths were given are known by the name of _tigh 'n alluis_ [teenollish], or
in English, 'sweating-house' (_allus_, 'sweat'). They are still well known
in the northern parts of Ireland--small houses entirely of stone, from five
to seven feet long inside, with a low little door through which one must
creep: {167} always placed remote from habitations: and near by was
commonly a pool or tank of water four or five feet deep. They were used in
this way. A great fire of turf was kindled inside till the house became
heated like an oven; after which the embers and ashes were swept out, and
water was splashed on the stones, which produced a thick warm vapour. Then
the person, wrapping himself in a blanket, crept in and sat down on a bench
of sods, after which the door was closed up. He remained there an hour or
so till he was in a profuse perspiration: and then creeping out, plunged
right into the cold water; after emerging from which he was well rubbed
till he became warm. After several baths at intervals of some days he
commonly got cured. Persons are still living who used these baths or saw
them used. (See the chapter on 'Ancient Irish Medicine' in 'Smaller Soc.
Hist. of Anc. Ireland,' from which the above passage is taken.)

The lurking conviction that times long ago were better than at present--a
belief in 'the good old times'--is indicated in the common opening to a
story:--'Long and merry ago, there lived a king,' &c.

'That poor man is as thin as a _whipping_ post': a very general saying in
Ireland. Preserving the memory of the old custom of tying culprits to a
firm post in order to be whipped. A whipping post received many of the
slashes, and got gradually worn down.

The hardiness of the northern rovers--the Danes--who made a great figure in
Ireland, as in England and elsewhere, is still remembered, after nine or
ten centuries, in the sayings of our people. Scores of {168} times I heard
such expressions as the following:--'Ah shut that door: there's a breeze in
through it that _would perish the Danes_.'

The cardinal points are designated on the supposition that the face is
turned to the east: a custom which has descended in Ireland from the
earliest times of history and tradition, and which also prevailed among
other ancient nations. Hence in Irish 'east' is 'front'; 'west' is 'behind'
or 'back'; north is 'left hand'; and south is 'right hand.' The people
sometimes import these terms into English. 'Where is the tooth?' says the
dentist. 'Just here sir, in the _west_ of my jaw,' replies the
patient--meaning at the back of the jaw.

Tailors were made the butt of much good-natured harmless raillery, often
founded on the well-known fact that a tailor is the ninth part of a man. If
a person leaves little after a meal, or little material after any
work--that is 'tailor's leavings'; alluding to an alleged custom of the
craft. According to this calumny your tailor, when sending home your
finished suit, sends with it a few little scraps as what was left of the
cloth you gave him, though he had really much left, which he has cribbed.

When you delay the performance of any work, or business with some secret
object in view, you 'put the pot in the tailor's link.' Formerly tailors
commonly worked in the houses of the families who bought their own material
and employed them to make the clothes. The custom was to work till supper
time, when their day ended. Accordingly the good housewife often hung the
pot-hangers on the highest hook or link of the pot-hooks so as to raise
{169} the supper-pot well up from the fire and delay the boiling. (Ulster.)

The following two old rhymes are very common:--

  Four and twenty tailors went out to kill a snail,
  The biggest of them all put his foot upon his tail--
  The snail put out his horns just like a cow:
 'O Lord says the tailor we're all killed now!'

  As I was going to Dub-l-in
    I met a pack of tailors,
  I put them in my pocket,
    In fear the ducks might _ait_ them.

In the Co. Down the Roman Catholics are called 'back-o'-the-hill folk': an
echo of the Plantations of James I--three centuries ago--when the
Catholics, driven from their rich lowland farms, which were given to the
Scottish Presbyterian planters, had to eke out a living among the glens and

When a person does anything out of the common--which is not expected of
him--especially anything with a look of unusual prosperity:--'It is not
every day that Manus kills a bullock.' (Derry.) This saying, which is
always understood to refer to Roman Catholics, is a memorial, in one flash,
of the plantation of the northern districts. Manus is a common Christian
name among the Catholics round Derry, who are nearly all very poor: how
could they be otherwise? That Manus--i.e. a Catholic--should kill a bullock
is consequently taken as a type of things very unusual, unexpected and
exceptional. Maxwell, in 'Wild Sports of the West,' quotes this saying as
he heard it in Mayo; but naturally enough the saying alone had reached the
west without its background of history, which is not known there as it is
in Derry. {170}

Even in the everyday language of the people the memory of those Plantations
is sometimes preserved, as in the following sayings and their like, which
are often heard. 'The very day after Jack Ryan was evicted, he _planted
himself_ on the bit of land between his farm and the river.' 'Bill came and
_planted_ himself on my chair, right in front of the fire.'

'He that calls the tune should pay the piper' is a saying that commemorates
one of our dancing customs. A couple are up for a dance: the young man asks
the girl in a low voice what tune she'd like, and on hearing her reply he
calls to the piper (or fiddler) for the tune. When the dance is ended and
they have made their bow, he slips a coin into her hand, which she brings
over and places in the hand of the piper. That was the invariable formula
in Munster sixty years ago.

The old Irish name of May-day--the 1st May--was _Belltaine_ or _Beltene_
[Beltina], and this name is still used by those speaking Irish; while in
Scotland and Ulster they retain it as a common English word--Beltane:--

 'Ours is no sapling, chance sown by the fountain,
  Blooming at Beltane, in winter to fade.'

  ('Lady of the Lake.')

Before St. Patrick's time there was a great pagan festival in Ireland on
1st May in honour of the god _Bél_ [Bail], in which fire played a prominent
part: a custom evidently derived in some way from the Phoenician fire
festival in honour of the Phoenician god _Baal_. For we know that the
Phoenicians were well acquainted with Ireland, and that wherever they went
they introduced the worship of Baal with his festivals. {171}

Among other usages the Irish drove cattle through or between big fires to
preserve them from the diseases of the year; and this custom was practised
in Limerick and Clare down a period within my own memory: I saw it done.
But it was necessary that the fires should be kindled from _tenaigin_ [_g_
sounded as in _pagan_]--'forced fire'--i.e., fire produced by the friction
of two pieces of dry wood rubbed together till they burst into a flame:
Irish _teine-éigin_ from _tein[)e]_, fire, and _éigean_, force. This word
is still known in the South; so that the memory of the old pagan May-day
festival and its fire customs is preserved in these two words _Beltane_ and

Mummers were companies of itinerant play-actors, who acted at popular
gatherings, such as fairs, _patterns_, weddings, wakes, &c. Formerly they
were all masked, and then young _squireens_, and the young sons of strong
farmers, often joined them for the mere fun of the thing; but in later
times masking became illegal, after which the breed greatly degenerated. On
the whole they were not unwelcome to the people, as they were generally the
source of much amusement; but their antics at weddings and wakes were
sometimes very objectionable, as well as very offensive to the families.
This was especially the case at wakes, if the dead person had been
unpopular or ridiculous, and at weddings if an old woman married a boy, or
a girl an old man for the sake of his money. Sometimes they came bent on
mischievous tricks as well as on a _shindy_; and if wind of this got out,
the faction of the family gathered to protect them; and then there was sure
to be a fight. (Kinahan.) {172}

Mummers were well known in England, from which the custom was evidently
imported to Ireland. The mummers are all gone, but the name remains.

We know that in former times in Ireland the professions ran in families; so
that members of the same household devoted themselves to one particular
Science or Art--Poetry, History, Medicine, Building, Law, as the case might
be--for generations (of this custom a full account may be seen in my
'Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland,' chap. vii., especially page
184). A curious example of how the memory of this is preserved occurs in
Armagh. There is a little worm called _dirab_ found in bog-water. If this
be swallowed by any accident it causes a swelling, which can be cured only
by a person of the name of Cassidy, who puts his arms round the patient,
and the worm dies. The O'Cassidys were hereditary physicians to the
Maguires, chiefs of Fermanagh. Several eminent physicians of the name are
commemorated in the Irish Annals: and it is interesting to find that they
are still remembered in tradition--though quite unconsciously--for their
skill in leechcraft.

'I'll make you dance Jack Lattin'--a threat of chastisement, often heard in
Kildare. John Lattin of Morristown House county Kildare (near Naas) wagered
that he'd dance home to Morristown from Dublin--more than twenty
miles--changing his dancing-steps every furlong: and won the wager. 'I'll
make you dance' is a common threat heard everywhere: but 'I'll make you
dance Jack Lattin' is ten times worse--'I'll make you dance excessively.'

Morristown, Jack Lattin's residence, is near Lyons the seat of Lord
Cloncurry, where Jack was often a guest, in the first half of the last
century. Lady Morgan has an entry in her Memoirs (1830):--'Returned from
Lyons--Lord Cloncurry's, a large party--the first day good--Sheil, Curran,
Jack Lattin.'

It is worthy of remark that there is a well-known Irish tune called 'Jack
Lattin,' which some of our Scotch friends have quietly appropriated; and
not only that, but have turned Jack himself into a Scotchman by calling the
tune 'Jockey Latin'! They have done precisely the same with our 'Eileen
Aroon' which they call 'Robin Adair.' The same Robin Adair--or to call him
by his proper name Robert Adair--was a well-known county Wicklow man and a
member of the Irish Parliament.

The word _sculloge_ or _scolloge_ is applied to a small farmer, especially
one that does his own farm work: it is often used in a somewhat
depreciatory sense to denote a mere rustic: and in both senses it is well
known all over the South. This word has a long history. It was originally
applied--a thousand years ago or more--to the younger monks of a monastery,
who did most of the farm work on the land belonging to the religious
community. These young men were of course students indoors, as well as
tillers outside, and hence the name, from _scol_, a school:--_scológ_ a
young scholar. But as farm work constituted a large part of their
employment the name gradually came to mean a working farmer; and in this
sense it has come down to our time.

To a rich man whose forefathers made their {174} money by smuggling
_pottheen_ (illicit whiskey) from Innishowen in Donegal (formerly
celebrated for its pottheen manufacture), they say in Derry 'your granny
was a Dogherty who wore a tin pocket.' (Doherty a prevalent name in the
neighbourhood.) For this was a favourite way of smuggling from the
highlands--bringing the stuff in a tin pocket. Tom Boyle had a more
ambitious plan:--he got a tinker to make a hollow figure of tin, something
like the figure of his wife, who was a little woman, which Tom dressed up
in his wife's clothes and placed on the pillion behind him on the
horse--filled with pottheen: for in those times it was a common custom for
the wife to ride behind her husband. At last a sharp-eyed policeman, seeing
the man's affectionate attention so often repeated, kept on the watch, and
satisfied himself at last that Tom had a tin wife. So one day, coming
behind the animal he gave the poor little woman a whack of a stick which
brought forth, not a screech, but a hard metallic sound, to the
astonishment of everybody: and then it was all up with poor Tom and his

There are current in Ireland many stories of gaugers and pottheen
distillers which hardly belong to my subject, except this one, which I may
claim, because it has _left its name on_ a well-known Irish tune:--'Paddy
outwitted the gauger,' also called by three other names, 'The Irishman's
heart for the ladies,' 'Drops of brandy,' and _Cummilum_ (Moore's: 'Fairest
put on Awhile'). Paddy Fogarty kept a little public-house at the
cross-roads in which he sold 'parliament,' i.e. legal whiskey on which the
duty had been paid; but it was well known that friends could get a little
drop {175} of pottheen too, on the sly. One hot July day he was returning
home from Thurles with a ten-gallon cag on his back, slung by a strong
_soogaun_ (hay rope). He had still two good miles before him, and he sat
down to rest, when who should walk up but the new gauger. 'Well my good
fellow, what have you got in that cask?' Paddy dropped his jaw, looking the
picture of terror, and mumbled out some tomfoolery like an excuse. 'Ah, my
man, you needn't think of coming over me: I see how it is: I seize this
cask in the name of the king.' Poor Paddy begged and prayed, and talked
about Biddy and the childher at home--all to no use: the gauger slung up
the cag on his back (about a hundredweight) and walked on, with Paddy,
heart-broken, walking behind--for the gauger's road lay towards Paddy's
house. At last when they were near the cross-roads the gauger sat down to
rest, and laying down the big load began to wipe his face with his
handkerchief. 'Sorry I am,' says Paddy, 'to see your honour so dead _bet_
up: sure you're sweating like a bull: maybe I could relieve you.' And with
that he pulled his legal _permit_ out of his pocket and laid it on the cag.
The gauger was astounded: 'Why the d---- didn't you show me that before?'
'Why then 'tis the way your honour,' says Paddy, looking as innocent as a
lamb, 'I didn't like to make so bould as I wasn't axed to show it?' So the
gauger, after a volley of something that needn't be particularised here,
walked off _with himself without an inch of the tail_. 'Faix,' says Paddy,
''tis easy to know 'twasn't our last gauger, ould Warnock, that was here:
'twouldn't be so easy to come round him; for he had a nose that would
_smell a needle in a forge_.' {176}

In Sligo if a person is sick in a house, and one of the cattle dies, they
say 'a life for a life,' and the patient will recover. Mr. Kinahan says,
'This is so universal in the wilds of Sligo that Protestants and Catholics
believe it alike.'

As an expression of welcome, a person says, 'We'll spread green rushes
under your feet'; a memory of the time when there were neither boards nor
carpets on the floors--nothing but the naked clay--in Ireland as well as in
England; and in both countries, it was the custom to strew the floors of
the better class of houses with rushes, which were renewed for any
distinguished visitor. This was always done by the women-servants: and the
custom was so general and so well understood that there was a knife of
special shape for cutting the rushes. (See my 'Smaller Social Hist. of
Ancient Ireland,' p. 305.)

A common exclamation of drivers for urging on a horse, heard everywhere in
Ireland, is _hupp, hupp!_ It has found its way even into our nursery
rhymes; as when a mother is dancing her baby up and down on her knee, she

 'How many miles to Dub-l-in?
    Three score and ten,
  Will we be there by candle light?
    Yes and back again:
  _Hupp, hupp_ my little horse,
    _Hupp, hupp_ again.'

This Irish word, insignificant as it seems, has come down from a period
thirteen or fourteen hundred years ago, or probably much farther back. In
the library of St. Gall in Switzerland there is a manuscript written in the
eighth century by some scholarly Irish {177} monk--who he was we cannot
tell: and in this the old writer _glosses_ or explains many Latin words by
corresponding Irish words. Among others the Latin interjection _ei_ or
_hei_ (meaning ho! quick! come on) is explained by _upp_ or _hupp_ (Zeuss).

Before Christianity had widely spread in Ireland, the pagans had a numerous
pantheon of gods and goddesses, one of which was _Badb_ [bibe], a terrible
war-fury. Her name is pronounced _Bibe_ or _Bybe_, and in this form it is
still preserved all over Cork and round about, not indeed for a war-fury,
but for what--in the opinion of some people--is nearly as bad, a _scolding
woman_. (For _Badb_ and all the other pagan Irish gods and goddesses, see
my 'Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland,' chap. v.)

From the earliest times in Ireland animals were classified with regard to
grazing; and the classification is recognised and fully laid down in the
Brehon Law. The legal classification was this:--two geese are equivalent to
a sheep; two sheep to a _dairt_ or one-year-old heifer; two _dairts_ to one
_colpach_ or _collop_ (as it is now called) or two-year-old heifer; two
_collops_ to one cow. Suppose a man had a right to graze a certain number
of cows on a common (i.e. pasture land not belonging to individuals but
common to all the people of the place collectively); he might turn out the
exact number of cows or the equivalent of any other animals he pleased, so
long as the total did not exceed the total amount of his privilege.

In many parts of Ireland this system almost exactly as described above is
kept up to this day, the collop being taken as the unit: it was universal
in my native place sixty years ago; and in a way it exists {178} there
still. The custom is recognised in the present-day land courts, with some
modifications in the classification--as Mr. Maurice Healy informs me in an
interesting and valuable communication--the _collop_ being still the
unit--and constantly referred to by the lawyers in the conduct of cases. So
the old Brehon Law process has existed continuously from old times, and is
repeated by the lawyers of our own day; and its memory is preserved in the
word _collop_. (See my 'Smaller Soc. Hist. of Anc. Ireland,' p. 431.)

In pagan times the religion of Ireland was Druidism, which was taught by
the druids: and far off as the time is the name of these druids still
exists in our popular speech. The Irish name for a druid is _drui_ [dree];
and in the South any crabbed cunning old-fashioned-looking little boy is
called--even by speakers of English--a _shoundree_, which exactly
represents in sound the Irish _sean-drui_, old druid; from _sean_ [shoun or
shan], old. (See 'Irish Names of Places,' I. 98.)

There are two words much in use in Munster, of which the phonetic
representations are _thoothach_ or _thoohagh_ and _hóchan_ (_ó_ long),
which tell a tale of remote times. A _thoothach_ or _thoohagh_ is an
ignorant unmannerly clownish fellow: and _hóchan_ means much the same
thing, except that it is rather lower in the sense of ignorance or
uncouthness. Passing through the Liberties of Dublin I once heard a
woman--evidently from Limerick--call a man a dirty _hóchan_. Both words are
derived from _tuath_ [thooa], a layman, as distinguished from a cleric or a
man of learning. The Irish form of the first is _tuathtach_: of the second
_thuathcháin_ (vocative). Both are a memory of the {179} time when
illiterate people were looked down upon as boorish and ill-mannered as
compared with clerics or with men of learning in general.

The people had great respect and veneration for the old families of landed
gentry--the _real old stock_ as they were called. If a man of a lower class
became rich so as to vie with or exceed in possessions many of the old
families, he was never recognised as on their level or as a gentleman. Such
a man was called by the people a _half-sir_, which bears its meaning on its

Sixty years ago people very generally used home-made and home-grown
produce--frieze--linen--butter--bacon--potatoes and vegetables in general.
A good custom, for 'a cow never burst herself by chewing her cud.'
(MacCall: Wexford.)

To see one magpie or more is a sign of bad or good luck, viz.:--'One for
sorrow; two for mirth; three for a wedding; four for a birth.' (MacCall:

The war-cry of the great family of O'Neill of Tyrone was _Lauv-derg-aboo_
(the Red Hand to Victory: the Red Hand being the cognisance of the
O'Neills): and this cry the clansmen shouted when advancing to battle. It
is many a generation since this same cry was heard in battle; and yet it is
remembered in popular sayings to this day. In Tyrone when a fight is
expected one man will say to another 'there will be _Dergaboos_ to-day':
not that the cry will be actually raised; but _Dergaboo_ has come to be a
sort of symbolic name for a fight.

In and around Ballina in Mayo, a great strong fellow is called an
_allay-foozee_, which represents the {180} sound of the French
_Allez-fusil_ (musket or musketry forward), preserving the memory of the
landing of the French at Killala (near Ballina) in 1798.

When a person looks as if he were likely to die soon:--'He's in the raven's
book.' Because when a person is about to die, the raven croaks over the
house. (MacCall: Wexford.)

A 'cross' was a small old Irish coin so called from a figure of St. Patrick
stamped on it with a conspicuous cross. Hence a person who has no money
says 'I haven't a cross.' In Wexford they have the same saying with a
little touch of drollery added on:--'There isn't as much as a cross in my
pocket to keep the devil from dancing in it.' (MacCall.) For of course the
devil dare not come near a cross of any shape or form.

A _keenoge_ (which exactly represents the pronunciation of the Irish
_cíanóg_) is a very small coin, a farthing or half a farthing. It was
originally applied to a small foreign coin, probably Spanish, for the Irish
_cían_ is 'far off,' 'foreign': _óg_ is the diminutive termination. It is
often used like 'cross': 'I haven't as much as a keenoge in my pocket.'
'Are you not going to lend me any money at all?' 'Not a keenoge.'

A person not succeeding in approaching the house or spot he wants to reach;
hitting wide of the mark in shooting; not coming to the point in argument
or explanation:--'Oh you didn't come within the bray of an ass of it.' This
is the echo of a very old custom. More than a thousand years ago distance
was often vaguely measured in Ireland by sound. A man felling a tree was
'bound by the Brehon Law {181} to give warning as far as his voice could
reach,' so as to obviate danger to cattle or people. We find a like measure
used in Donegal to this day:--[The Dublin house where you'll get the book
to buy is on the Quays] 'about a mountain man's call below the Four
Courts.' (Seumas MacManus.) The crow of a cock and the sound of a bell
(i.e. the small hand-bell then used) as measures of distances are very
often met with in ancient Irish writings. An old commentator on the Brehon
Laws defines a certain distance to be 'as far as the sound of the bell or
the crow of a barn-door cock could be heard. This custom also prevailed
among other ancient nations. (See my 'Smaller Soc. Hist. of Anc. Ireland,'
p. 473.)

_The 'Duty'._ Formerly all through Ireland the tenants were obliged to work
for their landlords on a certain number of days free, except that they
generally got food. Such work was commonly called in English the 'duty.' In
Wicklow for example--until very recently--or possibly still--those who had
horses had to draw home the landlord's turf on certain days. In Wexford
they had in a similar way to draw stones for the embankments on the Barrow.
The tenants commonly collected in numbers on the same day and worked all
together. The Irish word used to designate such gatherings was _bal_--still
so called in Connaught. It was usual to hear such English expressions
as--'Are you going to the duty?' or 'Are you going to the bal?' (Kinahan.)

(N.B. I do not know the Irish word _bal_ in this sense, and cannot find it
in the Dictionaries.)

'Duty' is used in a religious sense by Roman {182} Catholics all through
Ireland to designate the obligation on all Catholics to go to Confession
and Holy Communion at Easter time. 'I am going to my duty, please God, next

'I'll return you this book on next Saturday _as sure as the hearth-money_':
a very common expression in Ireland. The old English oppressive impost
called _hearth-money_--a tax on hearths--which every householder had to
pay, was imported into Ireland by the English settlers. Like all other
taxes it was certain to be called for and gathered at the proper time, so
that our saying is an apt one; but while the bad old impost is gone, its
memory is preserved in the everyday language of the people.

A king, whether of a small or large territory, had in his service a
champion or chief fighting man whose duty it was to avenge all insults or
offences offered to the families of the king and tribe, particularly
murder; like the 'Avenger of blood' of the Jews and other ancient nations.
In any expected danger from without he had to keep watch--with a sufficient
force--at the most dangerous ford or pass--called _bearna baoghaill_ [barna
beel] or gap of danger--on that part of the border where invasion was
expected, and prevent the entrance of any enemy. This custom, which is as
old as our race in Ireland, is remembered in our present-day speech,
whether Irish or Anglo-Irish; for the man who courageously and successfully
defends any cause or any position, either by actual fighting or by speeches
or written articles, is 'the man in the gap.' Of the old Irish chiefs
Thomas Davis writes:--

 'Their hearts were as soft as the child in the lap,
  Yet they were the men in the gap.'


In the old heroic semi-historic times in Ireland, a champion often gave a
challenge by standing in front of the hostile camp or fort and striking a
few resounding blows with the handle of his spear either on his own shield
or on a shield hung up for the purpose at the entrance gate outside.[7]

The memory of this very old custom lives in a word still very common in the
South of Ireland--_boolimskee_, Irish _buailim-sciath_, 'I strike the
shield,' applied to a man much given to fighting, a quarrelsome fellow, a
swaggering bully--a swash-buckler.

Paying on the nail, paying down on the nail; paying on the spot--ready
cash. This expression had its origin in a custom formerly prevailing in
Limerick city. In a broad thoroughfare under the Exchange stood a pillar
about four feet high, on the top of which was a circular plate of copper
about three feet in diameter. This pillar was called 'The Nail.' The
purchaser of anything laid down the stipulated price or the earnest _on the
nail_, i.e. on the brass plate, which the seller took up: when this was
done before witnesses the transaction was as binding as if entered on
parchment. (O'Keeffe's Recollections.) 'The Nail' is still to the fore, and
may now be seen in the Museum of the Carnegie Library building, to which it
was transferred a short time ago.

The change in the Calendar from the old style to the new style, a century
and a half ago, is noted in the names for Christmas. All through the South,
{184} and in other parts of Ireland, the 6th January ('Twelfth Day') is
called 'Old Christmas' and 'Little Christmas' (for before the change of
style it was _the_ Christmas): and in many parts of the north our present
Christmas is called New Christmas. So in Donegal the 12th of May is called
by the people 'Old May day.' (Seumas MacManus.)

_Palm, Palm-Sunday._ The usual name in Ireland for the yew-tree is 'palm,'
from the custom of using yew branches instead of the real palm, to
celebrate Palm Sunday--the Sunday before Easter--commemorating the palm
branches that were strewed before our Lord on His public entry into
Jerusalem. I was quite a grown boy before I knew the yew-tree by its proper
name--it was always _palm-tree_.

_Oliver's Summons._--When a lazy fellow was driven to work either by hunger
or by any unavoidable circumstance he was said to have got _Oliver's
Summons_, a common household word in parts of the county Limerick in my
younger days, originating in the following circumstance. When a good
plentiful harvest came round, many of the men of our neighbourhood at this
time--about the beginning of last century--the good old easy-going
times--worked very little--as little as ever they could. What was the use
of working when they had plenty of beautiful floury potatoes for half
nothing, with salt or _dip_, or perhaps a piggin of fine thick milk to
crown the luxury. Captain Oliver, the local landlord, and absolute monarch
so far as ordinary life was concerned, often--in those seasons--found it
hard or impossible to get men to come to do the necessary work about his
grounds--though paying {185} the usual wages--till at last he hit on an
original plan. He sent round, the evening before, to the houses of the men
he wanted, a couple of fellows with a horse and cart, who seized some
necessary article in each house--a spinning-wheel, a bed, the pot, the
single table, &c.--and brought them all away body and bones, and kept them
impounded. Next morning he was sure to have half a dozen or more strapping
fellows, who fell to work; and when it was finished and wages paid, the
captain sent home the articles. I had this story from old men who saw the
carts going round with their loads.

       *       *       *       *       *



Among fireside amusements propounding riddles was very general sixty or
seventy years ago. This is a custom that has existed in Ireland from very
early times, as the reader may see by looking at my 'Old Celtic Romances,'
pp. 69, 186, 187, where he will find some characteristic ancient Irish
ones. And we know that it was common among other ancient nations. I have a
number of our modern Irish riddles, many in my memory, and some supplied to
me from Wexford by Mr. Patrick J. MacCall of Dublin, who knows Wexford
well. Some are easy enough: but there are others that might defy the Witch
of Endor to answer them. They hardly come within my scope, but I will give
a few examples. {186}

A steel grey with a flaxen tail and a brass boy driving. Answer: needle and
thread; thimble.

  Little Jennie Whiteface has a red nose,
  The longer she lives the shorter she grows.

Answer: a lighted candle.

  A man without eyes
  Went out to view the skies,
    He saw a tree with apples on:
  He took no apples,
  He ate no apples,
    And still he left no apples on.

Answer: a one-eyed man: the tree had two apples: he took one.

Long legs, crooked thighs, little head, no eyes. Answer: a tongs.

Ink-ank under a bank ten drawing four. Answer: a girl milking a cow.

  Four-and-twenty white bulls tied in a stall:
  In comes a red bull and over licks them all.

Answer: teeth and tongue.

These are perhaps not very hard, though not quite so easy as the Sphinx's
riddle to the Thebans, which Oedipus answered to his immortal renown. But I
should like to see Oedipus try his hand at the following. Samson's riddle
about the bees is hard enough, but ours beats it hollow. Though Solomon
solved all the puzzles propounded to him by the Queen of Sheba, I think
this would put him to the pin of his collar. I learned it in Limerick two
generations ago; and I have got a Wexford version from Mr. MacCall. Observe
the delightful inconsequence of riddle and answer. {187}

      Riddle me, riddle me right:
      What did I see last night?
          The wind blew,
          The cock crew,
          The bells of heaven
          Struck eleven.
 'Tis time for my poor _sowl_ to go to heaven.

Answer: the fox burying his mother under a holly tree.

To a person who begins his dinner without saying grace: 'You begin your
meal like a fox': for a fox never says grace. A fox once ran off with a
cock--neck in mouth--to make a meal of him. Just as he was about to fall
to, the cock said--'Won't you thank God?' So the fox opened his mouth to
say grace, and the cock escaped and flew up into a tree. On which the fox
swore he'd never more say grace or any other prayer. (From Clare: Healy.)

In depreciation of a person's honour: 'Your honour and goat's wool would
make good stockings': i.e. your honour is as far from true honour as goat's
hair is from wool.

'For the life of me' I can't see why you vex yourself for so small a

Of a pair of well-matched bad men:--'They might lick thumbs.' Also 'A pity
to spoil two houses with them.' (Moran: Carlow.)

A person is said to be 'belled through the parish' when some discreditable
report concerning him has gone about in the neighbourhood. The allusion is
to a bellman announcing something to the public. (Moran: Carlow.) {188}

A person addresses some abusive and offensive words to another, who replies
'Talk away: _your tongue is no scandal_.' The meaning is, 'You are so well
known for the foulness of your tongue that no one will pay any attention to
you when you are speaking evil of another.' (Moran: Carlow.)

'Come and have a drink,' said the dragoon. 'I don't take anything; _thank
you all the same_,' replied Billy Heffernan. (Knocknagow.) Very general
everywhere in Ireland.

Regarding a person in consumption:--

  March will _sarch_ [search],
    April will try,
  May will see
    Whether you'll live or die.

  (MACCALL: Wexford.)

When a man inherits some failing from his parents, 'He didn't catch it in
the wind'--'It wasn't off the wind he took it.' (Moran: Carlow.)

When a man declines to talk with or discuss matters with another, he says
'I owe you no discourse'--used in a more or less offensive sense--and heard
all through Ireland.

When a person shows himself very cute and clever another says to him 'Who
let you out?'--an ironical expression of fun: as much as to say that he
must have been confined in an asylum as a confirmed fool. (Moran: Carlow.)

When a person for any reason feels elated, he says 'I wouldn't call the
king my uncle.' ('Knocknagow'; but heard everywhere in Ireland.)

When a person who is kind enough while he is with {189} you grows careless
about you once he goes away:--'Out of sight out of mind.'

To go _with your finger in your mouth_ is to go on a fool's errand, to go
without exactly knowing why you are going--without knowing particulars.

When a person singing a song has to stop up because he forgets the next
verse, he says (mostly in joke) 'there's a hole in the ballad'--throwing
the blame on the old ballad sheet on which the words were imperfect on
account of a big hole.

Searching for some small article where it is hard to find it among a lot of
other things is 'looking for a needle in a bundle of straw.'

When a mistake or any circumstance that entails loss or trouble is
irreparable--'there's no help for spilt milk.'

Seventy or eighty years ago the accomplishments of an Irishman should be:

  To smoke his dudheen,
  To drink his cruiskeen,
  To flourish his alpeen,
  To wallop a spalpeen.

  (MACCALL: Wexford.)

It is reported about that Tom Fox stole Dick Finn's sheep: but he didn't.
Driven to desperation by the false report, Tom now really steals one, and
says:--'As I have the name of it, I may as well have the gain of it.'

A person is told of some extraordinary occurrence and exclaims--'Well such
a thing as that was never before heard of _since Adam was a boy_.' This
last expression is very general.

The Chairman of the Banbridge Board of Guardians {190} lately asked a tramp
what was his occupation: to which the fellow--cancelling his impudence by
his drollery--replied:--'I'm a hailstone maker out of work owing to the
want of snow.'

My partner in any business has acted against my advice and has persisted,
notwithstanding my repeated friendly remonstrances, till at last he brings
failure and discredit. Yet when the trial comes I _stand black for him_;
i.e. I act loyally towards him--I defend him: I take my share of the blame,
and never give the least hint that the failure is all his doing. _Standing
black_ often heard.

'He's not all there,' i.e. he is a little daft, a little _cracked_,
weak-minded, foolish, has a slight touch of insanity: 'there's a slate
off,' 'he has a bee in his bonnet' (Scotch): 'he wants a square' (this last
Old English).

A man gets into an angry fit and you take no trouble to pacify him:--'Let
him cool in the skin he heated in.' (Moran: Carlow.)

A person asks me for money: I give him all I have, which is less than he
asked for:--'That is all [the corn] there's threshed.' (Moran: Carlow.)

A man with a very thin face 'could kiss a goat between the horns.' (Moran:

'Never put a tooth on it': an invitation to speak out plainly, whatever the

A woman giving evidence at Drumcondra Petty Sessions last year says 'I was
born and reared in Finglas, and there isn't one--man or woman--that dare
say _black was the white of my eye_': that is, no one could allege any
wrong-doing against her. Heard everywhere in Ireland. {191}

A man who is going backwards or down the hill in circumstances is said to
be 'going after his back.' The sense is obvious. (Moran: Wexford.)

'Come day go day God send Sunday,' applied to an easy-going idle
good-for-nothing person, who never looks to the future.

When a person is asked about something of which for some reason he does not
wish to speak, he says 'Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.'

A man who is of opinion that his friend has bought a cow too dear says 'You
bought every hair in her tail.'

To a person everlastingly talking:--'Give your tongue a holiday.'

He always visits us _of a Saturday_. Halliwell says this is common in
several English dialects. (Rev. Wm. Burke.)

Johnny Dunn, a job gardener of Dublin, being asked about his young wife,
who was living apart from him:--'Oh she's just doing nothing, but walking
about town with a _mug of consequence_ on her.'

'I'm blue-moulded for want of a beating,' says a fellow who pretends to be
anxious for a fight, but can find no one to fight with him.

  A whistling woman and a crowing hen
  Will make a man wealthy but deer knows when.

  (Moran: Carlow.)

The people have an almost superstitious dislike for both: they are
considered unlucky.

'I'll make him scratch where he doesn't itch': meaning I'll punish him
sorely in some way. (Moran: Carlow.) {192}

When flinging an abusive epithet at a person, 'you' is often put in twice,
first as an opening tip, and last as a finishing home blow:--'What else
could I expect from your like, _you unnatural vagabone, you_!'

'I'm afraid he turns up his little finger too often'; i.e.--he is given to
drink: alluding to the position of the hand when a person is taking a

  My neighbour Jack Donovan asked me one day,
  How many strawberries grew in the _say_;
  I made him an answer as well as I could,
  As many red herrings as grew in the wood.

When a person is obliged to utter anything bordering on coarseness, he
always adds, by way of a sort of apology, 'saving your presence': or 'with
respect to you.'

Small trifling things are expressed by a variety of words:--'Those sausages
are not worth a _mallamadee_': 'I don't care a _traneen_ what he says': 'I
don't care two rows of pins.'

To be rid of a person or thing is expressed by 'I got shut of him,' or 'I
am done of it.' (Limerick.)

'How did you travel to town?' 'Oh I went _on shanks' mare_:' i.e. I walked.

'His bread is baked'; i.e. he is doomed to die soon. (See p. 109 bottom.)

Banagher is a village in King's Co. on the Shannon: Ballinasloe is a town
in Galway at the other side of the river. When anything very unusual or
unexpected occurs, the people say,'Well that bangs Banagher!' or 'that
bangs Banagher and Ballinasloe!'

'Have you got a shilling to spare for a friend?' 'Indeed I have not.' 'Ah
you must give it to me; it {193} is for your cousin Tom.' 'Oh, _that's a
horse of another colour_.' (So he gives it.)

'_Well done mother!_' says the blacksmith when the tooth was out. This is
how it was pulled. He tied one end of a strong string round the tooth, and
the other end to the horn of the anvil, and made the old woman keep back
her head so as to tighten the string. '_Asy_ now mother,' says he. Then
taking the flaming horseshoe from the fire with the tongs he suddenly
thrust it towards her face. Anyone can finish the story.

If she catches you she'll _comb your hair with the creepy stool_: i.e.
she'll whack and beat you with it. (Ulster.)

They say pigs can see the wind, and that it is red. In very old times the
Irish believed that there were twelve different winds with twelve colours.
(For these see my 'Smaller Soc. Hist. of Anc. Ireland,' p. 527.) The people
also will tell you that a pig will swim till the water cuts its throat.

Ah, I see you want _to walk up my sleeve_: i.e. you want to deceive me--_to
take me in_. (Kerry.)

An expression often heard in the South:--Such and such a thing will happen
now and then _if you were to put your eyes on sticks_; i.e. however
watchful you may be. 'Well, if I was to put my eyes upon sticks, Misther
Mann, I never would know your sister again.' (Gerald Griffin.)

He _is down in the mouth_, i.e. he is in low spirits. I suppose this is
from the dropping down of the corners of the mouth.

To scold a person--to reprimand him--to give him a good 'setting down'--to
give him 'all sorts'--to give him 'the rough side of your tongue.' {194}

Anything that cheers you up 'takes the cockles off your heart': 'Here drink
this [glass of punch, wine, &c.] and 'twill take the cockles off your
heart.' 'It raises the very cockles o' my heart to see you.'
('Collegians.') ''Twould rise the cockles av your heart to hear her singing
the Coolin.' ('Knocknagow.') Probably the origin is this:--Cares and
troubles clog the heart as cockles clog a ship.

Instead of 'No blame to you' or 'Small blame to you,' the people often say,
''Tis a stepmother would blame you.'

'Cut your stick, now,' 'cut away'; both mean _go away_: the idea being that
you want a walking stick and that it is time for you to cut it.

'I hear William is out of his situation.' 'Yes indeed, that is true.' 'And
how is he living?' 'I don't know; I suppose he's living _on the fat of his
guts_': meaning he is living on whatever he has saved. But it is sometimes
used in the direct sense. Poor old Hill, while his shop prospered, had an
immense paunch, but he became poor and had to live on poor food and little
of it, so that the belly got flat; and the people used to say--he's living
now on the fat of his guts, poor old fellow.

Tom Hogan is managing his farm in a way likely to bring him to poverty, and
Phil Lahy says to him--'Tom, you'll scratch a beggarman's back yet':
meaning that Tom will himself be the beggarman. ('Knocknagow.') Common all
over Munster.

The people have a gentle laudable habit of mixing up sacred names and pious
phrases with their ordinary conversation, in a purely reverential spirit.
This is one of the many peculiarities of Anglo-Irish {195} speech derived
from the Irish language: for pious expressions pervaded Irish to its very
heart, of which the people lost a large part when they ceased to speak the
language. Yet it continues very prevalent among our English-speaking
people; and nearly all the expressions they use are direct translations
from Irish.

'I hear there is a mad dog running about the town.' 'Oh do you tell me
so--the Lord between us and harm!' or 'the Lord preserve us!' both very
common exclamations in case of danger.

Sudden news is brought about something serious happening to a neighbour,
and the people say:--'Oh, God bless the hearers,' or 'God bless the mark.'
This last is however generally used in derision. John Cox, a notorious
schemer and miser, 'has put down his name for £20 for a charity--God bless
the mark!' an intimation that the £20 will never be heard of again.

When a person goes away for ever or dies, the friends and people say 'God
be with him,' a very beautiful expression, as it is the concentration of
human affection and regret, and also a prayer. It is merely the translation
of the Irish _Dia leis_, which has forms for all the three persons and two
genders:--'with her,' 'with you, 'with them,' &c.

Under any discouraging or distressing circumstances, the expressions 'God
help me' and 'God help us' are continually in the mouths of the people.
They are merely translations of _go bh-fóireadh Día orruinn_, &c.
Similarly, expressions of pity for another such as 'That poor woman is in
great trouble, God help her,' are translations. {196}

In Dublin, Roman Catholics when passing a Catholic church (or 'chapel')
remove the hat or cap for a moment as a mark of respect, and usually utter
a short aspiration or prayer under breath. This custom is I think

When one expresses his intention to do anything even moderately important,
he always adds 'please God.' Even in our English speech this is of old
standing. During the Irish wars of Elizabeth, it was told to an Irish chief
that one of the English captains had stated he would take such and such a
castle, when the chief retorted, 'Oh yes, but did he say _please God_': as
much as to say, 'yes if God pleases, but not otherwise.'

'This sickness kept me from Mass for a long time; but _with the help of
God_, I'll venture next Sunday.' 'Yes, poor Kitty is in great danger, but
_with the help of God_ she will pull through.'

'I am afraid that poor Nellie will die after that accident.' 'Oh, God
forbid,' is the response.

People have a pleasing habit of applying the word _blessèd_ [2-syll.] to
many natural objects, to days, nights, &c. 'Well, you have teased me
terribly the whole of this blessèd day--you young vagabone.'

 'Were it not that full of sorrow from my people forth I go,
  By the blessèd sun 'tis royally I'd sing thy praise Mayo.'

  Translation of Irish Song on 'The County Mayo.'

A mother says to her mischievous child, 'Oh blessèd hour, what am I to do
with you at all at all!'

 'Oh we're in a precious plight
  By your means this blessèd night.'

  (Repeal Song of 1843.)


'God help me this blessèd night.' ('Mun Carberry and the Pooka' by Robert
Dwyer Joyce.)

A man is on the verge of ruin, or in some other great trouble, and the
neighbours will say, 'the Lord will open a gap for him': meaning God will
find some means of extricating him. Father Higgins, who sent me this, truly
remarks:--'This is a fine expressive phrase showing the poetical
temperament of our people, and their religious spirit too.'

When anything happens very much out of the common:--'Glory be to God, isn't
that wonderful.'

At the mention of the name of a person that is dead, the Roman Catholic
people invariably utter the little prayer 'God rest his soul' or 'the Lord
have mercy on him.'

The people thank God for everything, whatever it may be His will to send,
good or bad. 'Isn't this a beautiful day, Mike.' ''Tis indeed, thank God.'
'This is a terrible wet day, William, and very bad for the crops.' 'It is
indeed Tom, thanks be to God for all: He knows best.'

As might be expected where expressions of this kind are so constantly in
the people's mouths, it happens occasionally that they come in rather
awkwardly. Little Kitty, running in from the dairy with the eyes starting
out of her head, says to her mother who is talking to a neighbour in the
kitchen: 'Oh, mother, mother, I saw a terrible thing in the cream.' 'Ah,
never mind, child,' says the mother, suspecting the truth and anxious to
hush it up, 'it's nothing but the grace of God.' 'Oh but mother, sure the
grace of God hasn't a long tail.'

The following story was current when I was a {198} child, long before
Charles Kickham wrote 'Knocknagow,' in which he tells the story too: but I
will give it in his words. A station is held at Maurice Kearney's, where
the family and servants and the neighbours go to Confession and receive
Holy Communion: among the rest Barney Broderick the stable boy. After all
was over, Father MacMahon's driver provokes and insults Barney, who is kept
back, and keeps himself back with difficulty from falling on him and
'knocking his two eyes into one' and afterwards 'breaking every tooth in
his head.' 'Damn well the _blagard_ knows,' exclaims Barney, 'that I'm in a
state of grace to-day. But'--he continued, shaking his fist at the
fellow--'but, please God I won't be in a state of grace always.'

When a person is smooth-tongued, meek-looking, over civil, and deceitful,
he is _plauzy_ [plausible], 'as mild as ever on stirabout smiled.' 'Oh she
is sly enough; she looks as if _butter wouldn't melt in her mouth_.'
(Charles Macklin--an Irish writer--in _The Man of the World_.) This last
expression of Macklin's is heard everywhere here.

A person is in some sore fix, or there is trouble before him: 'I wouldn't
like to be _in his shoes_ just now.'

A person falls in for some piece of good fortune:--'Oh you're _made up_,
John: you're a _med_ man; you're _on the pig's back_ now.'

In a house where the wife is master--the husband henpecked:--'the grey mare
is the better horse.' (General.)

He got the father of a beating; i.e. a great beating. {199}

'How did poor Jack get that mark on his face?' 'Oh he fell over his
shadow': meaning he fell while he was drunk.

A good dancer 'handles his feet well.' (MacCall: Wexford.)

A pensioner, a loafer, or anyone that has nothing to do but walk about, is
_an inspector of public buildings_.

Those who leave Ireland commonly become all the more attached to it: they
get to love _the old sod_ all the more intensely. A poor old woman was
dying in Liverpool, and Father O'Neill came and administered the last
sacraments. He noticed that she still hesitated as if she wished to say
something more; and after some encouragement she at length said:--'Well,
father, I only wanted to ask you, _will my soul pass through Ireland on its
journey?_' ('Knocknagow.') According to a religious legend in 'The Second
Vision of Adamnan' the soul, on parting from the body, visits four places
before setting out for its final destination:--the place of birth, the
place of death, the place of baptism, and the place of burial. So this poor
old woman got her wish.

'Well, I don't like to say anything bad about you; and as for the other
side, _the less I praise you the less I lie_.' (North.)

There is a touch of heredity in this:--'You're nothing but a schemer like
your seven generations before you.' (Kildare.)

'Oh you need not be afraid: I'll call only very seldom henceforward.'
Reply:--'The seldomer the welcomer.' {200}

'Never dread the winter till the snow is on the blanket': i.e. as long as
you have a roof over your head. An allusion to the misery of those poor
people--numerous enough in the evil days of past times--who were evicted
from house and home. (P. Reilly: Kildare.)

Of a lucky man:--'That man's ducks are laying.'

When a baby is born, the previous baby's 'nose is out of joint.' Said also
of a young man who is supplanted by another in courtship.

A man who supplants another in any pursuit or design is said to 'come
inside him.'

A person is speaking bitterly or uncharitably of one who is dead; and
another says reprovingly--'let the dead rest.'

When it is proposed to give a person something he doesn't need or something
much too good for him, you oppose or refuse it by saying:--'_Cock him up
with it_--how much he wants it!--I'll do no such thing.' Two gentlemen
staying for a night in a small hotel in a remote country town ordered toast
for breakfast, which it seems was very unusual there. They sat down to
breakfast, but there was no sign of the toast. 'What about the toast?' asks
one. Whereupon the impudent waiter replies--'Ah, then cock yez up with
toast: how bad yez are for it.'

A very general form of expression to point to a person's identity in a very
vague way is seen in the following example:--'From whom did you buy that
horse, James?' Reply:--'From _a man of the Burkes_ living over there in
Ballinvreena': i.e. a man named Burke. Mr. Seumas MacManus has adopted
{201} this idiom in the name of one of his books:--'A Lad of the O'Friels.'

'I never saw the froth of your pot or the bead of your naggin': i.e. you
have never entertained me. _Bead_, the string of little bubbles that rise
when you shake whiskey in a bottle. (Kildare.)

Of a man likely to die: 'he'll soon be a load for four': i.e. the four
coffin-bearers. (Reilly: Kildare.)

When a person attempts to correct you when you are not in error:--'Don't
take me up till I fall.'

When you make a good attempt:--'If I didn't knock it down, I staggered it.'

'Love daddy, love mammy, love yourself best.' Said of a very selfish

An odd expression:--'You are making such noise that _I can't hear my
ears_.' (Derry; and also Limerick.)

Plato to a young man who asked his advice about getting married:--'If you
don't get married you'll be sorry: and if you do you'll be sorry.'

Our Irish cynic is more bitter:--

  If a man doesn't marry he'll rue it sore:
  And if he gets married he'll rue it more.

The children were great pets with their grandmother: 'She wouldn't let
anyone _look crooked_ at them': i.e. she wouldn't permit the least

'Can he read a Latin book?' 'Read one! why, he can write Latin books, _let
alone_ reading them.' _Let alone_ in this sense very common all over

A person offers to do you some kindness, and you accept it jokingly with
'Sweet is your hand in a pitcher of honey.' (Crofton Croker.) {202}

When a man falls into error, not very serious or criminal--gets drunk
accidentally for instance--the people will say, by way of
extenuation:--''Tis a good man's case.'

You may be sure Tim will be at the fair to-morrow, _dead or alive or

'You never spoke but you said something': said to a person who makes a
silly remark or gives foolish advice. (Kinahan).

'He will never comb a grey hair': said of a young person who looks
unhealthy and is likely to die early.

Two persons had an angry dispute; and _one word borrowed another_ till at
last they came to blows. Heard everywhere in Ireland.

The robin and the wren are God's cock and hen.

'I'll take the book _and no thanks to you_,' i.e. I'll take it in spite of
you, whether you like or no, against your will--'I'll take it in spite of
your teeth'--'in spite of your nose': all very common.

A person arrives barely in time for his purpose or to fulfil his
engagement:--'You have just saved your distance.'

To _put a person off the walk_ means to kill him, to remove him in some
way. (Meath.)

A man has had a long fit of illness, and the wife, telling about it,
says:--'For six weeks coal nor candle never went out.' (Antrim.)

'To cure a person's hiccup' means to make him submit, to bring him to his
senses, to make him acknowledge his error, by some decided course of
action. A shopkeeper goes to a customer for payment of a debt, and gets no
satisfaction, but, on the {203} contrary, impudence. 'Oh well, I'll send
you an attorney's letter to-morrow, and may be that will cure your hiccup.'
The origin of this expression is the general belief through Ireland that a
troublesome fit of hiccup may be cured by suddenly making some very
startling and alarming announcement to the person--an announcement in which
he is deeply concerned: such as that the stacks in the haggard are on
fire--that three of his cows have just been drowned, &c. Fiachra MacBrady,
a schoolmaster and poet, of Stradone in Cavan (1712), wrote a humorous
description of his travels through Ireland of which the translation has
this verse:--

 'I drank till quite mellow, then like a brave fellow,
    Began for to bellow and shouted for more;
  But my host held his stick up, which soon _cured my hiccup_,
    As no cash I could pick up to pay off the score.'

The host was the publican, and the stick that he held up was the tally
stick on which were marked in nicks all the drinks poor MacBrady had
taken--a usual way of keeping accounts in old times. The sight of the
_score_ brought him to his senses at once--_cured his hiccup_.

A verse of which the following is a type is very often found in our
Anglo-Irish songs:--

 'The flowers in those valleys no more shall spring,
  The blackbirds and thrushes no more shall sing,
  The sea shall dry up and no water shall be,
  At the hour I'll prove false to sweet graw-mochree.'

So in Scotland:--'I will luve thee still, my dear, till a' the seas gang
dry.' (Burns.)

A warning sometimes given to a messenger:--'Now don't forget it like Billy
and the pepper': This {204} is the story of Billy and the pepper. A gander
got killed accidentally; and as the family hardly ever tasted meat, there
was to be a great treat that day. To top the grandeur they sent little
Billy to town for a pennyworth of pepper. But Billy forgot the name, and
only remembered that it was something hot; so he asked the shopman for a
penn'orth of _hot-thing_. The man couldn't make head or tail of the
_hot-thing_, so he questioned Billy. Is it mustard? No. Is it ginger? No.
Is it pepper? Oh that's just it--_gandher's pepper_.

A man has done me some intentional injury, and I say to him, using a very
common phrase:--'Oh, well, wait; _I'll pay you off_ for that': meaning
'I'll punish you for it--I'll have satisfaction.'

_Dry_ for _thirsty_ is an old English usage; for in Middleton's Plays it is
found used in this sense. (Lowell.) It is almost universal in Ireland,
where of course it survives from old English. There is an old Irish air and
song called 'I think it no treason to drink when I'm _dry_': and in another
old Folk Song we find this couplet:

 'There was an old soldier riding by,
  He called for a quart because he was _dry_.'

Instances of the odd perversion of sense by misplacing some little clause
are common in all countries: and I will give here just one that came under
my own observation. A young friend, a boy, had remained away an unusually
long time without visiting us; and on being asked the reason he
replied:--'I could not come, sir; I got a bite in the leg of dog'--an
example which I think is unique. {205}

On the first appearance of the new moon, a number of children linked hands
and danced, keeping time to the following verse--

  I see the moon, the moon sees me,
  God bless the moon and God bless me:
  There's grace in the cottage and grace in the hall;
  And the grace of God is over us all.

For the air to which this was sung see my 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs,'
p. 60.

'Do you really mean to drive that horse of William's to pound?' 'Certainly
I will.' 'Oh very well; let ye take what you'll get.' Meaning you are
likely to pay dear for it--you may take the consequences. (Ulster.)

'If he tries to remove that stone without any help _it will take him all
his time_': it will require his utmost exertions. (Ulster: very common.)

When rain is badly wanted and often threatens but still doesn't come they
say:--'It has great _hould_ [hold] of the rain.' On the other hand when
there is long continued wet weather:--'It is very fond of the rain.'

When flakes of snow begin to fall:--'They are plucking the geese in
Connaught.' 'Formerly in all the congested districts of Ireland [which are
more common in Connaught than elsewhere] goose and duck feathers formed one
of the largest industries.' (Kinahan.)

Now James you should put down your name for more than 5s.: there's Tom
Gallagher, not half so well off as you, _put the shame on you_ by
subscribing £1. (Kinahan: pretty general.) {206}

In stories 'a day' is often added on to a period of time, especially to a
year. A person is banished out of Ireland for a year and a day.

The battle of Ventry Harbour lasted for a year and a day, when at last the
foreigners were defeated.

  There's a colleen fair as May,
  For a year and for a day
  I have sought by ev'ry way
            Her heart to gain.


'Billy MacDaniel,' said the fairy, 'you shall be my servant for seven years
and a day.' (Crofton Croker.) Borrowed from the Irish.

The word _all_ is often used by our rustic poets exactly as it is found in
English folk-songs. Gay has happily imitated this popular usage in
'Black-eyed Susan':--

 'All in the Downs the fleet was moored'--

and Scott in 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel':--

 'All as they left the listed plain.'

Any number of examples might be given from our peasant songs, but these two
will be sufficient:--

 'As I roved out one evening two miles below Pomeroy
  I met a farmer's daughter _all on_ the mountains high.'

 'How a young lady's heart was won
  _All by_ the loving of a farmer's son.'

(The two lovely airs of these will be found in two of my books: for the
first, see 'The Mountains high' in 'Ancient Irish Music'; and for the
second {207} see 'Handsome Sally' in 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs.')

'He saw her on that day, and _never laid eyes on her_ alive afterwards.'
(Speech of Irish counsel in murder case: 1909.) A common expression.

A wish for success either in life or in some particular undertaking--purely
figurative of course:--'That the road may rise under you.' As the road
continually rises under foot there is always an easy down hill in front.

Regarding some proposal or offer:--'I never said against it'; i.e. I never
disapproved of it--declined it--refused it.

Be said by me: i.e. take my advice. (General.)

When a cart-wheel screeches because the axle-tree has not been greased, it
is _cursing for grease_. (Munster.)

When a person wishes to keep out from another--to avoid argument or
conflict, he says:--'The child's bargain--let me alone and I'll let you

When a person goes to law expenses trying to recover a debt which it is
very unlikely he will recover, that is 'throwing good money after bad.'

'I'm the second tallest man in Mitchelstown'--or 'I'm the next tallest.'
Both mean 'there is just one other man in Mitchelstown taller than me, and
I come next to him.'

'Your honour.' Old English: very common as a term of courtesy in the time
of Elizabeth, and to be met with everywhere in the State papers and
correspondence of that period. Used now all through Ireland by the
peasantry when addressing persons very much above them. {208}

_The cabman's answer._ I am indebted to this cabman for giving me an
opportunity of saying something here about myself. It is quite a common
thing for people to write to me for information that they could easily find
in my books: and this is especially the case in connexion with Irish
place-names. I have always made it a point to reply to these
communications. But of late they have become embarrassingly numerous, while
my time is getting more circumscribed with every year of my long life. Now,
this is to give notice to _all the world and Garrett Reilly_ that
henceforward I will give these good people the reply that the Dublin cabman
gave the lady. 'Please, sir,' said she, 'will you kindly tell me the
shortest way to St. Patrick's Cathedral.' He opened the door of his cab
with his left hand, and pointing in with the forefinger of his right,
answered--'In there ma'am.' {209}

       *       *       *       *       *



[In this Vocabulary, as well indeed as through the whole book, _gh_ and
_ch_ are to be sounded guttural, as in _lough_ and _loch_, unless otherwise
stated or implied. Those who cannot sound the guttural may take the sound
of _k_ instead, and they will not be far wrong.]

    Able; strong, muscular, and vigorous:--'Nagle was a strong able man.'

    Able dealer; a schemer. (Limerick.)

    Acushla; see Cushlamochree.

    Adam's ale; plain drinking-water.

    Affirming, assenting, and saluting, 9.

    Agra or Agraw: a term of endearment; my love: vocative of Irish
    _grádh_, love.

    Ahaygar; a pet term; my friend, my love: vocative of Irish _téagur_,
    love, a dear person.

    Aims-ace; a small amount, quantity, or distance. Applied in the
    following way very generally in Munster:--'He was within an aim's-ace
    of being drowned' (very near). A survival in Ireland of the old
    Shakesperian word _ambs-ace_, meaning two aces or two single points in
    throwing dice, the smallest possible throw.

    Air: a visitor comes in:--'Won't you sit down Joe and take an _air_ of
    the fire.' (Very usual.)

    Airt used in Ulster and Scotland for a single point of the compass:--

     'Of a' the airts the wind can blaw I dearly like the west.'


    It is the Irish _áird_, a point of the compass.

    {210} Airy; ghostly, fearsome: an _airy_ place, a haunted place. Same
    as Scotch _eerie_. From Gaelic _áedharaigh_, same sound and meaning. A
    survival of the old Irish pagan belief that air-demons were the most
    malignant of all supernatural beings: see Joyce's 'Old Celtic
    Romances,' p. 15.

    Alanna; my child: vocative case of Irish _leanbh_ [lannav], a child.

    Allow; admit. 'I allow that you lent me a pound': 'if you allow that
    you cannot deny so and so.' This is an old English usage. (Ducange.) To
    advise or recommend: 'I would not allow you to go by that road' ('I
    would not recommend'). 'I'd allow you to sow that field with oats'

    All to; means except:--'I've sold my sheep all to six,' i.e. except
    six. This is merely a translation from the Irish as in _Do marbhadh na
    daoine uile go haon triúr_: 'The people were slain all to a single
    three.' (Keating.)

    Along of; on account of. Why did you keep me waiting [at night] so long
    at the door, Pat?' 'Why then 'twas all along of Judy there being so
    much afraid of the fairies.' (Crofton Croker.)

    Alpeen, a stick or hand-wattle with a knob at the lower end: diminutive
    of Irish _alp_, a knob. Sometimes called a _clehalpeen_: where _cleh_
    is the Irish _cleath_ a stick. _Clehalpeen_, a knobbed cudgel.

    Amadaun, a fool (man or boy), a half-fool, a foolish person. Irish
    _amadán_, a fool: a form of _onmitán_; from _ón_, a fool: see

    American wake; a meeting of friends on the evening before the departure
    of some young people for {211} America, as a farewell celebration. (See
    my 'Old Irish Folk-Music and Songs,' p. 191.)

    Amplush, a fix, a difficulty: he was in a great amplush. (North and
    South.) (Edw. Walsh in Dub. Pen. Journal.)

    Amshagh; a sudden hurt, an accident. (Derry.)

    Ang-ishore; a poor miserable creature--man or woman. It is merely the
    Irish word _aindeiseóir_. (Chiefly South.)

    Any is used for _no_ (in _no more_) in parts of West and North-west.
    'James, you left the gate open this morning and the calves got out.'
    'Oh I'm sorry sir; I will do it any more.' This is merely a
    mistranslation of _níos mo_, from some confused idea of the sense of
    two (Irish) negatives (_níos_ being one, with another preceding)
    leading to the omission of an English negative from the correct
    construction--'I will _not_ do it anymore:' _Níos mo_ meaning in
    English 'no more' or 'any more' according to the omission or insertion
    of an English negative.

    Aree often used after _ochone_ (alas) in Donegal and elsewhere. _Aree_
    gives the exact pronunciation of _a Righ_, and _neimhe_ (heaven) is
    understood. The full Irish exclamation is _ochón a Righ neimhe_, 'alas,
    O King of heaven.'

    Arnaun or arnaul, to sit up working at night later than usual. Irish
    _airneán_ or _airneál_, same meaning.

    Aroon, a term of endearment, my love, my dear: _Eileen Aroon_, the name
    of a celebrated Irish air: vocative of Irish _rún_ [roon], a secret, a
    secret treasure. In Limerick commonly shortened to _aroo_. 'Where are
    you going now _aroo_?'

    {212} Art-loochra or arc-loochra, a harmless lizard five or six inches
    long: Irish _art_ or _arc_ is a lizard: _luachra_, rushes; the 'lizard
    of the rushes.'

    Ask, a water-newt, a small water-lizard: from _esc_ or _easc_ [ask], an
    old Irish word for water. From the same root comes the next word, the
    diminutive form--

    Askeen; land made by cutting away bog, which generally remains more or
    less watery. (Reilly: Kildare.)

    Asthore, a term of endearment, 'my treasure.' The vocative case of
    Irish _stór_ [store], treasure.

    Athurt; to confront:--'Oh well I will athurt him with that lie he told
    about me.' (Cork.) Possibly a mispronunciation of _athwart_.

    Avourneen, my love: the vocative case of Irish _muirnín_, a sweetheart,
    a loved person.

    Baan: a field covered with short grass:--'A baan field': 'a _baan_ of
    cows': i.e. a grass farm with its proper number of cows. Irish _bán_,

    Back; a faction: 'I have a good back in the country, so I defy my

    Back of God-speed; a place very remote, out of the way: so far off that
    the virtue of your wish of _God-speed_ to a person will not go with him
    so far.

    Bacon: to 'save one's bacon'; to succeed in escaping some serious
    personal injury--death, a beating, &c. 'They fled from the fight to
    save their bacon': 'Here a lodging I'd taken, but loth to awaken, for
    fear of my bacon, either man, wife, or babe.' (Old Anglo-Irish poem.)

    {213} Bad member; a doer of evil; a bad character; a treacherous
    fellow: 'I'm ruined,' says he, 'for some bad member has wrote to the
    bishop about me.' ('Wild Sports of the West.')

    Baffity, unbleached or blay calico. (Munster.)

    Bails or bales, frames made of perpendicular wooden bars in which cows
    are fastened for the night in the stable. (Munster.)

    Baithershin; may be so, perhaps. Irish _b'féidir-sin_, same sound and

    Ballowr (Bal-yore in Ulster); to bellow, roar, bawl, talk loudly and

    Ballyhooly, a village near Fermoy in Cork, formerly notorious for its
    faction fights, so that it has passed into a proverb. A man is late
    coming home and expects _Ballyhooly_ from his wife, i.e. 'the length
    and breadth of her tongue.' Father Carroll has neglected to visit his
    relatives, the Kearneys, for a long time, so that he knows he's _in the
    black books_ with Mrs. Kearney, and expects Ballyhooly from her the
    first time he meets her. ('Knocknagow.')

    Ballyorgan in Co. Limerick, 146.

    Banagher and Ballinasloe, 192.

    Bannalanna: a woman who sells ale over the counter. Irish
    _bean-na-leanna_, 'woman of the ale,' 'ale-woman' (_leann_, ale).

    Ballyrag; to give loud abuse in torrents. (General.)

    Bandle; a 2-foot measure for home-made flannel. (Munster.)

    Bang-up; a frieze overcoat with high collar and long cape.

    {214} Banshee´; a female fairy: Irish _bean-sidhe_ [banshee], a 'woman
    from the _shee_ or fairy-dwelling.' This was the original meaning; but
    in modern times, and among English speakers, the word _banshee_ has
    become narrowed in its application, and signifies a female spirit that
    attends certain families, and is heard _keening_ or crying aloud at
    night round the house when some member of the family is about to die.

    Barcelona; a silk kerchief for the neck:--

     'His clothes spick and span new without e'er a speck;
      A neat Barcelona tied round his white neck.'

      (EDWARD LYSAGHT, in 'The Sprig of Shillelah.')

    So called because imported from Barcelona, preserving a memory of the
    old days of smuggling.

    Barsa, barsaun; a scold. (Kild. and Ulst.)

    Barth; a back-load of rushes, straw, heath, &c. Irish _beart_.

    Baury, baura, baur-y[)a], bairy; the goal in football, hurling, &c.
    Irish _báire_ [2-syll.], a game, a goal.

    Bawn; an enclosure near a farmhouse for cattle, sheep, &c.; in some
    districts, simply a farmyard. Irish _badhun_ [bawn], a cow-keep, from
    _ba_, cows, and _dún_, a keep or fortress. Now generally applied to the
    green field near the homestead where the cows are brought to be milked.

    Bawneen; a loose whitish jacket of home-made undyed flannel worn by men
    at out-door work. Very general: _banyan_ in Derry. From Irish _bán_
    [bawn], whitish, with the diminutive termination.

    Bawnoge; a dancing-green. (MacCall: Leinster.) {215} From _bán_ [baan],
    a field covered with short grass; and the dim. _óg_ (p. 90).

    Bawshill, a _fetch_ or double. (See Fetch.) (MacCall: S. Wexford.) I
    think this is a derivative of _Bow_, which see.

    Beestings; new milk from a cow that has just calved.

    Be-knownst; known: unbe-knownst; unknown. (Antrim.)

    Better than; more than:--'It is better than a year since I saw him
    last'; 'better than a mile,' &c. (Leinster and Munster.)

    Bian´ [by-ann´]; one of Bianconi's long cars. (See Jingle.)

    Binnen; the rope tying a cow to a stake in a field. (Knowles: Ulster.)

    Birragh; a muzzle-band with spikes on a calf's or a foal's muzzle to
    prevent it sucking its mother. From Irish _bir_, a sharp spit:
    _birragh_, full of sharp points or spits. (Munster: see Gubbaun.)

    Blackfast: among Roman Catholics, there is a 'black fast' on Ash
    Wednesday, Spy Wednesday, and Good Friday, i.e. no flesh meat or
    _whitemeat_ is allowed--no flesh, butter, eggs, cheese, or milk.

    Blackfeet. The members of one of the secret societies of a century ago
    were called 'Ribbonmen.' Some of them acknowledged the priests: those
    were 'whitefeet': others did not--'blackfeet.'

    Black man, black fellow; a surly vindictive implacable irreconcilable

    Black man; the man who accompanies a suitor to the house of the
    intended father-in-law, to help to make the match.

    {216} Black of one's nail. 'You just escaped by the black of your
    nail': 'there's no cloth left--not the size of the black of my nail.'
    (North and South.)

    Black swop. When two fellows have two wretched articles--such as two
    old penknives--each thinking his own to be the worst in the universe,
    they sometimes agree for the pure humour of the thing to make a _black
    swop_, i.e. to swop without first looking at the articles. When they
    are looked at after the swop, there is always great fun. (See Hool.)

    Blarney; smooth, plausible, cajoling talk. From Blarney Castle near
    Cork, in which there is a certain stone hard to reach, with this
    virtue, that if a person kisses it, he will be endowed with the gift of

    Blast; when a child suddenly fades in health and pines away, he has got
    a blast,--i.e. a puff of evil wind sent by some baleful sprite has
    struck him. _Blast_ when applied to fruit or crops means a blight in
    the ordinary sense--nothing supernatural.

    Blather, bladdher; a person who utters vulgarly foolish boastful talk:
    used also as a verb--to blather. Hence _blatherumskite_, applied to a
    person or to his talk in much the same sense; 'I never heard such a
    blatherumskite.' Ulster and Scotch form _blether_, _blethering_: Burns
    speaks of stringing 'blethers up in rhyme.' ('The Vision.')

    Blaze, blazes, blazing: favourite words everywhere in Ireland. Why are
    you in such a blazing hurry? Jack ran away like blazes: now work at
    that job like blazes: he is blazing drunk. Used also by the English
    _peasantry_:--'That's a blazing strange {217} answer,' says Jerry
    Cruncher in 'A Tale of Two Cities.' There's a touch of slang in some of
    these: yet the word has been in a way made classical by Lord Morley's
    expression that Lord Salisbury never made a speech without uttering
    'some blazing indiscretion.'

    Blind Billy. In coming to an agreement take care you don't make 'Blind
    Billy's Bargain,' by either overreaching yourself or allowing the other
    party to overreach you. Blind Billy was the hangman in Limerick, and on
    one particular occasion he flatly refused to do his work unless he got
    £50 down on the nail: so the high sheriff had to agree and the hangman
    put the money in his pocket. When all was over the sheriff refused
    point-blank to send the usual escort without a fee of £50 down. So
    Blind Billy had to hand over the £50--for if he went without an escort
    he would be torn in pieces--and had nothing in the end for his job.

    Blind lane; a lane stopped up at one end.

    Blind window; an old window stopped up, but still plain to be seen.

    Blink; to exercise an evil influence by a glance of the 'evil eye'; to
    'overlook'; hence 'blinked,' blighted by the eye. When the butter does
    not come in churning, the milk has been _blinked_ by some one.

    Blirt; to weep: as a noun, a rainy wind. (Ulster.)

    Blob (_blab_ often in Ulster), a raised blister: a drop of honey, or of
    anything liquid.

    Blue look-out; a bad look-out, bad prospect.

    Boal or bole; a shelved recess in a room. (North.)

    Boarhaun; dried cowdung used for fuel like turf. Irish _boithreán_
    [boarhaun], from bo, a cow.

    {218} Boccach [accented on 2nd syll. in Munster, but elsewhere on 1st];
    a lame person. From the fact that so many beggars are lame or pretend
    to be lame, _boccach_ has come to mean a beggar. Irish _bacach_, a lame
    person: from _bac_, to halt. _Bockady_, another form of _boccach_ in
    Munster. _Bockeen_ (the diminutive added on to _bac_), another form
    heard in Mayo.

    Boddagh [accented on 2nd syll. in Munster; in Ulster on 1st], a rich
    churlish clownish fellow. Tom Cuddihy wouldn't bear insult from any
    purse-proud old _boddagh_. ('Knocknagow.')

    Body-coat; a coat like the present dress-coat, cut away in front so as
    to leave a narrow pointed tail-skirt behind: usually made of frieze and
    worn with the knee-breeches.

    Body-glass; a large mirror in which the whole body can be seen.

    Body-lilty; heels over head. (Derry.)

    Bog; what is called in England a 'peat moss.' Merely the Irish _bog_,
    soft. Bog (verb), to be bogged; to sink in a bog or any soft soil or
    swampy place.

    Bog-butter; butter found deep in bogs, where it had been buried in old
    times for a purpose, and forgotten: a good deal changed now by the
    action of the bog. (See Joyce's 'Smaller Soc. Hist. of Anc. Ireland,'
    p. 260.)

    Bog-Latin; bad incorrect Latin; Latin that had been learned in the
    hedge schools among the bogs. This derisive and reproachful epithet was
    given in bad old times by pupils and others of the favoured, legal, and
    endowed schools, sometimes with reason, {219} but oftener very
    unjustly. For those _bog_ or hedge schools sent out numbers of
    scholarly men, who afterwards entered the church or lay professions.
    (See p. 151.)

    Boghaleen; the same as Crusheen, which see.

    Bohaun; a cabin or hut. Irish _both_ [boh], a hut, with the diminutive

    Bold; applied to girls and boys in the sense of 'forward,' 'impudent.'

    Boliaun, also called _booghalaun bwee_ and _ge[=o]sadaun_; the common
    yellow ragwort: all these are Irish words.

    Bolting-hole; the second or backward entrance made by rats, mice,
    rabbits, &c., from their burrows, so that if attacked at the ordinary
    entrance, they can escape by this, which is always left unused except
    in case of attack. (Kinahan.)

    Bones. If a person magnifies the importance of any matter and talks as
    if it were some great affair, the other will reply:--'Oh, you're
    _making great bones_ about it.'

    Bonnive, a sucking-pig. Irish _banbh_, same sound and meaning. Often
    used with the diminutive--bonniveen, bonneen. 'Oh look at the _baby
    pigs_,' says an Irish lady one day in the hearing of others and myself,
    ashamed to use the Irish word. After that she always bore the nickname
    'Baby pig':--'Oh, there's the Baby pig.'

    Bonnyclabber; thick milk. Irish _bainne_ [bonny] milk; and _clabar_,
    anything thick or half liquid. 'In use all over America.' (Russell.)

    Boochalawn bwee; ragweed: same as boliaun, which see.

    {220} Boolanthroor; three men threshing together, instead of the usual
    two: striking always in time. Irish _buail-an-triúr_, 'the striking of

    Booley as a noun; a temporary settlement in the grassy uplands where
    the people of the adjacent lowland village lived during the summer with
    their cattle, and milked them and made butter, returning in
    autumn--cattle and all--to their lowland farms to take up the crops.
    Used as a verb also: _to booley_. See my 'Smaller Soc. Hist. of Anc.
    Ireland,' p. 431; or 'Irish Names of Places,' I. 239.

    Boolthaun, boulhaun, booltheen, boolshin: the striking part of a flail:
    from Irish _buail_ [bool], to strike, with the diminutive.

    Boon in Ulster, same as _Mihul_ elsewhere; which see.

    Boreen or bohereen, a narrow road. Irish _bóthar_ [boher], a road, with
    the diminutive.

    Borick; a small wooden ball used by boys in hurling or goaling, when
    the proper leather-covered ball is not to hand. Called in Ulster a
    _nag_ and also a _golley_. (Knowles.)

    Borreen-brack, 'speckled cake,' speckled with currants and raisins,
    from Irish _bairghin_ [borreen], a cake, and _breac_ [brack], speckled:
    specially baked for Hallow-eve. Sometimes corruptly called _barm-brack_
    or _barn-brack_.

    Bosthoon: a flexible rod or whip made of a number of green rushes laid
    together and bound up with single rushes wound round and round. Made by
    boys in play--as I often made them. Hence '_bosthoon_' is applied
    contemptuously to a soft {221} worthless spiritless fellow, in much the
    same sense as _poltroon_.

    Bother; merely the Irish word _bodhar_, deaf, used both as a noun and a
    verb in English (in the sense of deafening, annoying, troubling,
    perplexing, teasing): a person deaf or partially deaf is said to be
    _bothered_:--'Who should come in but _bothered_ Nancy Fay. Now be it
    known that _bothered_ signifies deaf; and Nancy was a little old cranky
    _bothered_ woman.' (Ir. Pen. Mag.) You 'turn the _bothered_ ear' to a
    person when you do not wish to hear what he says or grant his request.
    In these applications _bother_ is universal in Ireland among all
    classes--educated as well as uneducated: accordingly, as Murray notes,
    it was first brought into use by Irishmen, such as Sheridan, Swift, and
    Sterne; just as Irishmen of to-day are bringing into currency _galore_,
    _smithereens_, and many other Irish words. In its primary sense of deaf
    or to deafen, _bother_ is used in the oldest Irish documents: thus in
    the Book of Leinster we have:--_Ro bodrais sind oc imradud do maic_,
    'You have made us deaf (you have _bothered_ us) talking about your son'
    (Kuno Meyer): and a similar expression is in use at the present day in
    the very common phrase 'don't _bother_ me' (don't deafen me, don't
    annoy me), which is an exact translation of the equally common Irish
    phrase _ná bí am' bhodradh_. Those who derive _bother_ from the English
    _pother_ make a guess, and not a good one. See Bowraun.

    Bottheen, a short thick stick or cudgel: the Irish _bata_ with the

    Bottom; a clue or ball of thread. One of the tricks {222} of girls on
    Hallow-eve to find out the destined husband is to go out to the
    limekiln at night with a ball of yarn; throw in the ball still holding
    the thread; re-wind the thread, till it is suddenly stopped; call out
    'who _howlds_ my bottom of yarn?' when she expects to hear the name of
    the young man she is to marry.

    Bouchal or boochal, a boy: the Irish _buachaill_, same meaning.

    Bouilly-bawn, white home-made bread of wheaten flour; often called
    _bully-bread_. (MacCall: Wexford.) From Irish _bul_ or _búilidhe_, a
    loaf, and _bán_, white.

    Boundhalaun, a plant with thick hollow stem with joints, of which boys
    make rude syringes. From Irish _banndal_ or _bannlamh_, a _bandle_
    (which see), with the dim. termination _án_, I never saw true
    boundhalauns outside Munster.

    Bourke, the Rev. Father, 71, 161.

    Bownloch, a sore on the sole of the foot always at the edge: from
    _bonn_ the foot-sole [pron. bown in the South], and _loch_ a mere
    termination. Also called a _Bine-lock_.

    Bowraun, a sieve-shaped vessel for holding or measuring out corn, with
    the flat bottom made of dried sheepskin stretched tight; sometimes used
    as a rude tambourine, from which it gets the name _bowraun_; Irish
    _bodhur_ [pron. bower here], deaf, from the _bothered_ or indistinct
    sound. (South.)

    Bow [to rhyme with _cow_]; a _banshee_, a _fetch_ (both which see.
    MacCall: South Leinster). This word has come down to us from very old
    times, for it preserves the memory of _Bugh_ [Boo], a _banshee_ or
    fairy queen once very celebrated, the daughter of {223} Bove Derg king
    of the Dedannans or faery-race, of whom information will be obtained in
    the classical Irish story, 'The Fate of the Children of Lir,' the first
    in my 'Old Celtic Romances.' She has given her name to many hills all
    through Ireland. (See my 'Irish Names of Places,' I. 182, 183. See

    Box and dice; used to denote the whole lot: I'll send you all the books
    and manuscripts, box and dice.

    Boxty; same as the Limerick _muddly_, which see.

    Boy. Every Irishman is a 'boy' till he is married, and indeed often
    long after. (Crofton Croker: 'Ir. Fairy Legends.')

    Brablins: a crowd of children: a rabble. (Monaghan.)

    Bracket; speckled: a 'bracket cow.' Ir. _breac_, speckled.

    Braddach; given to mischief; roguish. Ir. _bradach_, a thief: in the
    same sense as when a mother says to her child, 'You young thief, stop
    that mischief.' Often applied to cows inclined to break down and cross
    fences. (Meath and Monaghan.)

    Brander; a gridiron. (North.) From Eng. _brand_.

    Brash; a turn of sickness (North.) Water-brash (Munster), severe
    acidity of the stomach with a flow of watery saliva from the mouth.
    Brash (North), a short turn at churning, or at anything; a stroke of
    the churndash: 'Give the churn a few brashes.' In Donegal you will hear
    'that's a good brash of hail.'

    Brave; often used as an intensive:--'This is a brave fine day'; 'that's
    a brave big dog': (Ulster.) Also fine or admirable 'a brave stack of
    hay': {224} tall, strong, hearty (not necessarily brave in
    fighting):--'I have as brave a set of sons as you'd find in a day's
    walk.' 'How is your sick boy doing?' 'Oh bravely, thank you.'

    Braw; fine, handsome: Ir. _breagh_, same sound and meanings. (Ulster.)

    Break. You _break_ a grass field when you plough or dig it up for
    tillage. 'I'm going to break the kiln field.' ('Knocknagow.') Used all
    over Ireland: almost in the same sense as in Gray's Elegy:--'Their
    furrow oft the stubborn glebe _has bróke_.'

    Break; to dismiss from employment: 'Poor William O'Donnell was _broke_
    last week.' This usage is derived from the Irish language; and a very
    old usage it is; for we read in the Brehon Laws:--'_Cid nod m-bris in
    fer-so a bo-airechus?_' 'What is it that breaks (dismisses, degrades)
    this man from his bo-aireship (i.e. from his position as _bo-aire_ or
    chief)?' My car-driver asked me one time:--'Can an inspector of
    National Schools be broke, sir?' By which he meant could he be
    dismissed at any time without any cause.

    Breedoge [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _bathe_]; a figure dressed up to
    represent St. Brigit, which was carried about from house to house by a
    procession of boys and girls in the afternoon of the 31st Jan. (the eve
    of the saint's festival), to collect small money contributions. With
    this money they got up a little rustic evening party with a dance next
    day, 1st Feb. 'Breedoge' means 'little _Brighid_ or _Brighit_,' _Breed_
    (or rather _Breedh_) representing the sound of Brighid, with _óg_ the
    old diminutive feminine termination.

    {225} Brecham, the straw collar put on a horse's or an ass's neck:
    sometimes means the old-fashioned straw saddle or pillion. (Ulster.)

    Brehon Law; the old native law of Ireland. A judge or a lawyer was
    called a 'brehon.'

    Brew; a margin, a brink: 'that lake is too shallow to fish from the
    brews': from the Irish _bru_, same sound and meaning. See Broo.

    Brief; prevalent: 'fever is very brief.' Used all over the southern
    half of Ireland. Perhaps a mistake for _rife_.

    Brillauns or brill-yauns, applied to the poor articles of furniture in
    a peasant's cottage. Dick O'Brien and Mary Clancy are getting married
    as soon as they can gather up the few _brill-yauns_ of furniture.
    (South-east of Ireland.)

    Brine-oge; 'a young fellow full of fun and frolic.' (Carleton: Ulster.)

    Bring: our peculiar use of this (for 'take') appears in such phrases
    as:--'he brought the cows to the field': 'he brought me to the
    theatre.' (Hayden and Hartog.) See Carry.

    Brock, brockish; a badger. It is just the Irish _broc_.

    Brock, brocket, brockey; applied to a person heavily pock-marked. I
    suppose from _broc_, a badger. (Ulster.)

    Brogue, a shoe: Irish _bróg_. Used also to designate the Irish accent
    in speaking English: for the old Irish thong-stitched brogue was
    considered so characteristically Irish that the word was applied to our
    accent; as a clown is called a _cauboge_ (which see: Munster).

    {226} Brohoge or bruhoge; a small batch of potatoes roasted. See

    Broken; bankrupt: quite a common expression is:--Poor Phil Burke is
    'broken horse and foot'; i.e. utterly bankrupt and ruined.

    Broo, the edge of a potato ridge along which cabbages are planted.
    Irish _bru_, a margin, a brink.

    Brosna, brusna, bresna; a bundle of sticks for firing: a faggot. This
    is the Irish _brosna_, universally used in Ireland at the present day,
    both in Irish and English; and used in the oldest Irish documents. In
    the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, written in Irish ten centuries ago,
    we are told that when Patrick was a boy, his foster-mother sent him one
    day for a _brossna_ of withered branches to make a fire.

    Broth of a boy; a _good_ manly brave boy: the essence of manhood, as
    broth is the essence of meat.

    Brough; a ring or halo round the moon. It is the Irish _bruach_, a

    Broughan; porridge or oatmeal stirabout. Irish _brochán_. (Ulster.)

    Bruggadauns [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _they_]; the stalks of ferns
    found in meadows after mowing. (Kerry.)

    Brulliagh; a row, a noisy scuffle. (Derry.)

    Brunoge; a little batch of potatoes roasted in a fire made in the
    potato field at digging time: always dry, floury and palatable.
    (Roscommon.) Irish _bruithneóg_. See Brohoge.

    Bruss or briss; small broken bits mixed up with dust: very often
    applied to turf-dust. Irish _brus_, _bris_, same sounds and meaning.

    {227} Brutteen, brutin, bruteens; the Ulster words for caulcannon;
    which see. Irish _brúightín_.

    Buckaun; the upright bar of a hinge on which the other part with the
    door hangs. Irish _bocán_.

    Buckley, Father Darby, 68, 146.

    Bucknabarra; any non-edible fungus. (Fermanagh.) See Pookapyle.

    Buck teeth; superfluous teeth which stand out from the ordinary row.
    (Knowles: Ulster.)

    Buddaree [_dd_ sounded like _th_ in _they_]; a rich purse-proud vulgar
    farmer. (Munster.) Irish.

    Buff; the skin; to strip to one's buff is to strip naked. Two fellows
    going to fight with fists strip to their buff, i.e. naked from the
    waist up. (Munster.)

    Buggaun (Munster), buggeen (Leinster); an egg without a shell. Irish
    _bog_, soft, with the dim. termination.

    Bullaun, a bull calf. Irish, as in next word.

    Bullavaun, bullavogue; a strong, rough, bullying fellow. From _bulla_
    the Irish form of _bull_. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Bullaworrus; a spectral bull 'with fire blazing from his eyes, mouth,
    and nose,' that guards buried treasure by night. (Limerick.) Irish.

    Bullia-bottha (or boolia-botha); a fight with sticks. (Simmons:
    Armagh.) Irish _buaileadh_, striking; and _bata_, a stick.

    Bullagadaun [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _they_]; a short stout
    pot-bellied fellow. (Munster.) From Irish _bolg_ [pron. bullog], a
    belly, and the dim. _dán_.

    Bullshin, bullsheen; same as _Bullaun_.

    {228} Bum; to cart turf to market: _bummer_, a person who does so as a
    way of living, like Billy Heffernan in 'Knocknagow.' Bum-bailiff, a bog
    bailiff. (Grainger: Arm.) Used more in the northern half of Ireland
    than in the southern.

    Bun; the tail of a rabbit. (Simmons: Arm.) Irish _bun_, the end.

    Bunnans; roots or stems of bushes or trees. (Meath.) From Irish _bun_
    as in last word.

    Bunnaun; a long stick or wattle. (Joyce: Limerick.)

    Bunnioch; the last sheaf bound up in a field of reaped corn. The binder
    of this (usually a girl) will die unmarried. (MacCall: Wexford.)

    Butt; a sort of cart boarded at bottom and all round the sides, 15 or
    18 inches deep, for potatoes, sand, &c. (Limerick.) In Cork any kind of
    horse-cart or donkey-cart is called a _butt_, which is a departure from
    the (English) etymology. In Limerick any kind of cart except a butt is
    called a _car_; the word _cart_ is not used at all.

    Butthoon has much the same meaning as _potthalowng_, which see. Irish
    _butún_, same sound and meaning. (Munster.)

    Butter up; to flatter, to cajole by soft sugary words, generally with
    some selfish object in view:--'I suspected from the way he was
    buttering me up that he came to borrow money.'

    Byre: the place where the cows are fed and milked; sometimes a house
    for cows and horses, or a farmyard.

    By the same token: this needs no explanation; it is a survival from
    Tudor English. (Hayden and Hartog.)

    {229} Cabin-hunting; going about from house to house to gossip.

    Cabman's Answer, The, 208.

    Cadday´ [strong accent on -day] to stray idly about. As a noun an idle
    _stray_ of a fellow.

    Cadge; to hawk goods for sale. (Simmons: Armagh.) To go about idly from
    house to house, picking up _a bit and a sup_, wherever they are to be
    had. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Caffler; a contemptible little fellow who gives saucy _cheeky_ foolish
    talk. Probably a mispronunciation of _caviller_. (Munster.)

    Cagger; a sort of pedlar who goes to markets and houses selling small
    goods and often taking others in exchange. (Kinahan: South and West.)

    Cahag; the little cross-piece on the end of a spade-handle, or of any
    handle. (Mon.)

    Cailey; a friendly evening visit in order to have a gossip. There are
    usually several persons at a cailey, and along with the gossiping talk
    there are songs or music. Irish _céilidh_, same sound and meaning. Used
    all over Ireland, but more in the North than elsewhere.

    Calleach na looha [Colleagh: accented on 2nd syll. in South; on 1st in
    North] 'hag of the ashes.' Children--and sometimes _old
    children_--think that a little hag resides in the ashpit beside the
    fire. Irish _cailleach_, an old woman: _luaith_, ashes.

    Calleach-rue ('red hag'); a little reddish brown fish about 4 inches
    long, plentiful in small streams. We boys thought them delicious when
    broiled on the turf-coals. We fished for them either with a loop-snare
    made of a single {230} horsehair on the end of a twig, with which it
    was very hard to catch them; for, as the boys used to say, 'they were
    cute little divels'--or directly--like the sportsmen of old--with a
    spear--the same spear being nothing but _an ould fork_.

    Caish; a growing pig about 6 months old. (Munster.)

    Call; claim, right: 'put down that spade; you have no call to it.'

     'Bedad,' says he, 'this sight is queer,
        My eyes it does bedizen--O;
      What _call_ have you marauding here,
        Or how daar you leave your prison--O?'

      (Repeal Song: 1843.)

    Need, occasion: they lived so near each other that there was no call to
    send letters. 'Why are you shouting that way?' 'I have a good call to
    shout, and that blackguard running away with my apples.' Father O'Flynn
    could preach on many subjects:--'Down from mythology into thayology,
    Troth! and conchology if he'd the call.' (A. P. Graves.) Used
    everywhere in Ireland in these several senses.

    Call; custom in business: Our new shopkeeper is getting great call,
    i.e. his customers are numerous. (South.)

    Cam or caum; a metal vessel for melting resin to make _sluts_ or long
    torches; also used to melt metal for coining. (Simmons: Armagh.) Called
    a _grisset_ in Munster. Usually of a curved shape: Irish _cam_, curved.

    Candle. 'Jack Brien is a good scholar, but he couldn't hold a candle to
    Tom Murphy': i.e. he {231} is very inferior to him. The person that
    holds a candle for a workman is a mere attendant and quite an inferior.

    Cannags; the stray ears left after the corn has been reaped and
    gathered. (Morris: Mon.) Called _liscauns_ in Munster.

    Caper: oat-cake and butter. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Caravat and Shanavest; the names of two hostile factions in Kilkenny
    and all round about there, of the early part of last century. Like
    Three-year-old and Four-year-old. Irish _Caravat_, a cravat; and
    _Shanavest_, old vest: which names were adopted, but no one can tell

    Card-cutter; a fortune-teller by card tricks. Card-cutters were pretty
    common in Limerick in my early days: but it was regarded as
    disreputable to have any dealings with them.

    Cardia; friendship, a friendly welcome, additional time granted for
    paying a debt. (All over Ireland.) Ir. _cáirde_, same meanings.

    Cardinal Points, 168.

    Carleycue; a very small coin of some kind. Used like _keenoge_ and
    _cross_. (Very general.)

    Carn; a heap of anything; a monumental pile of stones heaped up over a
    dead person. Irish _carn_, same meanings.

    Caroline or 'Caroline hat'; a tall hat. ('Knocknagow': all over

    Caroogh, an expert or professional card-player. (Munster.) Irish
    _cearrbhach_, same sound and meaning.

    Carra, Carrie; a weir on a river. (Derry.) Irish _carra_, same meaning.

    {232} Carrigaholt in Clare, 145.

    Carry; to lead or drive: 'James, carry down those cows to the river'
    (i.e. drive): 'carry the horse to the forge' (lead). 'I will carry my
    family this year to Youghal for the salt water.' (Kinahan: South, West,
    and North-west.) See Bring.

    Case: the Irish _cás_, and applied in the same way: 'It is a poor case
    that I have to pay for your extravagance.' _Nách dubhach bocht un cás
    bheith ag tuitim le ghrádh_: 'isn't it a poor case to be failing
    through love.'--Old Irish Song. Our dialectical Irish _case_, as above,
    is taken straight from the Irish _cás_; but this and the standard
    English _case_ are both borrowed from Latin.

    Cassnara; respect, anything done out of respect: 'he put on his new
    coat for a _casnara_.' (Morris: South Mon.)

    Castor oil was our horror when we were children. No wonder; for this
    story went about of how it was made. A number of corpses were hanging
    from hooks round the walls of the _factory_, and drops were continually
    falling from their big toes into vessels standing underneath. This was
    castor oil.

    Catin clay; clay mixed with rushes or straws used in building the mud
    walls of cottages. (Simmons: Arm.)

    Cat of a kind: they're 'cat of a kind,' both like each other and both

    Cat's lick; used in and around Dublin to express exactly the same as
    the Munster _Scotch lick_, which see. A cat has a small tongue and does
    not do much licking.

    {233} Caubeen; an old shabby cap or hat: Irish _cáibín_: he wore a
    'shocking bad caubeen.'

    Cauboge; originally an old hat, like caubeen; but now applied--as the
    symbol of vulgarity--to an ignorant fellow, a boor, a bumpkin: 'What
    else could you expect from that cauboge?' (South.)

    Caulcannon, Calecannon, Colecannon, Kalecannon; potatoes mashed with
    butter and milk, with chopped up cabbage and pot-herbs. In Munster
    often made and eaten on Hallow Eve. The first syllable is the Irish
    _cál_, cabbage; _cannon_ is also Irish, meaning speckled.

    Caur, kindly, good-natured, affable. (Morris: South Mon.)

    Cawmeen; a mote: 'there's a cawmeen in my eye.' (Moran: Carlow.) Irish
    with the diminutive.

    Cawsha Pooka; the big fungus often seen growing on old trees or
    elsewhere. From Irish _cáise_, cheese: the 'Pooka's cheese.' See Pooka
    and Pookapyle and Bucknabarra.

    Cead míle fáilte [caidh meela faultha], a hundred thousand welcomes.
    Irish, and universal in Ireland as a salute.

    Ceólaun [keolaun], a trifling contemptible little fellow. (Munster.)

    Cess; very often used in the combination _bad cess_ (bad luck):--'Bad
    cess to me but there's something comin' over me.' (Kickham:
    'Knocknagow.') Some think this is a contraction of _success_; others
    that it is to be taken as it stands--a _cess_ or contribution; which
    receives some little support from its use in Louth to mean 'a quantity
    of corn in for threshing.'

    {234} Chalk Sunday; the first Sunday after Shrove Tuesday (first Sunday
    in Lent), when those young men who should have been married, but were
    not, were marked with a heavy streak of chalk on the back of the
    _Sunday coat_, by boys who carried bits of chalk in their pockets for
    that purpose, and lay in wait for the bachelors. The marking was done
    while the congregation were assembling for Mass: and the young fellow
    ran for his life, always laughing, and often singing the concluding
    words of some suitable doggerel such as:--'And you are not married
    though Lent has come!' This custom prevailed in Munster. I saw it in
    full play in Limerick: but I think it has died out. For the air to
    which the verses were sung, see my 'Old Irish Music and Songs,' p. 12.

    Champ (Down); the same as 'caulcannon,' which see. Also potatoes mashed
    with butter and milk; same as 'pandy,' which see.

    Chanter; to go about grumbling and fault-finding. (Ulster.)

    Chapel: Church: Scallan, 143.

    Chaw for _chew_, 97. 'Chawing the rag'; continually grumbling, jawing,
    and giving abuse. (Kinahan.)

    Cheek; impudence; _brass_: cheeky; presumptuous.

    Chincough, whooping-cough: from _kink-cough_. See Kink.

    Chittering; constantly muttering complaints. (Knowles.)

    Chook chook [the _oo_ sounded rather short]; a call for hens. It is the
    Irish _tiuc_, come.

    Christian; a human being as distinguished from one of the lower
    animals:--'That dog has nearly as much sense as a Christian.' {235}

    Chuff: full.--'I'm chuffey after my dinner.' (MacCall: Wexford.)

    Clabber, clobber, or clawber; mud: thick milk. See Bonnyclabber.

    Clamp; a small rick of turf, built up regularly. (All through Ireland.)

    Clamper; a dispute, a wrangle. (Munster.) Irish _clampar_, same

    Clarsha; a lazy woman. (Morris: South Monaghan.)

    Clart; an untidy dirty woman, especially in preparing food. (Simmons:

    Clash, to carry tales: Clashbag, a tale-bearer. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Classy; a drain running through a byre or stable-yard. (Morris: South
    Monaghan.) Irish _clais_, a trench, with the diminutive _y_ added.

    Clat; a slovenly untidy person; dirt, clay: 'wash the _clat_ off your
    hands': clatty; slovenly, untidy--(Ulster): called _clotty_ in
    Kildare;--a slattern.

    Clatch; a brood of chickens. (Ulster.) See Clutch.

    Cleean [2-syll.]; a relation by marriage--such as a father-in-law. Two
    persons so related are _cleeans_. Irish _cliamhan_, same sound and

    Cleever; one who deals in poultry; because he carries them in a
    _cleeve_ or large wicker basket. (Morris: South Monaghan.) Irish
    _cliabh_ [cleeve], a basket.

    Cleevaun; a cradle: also a crib or cage for catching birds. The
    diminutive of Irish _cliabh_ or cleeve, a wicker basket.

    Clegg; a horsefly. (Ulster and Carlow.)

    Clehalpeen; a shillelah or cudgel with a knob at the end. (South.) From
    Irish _cleath_, a wattle, and _ailpin_ dim. of _alp_, a knob. {236}

    Clever is applied to a man who is tall, straight, and well made.

    Clevvy; three or four shelves one over another in a wall: a sort of
    small open cupboard like a dresser. (All over the South.)

    Clibbin, clibbeen; a young colt. (Donegal.) Irish _clibín_, same sound
    and meaning.

    Clibbock; a young horse. (Derry.)

    Clift; a light-headed person, easily roused and rendered foolishly
    excited. (Ulster.)

    Clipe-clash: a tell-tale. (Ulster.) See Clash.

    Clochaun, clochan; a row of stepping-stones across a river. (General.)
    From Irish _cloch_, a stone, with the diminutive _án_.

    Clock; a black beetle. (South.)

    Clocking hen; a hen hatching. (General.) From the sound or _clock_ she

    Clooracaun or cluracaun, another name for a leprachaun, which see.

    Close; applied to a day means simply warm:--'This is a very close day.'

    Clout; a blow with the hand or with anything. Also a piece of cloth, a
    rag, commonly used in the diminutive form in Munster--_cloutheen_.
    _Cloutheens_ is specially applied to little rags used with an infant.
    _Clout_ is also applied to a clownish person:--'It would be well if
    somebody would teach that _clout_ some manners.'

    Clove; to clove flax is to _scutch_ it--to draw each handful repeatedly
    between the blades of a 'cloving tongs,' so as to break off and remove
    the brittle husk, leaving the fibre smooth and free. (Munster.)


    Clutch; a brood of chickens or of any fowls: same as clatch. I suppose
    this is English: Waterton (an English traveller) uses it in his
    'Wanderings'; but it is not in the Dictionaries of Chambers and

    Cluthoge; Easter eggs. (P. Reilly; Kildare.)

    Cly-thoran; a wall or ditch between two estates. (Roscommon.) Irish
    _cladh_ [cly], a raised dyke or fence; _teóra_, gen. _teórann_
    [thoran], a boundary.

    Cobby-house; a little house made by children for play. (Munster.)

    Cockles off the heart, 194.

    Cog; to copy surreptitiously; to crib something from the writings of
    another and pass it off as your own. One schoolboy will sometimes copy
    from another:--'You cogged that sum.'

    Coghil; a sort of long-shaped pointed net. (Armagh.) Irish _cochal_, a

    Coldoy; a bad halfpenny: a spurious worthless article of jewellery.

    Colleen; a young girl. (All over Ireland.) Irish _cailín_, same sound
    and meaning.

    Colley; the woolly dusty fluffy stuff that gathers under furniture and
    in remote corners of rooms. Light soot-smuts flying about.

    Colloge; to talk and gossip in a familiar friendly way. An Irish form
    of the Latin or English word 'colloquy.'

    Collop; a standard measure of grazing land, p. 177.

    Collop; the part of a flail that is held in the hand. (Munster.) See
    Boolthaun. Irish _colpa_.

    Come-all-ye; a nickname applied to Irish Folk Songs and Music; an old
    country song; from the {238} beginning of many of the songs:--'Come all
    ye tender Christians,' &c. This name, intended to be reproachful,
    originated among ourselves, after the usual habit of many 'superior'
    Irishmen to vilify their own country and countrymen and all their
    customs and peculiarities. Observe, this opening is almost equally
    common in English Folk-songs; yet the English do not make game of them
    by nicknames. Irish music, which is thus vilified by some of our
    brethren, is the most beautiful Folk Music in the world.

    Comether; _come hether_ or _hither_, 97.

    Commaun, common; the game of goaling or hurley. So called from the
    _commaun_ or crooked-shaped stick with which it is played: Irish _cam_
    or _com_, curved or crooked; with the diminutive--_camán_. Called
    _hurling_ and _goaling_ by English speakers in Ireland, and _shinney_
    in Scotland.

    Commons; land held in common by the people of a village or small
    district: see p. 177.

    Comparisons, 136.

    Conacre; letting land in patches for a short period. A farmer divides a
    large field into small portions--¼ acre, ½ acre, &c.--and lets them to
    his poorer neighbours usually for one season for a single crop, mostly
    potatoes, or in Ulster flax. He generally undertakes to manure the
    whole field, and charges high rents for the little lettings. I saw this
    in practice more than 60 years ago in Munster. Irish _con_, common, and
    Eng. _acre_.

    Condition; in Munster, to 'change your condition' is to get married.

    Condon, Mr. John, of Mitchelstown, 155.


    Conny, canny; discreet, knowing, cute.

    Contrairy, for _contrary_, but accented on second syll.; cross,
    perverse, cranky, crotchety, 102.

    Convenient: see Handy.

    Cool: hurlers and football players always put one of their best players
    to _mind cool_ or _stand cool_, i.e. to stand at their own goal or gap,
    to intercept the ball if the opponents should attempt to drive it
    through. Universal in Munster. Irish _cúl_ [cool], the back. The full
    word is _cool-baur-ya_ where 'baur-ya' is the goal or gap. The man
    standing cool is often called 'the man in the gap' (see p. 182).

    Cool; a good-sized roll of butter. (Munster.)

    Cooleen or coulin; a fair-haired girl. This is the name of a celebrated
    Irish air. From _cúl_ the back [of the head], and _fionn_, white or
    fair:--_cúil-fhionn_, [pron. cooleen or coolin].

    Coonagh; friendly, familiar, _great_ (which see):--'These two are very
    _coonagh_.' (MacCall: Wexford.) Irish _cuaine_, a family.

    Coonsoge, a bees' nest. (Cork.) Irish _cuansa_ [coonsa], a
    hiding-place, with the diminutive _óg_.

    Cooramagh; kindly, careful, thoughtful, provident:--'No wonder Mrs.
    Dunn would look well and happy with such a _cooramagh_ husband.' Irish
    _curamach_, same meaning.

    Coord [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _bathe_], a friendly visit to a
    neighbour's house. Irish _cuaird_, a visit. Coordeeagh, same meaning.

    Cope-curley; to stand on the head and throw the heels over; to turn
    head over heels. (Ulster.)

    Core: work given as a sort of loan to be paid back. {240} I send a man
    on _core_ for a day to my neighbour: when next I want a man he will
    send me one for a day in return. So with horses: two one-horse farmers
    who work their horses in pairs, borrowing alternately, are said to be
    in _core_. Very common in Munster. Irish _cobhair_ or _cabhair_ [core
    or co-ir, 2-syll.] help, support.

    Coreeagh; a man who has a great desire to attend funerals--goes to
    every funeral that he can possibly reach. (Munster.) Same root as last.

    Corfuffle; to toss, shake, confuse, mix up. (Derry.)

    Correesk; a crane. (Kildare.) Irish _corr_, a bird of the crane kind,
    and _riasc_ [reesk], a marsh.

    C[=o]sher [the _o_ long as in _motion_]; banqueting, feasting. In very
    old times in Ireland, certain persons went about with news from place
    to place, and were entertained in the high class houses: this was
    called _coshering_, and was at one time forbidden by law. In modern
    times it means simply a friendly visit to a neighbour's house to have a
    quiet talk. Irish _cóisir_; a banquet, feasting.

    Costnent. When a farm labourer has a cottage and garden from his
    employer, and boards himself, he lives _costnent_. He is paid small
    wages (called _costnent_ wages) as he has house and plot free. (Derry.)

    Cot; a small boat: Irish _cot_. See 'Irish Names of Places,' I. 226,
    for places deriving their names from _cots_.

    Cowlagh; an old ruined house. (Kerry.) Irish _coblach_ [cowlagh].

    Coward's blow; a blow given to provoke a boy to fight or else be
    branded as a coward. {241}

    Cow's lick. When the hair in front over the forehead turns at the roots
    upward and backward, that is a _cow's lick_, as if a cow had licked it
    upwards. The idea of a cow licking the hair is very old in Irish
    literature. In the oldest of all our miscellaneous Irish MSS.--The Book
    of the Dun Cow--Cuculainn's hair is so thick and smooth that king
    Laery, who saw him, says:--'I should imagine it is a cow that licked

    Cox, Mr. Simon, of Galbally, 156.

    Craags; great fat hands; big handfuls. (Morris: South Mon.)

    Crab; a cute precocious little child is often called an _old crab_.
    'Crabjaw' has the same meaning.

    Cracked; crazy, half mad.

    Cracklins; the browned crispy little flakes that remain after
    _rendering_ or melting lard and pouring it off. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Crahauns or Kirraghauns; very small potatoes not used by the family:
    given to pigs. (Munster.) Irish _creathán_.

    Crans (always in pl.); little tricks or dodges. (Limk).

    Crapper; a half glass of whiskey. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Craw-sick; ill in the morning after a drunken bout.

    Crawtha; sorry, mortified, pained. (Limerick.) Irish _cráidhte_
    [crawtha], same meaning.

    Crawthumper; a person ostentatiously devotional.

    Creelacaun; see Skillaun.

    Creel; a strong square wicker frame, used by itself for holding turf,
    &c., or put on asses' backs (in pairs), or put on carts for carrying
    turf or for taking calves, _bonnives_, &c., to market. Irish _criol_.
    (All through Ireland.) {242}

    Creepy; a small stool, a stool. (Chiefly in Ulster.)

    Crith; hump on the back. Irish _cruit_, same sound and meaning. From
    this comes _critthera_ and _crittheen_, both meaning a hunchback.

    Cro, or cru: a house for cows. (Kerry.) Irish _cro_, a pen, a fold, a
    shed for any kind of animals.

    Croaked; I am afraid poor Nancy is croaked, i.e. doomed to death. The
    raven croaks over the house when one of the family is about to die.
    (MacCall: Wexford.)

    Croft; a water bottle, usually for a bedroom at night. You never hear
    _carafe_ in Ireland: it is always _croft_.

    Cromwell, Curse of, 166.

    Crumel´ly. (Limerick.) More correctly _curr amílly_. (Donegal.) An herb
    found in grassy fields with a sweet root that children dig up and eat.
    Irish 'honey-root.'

    Cronaun, croonaun; a low humming air or song, any continuous humming
    sound: 'the old woman was cronauning in the corner.'

    Cronebane, cronebaun; a bad halfpenny, a worthless copper coin. From
    Cronebane in Co. Wicklow, where copper mines were worked.

    Croobeen or crubeen; a pig's foot. Pigs' croobeens boiled are a grand
    and favourite viand among us--all through Ireland. Irish _crúb_
    [croob], a foot, with the diminutive.

    Croost; to throw stones or clods from the hand:--'Those boys are always
    _croosting_ stones at my hens.' Irish _crústa_ [croostha], a missile, a

    Croudy: see Porter-meal.

    Crowl or Croil; a dwarf, a very small person: the smallest _bonnive_ of
    the litter. An Irish word. {243}

    Cruiskeen; a little cruise for holding liquor. Used all over Ireland.

     'In a shady nook one moonlight night
        A _leprechaun_ I spied;
      With scarlet cap and coat of green,
        A _cruiskeen_ by his side.'

    The _Cruiskeen Laun_ is the name of a well-known Irish air--the Scotch
    call it 'John Anderson my Jo.' Irish _cruiscín_, a pitcher: _lán_
    [laun], full: i.e. in this case full of _pottheen_.

    Crusheen; a stick with a flat crosspiece fastened at bottom for washing
    potatoes in a basket. Irish _cros_, a cross, with the diminutive. Also
    called a _boghaleen_, from Irish _bachal_, a staff, with diminutive.
    (Joyce: Limerick.)

    Cuck; a tuft: applied to the little tuft of feathers on the head of
    some birds, such as plovers, some hens and ducks, &c. Irish _coc_: same
    sound and meaning. (General.)

    Cuckles; the spiky seed-pods of the thistle: thistle heads. (Limerick.)

    Cuckoo spit; the violet: merely the translation of the Irish name,
    _sail-chuach_, spittle of cuckoos. Also the name of a small frothy
    spittle-like substance often found on leaves of plants in summer, with
    a little greenish insect in the middle of it. (Limerick.)

    Cugger-mugger; whispering, gossiping in a low voice: Jack and Bessie
    had a great _cugger-mugger_. Irish _cogar_, whisper, with a similar
    duplication meaning nothing, like tip-top, shilly-shally,
    gibble-gabble, clitter-clatter, &c. I think {244} 'hugger-mugger' is a
    form of this: for _hugger_ can't be derived from anything, whereas
    _cugger_ (_cogur_) is a plain Irish word.

    Cull; when the best of a lot of any kind--sheep, cattle, books,
    &c.--have been picked out, the bad ones that are left--the refuse--are
    the _culls_. (Kinahan: general.)

    Culla-greefeen; when foot or hand is 'asleep' with the feeling of 'pins
    and needles.' The name is Irish and means 'Griffin's sleep'; but why so
    called I cannot tell. (Munster.)

    Cup-tossing; reading fortunes from tea-leaves thrown out on the saucer
    from the tea-cup or teapot. (General.)

    Cur; a twist: a _cur_ of a rope. (Joyce: Limerick.)

    Curate; a common little iron poker kept in use to spare the grand one:
    also a grocer's assistant. (Hayden and Hartog.)

    Curcuddiagh; cosy, comfortable. (Maxwell: 'Wild Sports of the West':
    Irish: Mayo.)

    Curifixes; odd _curious_ ornaments or _fixtures_ of any kind.
    (General.) Peter Brierly, looking at the knocker:--'I never see such
    _curifixes_ on a _doore_ afore.' (Edw. Walsh: very general.)

    Curragh; a wicker boat covered formerly with hides but now with tarred
    canvass. (See my 'Smaller Social Hist. of Anc. Ireland.')

    Current; in good health: he is not current; his health is not current.
    (Father Higgins: Cork.)

    Curwhibbles, currifibbles, currywhibbles; any strange, odd, or unusual
    gestures; or any unusual twisting of words, such as prevarication; wild
    puzzles and puzzling talk:--'The horsemen are in regular currywhibles
    about something.' (R. D. Joyce.) {245}

    Cush; a sort of small horse, from _Cushendall_ in Antrim.

    Cushlamochree; pulse of my heart. Irish _Cuisl[)e]_, vein or pulse;
    _mo_, my; _croidhe_ [cree], heart.

    Cushoge; a stem of a plant; sometimes used the same as _traneen_, which
    see. (Moran: Carlow; and Morris: Monaghan.)

    Cut; a county or barony cess tax; hence Cutman, the collector of it.
    (Kinahan: Armagh and Donegal.) 'The three black _cuts_ will be levied.'
    (Seumas MacManus: Donegal.)

    Daisy-picker; a person who accompanies two lovers in their walk; why so
    called obvious. Brought to keep off gossip.

    Dalk, a thorn. (De Vismes Kane: North and South.) Irish _dealg_
    [dallog], a thorn.

    Dallag [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _that_]; any kind of covering to
    blindfold the eyes (Morris: South Monaghan): 'blinding,' from Irish
    _dall_, blind.

    Dallapookeen; blindman's buff. (Kerry.) From Irish _dalladh_ [dalla]
    blinding; and _puicín_ [pookeen], a covering over the eyes.

    Daltheen [the _d_ sounded like _th_ in _that_], an impudent conceited
    little fellow: a diminutive of _dalta_, a foster child. The diminutive
    _dalteen_ was first applied to a horseboy, from which it has drifted to
    its present meaning.

    Dancing customs, 170, 172.

    Dannagh; mill-dust and mill-grains for feeding pigs. (Moran: Carlow:
    also Tip.) Irish _deanach_, same sound and meaning. {246}

    Dander [second _d_ sounded like _th_ in _hither_], to walk about
    leisurely: a leisurely walk.

    Dandy; a small tumbler; commonly used for drinking punch.

    Darradail or daradeel [the _d_'s sounded like _th_ in _that_] a sort of
    long black chafer or beetle. It raises its tail when disturbed, and has
    a strong smell of apples. There is a religious legend that when our
    Lord was escaping from the Jews, barefoot, the stones were marked all
    along by traces of blood from the bleeding feet. The daradail followed
    the traces of blood; and the Jews following, at length overtook and
    apprehended our Lord. Hence the people regard the daradail with intense
    hatred, and whenever they come on it, kill it instantly. Irish

    Dark; blind: 'a dark man.' (Very general.) Used constantly even in
    official and legal documents, as in workhouse books, especially in
    Munster. (Healy.)

    Darrol; the smallest of the brood of pigs, fowl, &c. (Mayo.) Irish
    _dearóil_, small, puny, wretched.

    Davis, Thomas, vi. 83, &c.

    Dead beat or dead _bet_; tired out.

    Dear; used as a sort of intensive adjective:--'Tom ran for the dear
    life' (as fast as he could). (Crofton Croker.) 'He got enough to
    remember all the dear days of his life.' ('Dub. Pen. Journ.')

    Dell; a lathe. Irish _deil_, same sound and meaning. (All over

    Devil's needle; the dragon-fly. Translation of the Irish name
    _snathad-a'-diabhail_ [snahad-a-dheel].

    Deshort [to rhyme with _port_]; a sudden interruption, a surprise: 'I
    was taken at a _deshort_.' (Derry.) {247}

    Devil, The, and his 'territory,' 56.

    Dickonce; one of the disguised names of the devil used in _white_
    cursing: 'Why then the dickonce take you for one gander.' (Gerald

    Diddy; a woman's pap or breast: a baby sucks its mother's diddy.
    Diminutive of Irish _did_, same.

    Dido; a girl who makes herself ridiculous with fantastic finery.
    (Moran: Carlow.)

    Didoes (singular _dido_); tricks, antics: 'quit your didoes.' (Ulster.)

    Dildron or dildern; a bowraun, which see.

    Dillesk, dulsk, dulse or dilse; a sort of sea plant growing on rocks,
    formerly much used (when dried) as an article of food (as _kitchen_),
    and still eaten in single leaves as a sort of relish. Still sold by
    basket-women in Dublin. Irish _duilesc_.

    Dip. When the family dinner consisted of dry potatoes, i.e. potatoes
    without milk or any other drink, dip was often used, that is to say,
    gravy or broth, or water flavoured in any way in plates, into which the
    potato was dipped at each bit. I once saw a man using dip of plain
    water with mustard in it, and eating his dinner with great relish. You
    will sometimes read of 'potatoes and point,' namely, that each person,
    before taking a bite, _pointed_ the potato at a salt herring or a bit
    of bacon hanging in front of the chimney: but this is mere fun, and
    never occurred in real life.

    Disciple; a miserable looking creature of a man. Shane Glas was a long
    lean scraggy wretched looking fellow (but really strong and active),
    and another says to him--jibing and railing--'Away with ye, ye
    miserable _disciple_. Arrah, by the hole {248} of my coat, after you
    dance your last jig upon nothing, with your hemp cravat on, I'll coax
    yer miserable carcase from the hangman to frighten the crows with.'
    (Edw. Walsh in 'Pen. Journ.')

    Disremember; to forget. Good old English; now out of fashion in
    England, but common in Ireland.

    Ditch. In Ireland a ditch is a raised fence or earthen wall or mound,
    and a dyke (or _sheuch_ as they call it in Donegal and elsewhere in
    Ulster) is a deep cutting, commonly filled with water. In England both
    words mean exactly the reverse. Hence 'hurlers on the ditch,' or 'the
    best hurlers are on the ditch' (where speakers of pure English would
    use 'fence') said in derision of persons who are mere idle spectators
    sitting up on high watching the game--whatever it may be--and boasting
    how they would _do the devil an' all_ if they were only playing.
    Applied in a broad sense to those who criticise persons engaged in any
    strenuous affair--critics who think they could do better.

    Dollop; to adulterate: 'that coffee is dolloped.'

    Donny; weak, in poor health. Irish _donaidhe_, same sound and meaning.
    Hence _donnaun_, a poor weakly creature, same root with the diminutive.
    From still the same root is _donsy_, sick-looking.

    Donagh-dearnagh, the Sunday before Lammas (1st August). (Ulster.) Irish
    _Domnach_, Sunday; and _deireannach_, last, i.e. last Sunday of the
    period before 1st August.

    Doodoge [the two _d_'s sounded like _th_ in _thus_]; a big pinch of
    snuff. [Limk.] Irish _dúdóg_.

    Dooraght [_d_ sounded as in the last word]; tender care and kindness
    shown to a person. Irish {249} _dúthracht_, same sound and meaning. In
    parts of Ulster it means a small portion given over and above what is
    purchased (Simmons and Knowles); called elsewhere a _tilly_, which see.
    This word, in its sense of kindness, is very old; for in the Brehon Law
    we read of land set aside by a father for his daughter through

    Doorshay-daurshay [_d_ in both sounded as _th_ in _thus_], mere hearsay
    or gossip. The first part is Irish, representing the sound of
    _dubhairt-sé_, 'said he.' The second part is a mere doubling of the
    first, as we find in many English words, such as 'fiddle-faddle,'
    'tittle-tattle' (which resembles our word). Often used by Munster
    lawyers in court, whether Irish-speaking or not, in depreciation of
    hearsay evidence in contradistinction to the evidence of looking-on.
    'Ah, that's all mere _doorshay-daurshay_.' Common all over Munster. The
    information about the use of the term in law courts I got from Mr.
    Maurice Healy. A different form is sometimes heard:--_D'innis bean dom
    gur innis bean di_, 'a woman told me that a woman told her.'

    Dornoge [_d_ sounded as in doodoge above]; a small round lump of a
    stone, fit to be cast from the hand. Irish _dorn_, the shut hand, with
    the dim. _óg_.

    Double up; to render a person helpless either in fight or in argument.
    The old tinker in the fair got a blow of an amazon's fist which 'sent
    him sprawling and _doubled_ him up for the rest of the evening.'
    (Robert Dwyer Joyce: 'Madeline's Vow.')

    Down in the heels; broken down in fortune (one mark of which is the
    state of the heels of shoes). {250}

    Down blow; a heavy or almost ruinous blow of any kind:--'The loss of
    that cow was a down blow to poor widow Cleary.'

    Downface; to persist boldly in an assertion (whether true or no): He
    downfaced me that he returned the money I lent him, though he never

    Down-the-banks; a scolding, a reprimand, punishment of any kind.

    Dozed: a piece of timber is dozed when there is a dry rot in the heart
    of it. (Myself for Limk.: Kane for North.)

    Drad; a grin or contortion of the mouth. (Joyce.)

    Drag home. (Simmons; Armagh: same as Hauling home, which see.)

    Drass; a short time, a turn:--'You walk a drass now and let me ride':
    'I always smoke a drass before I go to bed of a night.' ('Collegians,'
    Limerick.) Irish _dreas_, same sound and meaning.

    Drench: a form of the English _drink_, but used in a peculiar sense in
    Ireland. A _drench_ is a philtre, a love-potion, a love-compelling
    drink over which certain charms were repeated during its preparation.
    Made by boiling certain herbs (_orchis_) in water or milk, and the
    person drinks it unsuspectingly. In my boyhood time a beautiful young
    girl belonging to a most respectable family ran off with an
    ill-favoured obscure beggarly diseased wretch. The occurrence was
    looked on with great astonishment and horror by the people--no wonder;
    and the universal belief was that the fellow's old mother had given the
    poor girl a _drench_. To this hour I cannot make any guess at the cause
    of that astounding elopement: and it is {251} not surprising that the
    people were driven to the supernatural for an explanation.

    Dresser; a set of shelves and drawers in a frame in a kitchen for
    holding plates, knives, &c.

    Drisheen is now used in Cork as an English word, to denote a sort of
    pudding made of the narrow intestines of a sheep, filled with blood
    that has been cleared of the red colouring matter, and mixed with meal
    and some other ingredients. So far as I know, this viand and its name
    are peculiar to Cork, where _drisheen_ is considered suitable for
    persons of weak or delicate digestion. (I should observe that a recent
    reviewer of one of my books states that drisheen is also made in
    Waterford.) Irish _dreas_ or driss, applied to anything slender, as a
    bramble, one of the smaller intestines, &c.--with the diminutive.

    Drizzen, a sort of moaning sound uttered by a cow. (Derry).

    Drogh; the worst and smallest bonnive in a litter. (Armagh.) Irish
    _droch_, bad, evil. (See Eervar.)

    Droleen; a wren: merely the Irish word _dreóilín_.

    Drop; a strain of any kind 'running in the blood.' A man inclined to
    evil ways 'has a bad drop' in him (or 'a black drop'): a miser 'has a
    hard drop.' The expression carries an idea of heredity.

    Drugget; a cloth woven with a mixture of woollen and flaxen thread: so
    called from Drogheda where it was once extensively manufactured. Now
    much used as cheap carpeting.

    Druids and Druidism, 178.

    Drumaun; a wide back-band for a ploughing horse, {252} with hooks to
    keep the traces in place. (Joyce: Limerick.) From Irish _druim_, the

    Drummagh; the back strap used in yoking two horses. (Joyce: Limerick.)
    Irish _druim_, the back, with the termination _-ach_, equivalent to
    English _-ous_ and _-y_.

    Dry potatoes; potatoes eaten without milk or any other drink.

    Dry lodging; the use of a bed merely, without food.

    Drynaun-dun or drynan-dun [two _d_'s sounded like _th_ in _that_]; the
    blackthorn, the sloe-bush. Irish _droigheanán_ [drynan or drynaun], and
    _donn_, brown-coloured.

    Ducks; trousers of snow-white canvas, much used as summer wear by
    gentle and simple fifty or sixty years ago.

    Dudeen [both _d_'s sounded like _th_ in _those_]; a smoking-pipe with a
    very short stem. Irish _dúidín_, _dúd_, a pipe, with the diminutive.

    Duggins; rags: 'that poor fellow is all in duggins.' (Armagh.)

    Dull; a loop or eye on a string. (Monaghan.)

    Dullaghan [_d_ sounded as _th_ in _those_]; a large trout. (Kane:
    Monaghan.) An Irish word.

    Dullaghan; 'a hideous kind of hobgoblin generally met with in
    churchyards, who can take off and put on his head at will.' (From
    'Irish Names of Places,' I. 193, which see for more about this spectre.
    See Croker's 'Fairy Legends.')

    Dullamoo [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _those_]; a wastrel, a scapegrace, a
    _ne'er-do-weel_. Irish _dul_, going; _amudha_ [amoo], astray, to
    loss:--_dullamoo_, 'a person going to the bad,' 'going to the dogs.'

    Dundeen; a lump of bread without butter. (Derry.)

    Dunisheen; a small weakly child. (Moran: Carlow.) Irish _donaisín_, an
    unfortunate being; from _donas_, with diminutive. See Donny.

    Dunner; to knock loudly at a door. (Ulster.)

    Dunt (sometimes _dunch_), to strike or butt like a cow or goat with the
    head. A certain lame old man (of Armagh) was nicknamed 'Dunt the pad
    (path'). (Ulster.)

    Durneen, one of the two handles of a scythe that project from the main
    handle. Irish _doirnín_, same sound and meaning: diminutive from
    _dorn_, the fist, the shut hand.

    Durnoge; a strong rough leather glove, used on the left hand by faggot
    cutters. (MacCall: Wexford.) _Dornoge_, given above, is the same word
    but differently applied.

    Duty owed by tenants to landlords, 181.

    Earnest; 'in earnest' is often used in the sense of 'really and
    truly':--'You're a man in earnest, Cus, to strike the first blow on a
    day [of battle] like this.' (R. D. Joyce.)

    Eervar; the last pig in a litter. This _bonnive_ being usually very
    small and hard to keep alive is often given to one of the children for
    a pet; and it is reared in great comfort in a warm bed by the kitchen
    fire, and fed on milk. I once, when a child, had an eervar of my own
    which was the joy of my life. Irish _iarmhar_ [eervar], meaning
    'something after all the rest'; the hindmost. (Munster.) See Drogh for

    Elder; a cow's udder. All over Ireland. {254}

    Elegant. This word is used among us, not in its proper sense, but to
    designate anything good or excellent of its kind:--An elegant penknife,
    an elegant gun: 'That's an elegant pig of yours, Jack?' Our milkman
    once offered me a present for my garden--'An elegant load of dung.'

      I haven't the _janius_ for work,
        For 'twas never the gift of the Bradys;
      But I'd make a most _elegant_ Turk,
        For I'm fond of tobacco and ladies.


        'How is she [the sick girl] coming on?'

        'Elegant,' was the reply. ('Knocknagow.')

    Elementary schools, 159.

    Exaggeration and redundancy, 120.

    Existence, way of predicating, 23.

    Eye of a bridge; the arch.

    Faireen (south), fairin (north); a present either given in a fair or
    brought from it. Used in another sense--a lasting injury of any
    kind:--'Poor Joe got a faireen that day, when the stone struck him on
    the eye, which I'm afraid the eye will never recover.' Used all over
    Ireland and in Scotland.

      Ah Tam, ah Tam, thou'lt get thy fairin',
      In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'.


    Fair-gurthra; 'hungry grass.' There is a legend all through Ireland
    that small patches of grass grow here and there on mountains; and if a
    person in walking along happens to tread on one of them he is instantly
    overpowered with hunger so as to {255} be quite unable to walk, and if
    help or food is not at hand he will sink down and perish. That persons
    are attacked and rendered helpless by sudden hunger on mountains in
    this manner is certain. Mr. Kinahan gives me an instance where he had
    to carry his companion, a boy, on his back a good distance to the
    nearest house: and Maxwell in 'Wild Sports of the West' gives others.
    But he offers the natural explanation: that a person is liable to sink
    suddenly with hunger if he undertakes a hard mountain walk with a long
    interval after food. Irish _feur_, grass; _gorta_, hunger.

    Fairy breeze. Sometimes on a summer evening you suddenly feel a very
    warm breeze: that is a band of fairies travelling from one fort to
    another; and people on such occasions usually utter a short prayer, not
    knowing whether the 'good people' are bent on doing good or evil. (G.
    H. Kinahan.) Like the Shee-geeha, which see.

    Fairy-thimble, the same as 'Lusmore,' which see.

    Famished; distressed for want of something:--'I am famished for a
    smoke--for a glass,' &c.

    Farbreaga; a scarecrow. Irish _fear_, a man: _breug_ falsehood: a false
    or pretended man.

    Farl; one quarter of a griddle cake. (Ulster.)

    Faúmera [the _r_ has the slender sound]; a big strolling beggarman or
    idle fellow. From the Irish _Fomor_. The _Fomors_ or _Fomora_ or
    Fomorians were one of the mythical colonies that came to Ireland (see
    any of my Histories of Ireland, Index): some accounts represent them as
    giants. In Clare the country people that go to the seaside in summer
    for the benefit of the 'salt water' are {256} called _Faumeras_. In
    Tramore they are called _olishes_ [o long]; because in the morning
    before breakfast they go down to the strand and take a good _swig_ of
    the salt water--an essential part of the cure--and when one meets
    another he (or she) asks in Irish '_ar ólish_,' 'did you drink?' In
    Kilkee the dogfish is called _Faumera_, for the dogfish is among the
    smaller fishes like what legend represents the Fomorians in Ireland.

    Faustus, Dr., in Irish dialect, 60.

    Fear is often used among us in the sense of _danger_. Once during a
    high wind the ship's captain neatly distinguished it when a frightened
    lady asked him:--'Is there any fear, sir?' 'There's plenty of fear,
    madam, but no danger.'

    Feck or fack; a spade. From the very old Irish word, _fec_, same sound
    and meaning.

    Fellestrum, the flagger (marsh plant). Irish _felestrom_. (South.)

    Fetch; what the English call a _double_, a preternatural apparition of
    a living person, seen usually by some relative or friend. If seen in
    the morning the person whose fetch it is will have a long and
    prosperous life: if in the evening the person will soon die.

    Finane or Finaun; the white half-withered long grass found in marshy or
    wet land. Irish _finn_ or _fionn_, white, with the diminutive.

    Finely and poorly are used to designate the two opposite states of an
    invalid. 'Well, Mrs. Lahy, how is she?' [Nora the poor sick little
    girl]. 'Finely, your reverence,' Honor replied (going on well). The old
    sinner Rody, having accidentally {257} shot himself, is asked how he is
    going on:--'Wisha, poorly, poorly' (badly). (G. Griffin.)

    Finger--to put a finger in one's eye; to overreach and cheat him by
    cunning:--'He'd be a clever fellow that would put a finger in Tom's

    First shot, in distilling pottheen; the weak stuff that comes off at
    the first distillation: also called singlings.

    Flahoolagh, plentiful; 'You have a flahoolagh hand, Mrs. Lyons': 'Ah,
    we got a flahoolagh dinner and no mistake.' Irish _flaith_ [flah], a
    chief, and _amhail_ [ooal], like, with the adjectival termination
    _ach_: _flahoolagh_, 'chieftain-like.' For the old Irish chiefs kept
    open houses, with full and plenty--_launa-vaula_--for all who came.

    Flipper; an untidy man. (Limerick.)

    Flitters; tatters, rags:--'His clothes were all in _flitters_.'

    Flog; to beat, to exceed:--'That flogs Europe' ('Collegians'), i.e. it
    beats Europe: there's nothing in Europe like it.

    Fluke, something very small or nothing at all. 'What did you get from
    him?' 'Oh I got flukes' (or 'flukes in a hand-basket')--meaning
    nothing. Sometimes it seems to mean a small coin, like _cross_ and
    _keenoge_. 'When I set out on that journey I hadn't a fluke.' (North
    and South.)

    Fockle; a big torch made by lighting a sheaf of straw fixed on a long
    pole: fockles were usually lighted on St. John's Eve. (Limerick.) It is
    merely the German word _fackel_, a torch, brought to Limerick by the
    Palatine colony. (See p. 65.)

    Fog-meal; a great meal or big feed: a harvest dinner. {258}

    Fooster; hurry, flurry, fluster, great fuss. Irish _fústar_, same sound
    and meaning. (Hayden and Hartog.)

     'Then Tommy jumped about elate,
        Tremendous was his _fooster_--O;
      Says he, "I'll send a message straight
        To my darling Mr. Brewster--O!"'

      (Repeal Song of 1843.)

    Forbye; besides. (Ulster.)

    For good; finally, for ever: 'he left home for good.'

    Fornent, fornenst, forenenst; opposite: he and I sat fornenst each
    other in the carriage.

     'Yet here you strut in open day
      Fornenst my house so freely--O.'

      (Repeal Song of 1843.)

    An old English word, now obsolete in England, but very common in

    Foshla; a marshy weedy rushy place; commonly applied to the ground left
    after a cut-away bog. (Roscommon.)

    Four bones; 'Your own four bones,' 127.

    Fox; (verb) to pretend, to feign, to sham: 'he's not sick at all, he's
    only foxing.' Also to cut short the ears of a dog.

    Frainey; a small puny child:--'Here, eat this bit, you little

    Fraughans; whortleberries. Irish _fraoch_, with the diminutive. See

    Freet; a sort of superstition or superstitious rite. (Ulster.)

    Fresh and Fresh:--'I wish you to send me the butter every morning: I
    like to have it fresh and fresh.' {259} This is English gone out of
    fashion: I remember seeing it in Pope's preface to 'The Dunciad.'

    Frog's jelly; the transparent jelly-like substance found in pools and
    ditches formed by frogs round their young tadpoles, 121.

    Fum; soft spongy turf. (Ulster.) Called _soosaun_ in Munster.

    Gaatch [_aa_ long as in _car_], an affected gesture or movement of
    limbs body or face: _gaatches_; assuming fantastic ridiculous
    attitudes. (South.)

    Gad; a withe: 'as tough as a gad.' (Irish _gad_, 60.)

    Gadderman; a boy who puts on the airs of a man; a mannikin or
    _manneen_, which see. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Gaffer; an old English word, but with a peculiar application in
    Ireland, where it means a boy, a young chap. 'Come here, gaffer, and
    help me.'

    Gag; a conceited foppish young fellow, who tries to figure as a swell.

    Gah´ela or gaherla; a little girl. (Kane: Ulster.) Same as _girsha_.

    Gaileen; a little bundle of rushes placed under the arms of a beginner
    learning to swim. (Joyce: Limerick.) When you support the beginner's
    head keeping it above water with your hands while he is learning the
    strokes: that we used to designate '_giving a gaileen_.'

    Galbally, Co. Limerick, 156.

    Galoot: a clownish fellow.

    Galore; plenty, plentiful. Irish adverb _go leór_, 4.

    Gankinna; a fairy, a leprachaun. (Morris: South Mon.) Irish _gann_,
    small. {260}

    Gannoge; an undefined small quantity. (Antrim.) Irish _gann_, small,
    with diminutive _óg_.

    Garden, in the South, is always applied to a field of growing potatoes.
    'In the land courts we never asked "How many acres of potatoes?"; but
    "How many acres of garden?"' (Healy.) A usual inquiry is 'How are your
    gardens going on?' meaning 'How are your potato crops doing?'

    Garlacom; a lingering disease in cows believed to be caused by eating a
    sort of herb. (P. Moran: Meath.)

    Garland Sunday; the first Sunday in August (sometimes called Garlick

    Garron, garraun; an old worn-out horse. (Irish _gearrán_.)

    Gash; a flourish of the pen in writing so as to form an ornamental
    curve, usually at the end. (Limerick.)

    Gatha; an effeminate fellow who concerns himself in women's business: a
    _Sheela_. (Joyce: Limerick.)

    Gatherie; a splinter of bog-deal used as a torch. (Moran: Carlow.) Also
    a small cake (commonly smeared with treacle) sold in the street on
    market days. Irish _geataire_ [gatthera], same meanings.

    Gaug; a sore crack in the heel of a person who goes barefooted. (Moran:
    Carlow.) Irish _gág_ [gaug], a cleft, a crack.

    Gaulsh; to loll. (MacCall: Wexford.)

    Gaunt or gant; to yawn. (Ulster.)

    Gaurlagh; a little child, a baby: an unfledged bird. Irish _gárlach_,
    same sound and meanings.

    Gawk; a tall awkward fellow. (South.) {261}

    Gawm, gawmoge; a soft foolish fellow. (South.) Irish _gám_, same
    meaning. See Gommul.

    Gazebo; a tall building; any tall object; a tall awkward person.

    Gazen, gazened; applied to a wooden vessel of any kind when the joints
    open by heat or drought so that it leaks. (Ulster.)

    Gallagh-gunley; the harvest moon. (Ulster.) _Gallagh_ gives the sound
    of Irish _gealach_, the moon, meaning whitish, from _geal_, white.

    Geck; to mock, to jeer, to laugh at. (Derry.)

    Geenagh, geenthagh; hungry, greedy, covetous. (Derry.) Irish _gionach_
    or _giontach_, gluttonous.

    Geens; wild cherries. (Derry.)

    Gentle; applied to a place or thing having some connexion with the
    fairies--haunted by fairies. A thornbush where fairies meet is a
    'gentle bush': the hazel and the foxglove (fairy-thimble) are gentle

    Geócagh; a big strolling idle fellow. (Munster.) Irish _geocach_, same
    sound and meaning.

    Geosadaun or Yosedaun [_d_ in both sounded like _th_ in _they_]; the
    yellow rag-weed: called also boliaun [2-syll.] and booghalaun.

    Get; a bastard child. (North and South.)

    Gibbadaun; a frivolous person. (Roscommon.) From the Irish _giob_, a
    scrap, with the diminutive ending _dán_: a _scrappy_ trifling-minded

    Gibbol [_g_ hard as in _get_]; a rag: your jacket is all hanging down
    in gibbols.' (Limerick.) Irish _giobal_, same sound and meaning.

    Giddhom; restlessness. In Limerick it is applied to cows when they
    gallop through the fields with {262} tails cocked out, driven half mad
    by heat and flies: 'The cows are galloping with giddhom.' Irish
    _giodam_, same sound and meaning.

    Gill-gowan, a corn-daisy. (Tyrone.) From Irish _geal_, white, and
    _gowan_, the Scotch name for a daisy.

    Girroge [two _g_'s sounded as in _get_, _got_]. Girroges are the short
    little drills where the plough runs into a corner. (Kildare and
    Limerick.) Irish _gearr_, short, with the diminutive _óg_: _girroge_,
    any short little thing.

    Girsha; a little girl. (North and South.) Irish _geirrseach_ [girsagh],
    from _gearr_, short or small, with the feminine termination _seach_.

    Gistra [_g_ sounded as in _get_], a sturdy, active old man. (Ulster.)
    Irish _giostaire_, same sound and meaning.

    Gladiaathor [_aa_ long as in _car_]; a gladiator, a fighting
    quarrelsome fellow: used as a verb also:--'he went about the fair
    _gladiaatherin_,' i.e. shouting and challenging people to fight him.

    Glaum, glam; to grab or grasp with the whole hand; to maul or pull
    about with the hands. Irish _glám_ [glaum], same meaning.

    Glebe; in Ireland this word is almost confined to the land or farm
    attached to a Protestant rector's residence: hence called _glebe-land_.
    See p. 143.

    Gleeag; a small handful of straw used in plaiting straw mats: a sheaf
    of straw threshed. (Kildare and Monaghan.)

    Gleeks: to give a fellow the gleeks is to press the forefingers into
    the butt of the ears so as to cause pain: a rough sort of play.

    Glenroe, Co. Limerick, 68, 146. {263}

    Gliggeen; a voluble silly talker. (Munster.) Irish _gluigín_
    [gliggeen], a little bell, a little tinkler: from _glog_, same as
    _clog_, a bell.

    Gliggerum; applied to a very bad old worn-out watch or clock.

    Glit; slimy mud; the green vegetable (_ducksmeat_) that grows on the
    surface of stagnant water. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Gloit; a blockhead of a young fellow. (Knowles.)

    Glory be to God! Generally a pious exclamation of thankfulness, fear,
    &c.: but sometimes an ejaculation of astonishment, wonder, admiration,
    &c. Heard everywhere in Ireland.

    Glower; to stare or glare at: 'what are you glowerin' at!' (Ulster.)

    Glugger [_u_ sounded as in _full_]; empty noise; the noise made by
    shaking an addled egg. Also an addled egg. Applied very often in a
    secondary sense to a vain empty foolish boaster. (Munster.)

    Glunter: a stupid person. (Knowles: Ulster.)

    Goaling: same as Hurling, which see.

    Gob; the mouth including lips: 'Shut your gob.' Irish _gob_, same
    meaning. Scotch, 'greedy _gab_.' (Burns.)

    Gobshell; a big spittle direct from the mouth. (Limerick.) From Irish
    _gob_, the mouth, and _seile_ [shella], a spittle.

    Gobs or jackstones; five small round stones with which little girls
    play against each other, by throwing them up and catching them as they
    fall; 'there are Nelly and Sally playing gobs.'

    Gods and goddesses of Pagan Ireland, 177.

    Godspeed: see Back of God-speed. {264}

    God's pocket. Mr. Kinahan writes to me:--'The first time I went to the
    Mullingar hotel I had a delicate child, and spoke to the landlady as to
    how he was to be put up [during the father's absence by day on outdoor
    duty]. "Oh never fear sir," replied the good old lady, "the poor child
    will be _in God's pocket_ here."' Mr. K. goes on to say:--I afterwards
    found that in all that part of Leinster they never said 'we will make
    you comfortable,' but always 'you will be in God's pocket,' or 'as snug
    as in God's pocket.' I heard it said of a widow and orphans whose
    people were kind to them, that they were in 'God's pocket.' Whether
    Seumas MacManus ever came across this term I do not know, but he has
    something very like it in 'A Lad of the O'Friels,' viz., 'I'll make the
    little girl as happy as if she was _in Saint Peter's pocket_.'

    Goggalagh, a dotard. (Munster.) Irish _gogail_, the cackling of a hen
    or goose; also doting; with the usual termination _ach_.

    Going on; making fun, joking, teasing, chaffing, bantering:--'Ah, now I
    see you are only _going on_ with me.' 'Stop your _goings on_.'

    Golder [_d_ sounded like _th_ in further]; a loud sudden or angry
    shout. (Patterson: Ulster.)

    Goleen; an armful. See Gwaul.

    Gombeen man; a usurer who lends money to small farmers and others of
    like means, at ruinous interest. The word is now used all over Ireland.
    Irish _goimbín_ [gombeen], usury.

    Gommul, gommeril, gommula, all sometimes shortened to _gom_; a
    simple-minded fellow, a half {265} fool. Irish _gamal_, _gamaille_,
    _gamairle_, _gamarail_, all same meaning. (_Gamal_ is also Irish for a
    camel.) Used all over Ireland.

    Good deed; said of some transaction that is a well-deserved punishment
    for some wrong or unjust or very foolish course of action. Bill lends
    some money to Joe, who never returns it, and a friend says:--''Tis a
    good deed Bill, why did you trust such a schemer?' Barney is bringing
    home a heavy load, and is lamenting that he did not bring his
    ass:--''Tis a good deed: where was I coming without Bobby?' (the ass).
    ('Knocknagow') 'I'm wet to the skin': reply:--''Tis a good deed: why
    did you go out without your overcoat?'

    Good boy: in Limerick and other parts of Munster, a young fellow who is
    good--strong and active--at all athletic exercises, but most especially
    if he is brave and tough in fighting, is 'a good boy.' The people are
    looking anxiously at a sailing boat labouring dangerously in a storm on
    the Shannon, and one of them remarks:--''Tis a good boy that has the
    rudder in his hand.' (Gerald Griffin.)

    Good people; The fairies. The word is used merely as _soft sawder_, to
    _butter them up_, to curry favour with them--to show them great respect
    at least from the teeth out--lest they might do some injury to the

    Googeen [two _g_'s as in _good_ and _get_]; a simple soft-minded
    person. (Moran: Carlow.) Irish _guag_, same meaning, with the
    diminutive: _guaigín_.

    Gopen, gowpen; the full of the two hands used together. (Ulster.)
    Exactly the same meaning as _Lyre_ in Munster, which see. {266}

    Gor; the coarse turf or peat which forms the surface of the bog.
    (Healy: for Ulster.)

    Gorb; a ravenous eater, a glutton. (Ulster.)

    Gorsoon: a young boy. It is hard to avoid deriving this from French
    _garçon_, all the more as it has no root in Irish. Another form often
    used is _gossoon_, which is derived from Irish:--_gas_, a stem or
    stalk, a young boy. But the termination _oon_ or _ún_ is suspicious in
    both cases, for it is not a genuine Irish suffix at all.

    Gossip; a sponsor in baptism.

    Goster; gossipy talk. Irish _gastair[)e]_, a prater, a chatterer.
    'Dermot go 'long with your goster.' (Moore--in his youth.)

    Gouloge; a stick with a little fork of two prongs at the end, for
    turning up hay, or holding down furze while cutting. (South.) Used in
    the North often in the form of _gollog_. Irish _gabhal_ [gowl], a fork,
    with the dim. _óg_.

    Gounau; housewife [huzzif] thread, strong thread for sewing, pack
    thread. Irish _gabhshnáth_ (Fr. Dinneen), same sound and meaning: from
    _snáth_, a thread: but how comes in _gabh_? In one of the Munster towns
    I knew a man who kept a draper's shop, and who was always called
    _Gounau_, in accordance with the very reprehensible habit of our people
    to give nicknames.

    Goureen-roe: a snipe, a jacksnipe. (Munster.) Irish _gabhairín-reó_,
    the 'little goat of the frost' (reó, frost): because on calm frosty
    evenings you hear its quivering sound as it flies in the twilight, very
    like the sound emitted by a goat.

    Gra, grah; love, fondness, liking. Irish _grádh_ {267} [graw]. 'I have
    great gra for poor Tom.' I asked an Irishman who had returned from
    America and settled down again here and did well:--'Why did you come
    back from America?' 'Ah,' he replied, 'I have great _gra_ for the old

    Graanbroo; wheat boiled in new milk and sweetened: a great treat to
    children, and generally made from their own gleanings or _liscauns_,
    gathered in the fields. Sometimes called _brootheen_. (Munster.) The
    first from Irish _grán_, grain, and _brúgh_, to break or bruise, to
    reduce to pulp, or cook, by boiling. _Brootheen_ (also applied to
    mashed potatoes) is from _brúgh_, with the diminutive.

    Graanoge, graan-yoge [_aa_ in both long like _a_ in _car_], a hedgehog.
    Irish _gráineóg_, same sound.

    Graanshaghaun [_aa_ long as in _car_]; wheat (in grain) boiled. (Joyce:
    Limerick.) In my early days what we called _graanshaghaun_ was wheat in
    grains, not boiled, but roasted in an iron pot held over the fire, the
    wheat being kept stirred till done.

    Graffaun; a small axe with edge across like an adze for grubbing or
    _graffing_ land, i.e. rooting out furze and heath in preparation for
    tillage. Used all through the South. 'This was the word used in Co.
    Cork law courts.' (Healy.) Irish _grafán_, same sound and meaning.

    Graip or grape; a dung-fork with three or four prongs. Irish _grápa_.

    Grammar and Pronunciation, 74.

    Grammel; to grope or fumble or gather with both hands. (Derry.)

    Graves, Mr. A. P., 58, &c.

    Grawls; children. Paddy Corbett, thinking he is {268} ruined, says of
    his wife:--'God comfort poor Jillian and the grawls I left her.'
    (Edward Walsh.) 'There's Judy and myself and the poor little grawls.'
    (Crofton Croker: p. 155.)

    Grawvar; loving, affectionate:--'That's a grawver poor boy.' (Munster.)
    Irish _grádhmhar_, same sound and meaning: from _grádh_, love.

    Grazier; a young rabbit. (South and West.)

    Great; intimate, closely acquainted:--'Tom Long and Jack Fogarty are
    very great.' (All over Ireland.) 'Come gie's your hand and sae we're
    _greet_.' (Burns.)

    Greedy-gut; a glutton; a person who is selfish about stuffing himself,
    wishing to give nothing to anyone else. Gorrane Mac Sweeny, when his
    mistress is in want of provisions, lamenting that the eagles (over
    Glengarriff) were devouring the game that the lady wanted so badly,
    says:--'Is it not the greatest pity in life ... that these greedy-guts
    should be after swallowing the game, and my sweet mistress and her
    little ones all the time starving.' (Caesar Otway in 'Pen. Journ.')

    Greenagh; a person that hangs round hoping to get food (Donegal and
    North-West): a 'Watch-pot.'

    Greesagh; red hot embers and ashes. 'We roasted our potatoes and eggs
    in the greesagh.' (All over Ireland.) Irish _gríosach_, same sound.

    Greet; to cry. 'Tommy was greetin' after his mother.' (Ulster.)

    Greth; harness of a horse: a general name for all the articles required
    when yoking a horse to the cart. (Knowles: Ulster.)

    Griffin, Gerald, author of 'The Collegians,' 5, &c. {269}

    Grig (greg in Sligo): a boy with sugarstick holds it out to another and
    says, 'grig, grig,' to triumph over him. Irish _griog_, same sound and

    Grinder; a bright-coloured silk kerchief worn round the neck. (Edward
    Walsh: all over Munster.)

    Gripe; a trench, generally beside a high ditch or fence. 'I got down
    into the gripe, thinking to [hide myself].' (Crofton Croker.)

    Griskin or greeskeen; a small bit of meat cut off to be
    roasted--usually on the coals. Irish _gríscín_.

    Grisset; a shallow iron vessel for melting things in, such as grease
    for dipping rushes, resin for dipping torches (_sluts_ or _paudioges_,
    which see), melting lead for various purposes, white metals for
    coining, &c. If a man is growing rapidly rich:--'You'd think he had the
    grisset down.'

    Groak or groke; to look on silently--like a dog--at people while they
    are eating, hoping to be asked to eat a bit. (Derry.)

    Grogue; three or four sods of turf standing on end, supporting each
    other like a little pyramid on the bog to dry. (Limerick.) Irish
    _gruag_, same meaning.

    Groodles; the broken bits mixed with liquid left at the bottom of a
    bowl of soup, bread and milk, &c.

    Group or grup; a little drain or channel in a cow-house to lead off the
    liquid manure. (Ulster.)

    Grue or grew; to turn from with disgust:--'He grued at the physic.'

    Grug; sitting on one's grug means sitting on the heels without touching
    the ground. (Munster.) Same as Scotch _hunkers_. 'Sit down on your grug
    and thank God for a seat.'

    Grumagh or groomagh; gloomy, {270} ill-humoured:--'I met Bill this
    morning looking very _grumagh_.' (General.) From Irish _gruaim_
    [_grooim_], gloom, ill-humour, with the usual suffix _-ach_, equivalent
    to English _-y_ as in _gloomy_.

    Grumpy; surly, cross, disagreeable. (General.)

    Gubbadhaun; a bird that follows the cuckoo. (Joyce.)

    Gubbaun; a strap tied round the mouth of a calf or foal, with a row of
    projecting nail points, to prevent it sucking the mother. From Irish
    _gob_, the mouth, with the diminutive. (South.)

    Gubbalagh; a mouthful. (Munster.) Irish _goblach_, same sound and
    meaning. From _gob_, the mouth, with the termination _lach_.

    Gullion; a sink-pool. (Ulster.)

    Gulpin; a clownish uncouth fellow. (Ulster.)

    Gulravage, gulravish; noisy boisterous play. (North-east Ulster.)

    Gunk; a 'take in,' a 'sell'; as a verb, to 'take in,' to cheat.

    Gushers; stockings with the soles cut off. (Morris: Monaghan.) From the
    Irish. Same as triheens.

    Gurry; a _bonnive_, a young pig. (Morris: Mon.)

    Gutter; wet mud on a road (_gutters_ in Ulster).

    Gwaul [_l_ sounded as in _William_]; the full of the two arms of
    anything: 'a gwaul of straw.' (Munster.) In Carlow and Wexford, they
    add the diminutive, and make it _goleen_. Irish _gabháil_.

    Hain; to hain a field is to let it go to meadow, keeping the cows out
    of it so as to let the grass grow: possibly from _hayin'_. (Waterford:
    Healy.) In Ulster _hain_ means to save, to economise. {271}

    Half a one; half a glass of whiskey. One day a poor blind man walked
    into one of the Dublin branch banks, which happened to be next door to
    a public-house, and while the clerks were looking on, rather puzzled as
    to what he wanted, he slapped two pennies down on the counter; and in
    no very gentle voice:--'Half a one!'

    Half joke and whole earnest; an expression often heard in Ireland which
    explains itself. 'Tim told me--half joke and whole earnest--that he
    didn't much like to lend me his horse.'

    Hand; to make a hand of a person is to make fun of him; to humbug him:
    Lowry Looby, thinking that Mr. Daly is making game of him, says:--''Tis
    making a hand of me your honour is.' (Gerald Griffin.) Other
    applications of _hand_ are 'You made a bad hand of that job,' i.e. you
    did it badly. If a man makes a foolish marriage: 'He made a bad hand of
    himself, poor fellow.'

    Hand-and-foot; the meaning of this very general expression is seen in
    the sentence 'He gave him a hand-and-foot and tumbled him down.'

    Hand's turn; a very trifling bit of work, an occasion:--'He won't do a
    hand's turn about the house': 'he scolds me at every hand's turn,' i.e.
    on every possible occasion.

    Handy; near, convenient:--'The shop lies handy to me'; an adaptation of
    the Irish _láimh le_ (meaning _near_). _Láimh le Corcaig_, lit. _at
    hand with Cork_--near Cork. This again is often expressed _convenient
    to Cork_, where _convenient_ is intended to mean simply _near_. So it
    comes that we in Ireland regard _convenient_ and _near_ as exactly
    synonymous, {272} which they are not. In fact on almost every possible
    occasion, we--educated and uneducated--use _convenient_ when _near_
    would be the proper word. An odd example occurs in the words of the old
    Irish folk-song:--

     'A sailor courted a farmer's daughter,
      Who lived _convaynient_ to the Isle of Man.'

    Hannel; a blow with the spear or spike of a pegging-top (or
    'castle-top') down on the wood of another top. Boys often played a game
    of tops for a certain number of hannels. At the end of the game the
    victor took his defeated opponent's top, sunk it firmly down into the
    grassy sod, and then with his own top in his hand struck the other top
    a number of hannels with the spear of his own to injure it as much as
    possible. 'Your castle-tops came in for the most hannels.'

    Hap; to wrap a person round with any covering, to tuck in the
    bedclothes round a person. (Ulster.)

    Hard word (used always with _the_); a hint, an inkling, a tip, a bit of
    secret information:--'They were planning to betray and cheat me, but
    Ned gave me the hard word, and I was prepared for them, so that I
    defeated their schemes.'

    Hare; to make a hare of a person is to put him down in argument or
    discussion, or in a contest of wit or cunning; to put him in utter
    confusion. 'While you were speaking to the little boy that made a hare
    of you.' (Carleton in Ir. Pen. Journ.)

     'Don't talk of your Provost and Fellows of Trinity,
      Famous for ever at Greek and Latinity,
      Faix and the divels and all at Divinity--
      Father O'Flynn 'd make hares of them all!'

      (A. P. GRAVES.)


    Harvest; always used in Ireland for autumn:--'One fine day in harvest.'
    (Crofton Croker.)

    Hauling home; bringing home the bride, soon after the wedding, to her
    husband's house. Called also a 'dragging-home.' It is always made the
    occasion of festivity only next in importance to the wedding. For a
    further account, and for a march played at the Hauling home, see my
    'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs,' p. 130.

    Hausel; the opening in the iron head of an axe, adze, or hammer, for
    the handle. (Ulster.)

    Haverel: a rude coarse boor, a rough ignorant fellow. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Havverick; a rudely built house, or an old ruined house hastily and
    roughly restored:--'How can people live in that old havverick?'

    Hayden, Miss Mary, M.A., 5, &c.

    Healy, Mr. Maurice, 178, &c.

    Head or harp; a memorial of the old Irish coinage, corresponding with
    English _head or tail_. The old Irish penny and halfpenny had the
    king's head on one side and the Irish harp on the other. 'Come now,
    head or harp,' says the person about to throw up a halfpenny of any

    Heard tell; an expression used all throughout Ireland:--'I heard tell
    of a man who walked to Glendalough in a day.' It is old English.

    Heart-scald; a great vexation or mortification. (General.) Merely the
    translation of _scallach-croidhe_ [scollagh-cree], _scalding_ of the

    Hearty; tipsy, exhilarated after a little 'drop.'

    Hedge schools, 149. {274}

    Higgins, The Rev. Father, p. 244, and elsewhere.

    Hinch; the haunch, the thigh. To hinch a stone is to _jerk_ (or _jurk_
    as they say in Munster), to hurl it from under instead of over the
    shoulder. (Ulster.)

    Hinten; the last sod of the ridge ploughed. (Ulster.)

    Ho; equal. Always used with a negative, and also in a bad sense, either
    seriously or in play. A child spills a jug of milk, and the mother
    says:--'Oh Jacky, there's no _ho_ to you for mischief' (no equal to
    you). The old woman says to the mischievous gander:--'There's no ho
    with you for one gander.' (Gerald Griffin: 'The Coiner.') This _ho_ is
    an Irish word: it represents the sound of the Irish prefix _cho_ or
    _chomh_, equal, as much as, &c. 'There's no ho to Jack Lynch' means
    there's no one for whom you can use _cho_ (equal) in comparing him with
    Jack Lynch.

    Hobbler; a small cock of fresh hay about 4 feet high. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Hobby; a kind of Irish horse, which, three or four centuries ago, was
    known all over Europe 'and held in great esteem for their easy amble:
    and from this kind of horse the Irish light-armed bodies of horse were
    called hobellers.' (Ware. See my 'Smaller Social History of Ancient
    Ireland,' p. 487.) Hence a child's toy, a hobby-horse. Hence a
    favourite pursuit is called a 'hobby.'

    Hoil; a mean wretched dwelling: an uncomfortable situation. (Morris:
    South Monaghan.)

    Hollow; used as an adverb as follows:--'Jack Cantlon's horse beat the
    others hollow in the race': i.e. beat them utterly. {275}

    Holy show: 'You're a holy show in that coat,' i.e. it makes quite a
    show of you; makes you look ridiculous. (General.)

    Holy well; a well venerated on account of its association with an Irish
    saint: in most cases retaining the name of the saint:--'Tober-Bride,'
    St. Bride's or Brigit's well. In these wells the early saints baptised
    their converts. They are found all through Ireland, and people often
    pray beside them and make their _rounds_. (See 'Smaller Social History
    of Ancient Ireland.')

    Hool or hooley; the same as a Black swop.

    Hot-foot; at once, immediately:--'Off I went hot-foot.' 'As soon as
    James heard the news, he wrote a letter hot-foot to his father.'

    Houghle; to wobble in walking. (Armagh.)

    Hugger-mugger: see Cugger-mugger.

    Huggers or hogars, stockings without feet. (Ulster.)

    Hulk; a rough surly fellow. (Munster.) A bad person. (Simmons: Armagh.)
    Irish _olc_, bad.

    Hungry-grass: see Fair-gurtha.

    Hunker-slide; to slide on ice sitting on the hunkers (or as they would
    say in Munster, sitting on one's _grug_) instead of standing up
    straight: hence to act with duplicity: to shirk work:--'None of your
    hunker-sliding for me.' (Ulster.)

    Hurling; the common game of ball and hurley or _commaun_. The chief
    terms (besides those mentioned elsewhere) are:--_Puck_, the blow of the
    hurley on the ball: The _goals_ are the two gaps at opposite sides of
    the field through which the players try to drive the ball. When the
    ball is thrown high up between two players with their {276} commauns
    ready drawn to try which will strike it on its way down: that is
    _high-rothery_. When two adjacent parishes or districts contended
    (instead of two small parties at an ordinary match), that was
    _scoobeen_ or 'conquering goal' (Irish _scuab_, a broom: _scoobeen_,
    _sweeping_ the ball away). I have seen at least 500 on each side
    engaged in one of these _scoobeens_; but that was in the time of the
    eight millions--before 1847. Sometimes there were bad blood and
    dangerous quarrels at scoobeens. See Borick, Sippy, Commaun, and Cool.
    (For the ancient terms see my 'Smaller Social History of Ancient
    Ireland,' p. 513.) For examples of these great contests, see Very Rev.
    Dr. Sheehan's 'Glenanaar,' pp. 4, 231.

    Hurt: a whortleberry: hurts are _fraughans_, which see. From _whort_.

    Husho or rather huzho; a lullaby, a nurse-song, a cradle-song;
    especially the chorus, consisting of a sleepy _cronaun_ or croon--like
    'shoheen-sho Loo-lo-lo,' &c. Irish _suantraighe_ [soontree]. 'The
    moaning of a distant stream that kept up a continual _cronane_ like a
    nurse _hushoing_.' 'My mother was hushoing my little sister, striving
    to quieten her.' (Both from Crofton Croker.) 'The murmur of the ocean
    _huzhoed_ me to sleep.' (Irish Folk Song:--'McKenna's Dream.')

    Idioms; influence of the Irish language on, 4:--derived from Irish, 23.

    If; often used in the sense of _although_, _while_, or some such
    signification, which will be best understood from the following
    examples:--A Dublin {277} jarvey who got sixpence for a long drive,
    said in a rage:--'I'm in luck to-day; but _if I am_, 'tis blazing _bad_
    luck.' 'Bill ran into the house, and if he did, the other man seized
    him round the waist and threw him on his back.'

    If that. This is old English, but has quite disappeared from the
    standard language of the present day, though still not unfrequently
    heard in Ireland:--'If that you go I'll go with you.'

     '_If_ from Sally _that_ I get free,
      My dear I love you most tenderlie.'

      (Irish Folk Song--'Handsome Sally.')

     'And _if that_ you wish to go further
        Sure God He made Peter His own,
      The keys of His treasures He gave him,
        To govern the old Church of Rome.'

      (Old Irish Folk Song.)

    Inagh´ or in-yah´ [both strongly accented on second syll.]; a satirical
    expression of dissent or disbelief, like the English _forsooth_, but
    much stronger. A fellow boasting says:--'I could run ten miles in an
    hour': and another replies, 'You could _inah_': meaning 'Of course I
    don't believe a word of it.' A man coming back from the other world
    says to a woman:--'I seen your [dead] husband there too, ma'am;' to
    which she replies:--'My husband _inah_.' (Gerald Griffin:
    'Collegians.') Irish _an eadh_, same sound and meaning.

    Inch; a long strip of level grassy land along a river. Very general.
    Irish _inis_ [innish], of the same family as Lat. _insula_: but _inis_
    is older than _insula_ which is a diminutive and consequently a derived
    form. 'James, go out and drive the cows down to the inch.'

    Insense´; to make a person understand;--'I can't {278} insense him into
    his letters.' 'I insensed him into the way the job was to be done.'
    [Accent on -sense´.]

    In tow with; in close acquaintance with, courting. John is in tow with
    Jane Sullivan.

    Ire, sometimes _ira_; children who go barefoot sometimes get _ire_ in
    the feet; i.e. the skin chapped and very sore. Also an inflamed spot on
    the skin rendered sore by being rubbed with some coarse seam, &c.

    Irish language; influence of, on our dialect, 1, 23.

    Jackeen; a nickname for a conceited Dublin citizen of the lower class.

    Jack Lattin, 172.

    Jap or jop; to splash with mud. (Ulster.)

    Jaw; impudent talk: _jawing_; scolding, abusing:--

     'He looked in my face and he gave me some jaw,
      Saying "what brought you over from Erin-go-braw?"'

      (Irish Folk Song.)

    Jingle; one of Bianconi's long cars.

    Johnny Magorey; a hip or dog-haw; the fruit of the dog-rose. (Central
    and Eastern counties.)

    Join; to begin at anything; 'the child joined to cry'; 'my leg joined
    to pain me'; 'the man joined to plough.' (North.)

    Jokawn; an oaten stem cut off above the joint, with a tongue cut in it,
    which sounds a rude kind of music when blown by the mouth. (Limerick.)
    Irish _geocán_, same sound and meaning.

    Jowlter, fish-jowlter; a person who hawks about fish through the
    country, to sell. (South.)

    Just: often used as a final expletive--more in {279} Ulster than
    elsewhere:--'Will you send anyone?' 'Yes, Tommy just.' 'Where are you
    going now?' 'To the fair just.'

    Keenagh or keenagh-lee: mildew often seen on cheese, jam, &c. In a damp
    house everything gets covered with _keenagh-lee_. Irish _caonach_,
    moss; _caonach-lee_, mildew: _lee_ is Irish _liagh_ [lee], grey. (North
    and North-West of Ireland.)

    Keeping: a man is _on his keeping_ when he is hiding away from the
    police, who are on his track for some offence. This is from the Irish
    _coiméad_, keeping; _air mo choiméad_, 'on my keeping.'

    Keeroge; a beetle or clock. Irish _ciar_ [keer], dark, black, with the
    diminutive _óg_: _keeroge_, 'black little fellow.'

    Kelters, money, coins: 'He has the kelthers,' said of a rich man.
    _Yellow kelters_, gold money: 'She has the kelthers': means she has a
    large fortune. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Kemp or camp; to compete: two or more persons kemp against each other
    in any work to determine which will finish first. (Ulster.) See
    Carleton's story, 'The Rival Kempers.'

    Keolaun; a contemptible little creature, boy or man. (South and West.)

    Keowt; a low contemptible fellow.

    Kepper; a slice of bread with butter, as distinguished from a _dundon_,
    which see.

    Kesh; a rough bridge over a river or morass, made with poles,
    wickerwork, &c.--overlaid with bushes and _scraws_ (green sods).
    Understood all through Ireland. A small one over a drain in a bog is
    {280} often called in Tipperary and Waterford a _kishoge_, which is
    merely the diminutive.

    Kib; to put down or plant potatoes, each seed in a separate hole made
    with a spade. Irish _ciob_, same sound and meaning.

    Kickham, Charles, author of 'Knocknagow,' 5, &c.

    Kiddhoge, a wrap of any kind that a woman throws hastily over her
    shoulders. (Ulster.) Irish _cuideóg_, same sound and sense here.

    Kilfinane, Co. Limerick, 147.

    Killeen; a quantity:--'That girl has a good killeen of money. (Ulster.)
    Irish _cillín_ [killeen].

    Killeen; an old churchyard disused except for the occasional burial of
    unbaptised infants. Irish _cill_, a church, with the diminutive _ín_.

    Kimmeen; a sly deceitful trick; kimmeens or kymeens, small crooked
    ways:--'Sure you're not equal to the _kimmeens_ of such complete
    deceivers at all at all.' (Sam Lover in Ir. Pen. Mag.) Irish _com_,
    crooked; diminutive _cuimín_ [kimmeen].

    Kimmel-a-vauleen; uproarious fun. Irish _cimel-a'-mháilín_, literally
    'rub-the-bag.' There is a fine Irish jig with this name. (South.)

    Kink; a knot or short twist in a cord.

    Kink; a fit of coughing or laughing: 'they were in kinks of laughing.'
    Hence _chincough_, for whooping-cough, i.e. _kink_-cough. I know a holy
    well that has the reputation of curing whooping-cough, and hence called
    the 'Kink-well.'

    Kinleen or keenleen, or kine-leen; a single straw or corn stem.
    (South.) Irish _caoinlín_, same sound.

    Kinleen-roe; an icicle: the same word as last with the addition of
    _reo_ [roe], frost: 'frost-stem.' {281}

    Kinnatt´, [1st syll. very short; accent on 2nd syll.: to rhyme with
    _cat_]; an impertinent conceited impudent little puppy.

    Kippen or kippeen; any little bit of stick: often used as a sort of pet
    name for a formidable cudgel or shillelah for fighting. Irish _cip_
    [kip], a stake or stock, with the diminutive.

    Kish; a large square basket made of wattles and wickerwork used for
    measuring turf or for holding turf on a cart. Sometimes (South) called
    a _kishaun_. Irish _cis_ or _ciseán_, same sounds and meanings: also
    called _kishagh_.

    Kishtha; a treasure: very common in Connaught, where it is often
    understood to be hidden treasure in a fort under the care of a
    leprachaun. Irish _ciste_, same sound and meaning.

    Kitchen; any condiment or relish eaten with the plain food of a meal,
    such as butter, dripping, &c. A very common saying in Tyrone against
    any tiresome repetition is:--'Butter to butter is no kitchen.' As a
    verb; to use sparingly, to economise:--'Now kitchen that bit of bacon
    for you have no more.'

    Kitthoge or kitthagh; a left-handed person. Understood through all
    Ireland. Irish _ciotóg_, _ciotach_, same sounds and meaning.

    Kitterdy; a simpleton, a fool. (Ulster.)

    Knauvshauling [the _k_ sounded distinctly]; grumbling, scolding,
    muttering complaints. (Limerick.) From Irish _cnamh_ [knauv: _k_
    sounded], a bone, the jawbone. The underlying idea is the same as when
    we speak of a person giving _jaw_. See Jaw.

    'Knocknagow ': see Kickham.

    Kybosh; some sort of difficulty or 'fix':--'He put the kybosh on him:
    he defeated him.' (Moran: Carlow.) {282}

    Kyraun, keeraun; a small bit broken off from a sod of turf. Irish
    _caor_, or with the diminutive, _caorán_, same sound and meaning.

    Laaban; a rotten sterile egg (Morris: for South Monaghan): same as
    _Glugger_, which see. Irish _láb_ or _láib_, mire, dirt, with

    Lad; a mischievous tricky fellow:--'There's no standing them lads.'
    (Gerald Griffin.)

    Lagheryman or Logheryman. (Ulster.) Same as Leprachaun, which see.

    Lambaisting; a sound beating. Quite common in Munster.

    Langel; to tie the fore and the hind leg of a cow or goat with a
    spancel or fetter to prevent it going over fences. (Ulster.) Irish
    _langal_, same sound and meaning.

    Lapcock; an armful or roll of grass laid down on the sward to dry for
    hay. (Ulster.)

    Lark-heeled; applied to a person having long sharp heels. See

    Larrup; to wallop, to beat soundly. (Donegal and South.)

    Lashings, plenty: lashings and leavings, plenty and to spare: specially
    applied to food at meals. (General.)

    Lassog, a blaze of light. (Morris: South Monaghan.) From Irish _las_,
    light, with the diminutive.

    Lauchy; applied to a person in the sense of pleasant, good-natured,
    lovable. Irish _láchaiidhe_, same sound and sense. (Banim: general in
    the South.) 'He's a _lauchy_ boy.'

    Laudy-daw; a pretentious fellow that sets up to be a great swell.
    (Moran: Carlow; and South.) {283}

    Launa-vaula; full and plenty:--There was launa-vaula at the dinner.
    Irish _lán-a-mhála_ (same sound), 'full bags.'

    Lazy man's load. A lazy man takes too many things in one load to save
    the trouble of going twice, and thereby often lets them fall and breaks

    Learn is used for _teach_ all over Ireland, but more in Ulster than
    elsewhere. Don't forget to 'larn the little girl her catechiz.' (Seumas
    Mac Manus.) An old English usage: but dead and gone in England now.

    Leather; to beat:--'I gave him a good leathering,' i.e., a beating, a
    thrashing. This is not derived, as might be supposed, from the English
    word _leather_ (tanned skin), but from Irish, in which it is of very
    old standing:--_Letrad_ (modern _leadradh_), cutting, hacking,
    lacerating: also a champion fighter, a warrior, a _leatherer_. (Corm.
    Gloss.--9th cent.) Used all through Ireland.

    Leather-wing; a bat. (South.)

    Lee, the Very Rev. Patrick, V. F., of Kilfinane, 148.

    Lebbidha; an awkward, blundering, half-fool of a fellow. (South.) Irish
    _leibide_, same sound and meaning.

    Leg bail; a person gives (or takes) _leg bail_ when he runs away,
    absconds. (General.)

    Lend; loan. Ned came 'for the _lend_ of the ould mare.' ('Knocknagow.')
    Often used in the following way:--'Come and lend a hand,' i.e., give
    some help. 'Our shooting party comes off to-morrow: will you _lend_
    your gun': an invitation to join the party. (Kinahan.) {284}

    Leprachaun; a sort of fairy, called by several names in different parts
    of Ireland:--luricaun, cluricaun, lurragadaun, loghryman, luprachaun.
    This last is the nearest to the Gaelic original, all the preceding
    anglicised forms being derived from it. Luprachaun itself is derived by
    a metathesis from Irish _luchorpán_, from _lu_, little, and _corpán_,
    the dim. of _corp_, a body:--'weeny little body.' The reader will
    understand all about this merry little chap from the following short
    note and song written by me and extracted from my 'Ancient Irish Music'
    (in which the air also will be found). The leprachaun is a very tricky
    little fellow, usually dressed in a green coat, red cap, and
    knee-breeches, and silver shoe-buckles, whom you may sometimes see in
    the shades of evening, or by moonlight, under a bush; and he is
    generally making or mending a shoe: moreover, like almost all fairies,
    he would give the world for _pottheen_. If you catch him and hold him,
    he will, after a little threatening, show you where treasure is hid, or
    give you a purse in which you will always find money. But if you once
    take your eyes off him, he is gone in an instant; and he is very
    ingenious in devising tricks to induce you to look round. It is very
    hard to catch a leprachaun, and still harder to hold him. I never heard
    of any man who succeeded in getting treasure from him, except one, a
    lucky young fellow named MacCarthy, who, according to the peasantry,
    built the castle of Carrigadrohid near Macroom in Cork with the money.
    Every Irishman understands well the terms _cruiskeen_ and _mountain
    dew_, some indeed a little too well; but {285} for the benefit of the
    rest of the world, I think it better to state that a _cruískeen_ is a
    small jar, and that _mountain dew_ is _pottheen_ or illicit whiskey.

      In a shady nook one moonlight night,
        A leprachaun I spied;
      With scarlet cap and coat of green;
        A cruiskeen by his side.
     'Twas tick tack tick, his hammer went,
        Upon a weeny shoe;
      And I laughed to think of a purse of gold;
        But the fairy was laughing too.

      With tip-toe step and beating heart,
        Quite softly I drew nigh:
      There was mischief in his merry face;--
        A twinkle in his eye.
      He hammered and sang with tiny voice,
        And drank his mountain dew:
      And I laughed to think he was caught at last:--
        But the fairy was laughing too.

      As quick as thought I seized the elf;
       'Your fairy purse!' I cried;
     'The purse!' he said--''tis in her hand--
       'That lady at your side!'
      I turned to look: the elf was off!
        Then what was I to do?
      O, I laughed to think what a fool I'd been;
        And the fairy was laughing too.

    Let out; a spree, an entertainment. (General.) 'Mrs. Williams gave a
    great let out.'

    Libber; this has much the same meaning as _flipper_, which see: an
    untidy person careless about his dress and appearance--an easy-going
    _ould sthreel_ of a man. I have heard an old fellow say, regarding
    those that went before him--father, {286} grandfather, &c.--that they
    were 'ould _aancient_ libbers,' which is the Irish peasant's way of
    expressing Gray's 'rude forefathers of the hamlet.'

    Lief; willing: 'I had as lief be working as not.' 'I had liefer': I had
    rather. (General.) This is an old English word, now fallen out of use
    in England, but common here.

    Lifter; a beast that is so weak from starvation (chiefly in March when
    grass is withered up) that it can hardly stand and has to be lifted
    home from the hill-pasture to the stable. (Kinahan: Connemara.)

    Light; a little touched in the head, a little crazed:--'Begor sir if
    you say I know nothing about sticks your head must be getting light in
    earnest.' (Robert Dwyer Joyce.)

    Likely; well-looking: 'a likely girl'; 'a _clane_ likely boy.'

    Likes; 'the likes of you': persons or _a person_ like you or in your
    condition. Very common in Ireland. 'I'll not have any dealings with the
    likes of him.' Colonel Lake, Inspector General of Constabulary in last
    century, one afternoon met one of his recruits on the North Circular
    Road, Dublin, showing signs of liquor, and stopped him. 'Well, my good
    fellow, what is your name please?' The recruit replied:--'Who are you,
    and what right have you to ask my name?' 'I am Colonel Lake, your
    inspector general.' The recruit eyed him closely:--'Oh begor your
    honour, if that's the case it's not right for the likes of me to be
    talking to the likes of you': on which he turned round and took leg
    bail on the spot like a deer, leaving {287} the inspector general
    standing on the pathway. The Colonel often afterwards told that story
    with great relish.

    Linnaun-shee or more correct _Lannaun-shee_; a familiar spirit or fairy
    that attaches itself to a mortal and follows him. From Irish _leannán_,
    a lover, and _sídh_ [shee], a fairy: _lannaun-shee_, 'fairy-lover.'

    Linnie; a long shed--a sort of barn--attached to a a farm house for
    holding farm-yard goods and articles of various kinds--carts, spades,
    turnips, corn, &c. (Munster.) Irish _lann-iotha_, lit. 'corn-house.'

    Lint; in Ulster, a name for flax.

    Linthern or lenthern; a small drain or sewer covered with flags for the
    passage of water, often under a road from side to side. (Munster.)
    Irish _lintreán_, _linntreach_ [lintran, lintragh].

    Liscauns; gleanings of corn from the field after reaping: 'There's Mary
    gathering _liscauns_.' (South.) Irish.

    Loanen; a lane, a _bohereen_. (Ulster.)

    Lob; a quantity, especially of money or of any valuable
    commodity:--''Tis reported that Jack got a great lob of money with his
    wife.' A person is trying to make himself out very useful or of much
    consequence, and another says satirically--generally in play:--'Oh what
    a _lob_ you are!'

    Lock; a quantity or batch of anything--generally small:--a lock of
    straw; a lock of sheep. (General.)

    Logey; heavy or fat as applied to a person. (Moran: Carlow.) Also the
    fireplace in a flax-kiln.

    Lone; unmarried:--'A lone man'; 'a lone woman.' {288}

    Long family; a common expression for a large family.

    Lood, loodh, lude; ashamed: 'he was lude of himself when he was found
    out.' (South.)

    Loody; a loose heavy frieze coat. (Munster.)

    Loof; the open hand, the palm of the hand. (Ulster.) Irish _lámh_
    [lauv], the hand.

    Loo-oge or lu-oge; the eel-fry a couple of inches long that come up the
    southern Blackwater periodically in myriads, and are caught and sold as
    food. (Waterford: Healy.) Irish _luadhóg_, same sound and meaning.

    Loose leg; when a person is free from any engagement or impediment that
    bound him down--'he has a loose leg'--free to act as he likes. 'I have
    retired from the service with a pension, so that now I have a loose
    leg.' The same is often said of a prisoner discharged from jail.

    Lord; applied as a nickname to a hunchback. The hunchback Danny Mann in
    'The Collegians' is often called 'Danny the lord.'

    Losset; a kneading tray for making cakes.

    Lossagh; a sudden blaze from a turf fire. Irish _las_ [loss], a blaze,
    with the usual termination _ach_.

    Lossoge; a handful or little bundle of sticks for firing. (Mayo.) Irish
    _las_ [loss], fire, a blaze, with the diminutive termination.

    Low-backed car; a sort of car common in the southern half of Ireland
    down to the middle of the last century, used to bring the country
    people and their farm produce to markets. Resting on the shafts was a
    long flat platform placed lengthwise {289} and sloping slightly
    downwards towards the back, on which were passengers and goods. Called
    trottle-car in Derry.

    Loy; a spade. Used in the middle of Ireland all across from shore to
    shore. Irish _láighe_, same sound and meaning.

    Luck-penny; a coin given by the seller to the buyer after a bargain has
    been concluded: given to make sure that the buyer will have luck with
    the animal or article he buys.

    Ludeen or loodeen [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _then_]; the little finger.
    Irish _lúidín_, same sound and meaning. From _lu_, little, with the
    diminutive termination.

    Lu-oge: see Loo-oge.

    Luscan; a spot on the hillside from which the furze and heath have been
    burned off. (Wicklow and round about.) From Irish _losc_ to burn:
    _luscan_, 'burned little spot.'

    Lusmore; fairy-thimble, fairy-finger, foxglove, _Digitalis purpurea_;
    an herb of mighty power in fairy lore. Irish _lus_, herb; _mór_, great;
    'mighty herb.'

    Lybe; a lazy fellow. (MacCall: Wex.) See Libber.

    Lyre; the full of the two hands used together: a beggar usually got a
    _lyre_ of potatoes. (Munster: same as _gopen_ in Ulster.) Irish
    _ladhar_, same sound and meaning.

    MacManus, Seumas, 5, &c.

    Mad; angry. There are certain Irish words, such as _buileamhail_, which
    might denote either _mad_ or very _angry_: hence in English you very
    often hear:--'Oh the master is very mad with you,' {290} i.e. angry.
    'Excessively angry' is often expressed this way in dialect
    language:--'The master is blazing mad about that accident to the mare.'
    But even this expression is classical Irish; for we read in the Irish
    Bible that Moses went away from Pharaoh, _air lasadh le feírg_,
    'blazing with anger.' 'Like mad' is often used to denote very quickly
    or energetically: Crofton Croker speaks of people who were 'dancing
    like mad.' This expression is constantly heard in Munster.

    Maddha-brishtha; an improvised tongs, such as would be used with a fire
    in the fields, made from a strong twig bent sharp. (Derry.) Irish
    _maide_ [maddha], a stick; _briste_, broken:--'broken stick.'

    Maddhiaghs or muddiaghs; same as last, meaning simply 'sticks': the two
    ends giving the idea of plurality. (Armagh.)

    Maddhoge or middhoge; a dagger. (North and South.) Irish _meadóg_ or

    Made; fortunate:--'I'm a made man' (or 'a _med_ man'), meaning 'my
    fortune is made.' (Crofton Croker--but used very generally.)

    Mag; a swoon:--'Light of grace,' she exclaimed, dropping in a _mag_ on
    the floor. (Edward Walsh: used all over Munster.)

    Maisled; speckled; a lazy young fellow's shins get maisled from sitting
    before the fire. (Knowles: Ulster.)

    Make; used in the South in the following way:--'This will make a fine
    day': 'That cloth will make a fine coat': 'If that fellow was shaved
    he'd make a handsome young man' (Irish folk-song): 'That Joe of yours
    is a clever fellow: no doubt he'll {291} make a splendid doctor.' The
    noun _makings_ is applied similarly:--'That young fellow is the makings
    of a great scholar.'

    Man above. In Irish God is often designated _an Fear suas_ or _an t-É
    suas_ ('the Man above,' 'the Person above'): thus in Hardiman's 'Irish
    Minstrelsy' (I. 228):--_Comarc an t-É tá shuas ort_: 'the protection of
    the Person who is above be on thee': _an Fear suas_ occurs in the
    Ossianic Poems. Hence they use this term all through the South:--'As
    cunning as he is he can't hide his knavery from _the Man above_.'

    Man in the gap, 182.

    Mankeeper; used North and South as the English name of the little
    lizard called in Irish 'Art-loochra,' which see.

    Mannam; my soul: Irish _m'anam_, same sound and meaning:--'Mannam on
    ye,' used as an affectionate exclamation to a child. (Scott: Derry.)

    Many; 'too many' is often used in the following way, when two persons
    were in rivalry of any kind, whether of wit, of learning, or of
    strength:--'James was too many for Dick,' meaning he was an overmatch
    for him.

    Maol, Mail, Maileen, Moileen, Moilie (these two last forms common in
    Ulster; the others elsewhere); a hornless cow. Irish _Maol_ [mwail],
    same meaning. Quite a familiar word all through Ireland.

        One night Jacky was sent out, much against his will, for an armful
        of turf, as the fire was getting low; and in a moment afterwards,
        the startled family heard frantic yells. Just as they jumped up
        Jacky rushed in still yelling with his whole throat. {292}

        'What's the matter--what's wrong!'

        'Oh I saw the divel!'

        'No you didn't, you fool, 'twas something else you saw.'

        'No it wasn't, 'twas the divel I saw--didn't I know him well!'

        'How did you know him--did you see his horns?'

        'I didn't: he had no horns--he was a _mwail_ divel--sure that's how
        I knew him!'

        They ran out of course; but the _mwail_ divel was gone, leaving
        behind him, standing up against the turf-rick, the black little
        _Maol_ Kerry cow.

    Margamore; the 'Great Market' held in Derry immediately before
    Christmas or Easter. (Derry.) Irish _margadh_ [marga], a market, _mór_
    [more], great.

    Martheen; a stocking with the foot cut off. (Derry.) Irish _mairtín_,
    same sound and meaning. _Martheens_ are what they call in Munster
    _triheens_, which see.

    Mass, celebration of, 144.

    Mau-galore; nearly drunk: Irish _maith_ [mau], good: _go leór_, plenty:
    'purty well I thank you,' as the people often say: meaning almost the
    same as Burns's 'I was na fou but just had plenty.' (Common in

    Mauleen; a little bag: usually applied in the South to the little sack
    slung over the shoulder of a potato-planter, filled with the
    _potato-sets_ (or _skillauns_), from which the setter takes them one by
    one to plant them. In Ulster and Scotland, the word is _mailin_, which
    is sometimes applied to a purse:--'A _mailin_ plenished (filled)
    fairly.' (Burns.)

    Maum; the full of the two hands used together {293} (Kerry); the same
    as _Lyre_ and _Gopan_, which see. Irish _Mám_, same sound and meaning.

    Mavourneen; my love. (Used all through Ireland.) Irish _Mo-mhúirnín_,
    same sound and meaning. See Avourneen.

    May-day customs, 170.

    Méaracaun [mairacaun]; a thimble. Merely the Irish _méaracán_, same
    sound and meaning: from _méar_, a finger, with the diminutive
    termination _cán_. Applied in the South to the fairy-thimble or
    foxglove, with usually a qualifying word:--Mearacaun-shee (_shee_, a
    fairy--fairy thimble) or Mearacaun-na-man-shee (where na-man-shee is
    the Irish _na-mban-sidhe_, of the _banshees_ or fairy-women).
    'Lusmore,' another name, which see.

    Mearing; a well-marked boundary--but not necessarily a raised
    _ditch_--a fence between two farms, or two fields, or two bogs. Old

    Mease: a measure for small fish, especially herrings:--'The fisherman
    brought in ten mease of herrings.' Used all round the Irish coast. It
    is the Irish word _mías_ [meece], a dish.

    Mee-aw; a general name for the potato blight. Irish _mí-adh_ [mee-aw],
    ill luck: from Irish _mí_, bad, and _ádh_, luck. But _mee-aw_ is also
    used to designate 'misfortune' in general.

    Meela-murder; 'a thousand murders': a general exclamation of surprise,
    alarm, or regret. The first part is Irish--_míle_ [meela], a thousand;
    the second is of course English.

    Meelcar´ [_car_ long like the English word _car_]; also called
    _meelcartan_; a red itchy sore on the sole of the foot just at the
    edge. It is believed by the {294} people to be caused by a red little
    flesh-worm, and hence the name _míol_ [meel], a worm, and _cearr_
    [car], an old Irish word for red:--Meel-car, 'red-worm.' (North and

    Meeraw; ill luck. (Munster.) From Irish _mí_, ill, and ráth [raw],
    luck:--'There was some _meeraw_ on the family.

    Melder of corn; the quantity sent to the mill and ground at one time.

    Memory of History and of Old Customs, 143.

    Merrow; a mermaid. Irish _murrughagh_ [murrooa], from _muir_, the sea.
    She dives and travels under sea by means of a hood and cape called
    _cohuleen-dru_: _cochall_, a hood and cape (with diminutive
    termination); _druádh_, druidical: 'magical cape.'

    Midjilinn or middhilin; the thong of a flail. (Morris: South Monaghan.)

    Mihul or mehul [_i_ and _e_ short]; a number of men engaged in any
    farm-work, especially corn-reaping, still used in the South and West.
    It is the very old Irish word _meithel_, same sound and meaning.

    Mills. The old English game of 'nine men's morris' or 'nine men's
    merrils' or _mills_ was practised in my native place when I was a boy.
    We played it on a diagram of three squares one within another,
    connected by certain straight lines, each player having nine counters.
    It is mentioned by Shakespeare ('Midsummer-Night's Dream'). I learned
    to be a good player, and could play it still if I could meet an
    antagonist. How it reached Limerick I do not know. A few years ago I
    saw two persons playing mills in a hotel in Llandudno; and my heart
    went out to them. {295}

    Mind; often used in this way:--'Will you write that letter to-day?'
    'No: I won't mind it to-day: I'll write it to-morrow.'

    Minnikin; a very small pin.

    Minister; always applied in Ireland to a Protestant clergyman.

    Miscaun, mescaun, mescan, miscan; a roll or lump of butter. Irish
    _mioscán_ [miscaun]. Used all over Ireland.

    Mitch; to play truant from school.

    Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, 155.

    Moanthaun; boggy land. Moantheen; a little bog. (Munster.) Both dims.
    of Irish _móin_, a bog.

    Molly; a man who busies himself about women's affairs or does work that
    properly belongs to women. (Leinster.) Same as _sheela_ in the South.

    Moneen; a little _moan_ or bog; a green spot in a bog where games are
    played. Also a sort of jig dance-tune: so called because often danced
    on a green _moneen_. (Munster.)

    Month's Mind; Mass and a general memorial service for the repose of the
    soul of a person, celebrated a month after death. The term was in
    common use in England until the change of religion at the Reformation;
    and now it is not known even to English Roman Catholics. (Woollett.) It
    is in constant use in Ireland, and I think among Irish Catholics
    everywhere. But the practice is kept up by Catholics all over the
    world. Mind, 'Memory.'

    Mootch: to move about slowly and meaninglessly: without intelligence. A
    mootch is a slow stupid person. (South.) {296}

    Moretimes; often used as corresponding to _sometimes_: 'Sometimes she
    employs herself at sewing, and moretimes at knitting.'

    Mor-yah; a derisive expression of dissent to drive home the
    untruthfulness of some assertion or supposition or pretence, something
    like the English 'forsooth,' but infinitely stronger:--A notorious
    schemer and cheat puts on airs of piety in the chapel and thumps his
    breast in great style; and a spectator says:--Oh how pious and holy Joe
    is growing--_mar-yah_! 'Mick is a great patriot, mor-yah!--he'd sell
    his country for half a crown.' Irish _mar-sheadh_ [same sound], 'as it

    Mossa; a sort of assertive particle used at the opening of a sentence,
    like the English _well_, _indeed_: carrying little or no meaning. 'Do
    you like your new house?'--'Mossa I don't like it much.' Another form
    of _wisha_, and both anglicised from the Irish _má'seadh_, used in
    Irish in much the same sense.

    Mountain dew; a fanciful and sort of pet name for pottheen whiskey:
    usually made in the _mountains_.

    Mounthagh, mounthaun; a toothless person. (Munster.) From the Irish
    _mant_ [mounth], the gum, with the terminations. Both words are
    equivalent to _gummy_, a person whose mouth is _all gums_.

    Moutre. In very old times a mill-owner commonly received as payment for
    grinding corn one-tenth of the corn ground--in accordance with the
    Brehon Law. This custom continued to recent times--and probably
    continues still--in Ulster, {297} where the quantity given to the
    miller is called _moutre_, or _muter_, or _mooter_.

    Mulharten; a flesh-worm: a form of meelcartan. See Meelcar.

    Mullaberta; arbitration. (Munster.) Merely the Irish _moladh-beirte_,
    same sound and meaning: in which _moladh_ [mulla] is 'appraisement';
    and _beirt[)e]_, gen. of _beart_, 'two persons':--lit. 'appraisement of
    two.' The word mullaberta has however in recent times drifted to mean a
    loose unbusinesslike settlement. (Healy.)

    Mummers, 171.

    Murray, Mr. Patrick, schoolmaster of Kilfinane, 153, 154, and under
    'Roasters,' below.

    Murrogh O'Brien, Earl of Inchiquin, 165.

    Musicianer for musician is much in use all over Ireland. Of English
    origin, and used by several old English writers, among others by

    Nab; a knowing old-fashioned little fellow. (Derry.)

    Naboc´lesh; never mind. (North and South.) Irish _ná-bac-leis_ (same
    sound), 'do not stop to mind it,' or 'pass it over.'

    Nail, paying on the nail, 183.

    Naygur; a form of _niggard_: a wretched miser:--

     'I certainly thought my poor heart it would bleed
      To be trudging behind that old naygur.'

      (Old Munster song; 'The Spalpeen's Complaint':
      from 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs.')

     'In all my ranging and serenading,
      I met no naygur but humpy Hyde.'

      (See 'Castlehyde' in my 'Old Irish Music and Songs.')


    Nicely: often used in Ireland as shown here:-- 'Well, how is your
    [sick] mother to-day?' 'Oh she's nicely,' or 'doing nicely, thank you';
    i.e. getting on very well--satisfactorily. A still stronger word is
    _bravely_. 'She's doing bravely this morning'; i.e. extremely
    well--better than was expected.

    Nim or nym; a small bit of anything. (Ulster.)

    Noggin; a small vessel, now understood to hold two glasses; also called
    naggin. Irish _noigín_.

    Nose; to pay through the nose; to pay and be made to pay, against your
    grain, the full sum without delay or mitigation.

    Oanshagh; a female fool, corresponding with omadaun, a male fool. Irish
    _óinseach_, same sound and meaning: from _ón_, a fool, and _seach_, the
    feminine termination.

    Offer; an attempt:--'I made an offer to leap the fence but failed.'

    Old English, influence of, on our dialect, 6.

    Oliver's summons, 184.

    On or upon; in addition to its functions as explained at pp. 27, 28, it
    is used to express obligation:-- 'Now I put it _upon_ you to give Bill
    that message for me': one person meeting another on Christmas Day
    says:--'My Christmas box _on_ you,' i.e. 'I put it as an obligation on
    you to give me a Christmas box.'

    Once; often used in this manner:--'Once he promises he'll do it'
    (Hayden and Hartog): 'Once you pay the money you are free,' i.e. _if_
    or _when_ you pay.

    O'Neills and their war-cry, 179. {299}

    Oshin [sounded nearly the same as the English word ocean]; a weakly
    creature who cannot do his fair share of work. (Innishowen, Donegal.)

    Out; used, in speaking of time, in the sense of _down_ or
    _subsequently_:--'His wife led him a mighty uneasy life from the day
    they married _out_.' (Gerald Griffin: Munster.) 'You'll pay rent for
    your house for the first seven years, and you will have it free from
    that _out_.'

    Out; to call a person _out of his name_ is to call him by a wrong name.

    Out; 'be off out of that' means simply _go away_.

    Out; 'I am out with him' means I am not on terms with him--I have
    fallen out with him.

    Overright; opposite, in front of: the same meaning as _forenenst_; but
    _forenenst_ is English, while overright is a wrong translation from an
    Irish word--_ós-cómhair_. _Os_ means over, and _comhair_ opposite: but
    this last word was taken by speakers to be _cóir_ (for both are sounded
    alike), and as _cóir_ means _right_ or just, so they translated
    _os-comhair_ as if it were _ós-cóir_, 'over-right.' (Russell: Munster.)

    Paddhereen; a prayer: dim. of Latin _Pater_ (_Pater Noster_).
    _Paddereen Paurtagh_, the Rosary: from Irish _páirteach_, sharing or
    partaking: because usually several join in it.

    Páideóge [paudh-yoge]; a torch made of a wick dipped in melted rosin
    (Munster): what they call a _slut_ in Ulster.

    Paghil or pahil; a lump or bundle, 108. (Ulster.)

    Palatines, 65.

    Palleen; a rag: a torn coat is 'all in _paleens_.' (Derry.) {300}

    Palm; the yew-tree, 184.

    Pampooty; a shoe made of untanned hide. (West.)

    Pandy; potatoes mashed up with milk and butter. (Munster.)

    Pannikin; now applied to a small tin drinking-vessel: an old English
    word that has fallen out of use in England, but is still current in
    Ireland: applied down to last century to a small earthenware pot used
    for boiling food. These little vessels were made at Youghal and Ardmore
    (Co. Waterford). The earthenware pannikins have disappeared, their
    place being supplied by tinware. (Kinahan.)

    Parisheen; a foundling; one brought up in childhood by the _parish_.

    Parson; was formerly applied to a Catholic parish priest: but in
    Ireland it now always means a Protestant minister.

    Parthan; a crab-fish. (Donegal.) Merely the Irish _partan_, same sound
    and meaning.

    Parts; districts, territories:--'Prince and plinnypinnytinshary of
    these parts' (King O'Toole and St. Kevin): 'Welcome to these parts.'
    (Crofton Croker.)

    Past; 'I wouldn't put it _past_ him,' i.e. I think him bad or foolish
    enough (to do it).

    Past; more than: 'Our landlord's face we rarely see past once in seven
    years'--Irish Folk Song.

    Pattern (i.e. _patron_); a gathering at a holy well or other relic of a
    saint on his or her festival day, to pray and perform _rounds_ and
    other devotional acts in honour of the patron saint. (General.)

    Pattha; a pet, applied to a young person who is brought up over
    tenderly and indulged too {301} much:--'What a _pattha_ you are!' This
    is an extension of meaning; for the Irish _peata_ [pattha] means merely
    a _pet_, nothing more.

    Pelt; the skin:--'He is in his pelt,' i.e. naked.

    Penal Laws, 144, and elsewhere through the book.

    Personable; comely, well-looking, handsome:--'Diarmid Bawn the piper,
    as personable a looking man as any in the five parishes.' (Crofton
    Croker: Munster.)

    Pickey; a round flat little stone used by children in playing _transe_
    or Scotch-hop. (Limerick.)

    Piggin; a wooden drinking-vessel. It is now called _pigín_ in Irish;
    but it is of English origin.

    Pike; a pitchfork; commonly applied to one with two prongs. (Munster.)

    Pike or croppy-pike; the favourite weapon of the rebels of 1798: it was
    fixed on a very long handle, and had combined in one head a long sharp
    spear, a small axe, and a hook for catching the enemy's horse-reins.

    Pillibeen or pillibeen-meeg; a plover. (Munster.) 'I'm king of Munster
    when I'm in the bog, and the _pillibeens_ whistling about me.'
    ('Knocknagow.') Irish _pilibín-míog_, same sound and meaning.

    Pindy flour; flour that has begun to ferment slightly on account of
    being kept in a warm moist place. Cakes made from it were uneatable as
    they were soft and clammy and slightly sour. (Limerick.)

    Pinkeen; a little fish, a stickleback: plentiful in small streams.
    Irish _pincín_, same sound and meaning. See Scaghler.

    Piper's invitation; 'He came on the piper's invitation,' i.e.
    uninvited. (Cork.) A translation of {302} Irish _cuireadh-píobaire_
    [curra-peebara]. Pipers sometimes visited the houses of well-to-do
    people and played--to the great delight of the boys and girls--and they
    were sure to be well treated. But that custom is long since dead and

    Pishminnaan´ [the _aa_ long as _a_ in _car_]; common wild peas.
    (Munster.) They are much smaller--both plant and peas--than the
    cultivated pea, whence the above anglicised name, which has the same
    sound as the Irish _pise-mionnáin_, 'kid's peas.'

    Pishmool; a pismire, an ant. (Ulster.)

    Pishoge, pisheroge, pishthroge; a charm, a spell, witchcraft:--'It is
    reported that someone took Mrs. O'Brien's butter from her by

    Place; very generally used for house, home, homestead:--'If ever you
    come to Tipperary I shall be very glad to see you at _my place_.' This
    is a usage of the Irish language; for the word _baile_ [bally], which
    is now used for _home_, means also, and in an old sense, a place, a
    spot, without any reference to home.

    Plaikeen; an old shawl, an old cloak, any old covering or wrap worn
    round the shoulders. (South.)

    Plantation; a colony from England or Scotland settled down or _planted_
    in former times in a district in Ireland from which the rightful old
    Irish owners were expelled, 7, 169, 170.

    Plaumause [to rhyme with _sauce_]; soft talk, plausible speech,
    flattery--conveying the idea of insincerity. (South.) Irish _plámás_,
    same sound and meaning.

    Plauzy; full of soft, flattering, _plausible_ talk. Hence {303} the
    noun _pláusoge_ [plauss-oge], a person who is plauzy. (South.)

    Plerauca; great fun and noisy revelry. Irish _pléaráca_, same sound and

    Pluddogh; dirty water. (MacCall: Wexford.) From Irish _plod_ [pludh], a
    pool of dirty water, with the termination _ach_.

    Pluvaun; a kind of soft weed that grows excessively on tilled moory
    lands and chokes the crop. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Poll-talk; backbiting: from the _poll_ of the head: the idea being the
    same as in _back_biting.

    Polthogue; a blow; a blow with the fist. Irish _palltóg_, same sound
    and meaning.

    Pooka; a sort of fairy: a mischievous and often malignant goblin that
    generally appears in the form of a horse, but sometimes as a bull, a
    buck-goat, &c. The great ambition of the pooka horse is to get some
    unfortunate wight on his back; and then he gallops furiously through
    bogs, marshes, and woods, over rocks, glens, and precipices; till at
    last when the poor wretch on his back is nearly dead with terror and
    fatigue, the pooka pitches him into some quagmire or pool or
    briar-brake, leaving him to extricate himself as best he can. But the
    goblin does not do worse: he does not kill people. Irish _púca_.
    Shakespeare has immortalised him as Puck, the goblin of 'A
    Midsummer-Night's Dream.'

    Pookapyle, also called Pookaun; a sort of large fungus, the toadstool.
    Called also _causha pooka_. All these names imply that the Pooka has
    something to do with this poisonous fungus. See Causha-pooka (pooka's
    cheese). {304}

    Pookeen; a play--blindman's buff: from Irish _púic_, a veil or
    covering, from the covering put over the eyes. Pookeen is also applied
    in Cork to a cloth muzzle tied on calves or lambs to prevent sucking
    the mother. The face-covering for blindman's buff is called _pookoge_,
    in which the dim. _óg_ is used instead of _ín_ or _een_. The
    old-fashioned _coal-scuttle_ bonnets of long ago that nearly covered
    the face were often called _pookeen_ bonnets. It was of a bonnet of
    this kind that the young man in Lover's song of 'Molly Carew' speaks:--

      Oh, _lave_ off that bonnet or else I'll _lave_ on it
      The loss of my wandering sowl:--

    because it hid Molly's face from him.

    Poor mouth; making the poor mouth is trying to persuade people you are
    very poor--making out or pretending that you are poor.

    Poor scholars, 151, 157.

    Poreens; very small potatoes--mere _crachauns_ (which see)--any small
    things, such as marbles, &c. (South: _porrans_ in Ulster.)

    Porter-meal: oatmeal mixed with porter. Seventy or eighty years ago,
    the carters who carried bags of oatmeal from Limerick to Cork (a
    two-day journey) usually rested for the night at Mick Lynch's
    public-house in Glenosheen. They often took lunch or dinner of
    porter-meal in this way:--Opening the end of one of the bags, the man
    made a hollow in the oatmeal into which he poured a quart of porter,
    stirring it up with a spoon: then he ate an immense bellyful of the
    mixture. But those fellows could digest like an ostrich. {305}

    In Ulster, oatmeal mixed in this manner with buttermilk, hot broth,
    &c., and eaten with a spoon, is called _croudy_.

    Potthalowng; an awkward unfortunate mishap, not very serious, but
    coming just at the wrong time. When I was a boy 'Jack Mullowney's
    _potthalowng_' had passed into a proverb. Jack one time went
    _courting_, that is, to spend a pleasant evening with the young lady at
    the house of his prospective father-in-law, and to make up the match
    with the old couple. He wore his best of course, body-coat, white
    waistcoat, caroline hat (tall silk), and _ducks_ (ducks, snow-white
    canvas trousers.) All sat down to a grand dinner given in his honour,
    the young couple side by side. Jack's plate was heaped up with
    beautiful bacon and turkey, and white cabbage swimming in fat, that
    would make you lick your lips to look at it. Poor Jack was a bit
    sheepish; for there was a good deal of banter, as there always is on
    such occasions. He drew over his plate to the very edge of the table;
    and in trying to manage a turkey bone with knife and fork, he turned
    the plate right over into his lap, down on the ducks.

    The marriage came off all the same; but the story went round the
    country like wildfire; and for many a long day Jack had to stand the
    jokes of his friends on the _potthalowng_. Used in Munster. The Irish
    is _patalong_, same sound and meaning; but I do not find it in the

    Pottheen; illicit whiskey: always distilled in some remote lonely
    place, as far away as possible from the nose of a gauger. It is the
    Irish word _poitín_ {306} [pottheen], little pot. We have partly the
    same term still; for everyone knows the celebrity of _pot_-still
    whiskey: but this is _Parliament_ whiskey, not _pottheen_, see p. 174.

    Power; a large quantity, a great deal: Jack Hickey has a power of
    money: there was a _power of cattle in the fair yesterday_: there's a
    power of ivy on that old castle. Miss Grey, a small huckster who kept a
    little vegetable shop, was one day showing off her rings and bracelets
    to our servant. 'Oh Miss Grey,' says the girl, 'haven't you a terrible
    lot of them.' 'Well Ellen, you see I want them all, for I go into _a
    power of society_.' This is an old English usage as is shown by this
    extract from Spenser's 'View':--'Hee also [Robert Bruce] sent over his
    said brother Edward, with a power of Scottes and Red-Shankes into
    Ireland.' There is a corresponding Irish expression (_neart airgid_, a
    power of money), but I think this is translated from English rather
    than the reverse. The same idiom exists in Latin with the word _vis_
    (power): but examples will not be quoted, as they would take up a power
    of space.

    Powter [_t_ sounded like _th_ in _pith_]; to root the ground like a
    pig; to root up potatoes from the ground with the hands. (Derry.)

    Prashagh, more commonly called prashagh-wee; wild cabbage with yellow
    blossoms, the rape plant. Irish _praiseach-bhuidhe_ [prashagh-wee],
    yellow cabbage. _Praiseach_ is borrowed from Latin _brassica_.

    Prashameen; a little group all clustered together:--'The children sat
    in a prashameen on the floor.' I have heard this word a hundred times
    in Limerick {307} among English speakers: its Irish form should be
    _praisimín_, but I do not find it in the dictionaries.

    Prashkeen; an apron. Common all over Ireland. Irish _praiscín_, same
    sound and meaning.

    Prawkeen; raw oatmeal and milk (MacCall: South Leinster.) See

    Prepositions, incorrect use of, 26, 32, 44.

    Presently; at present, now:--'I'm living in the country presently.' A
    Shakespearian survival:--Prospero:--'Go bring the rabble.'
    Ariel:--'Presently?' [i.e. shall I do so now?] Prospero:--'Ay, with a
    wink.' Extinct in England, but preserved and quite common in Ireland.

    Priested; ordained: 'He was priested last year.'

    Priest's share; the soul. A mother will say to a refractory
    child:--'I'll knock the priest's share out of you.' (Moran: Carlow.)

    Professions hereditary, 172.

    Pronunciation, 2, 91 to 104.

    Protestant herring: Originally applied to a bad or a stale herring: but
    in my boyhood days it was applied, in our neighbourhood, to almost
    anything of an inferior quality:--'Oh that butter is a Protestant
    herring.' Here is how it originated:--Mary Hewer of our village had
    been for time out of mind the only huckster who sold salt herrings,
    sending to Cork for a barrel from time to time, and making good profit.
    At last Poll Alltimes sent for a barrel and set up an opposition shop,
    taking away a large part of Mary's custom. Mary was a Catholic and Poll
    a Protestant: and then our herrings became sharply distinguished as
    Catholic herrings and Protestant herrings: each party eating herrings
    {308} of their own creed. But after some time a horrible story began to
    go round--whispered at first under people's breath--that Poll found
    _the head of a black_ with long hair packed among the herrings half way
    down in her barrel. Whether the people believed it or not, the bare
    idea was enough; and Protestant herrings suddenly lost character, so
    that poor Poll's sale fell off at once, while Mary soon regained all
    her old customers. She well deserved it, if anyone ever deserved a
    reward for a master-stroke of genius. But I think this is all
    'forgotten lore' in the neighbourhood now.

    Proverbs, 105.

    Puck; to play the puck with anything: a softened equivalent of _playing
    the devil_. _Puck_ here means the Pooka, which see.

    Puck; a blow:--'He gave him a puck of a stick on the head.' More
    commonly applied to a punch or blow of the horns of a cow or goat. 'The
    cow gave him a puck (or pucked him) with her horns and knocked him
    down.' The blow given by a hurler to the ball with his _caman_ or
    hurley is always called a _puck_. Irish _poc_, same sound and meaning.

    Puckaun; a he-goat. (South.) Irish _poc_, a he-goat, with the

    Puke; a poor puny unhealthy-looking person.

    Pulling a cord (or _the cord_); said of a young man and a young woman
    who are courting:--'Miss Anne and himself that's pulling the cord.'

    Pulloge; a quantity of hidden apples: usually hidden by a boy who
    steals them. (Limerick.) Diminutive of the Irish _poll_, a hole. {309}

    Pusheen; the universal word for a kitten in Munster: a diminutive of
    the English word _puss_; exactly equivalent to _pussy_.

    Puss [_u_ sounded as in _full_]; the mouth and lips, always used _in
    dialect_ in an offensive or contemptuous sense:--'What an ugly _puss_
    that fellow has.' 'He had a puss on him,' i.e. he looked sour or
    displeased--with lips contracted. I heard one boy say to
    another:--'I'll give you a _skelp_ (blow) on the puss.' (General.)
    Irish _pus_, the mouth, same sound.

    Pusthaghaun; a puffed up conceited fellow. The corresponding word
    applied to a girl is _pusthoge_ (MacCall: Wexford): the diminutive
    termination _aun_ or _chaun_ being masculine and _óg_ feminine. Both
    are from _pus_ the mouth, on account of the consequential way a
    conceited person squares up the lips.

    Quaw or quagh; a _quag_ or quagmire:--'I was unwilling to attempt the
    _quagh_.' (Maxwell: 'Wild Sports': Mayo, but used all over Ireland.)
    Irish _caedh_ [quay], for which and for the names derived from it, see
    'Irish Names of Places': II. 396.

    Quality; gentlemen and gentlewomen as distinguished from the common
    people. Out of use in England, but general in Ireland:--'Make room for
    the quality.'

    Queer, generally pronounced _quare_; used as an intensive in
    Ulster:--This day is quare and hot (very hot); he is quare and sick
    (very sick): like _fine and fat_ elsewhere (see p. 89).

    Quin or quing; the swing-tree, a piece of wood used {310} to keep the
    chains apart in ploughing to prevent them rubbing the horses. (Cork and
    Kerry.) Irish _cuing_ [quing], a yoke.

    Quit: in Ulster 'quit that' means _cease from that_:--'quit your
    crying.' In Queen's County they say _rise out of that_.

    Rabble; used in Ulster to denote a fair where workmen congregate on the
    hiring day to be hired by the surrounding farmers. See Spalpeen.

    Rack. In Munster an ordinary comb is called a _rack_: the word _comb_
    being always applied and confined to a small close fine-toothed one.

    Rackrent; an excessive rent of a farm, so high as to allow to the
    occupier a bare and poor subsistence. Not used outside Ireland except
    so far as it has been recently brought into prominence by the Irish
    land question.

    Rag on every bush; a young man who is caught by and courts many girls
    but never proposes.

    Raghery; a kind of small-sized horse; a name given to it from its
    original home, the island of Rathlin or Raghery off Antrim.

    Rake; to cover up with ashes the live coals of a turf fire, which will
    keep them alive till morning:--'Don't forget to rake the fire.'

    Randy; a scold. (Kinahan: general.)

    Rap; a bad halfpenny: a bad coin:--'He hasn't a rap in his pocket.'

    Raumaush or raumaish; _romance_ or fiction, but now commonly applied to
    foolish senseless brainless talk. Irish _rámás_ or _rámáis_, which is
    merely adapted from the word _romance_. {311}

    Raven's bit; a beast that is going to die. (Kinahan.)

    Rawney; a delicate person looking in poor health; a poor sickly-looking
    animal. (Connaught.) Irish _ránaidhe_, same sound and meaning.

    Reansha; brown bread: sometimes corrupted to _range_-bread. (MacCall:

    Red or redd; clear, clear out, clear away:--Redd the road, the same as
    the Irish _Fág-a-ballagh_, 'clear the way.' If a girl's hair is in bad
    tangles, she uses a _redding-comb_ first to open it, and then a finer

    Redden; to light: 'Take the bellows and redden the fire.' An Irishman
    hardly ever _lights_ his pipe: he _reddens_ it.

    Redundancy, 52, 130.

    Ree; as applied to a horse means restive, wild, almost unmanageable.

    Reek; a rick:--A reek of turf: so the Kerry mountains, 'MacGillicuddy's

    Reel-foot; a club-foot, a deformed foot. (Ulster.) 'Reel-footed and
    hunch-backed forbye, sir.' (Old Ulster song.)

    Reenaw´lee; a slow-going fellow who dawdles and delays and hesitates
    about things. (Munster.) Irish _ríanálaidhe_, same sound and meaning:
    from _rían_, a way, track, or road: _ríanalaidhe_ , a person who
    wanders listlessly along the _way_.

    Reign. This word is often used in Munster, Leinster, and Connaught, in
    the sense of to occupy, to be master of: 'Who is in the Knockea farm?'
    'Mr. Keating reigns there now.' 'Who is your landlord?' 'The old master
    is dead and his son Mr. William reigns over us now.' 'Long may {312}
    your honour [the master] reign over us.' (Crofton Croker.) In answer to
    an examination question, a young fellow from Cork once answered me,
    'Shakespeare reigned in the sixteenth century.' This usage is borrowed
    from Irish, in which the verb _riaghail_ [ree-al] means both to rule
    (as a master), and to reign (as a king), and as in many other similar
    cases the two meanings were confounded in English. (Kinahan and

    Relics of old decency. When a man goes down in the world he often
    preserves some memorials of his former rank--a ring, silver buckles in
    his shoes, &c.--'the relics of old decency.'

    Revelagh; a long lazy gadding fellow. (Morris: Monaghan.)

    Rib; a single hair from the head. A poet, praising a young lady, says
    that 'every golden _rib_ of her hair is worth five guineas.' Irish
    _ruibe_ [ribbe], same meaning.

    Rickle; a little heap of turf peats standing on ends against each
    other. (Derry.) Irish _ricil_, same sound and meaning.

    Riddles, 185.

    Ride and tie. Two persons set out on a journey having one horse. One
    rides on while the other sets out on foot after him. The first man, at
    the end of a mile or two, ties up the horse at the roadside and
    proceeds on foot. When the second comes to the horse he mounts and
    rides till he is one or two miles ahead of his comrade and then ties.
    And so to the end of the journey. A common practice in old times for
    courier purposes; but not in use now, I think. {313}

    Rife, a scythe-sharpener, a narrow piece of board punctured all over
    and covered with grease on which fine sand is sprinkled. Used before
    the present emery sharpener was known. (Moran: Carlow.) Irish _ríabh_
    [reev], a long narrow stripe.

    Right or wrong: often heard for _earnestly_: 'he pressed me right or
    wrong to go home with him.'

    Ringle-eyed; when the iris is light-coloured, and the circle bounding
    it is very marked, the person is _ringle-eyed_. (Derry.)

    Rings; often used as follows:--'Did I sleep at all?' 'Oh indeed you
    did--you _slept rings round you_.'

    Rip; a coarse ill-conditioned woman with a bad tongue. (General.)

    Roach lime; lime just taken from the kiln, burnt, _before_ being slaked
    and while still in the form of stones. This is old English from French
    _roche_, a rock, a stone.

    Roasters; potatoes kept crisping on the coals to be brought up to table
    hot at the end of the dinner--usually the largest ones picked out. But
    the word _roaster_ was used only among the lower class of people: the
    higher classes considered it vulgar. Here is how Mr. Patrick Murray
    (see p. 154) describes them about 1840 in a parody on Moore's 'One
    bumper at parting' (a _lumper_, in Mr. Murray's version, means a big

     'One _lumper_ at parting, though many
        Have rolled on the board since we met,
      The biggest the hottest of any
        Remains in the round for us yet.'

    In the higher class of houses they were peeled and brought up at the
    end nice and brown in {314} a dish. About eighty years ago a well-known
    military gentleman of Baltinglass in the County Wicklow--whose daughter
    told me the story--had on one occasion a large party of friends to
    dinner. On the very day of the dinner the waiter took ill, and the
    stable boy--a big coarse fellow--had to be called in, after elaborate
    instructions. All went well till near the end of the dinner, when the
    fellow thought things were going on rather slowly. Opening the
    diningroom door he thrust in his head and called out in the hearing of
    all:--'Masther, are ye ready for the _roasthers_?' A short time ago I
    was looking at the house and diningroom where that occurred.

    Rocket; a little girl's frock. (Very common in Limerick.) It is of
    course an old application of the English-French _rochet_.

    Rodden; a _bohereen_ or narrow road. (Ulster.) It is the Irish
    _róidín_, little road.

    Roman; used by the people in many parts of Ireland for _Roman
    Catholic_. I have already quoted what the Catholic girl said to her
    Protestant lover:--'Unless that you turn a _Roman_ you ne'er shall get
    me for your bride.' Sixty or seventy years ago controversial
    discussions--between a Catholic on the one hand and a Protestant on the
    other--were very common. I witnessed many when I was a boy--to my great
    delight. Garrett Barry, a Roman Catholic, locally noted as a
    controversialist, was arguing with Mick Cantlon, surrounded by a group
    of delighted listeners. At last Garrett, as a final clincher, took up
    the Bible, opened it at a certain place, and handed it to his opponent,
    {315} with:--'Read that heading out for us now if you please.' Mick
    took it up and read 'St. Paul's Epistle to the _Romans_.' 'Very well,'
    says Garrett: 'now can you show me in any part of that Bible, 'St.
    Paul's Epistle to the _Protestants_'? This of course was a down blow;
    and Garrett was greeted with a great hurrah by the Catholic part of his
    audience. This story is in 'Knocknagow,' but the thing occurred in my
    neighbourhood, and I heard about it long before 'Knocknagow' was

    Rookaun; great noisy merriment. Also a drinking-bout. (Limerick.)

    Room. In a peasant's house the _room_ is a special apartment distinct
    from the kitchen or living-room, which is not a 'room' in this sense at
    all. I slept in the kitchen and John slept in the 'room.' (Healy and
    myself: Munster.)

    Round coal; coal in lumps as distinguished from slack or coal broken up
    small and fine.

    Ruction, ructions; fighting, squabbling, a fight, a row. It is a memory
    of the _Insurrection_ of 1798, which was commonly called the 'Ruction.'

    Rue-rub; when a person incautiously scratches an itchy spot so as to
    break the skin: that is _rue-rub_. (Derry.) From _rue_, regret or

    Rury; a rough hastily-made cake or bannock. (Morris: Monaghan.)

    Rut; the smallest bonnive in a litter. (Kildare and Carlow.)

    Saluting, salutations, 14.

    Sapples; soap suds: _sapple_, to wash in suds. (Derry.) {316}

    Saulavotcheer; a person having _lark-heels_. (Limerick.) The first
    syll. is Irish; _sál_ [saul], heel.

    Sauvaun; a rest, a light doze or nap. (Munster.) Irish _sámhán_, same
    sound and meaning, from _sámh_ [sauv], pleasant and tranquil.

    Scagh; a whitethorn bush. (General.) Irish _sceach_, same sound and

    Scaghler: a little fish--the pinkeen or thornback: Irish _sceach_
    [scagh], a thorn or thornbush, and the English termination _ler_.

    Scald: to be _scalded_ is to be annoyed, mortified, sorely troubled,
    vexed. (Very general.) Translated from one or the other of two Irish
    words, _loisc_ [lusk], to burn; and _scall_, to _scald_. Finn Bane
    says:--'Guary being angry with me he scorched me (_romloisc_), burned
    me, _scalded_ me, with abuse.' ('Colloquy.') 'I earned that money hard
    and 'tis a great _heart-scald_ (_scollach-croidhe_) to me to lose it.'
    There is an Irish air called 'The _Scalded_ poor man.' ('Old Irish
    Music and Songs.')

    Scalder, an unfledged bird (South): _scaldie_ and _scaulthoge_ in the
    North. From the Irish _scal_ (bald), from which comes the Irish
    _scalachán_, an unfledged bird.

    Scallan; a wooden shed to shelter the priest during Mass, 143, 145.

    Scalp, scolp, scalpeen; a rude cabin, usually roofed with _scalps_ or
    grassy sods (whence the name). In the famine times--1847 and after--a
    scalp was often erected for any poor wanderer who got stricken down
    with typhus fever: and in that the people tended him cautiously till he
    recovered or died. (Munster.) Irish _scaílp_ [scolp]. {317}

    Scalteen: see Scolsheen.

    Scollagh-cree; ill-treatment of any kind. (Moran: Carlow.) Irish
    _scallach-croidhe_, same sound and meaning: a 'heart scald'; from
    _scalladh_, scalding, and _croidhe_, heart.

    Scollop; the bended rod pointed at both ends that a thatcher uses to
    fasten down the several straw-wisps. (General.) Irish _scolb_

    Scolsheen or scalteen; made by boiling a mixture of whiskey, water,
    sugar, butter and pepper (or caraway seeds) in a pot: a sovereign cure
    for a cold. In the old mail-car days there was an inn on the road from
    Killarney to Mallow, famous for scolsheen, where a big pot of it was
    always kept ready for travellers. (Kinahan and Kane.) Sometimes the
    word _scalteen_ was applied to unmixed whiskey burned, and used for the
    same purpose. From the Irish _scall_, burn, singe, _scald_.

    Sconce; to chaff, banter, make game of:--'None of your sconcing.'

    Sconce; to shirk work or duty. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Scotch Dialect: influence of, on our Dialect, 6, 7.

    Scotch lick; when a person goes to clean up anything--a saucepan, a
    floor, his face, a pair of shoes, &c.--and only half does it, he (or
    she) has given it a _Scotch lick_. General in South. In Dublin it would
    be called a 'cat's lick': for a cat has only a small tongue and doesn't
    do much in the way of licking.

    Scout; a reproachful name for a bold forward girl.

    Scouther; to burn a cake on the outside before it is fully cooked, by
    over haste in baking:--burned outside, half raw inside. Hence 'to
    scouther' {318} means to do anything hastily and incompletely.

    Scrab; to scratch:--'The cat near scrabbed his eyes out.' (Patterson:
    Ulster.) In the South it is _scraub_:--'He scraubed my face.'

    Scrab; to gather the stray potatoes left after the regular crop, when
    they are afterwards turned out by plough or spade.

    Scraddhin; a scrap; anything small--smaller than usual, as a small
    potato: applied contemptuously to a very small man, exactly the same as
    the Southern _sprissaun_. Irish _scraidín_, same sound and meaning.
    (East Ulster.)

    Scran; 'bad scran to you,' an evil wish like 'bad luck to you,' but
    much milder: English, in which _scran_ means broken victuals,
    food-refuse, fare--very common. (North and South.)

    Scraw; a grassy sod cut from a grassy or boggy surface and often dried
    for firing; also called _scrahoge_ (with diminutive _óg_). Irish
    _scrath_, _scrathóg_, same sounds and meaning.

    Screenge; to search for. (Donegal and Derry.)

    Scunder or Scunner; a dislike; to take a dislike or disgust against
    anything. (Armagh.)

    Scut; the tail of a hare or rabbit: often applied in scorn to a
    contemptible fellow:--'He's just a scut and nothing better.' The word
    is Irish, as is shown by the following quotation:--'The billows [were]
    conversing with the _scuds_ (sterns) and the beautiful prows [of the
    ships].' (Battle of Moylena: and note by Kuno Meyer in 'Rev. Celt.')

    Seeshtheen; a low round seat made of twisted straw. {319} (Munster.)
    Irish _suidhistín_, same sound and meaning: from _suidhe_ [see], to
    sit, with diminutive.

    Set: all over Ireland they use _set_ instead of _let_ [a house or
    lodging]. A struggling housekeeper failed to let her lodging, which a
    neighbour explained by:--'Ah she's no good at _setting_.'

    Set; used in a bad sense, like _gang_ and _crew_:--'They're a dirty

    Settle bed; a folding-up bed kept in the kitchen: when folded up it is
    like a sofa and used as a seat. (All over Ireland.)

    Seven´dable [accent on _ven_], very great, _mighty great_ as they would
    say:--'Jack gave him a _sevendable_ thrashing.' (North.)

    Shaap [the _aa_ long as in _car_]; a husk of corn, a pod. (Derry.)

    Shamrock or Shamroge; the white trefoil (_Trifolium repens_). The Irish
    name is _seamar_ [shammer], which with the diminutive makes _seamar-óg_
    [shammer-oge], shortened to _shamrock_.

    Shanachus, shortened to _shanagh_ in Ulster, a friendly conversation.
    'Grandfather would like to have a shanahus with you.' ('Knocknagow.')
    Irish _seanchus_, antiquity, history, an old story.

    Shandradan´ [accented strongly on _-dan_]; an old rickety rattle-trap
    of a car. The first syllable is Irish _sean_ [shan], old.

    Shanty: a mean hastily put up little house. (General.) Probably from
    Irish _sean_, old, and _tigh_ [tee], a house.

    Shaugh; a turn or smoke of a pipe. (General.) Irish _seach_, same sound
    and meaning. {320}

    Shaughraun; wandering about: to be _on the shaughraun_ is to be out of
    employment and wandering idly about looking for work. Irish _seachrán_,
    same sound and meaning.

    Shebeen or sheebeen; an unlicensed public-house or alehouse where
    spirits are sold on the sly. (Used all over Ireland.) Irish _síbín_,
    same sound and meaning.

    Shee; a fairy, fairies; also meaning the place where fairies live,
    usually a round green little hill or elf-mound having a glorious palace
    underneath: Irish _sidhe_, same sound and meanings. _Shee_ often takes
    the diminutive form--_sheeoge_.

    Shee-geeha; the little whirl of dust you often see moving along the
    road on a calm dusty day: this is a band of fairies travelling from one
    _lis_ or elf-mound to another, and you had better turn aside and avoid
    it. Irish _sidhe-gaoithe_, same sound and meaning, where _gaoithe_ is
    wind: 'wind-fairies': called 'fairy-blast' in Kildare.

    Sheehy, Rev. Father, of Kilfinane, 147.

    Sheela; a female Christian name (as in 'Sheela Ni Gyra'). Used in the
    South as a reproachful name for a boy or a man inclined to do work or
    interest himself in affairs properly belonging to women. See 'Molly.'

    Sheep's eyes: when a young man looks fondly and coaxingly on his
    sweetheart he is 'throwing sheep's eyes' at her.

    Sherral; an offensive term for a mean unprincipled fellow. (Moran:
    South Mon.)

    Sheugh or Shough; a deep cutting, elsewhere called a ditch, often
    filled with water. (Seumas MacManus: N.W. Ulster.) {321}

    Shillelah; a handstick of oak, an oaken cudgel for fighting. (Common
    all over Ireland.) From a district in Wicklow called Shillelah,
    formerly noted for its oak woods, in which grand shillelahs were

    Shingerleens [shing-erleens]; small bits of finery; ornamental tags and
    ends--of ribbons, bow-knots, tassels, &c.--hanging on dress, curtains,
    furniture, &c. (Munster.)

    Shire; to pour or drain off water or any liquid, quietly and without
    disturbing the solid parts remaining behind, such as draining off the
    whey-like liquid from buttermilk.

    Shlamaan´ [_aa_ like _a_ in _car_]; a handful of straw, leeks, &c.
    (Morris: South Monaghan.)

    Shoggle; to shake or jolt. (Derry.)

    Shoneen; a _gentleman_ in a small way: a would-be gentleman who puts on
    superior airs. Always used contemptuously.

    Shook; in a bad way, done up, undone:--'I'm shook by the loss of that
    money': 'he was shook for a pair of shoes.'

    Shooler; a wanderer, a stroller, a vagrant, a tramp, a rover: often
    means a mendicant. (Middle and South of Ireland.) From the Irish
    _siubhal_ [shool], to walk, with the English termination _er_: lit.

    Shoonaun; a deep circular basket, made of twisted rushes or straw, and
    lined with calico; it had a cover and was used for holding linen,
    clothes, &c. (Limerick and Cork.) From Irish _sibhinn_ [shiven], a
    rush, a bulrush: of which the diminutive _siubhnán_ [shoonaun] is our
    word: signifying {322} 'made of rushes.' Many a shoonaun I saw in my
    day; and I remember meeting a man who was a shoonaun maker by trade.

    Short castle or short castles; a game played by two persons on a square
    usually drawn on a slate with the two diagonals: each player having
    three counters. See Mills.

    Shore; the brittle woody part separated in bits and dust from the fibre
    of flax by scutching or _cloving_. Called _shores_ in Monaghan.

    Shraff, shraft; Shrovetide: on and about Shrove Tuesday:--'I bought
    that cow last shraff.'

    Shraums, singular shraum; the matter that collects about the eyes of
    people who have tender eyes: matter running from sore eyes. (Moran:
    Carlow.) Irish _sream_ [sraum]. Same meaning.

    Shrule; to rinse an article of clothing by pulling it backwards and
    forwards in a stream. (Moran: Carlow.) Irish _srúil_, a stream.

    Shrough; a rough wet place; an incorrect anglicised form of Irish
    _srath_, a wet place, a marsh.

    Shuggy-shoo; the play of see-saw. (Ulster.)

    Shurauns; any plants with large leaves, such as hemlock, wild parsnip,
    &c. (Kinahan: Wicklow.)

    Sighth (for sight); a great number, a large quantity. (General.) 'Oh
    Mrs. Morony haven't you a _sighth_ of turkeys': 'Tom Cassidy has a
    sighth of money.' This is old English. Thus in a Quaker's diary of
    1752:--'There was a great sight of people passed through the streets of
    Limerick.' This expression is I think still heard in England, and is
    very much in use in America. Very general in Ireland. {323}

    Sign; a very small quantity--a trace. Used all over Ireland in this
    way:--'My gardens are _every sign_ as good as yours': 'he had no sign
    of drink on him': 'there's no sign of sugar in my tea' (Hayden and
    Hartog): 'look out to see if Bill is coming': 'no--there's no sign of
    him.' This is a translation from the Irish _rian_, for which see next

    Sign's on, sign is on, sign's on it; used to express the result or
    effect or proof of any proceeding:--'Tom Kelly never sends his children
    to school, and sign's on (or sign's on it) they are growing up like
    savages': 'Dick understands the management of fruit trees well, and
    sign's on, he is making lots of money by them.' This is a translation
    from Irish, in which _rian_ means _track_, _trace_, _sign_: and 'sign's
    on it' is _ta a rian air_ ('its sign is on it').

    Silenced; a priest is silenced when he is suspended from his priestly
    functions by his ecclesiastical superiors: 'unfrocked.'

    Singlings; the weak pottheen whiskey that comes off at the first
    distillation: agreeable to drink but terribly sickening. Also called
    'First shot.'

    Sippy; a ball of rolled _sugans_ (i.e. hay or straw ropes), used
    instead of a real ball in hurling or football. (Limerick.) Irish
    _suipigh_, same sound and meaning. A diminutive of _sop_, a wisp.

    Skeeagh [2-syll.]; a shallow osier basket, usually for potatoes.

    Skeedeen; a trifle, anything small of its kind; a small potato. (Derry
    and Donegal.) Irish _scídín_, same sound and meaning. {324}

    Skellig, Skellig List--On the Great Skellig rock in the Atlantic, off
    the coast of Kerry, are the ruins of a monastery, to which people at
    one time went on pilgrimage--and a difficult pilgrimage it was. The
    tradition is still kept up in some places, though in an odd form; in
    connection with the custom that marriages are not solemnised in Lent,
    i.e. after Shrove Tuesday. It is well within my memory that--in the
    south of Ireland--young persons who should have been married before
    Ash-Wednesday, but were not, were supposed to set out on pilgrimage to
    Skellig on Shrove Tuesday night: but it was all a make-believe. Yet I
    remember witnessing occasionally some play in mock imitation of the
    pilgrimage. It was usual for a local bard to compose what was called a
    'Skellig List'--a jocose rhyming catalogue of the unmarried men and
    women of the neighbourhood who went on the sorrowful journey--which was
    circulated on Shrove Tuesday and for some time after. Some of these
    were witty and amusing: but occasionally they were scurrilous and
    offensive doggerel. They were generally too long for singing; but I
    remember one--a good one too--which--when I was very young--I heard
    sung to a spirited air. It is represented here by a single verse, the
    only one I remember. (See also 'Chalk Sunday,' p. 234, above.)

      As young Rory and Moreen were talking,
        How Shrove Tuesday was just drawing near;
      For the tenth time he asked her to marry;
        But says she:--'Time enough till next year.
      Then ochone I'm going to Skellig:
        O Moreen, what will I do?
     'Tis the woeful road to travel;
        And how lonesome I'll be without you!'[8]

    Here is a verse from another:--

      Poor Andy Callaghan with doleful nose
      Came up and told his tale of many woes:--
      Some lucky thief from him his sweetheart stole,
      Which left a weight of grief upon his soul:
      With flowing tears he sat upon the grass,
      And roared sonorous like a braying ass.

    Skelly; to aim askew and miss the mark; to squint. (Patterson: all over

    Skelp; a blow, to give a blow or blows; a piece cut off:--'Tom gave Pat
    a skelp': 'I cut off a skelp of the board with a hatchet.' To run
    fast:--'There's Joe skelping off to school.'

    Skib; a flat basket:--'We found the people collected round a skibb of
    potatoes.' ('Wild Sports of the West.')

    Skidder, skiddher; broken thick milk, stale and sour. (Munster.)

    Skillaun. The piece cut out of a potato to be used as seed, containing
    one germinating _eye_, from which the young stalk grows. Several
    skillauns will be cut from one potato; and the irregular part left is a
    _skilloge_ (Cork and Kerry), or a _creelacaun_ (Limerick). Irish
    _sciollán_, same sound and meaning.

    Skit; to laugh and giggle in a silly way:--'I'll be {326} bail they
    didn't skit and laugh.' (Crofton Croker.) 'Skit and laugh,' very common
    in South.

    Skite; a silly frivolous light-headed person. Hence Blatherumskite
    (South), or (in Ulster), bletherumskite.

    Skree; a large number of small things, as a skree of potatoes, a skree
    of chickens, &c. (Morris: South Monaghan.)

    Skull-cure for a bad toothache. Go to the nearest churchyard alone by
    night, to the corner where human bones are usually heaped up, from
    which take and bring away a skull. Fill the skull with water, and take
    a drink from it: that will cure your toothache.

    Sky farmer; a term much used in the South with several shades of
    meaning: but the idea underlying all is a farmer without land, or with
    only very little--having broken down since the time when he had a big
    farm--who often keeps a cow or two grazing along the roadsides. Many of
    these struggling men acted as intermediaries between the big corn
    merchants and the large farmers in the sale of corn, and got thereby a
    percentage from the buyers. A 'sky farmer' has his farm _in the sky_.

    Slaan [_aa_ long as the _a_ in _car_]; a sort of very sharp spade, used
    in cutting turf or peat. Universal in the South.

    Slack-jaw; impudent talk, continuous impertinences:--'I'll have none of
    your slack-jaw.'

    Slang; a narrow strip of land along a stream, not suited to
    cultivation, but grazed. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Sleeveen; a smooth-tongued, sweet-mannered, sly, {327} guileful fellow.
    Universal all over the South and Middle. Irish _slíghbhín_, same sound
    and meaning; from _slígh_, a way: _binn_, sweet, melodious: 'a
    _sweet-mannered_ fellow.'

    Slewder, sluder [_d_ sounded like _th_ in _smooth_]; a wheedling
    coaxing fellow: as a verb, to wheedle. Irish _sligheadóir_ [sleedore],
    same meaning.

    Sliggin; a thin flat little stone. (Limerick.) Irish. Primary meaning
    _a shell_.

    Sling-trot; when a person or an animal is going along [not walking but]
    trotting or running along at a leisurely pace. (South.)

    Slinge [slinj]; to walk along slowly and lazily. In some places,
    playing truant from school. (South.)

    Slip; a young girl. A young pig, older than a _bonnive_, running about
    almost independent of its mother. (General.)

    Slipe; a rude sort of cart or sledge without wheels used for dragging
    stones from a field. (Ulster.)

    Slitther; a kind of thick soft leather: also a ball covered with that
    leather, for hurling. (Limerick.)

    Sliver; a piece of anything broken or cut off, especially cut off
    longitudinally. An old English word, obsolete in England, but still
    quite common in Munster.

    Slob; a soft fat quiet simple-minded girl or boy:--'Your little Nellie
    is a quiet poor slob': used as a term of endearment.

    Sloke, sloak, sluke, sloukaun; a sea plant of the family of _laver_
    found growing on rocks round the coast, which is esteemed a table
    delicacy--dark-coloured, almost black; often pickled and eaten with
    pepper, vinegar, &c. Seen in all the Dublin {328} fish shops. The name,
    which is now known all over the Three Kingdoms, is anglicised from
    Irish _sleabhac_, _sleabhacán_ [slouk, sloukaun].

    Slug; a drink: as a verb, to drink:--'Here take a little slug from this
    and 'twill do you good.' Irish _slog_ to swallow by drinking.
    (General.) Whence _slugga_ and _sluggera_, a cavity in a river-bed into
    which the water is _slugged_ or swallowed.

    Slugabed; a sluggard. (General in Limerick.) Old English, obsolete in
    England:--'Fie, you slug-a-bed.' ('Romeo and Juliet.')

    Slush; to work and toil like a slave: a woman who toils hard.

    Slut; a torch made by dipping a long wick in resin. (Armagh.) Called a
    _paudheoge_ in Munster.

    Smaadher [_aa_ like _a_ in _car_]; to break in pieces. Jim Foley was on
    a _pooka's_ back on the top of an old castle, and he was afraid he'd
    'tumble down and be _smathered_ to a thousand pieces.' (Ir. Mag.)

    Smalkera; a rude home-made wooden spoon.

    Small-clothes; kneebreeches. (Limerick.) So called to avoid the plain
    term _breeches_, as we now often say _inexpressibles_.

    Small farmer; has a small farm with small stock of cattle: a struggling
    man as distinguished from a 'strong' farmer.

    Smeg, smeggeen, smiggin; a tuft of hair on the chin. (General.) Merely
    the Irish _smeig_, _smeigín_; same sounds and meaning.

    Smithereens; broken fragments after a smash, 4.

    Smullock [to rhyme with _bullock_]; a fillip of the finger. (Limerick.)
    Irish _smallóg_, same meaning. {329}

    Smur, smoor, fine thick mist. (North.) Irish _smúr_, mist.

    Smush [to rhyme with _bush_]: anything reduced to fine small fragments,
    like straw or hay, dry peat-mould in dust, &c.

    Smush, used contemptuously for the mouth, a hairy mouth:--'I don't like
    your ugly _smush_.'

    Snachta-shaidhaun: dry powdery snow blown about by the wind. Irish
    _sneachta_, snow, and _séideán_, a breeze. (South.)

    Snaggle-tooth; a person with some teeth gone so as to leave gaps.

    Snap-apple; a play with apples on Hallow-eve, where big apples are
    placed in difficult positions and are to be caught by the teeth of the
    persons playing. Hence Hallow-Eve is often called 'Snap-apple night.'

    Snauvaun; to move about slowly and lazily. From Irish _snámh_ [snauv],
    to swim, with the diminutive:--Moving slowly like a person swimming.

    Sned; to clip off, to cut away, like the leaves and roots of a turnip.
    Sned also means the handle of a scythe.

    Snig; to cut or clip with a knife:--'The shoots of that apple-tree are
    growing out too long: I must snig off the tops of them.'

    Snish; neatness in clothes. (Morris: Carlow.)

    Snoboge; a rosin torch. (Moran: Carlow.) Same as _slut_ and

    Snoke; to scent or snuff about like a dog. (Derry.)

    So. This has some special dialectical senses among us. It is used for
    _if_:--'I will pay you well _so_ you do the work to my liking.' This is
    old English:--'I am content _so_ thou wilt have it so.' {330} ('Rom.
    and Jul.') It is used as a sort of emphatic expletive carrying accent
    or emphasis:--'Will you keep that farm?' 'I will _so_,' i.e. 'I will
    for certain.' 'Take care and don't break them' (the dishes): 'I won't
    _so_.' ('Collegians.') It is used in the sense of 'in that case':--'I
    am not going to town to-day'; 'Oh well I will not go, _so_'--i.e. 'as
    you are not going.'

    Sock; the tubular or half-tubular part of a spade or shovel that holds
    the handle. Irish _soc_.

    Soft day; a wet day. (A usual salute.)

    Soil; fresh-cut grass for cattle.

    Sold; betrayed, outwitted:--'If that doesn't frighten him off you're
    sold' (caught in the trap, betrayed, ruined. Edw. Walsh in Ir. Pen.

    Something like; excellent:--'That's something like a horse,' i.e. a
    fine horse and no mistake.

    Sonaghan; a kind of trout that appears in certain lakes in November,
    coming from the rivers. (Prof. J. Cooke, M.A., of Dublin: for
    Ulster):--Irish _samhain_ [sowan], November: _samhnachán_ with the
    diminutive _án_ or _chán_, 'November-fellow.'

    Sonoohar; a good wife, a good partner in marriage; a good marriage:
    generally used in the form of a wish:--'Thankee sir and sonoohar to
    you.' Irish _sonuachar_, same sound and meaning.

    Sonsy; fortunate, prosperous. Also well-looking and healthy:--'A fine
    _sonsy_ girl.' Irish _sonas_, luck; _sonasach_, _sonasaigh_, same sound
    and meaning.

    Soogan, sugan, sugaun; a straw or hay rope twisted by the hand.

    Soss; a short trifling fall with no harm beyond a smart shock. (Moran:
    Carlow.) {331}

    Sough; a whistling or sighing noise like that of the wind through
    trees. 'Keep a calm sough' means keep quiet, keep silence. (Ulster.)

    Soulth; 'a formless luminous apparition.' (W. B. Yeats.) Irish
    _samhailt_ [soulth], a ghost, an apparition; _lit._ a 'likeness,' from
    _samhai_ [sowel], like.

    Sources of Anglo-Irish Dialect, 1.

    Sowans, sowens; a sort of flummery or gruel usually made and eaten on
    Hallow Eve. Very general in Ulster and Scotland; merely the Irish word
    _samhain_, the first of November; for Hallow Eve is really a November
    feast, as being the eve of the first of that month. In old times in
    Ireland, the evening went with the coming night.

    Spalpeen. Spalpeens were labouring men--reapers, mowers,
    potato-diggers, &c.--who travelled about in the autumn seeking
    employment from the farmers, each with his spade, or his scythe, or his
    reaping-hook. They congregated in the towns on market and fair days,
    where the farmers of the surrounding districts came to hire them. Each
    farmer brought home his own men, fed them on good potatoes and milk,
    and sent them to sleep in the barn on dry straw--a bed--as one of them
    said to me--'a bed fit for a lord, let alone a spalpeen.' The word
    _spalpeen_ is now used in the sense of a low rascal. Irish _spailpín_,
    same sound and meaning. (See my 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs,' p.
    216; and for the Ulster term see Rabble above.)

    Spaug; a big clumsy foot:--'You put your ugly spaug down on my
    handkerchief.' Irish _spág_, same sound and sense. {332}

    Speel; to climb. (Patterson: Ulster.)

    Spink; a sharp rock, a precipice. (Tyrone.) _Splink_ in Donegal. Irish
    _spinnc_ and _splinnc_, same sounds and meaning.

    Spit; the soil dug up and turned over, forming a long trench as deep as
    the spade will go. 'He dug down three spits before he came to the

    Spoileen; a coarse kind of soap made out of scraps of inferior grease
    and meat: often sold cheap at fairs and markets. (Derry and Tyrone.)
    Irish _spóilín_, a small bit of meat.

    Spoocher; a sort of large wooden shovel chiefly used for lifting small
    fish out of a boat. (Ulster.)

    Spreece; red-hot embers, chiefly ashes. (South.) Irish _sprís_, same
    sound and meaning. Same as _greesagh_.

    Sprissaun; an insignificant contemptible little chap. Irish _spriosán_
    [same sound], the original meaning of which is a twig or spray from a
    bush. (South.)

     'To the devil I pitch ye ye set of sprissauns.'

      (Old Folk Song, for which see my 'Ancient Irish
              Music,' p. 85.)

    Sprong: a four-pronged manure fork. (MacCall: South-east counties.)

    Spruggil, spruggilla; the craw of a fowl. (Morris: South Monaghan.)
    Irish _sprogal_ [spruggal], with that meaning and several others.

    Sprunge [sprunj], any animal miserable and small for its age. (Ulster.)

    Spuds; potatoes.

    Spunk; tinder, now usually made by steeping {333} brown paper in a
    solution of nitre; lately gone out of use from the prevalence of
    matches. Often applied in Ulster and Scotland to a spark of fire: 'See
    is there a spunk of fire in the hearth.' Spunk also denotes spirit,
    courage, and dash. 'Hasn't Dick great spunk to face that big fellow,
    twice his size?'

     'I'm sure if you had not been drunk
          With whiskey, rum, or brandy--O,
      You would not have the gallant spunk
          To be half so bold or manly--O.'

      (Old Irish Folk Song.)

    Irish _sponnc_.

    Spy farleys; to pry into secrets: to visit a house, in order to spy
    about what's going on. (Ulster.)

    Spy-Wednesday; the Wednesday before Easter. According to the religious
    legend it got the name because on the Wednesday before the Crucifixion
    Judas was spying about how best he could deliver up our Lord.

    Squireen; an Irish gentleman in a small way who apes the manners, the
    authoritative tone, and the aristocratic bearing of the large landed
    proprietors. Sometimes you can hardly distinguish a squireen from a
    _half-sir_ or from a _shoneen_. Sometimes the squireen was the son of
    the old squire: a worthless young fellow, who loafed about doing
    nothing, instead of earning an honest livelihood: but he was too grand
    for that. The word is a diminutive of _squire_, applied here in
    contempt, like many other diminutives. The class of squireen is nearly
    extinct: 'Joy be with them.'

    Stackan; the stump of a tree remaining after the {334} tree itself has
    been cut or blown down. (Simmons: Armagh.) Irish _staic_, a stake, with
    the diminutive.

    Stad; the same as _sthallk_, which see.

    Stag; a potato rendered worthless or bad by frost or decay.

    Stag; a cold-hearted unfeeling selfish woman.

    Stag; an informer, who turns round and betrays his comrades:--'The two
    worst informers against a private [pottheen] distiller, barring a
    _stag_, are a smoke by day and a fire by night.' (Carleton in 'Ir. Pen.
    Journ.') 'Do you think me a _stag_, that I'd inform on you.' (Ibid.)

    Staggeen [the _t_ sounded like _th_ in _thank_], a worn-out worthless
    old horse.

    Stand to or by a person, to act as his friend; to stand _for_ an
    infant, to be his sponsor in baptism. The people hardly ever say, 'I'm
    his godfather,' but 'I stood for him.'

    Stare; the usual name for a starling (bird) in Ireland.

    Station. The celebration of Mass with confessions and Holy Communion in
    a private house by the parish priest or one of his curates, for the
    convenience of the family and their neighbours, to enable them the more
    easily to receive the sacraments. Latterly the custom has been falling
    into disuse.

    Staukan-vorraga [_t_ sounded like _th_ in _thorn_], a small high rick
    of turf in a market from which portions were continually sold away and
    as continually replaced: so that the _sthauca_ stood always in the
    people's way. Applied also to a big awkward fellow always visiting when
    he's not wanted, and {335} always in the way. (John Davis White, of
    Clonmel.) Irish _stáca 'n mharga_ [sthaucan-vorraga], the 'market stake
    or stack.'

    Stelk or stallk; mashed potatoes mixed with beans or chopped
    vegetables. (North.)

    Sthallk; a fit of sulk in a horse--or in a child. (Munster.) Irish
    _stailc_, same sound and meaning.

    Sthoakagh; a big idle wandering vagabond fellow. (South.) Irish
    _stócach_, same sound and meaning.

    Sthowl; a jet or splash of water or of any liquid. (South.) Irish
    _steall_, same sound and meaning.

    Stim or stime; a very small quantity, an _iota_, an atom, a
    particle:--'You'll never have a stim of sense' ('Knocknagow'): 'I
    couldn't see a stim in the darkness.'

    Stook; a shock of corn, generally containing twelve sheaves. (General.)
    Irish _stuaic_, same sound and meaning, with several other meanings.

    Stoon; a fit, the worst of a fit: same as English _stound_: a sting of
    pain:--'Well Bridget how is the toothache?' 'Ah well sir the stoon is
    off.' (De Vismes Kane: Ulster.)

    Store pig; a pig nearly full grown, almost ready to be fattened.

    Str. Most of the following words beginning with _str_ are derived from
    Irish words beginning with _sr_. For as this combination _sr_ does not
    exist in English, when an Irish word with this beginning is borrowed
    into English, a _t_ is always inserted between the _s_ and _r_ to bring
    it into conformity with English usage and to render it more easily
    pronounced by English-speaking tongues. See this subject discussed in
    'Irish Names of Places,' {336} vol. I., p. 60. Moreover the _t_ in
    _str_ is almost always sounded the same as _th_ in _think_, _thank_.

    Straar or sthraar [to rhyme with _star_]; the rough straddle which
    supports the back band of a horse's harness--coming between the horse's
    back and the band. (Derry.) The old Irish word _srathar_ [same sound],
    a straddle, a pack-saddle.

    Straddy; a street-walker, an idle person always sauntering along the
    streets. There is a fine Irish air named 'The Straddy' in my 'Old Irish
    Music and Songs,' p. 310. From Irish _sráid_, a street.

    Strahane, strahaun, _struhane_; a very small stream like a mill stream
    or an artificial stream to a pottheen still. Irish _sruth_ [sruh]
    stream, with dim.

    Strammel; a big tall bony fellow. (Limerick.)

    Strap; a bold forward girl or woman; the word often conveys a sense
    slightly leaning towards lightness of character.

    Strath; a term used in many parts of Ireland to denote the level watery
    meadow-land along a river. Irish _srath_.

    Stravage [to rhyme with _plague_]; to roam about idly:--'He is always
    _stravaging_ the streets.' In Ulster it is made _stavage_.

    Streel; a very common word all through Ireland to denote a lazy untidy
    woman--a slattern: often made _streeloge_ in Connaught, the same word
    with the diminutive. As a verb, _streel_ is used in the sense of to
    drag along in an untidy way:--'Her dress was streeling in the mud.'
    Irish _sríl_ [sreel], same meanings.

    Streel is sometimes applied to an untidy slovenly-looking man too, as I
    once heard it {337} applied under odd circumstances when I was very
    young. Bartholomew Power was long and lanky, with his clothes hanging
    loose on him. On the morning when he and his newly-married wife--whom I
    knew well, and who was then no chicken--were setting out for his home,
    I walked a bit of the way with the happy bride to take leave of her.
    Just when we were about to part, she turned and said to me--these were
    her very words--'Well Mr. Joyce, you know the number of nice young men
    I came across in my day (naming half a dozen of them), and,' said
    she--nodding towards the bride-groom, who was walking by the car a few
    perches in front--'isn't it a heart-scald that at the end of all I have
    now to walk off with that streel of a devil.'

    Strickle; a scythe-sharpener covered with emery, (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Strig; the _strippings_ or milk that comes last from a cow. (Morris:
    South Monaghan.)

    Striffin; the thin pellicle or skin on the inside of an egg-shell.

    Strippings; the same as strig, the last of the milk that comes from the
    cow at milking--always the richest. Often called in Munster _sniug_.

    Stroansha; a big idle lazy lump of a girl, always gadding about. Irish
    _stróinse_, same sound and meaning.

    Strock´ara [accent on _strock-_]; a very hard-working man. (Munster.)
    Irish _stracaire_, same sound and meaning, with several other meanings.

    Strong; well in health, without any reference to muscular strength.
    'How is your mother these times?' 'She's very strong now thank God.'

    Strong farmer; a very well-to-do prosperous farmer, with a large farm
    and much cattle. In contradistinction to a 'small farmer.'

    Stroup or stroop; the spout of a kettle or teapot or the lip of a jug.

    Strunt; to sulk. (Simmons: Armagh.) Same as _sthallk_ for the South.

    Stum; a sulky silent person. (Antrim and Down.)

    Stumpy; a kind of coarse heavy cake made from grated potatoes from
    which the starch has been squeezed out: also called muddly. (Munster.)

    Sturk, stirk, sterk; a heifer or bullock about two years old: a pig
    three or four months old. Often applied to a stout low-sized boy or
    girl. Irish _storc_.

    Sugan; a straw or hay rope: same as soogan.

    Sugeen; water in which oatmeal has been steeped: often drunk by workmen
    on a hot day in place of plain water. (Roscommon.) From Ir. _sugh_,

    Sulter; great heat [of a day]: a word formed from _sultry_:--'There's
    great _sulther_ to-day.'

    Summachaun; a soft innocent child. (Munster.) Irish _somachán_, same
    sound and meaning. In Connaught it means a big ignorant puffed up booby
    of a fellow.

    Sup; one mouthful of liquid: a small quantity drunk at one time. This
    is English:--'I took a small sup of rum.' ('Robinson Crusoe.') 'We all
    take a sup in our turn.' (Irish Folk Song.)

    Sure; one of our commonest opening words for a sentence: you will hear
    it perpetually among gentle and simple: 'Don't forget to lock up the
    fowls.' 'Sure I did that an hour ago.' 'Sure {339} you won't forget to
    call here on your way back?' 'James, sure I sold my cows.'

    Swan-skin; the thin finely-woven flannel bought in shops; so called to
    distinguish it from the coarse heavy home-made flannel. (Limerick.)

    Swearing, 66.

    Tally-iron or tallin-iron; the iron for _crimping_ or curling up the
    borders of women's caps. A corruption of _Italian-iron_.

    Targe; a scolding woman, a _barge_. (Ulster.)

    Tartles: ragged clothes; torn pieces of dress. (Ulster.)

    Taste; a small bit or amount of anything:--'He has no taste of pride':
    'Aren't you ashamed of yourself?' 'Not a taste': 'Could you give me the
    least taste in life of a bit of soap?'

    Tat, tait; a tangled or matted wad or mass of hair on a girl or on an
    animal. 'Come here till I comb the _tats_ out of your hair. (Ulster.)
    Irish _tath_ [tah]. In the anglicised word the aspirated _t_ (th),
    which sounds like _h_ in Irish, is restored to its full sound in the
    process of anglicisation in accordance with a law which will be found
    explained in 'Irish Names of Places,' vol. i., pp. 42-48.

    Teem; to strain off or pour off water or any liquid. To _teem_ potatoes
    is to pour the water off them when they are boiled. In a like sense we
    say it is _teeming_ rain. Irish _taom_, same sound and sense.

    Ten commandments. 'She put her ten commandments on his face,' i.e. she
    scratched his face with her ten finger-nails. (MacCall: Wexford.) {340}

    Tent; the quantity of ink taken up at one time by a pen.

    Terr; a provoking ignorant presumptuous fellow. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Thacka, thuck-ya, thackeen, thuckeen; a little girl. (South.) Irish
    _toice_, _toicín_ [thucka, thuckeen].

    Thaheen; a handful of flax or hay. Irish _tath_, _taithín_ [thah,
    thaheen], same meaning. (Same Irish word as Tat above: but in _thaheen_
    the final _t_ is aspirated to _h_, following the Irish word.)

    Thauloge: a boarded-off square enclosure at one side of the kitchen
    fire-place of a farmhouse, where candlesticks, brushes, wet boots, &c.,
    are put. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Thayvaun or theevaun; the short beam of the roof crossing from one
    rafter to the opposite one. (South.) Irish _taobh_ [thaiv], a 'side,'
    with the diminutive.

    Theeveen; a patch on the side of a shoe. (General.) Irish _taobh_
    [thaiv], a side with the dim. _een_; taoibhín [theeveen], 'little

    Thick; closely acquainted: same meaning as 'Great,' which see. 'Dick is
    very thick with Joe now.'

    Thiescaun thyscaun, [thice-caun], or thayscaun: a quantity of anything,
    as a small load of hay drawn by a horse: 'When you're coming home with
    the cart from the bog, you may as well bring a little _thyscaun_ of
    turf. (South.) Irish _taoscán_ [thayscaun], same meaning.

    Think long: to be longing for anything--home, friends, an event, &c.
    (North.) 'I am thinking long till I see my mother.' {341}

    Thirteen. When the English and Irish currencies were different, the
    English shilling was worth thirteen pence in Ireland: hence a shilling
    was called a _thirteen_ in Ireland:--'I gave the captain six thirteens
    to ferry me over to Park-gate.' (Irish Folk Song.)

    Thivish; a spectre, a ghost. (General.) Irish _taidhbhse_ [thivshe],
    same meaning.

    Thole; to endure, to bear:--'I had to thole hardship and want while you
    were away.' (All over Ulster.)

    Thon, thonder; yon, yonder:--'Not a tree or a thing only thon wee
    couple of poor whins that's blowing up thonder on the rise.' (Seumas
    MacManus, for North-West Ulster.)

    Thoun´thabock: a good beating. Literally 'strong tobacco: Ir.
    _teann-tabac_ [same sound]. 'If you don't mind your business, I'll give
    you thounthabock.'

    Thrape or threep; to assert vehemently, boldly, and in a manner not to
    brook contradiction. Common in Meath and from that northward.

    Thrashbag; several pockets sewed one above another along a strip of
    strong cloth for holding thread, needles, buttons, &c., and rolled up
    when not in use. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Thraulagh, or thaulagh; a soreness or pain in the wrist of a reaper,
    caused by work. (Connaught.) Irish--two forms--_trálach_ and _tádhlach_
    [thraulagh, thaulagh.]

    Three-na-haila; mixed up all in confusion:--'I must arrange my books
    and papers: they are all _three-na-haila_.' (South.) Irish _trí n-a
    chéile_, 'through each other.' The translation 'through-other' is
    universal in Ulster. {342}

    Three-years-old and Four-years-old; the names of two hostile factions
    in the counties of Limerick, Tipperary, and Cork, of the early part of
    last century, who fought whenever they met, either individually or in
    numbers, each faction led by its redoubtable chief. The weapons were
    sticks, but sometimes stones were used. We boys took immense delight in
    witnessing those fights, keeping at a safe distance however for fear of
    a stray stone. Three-years and Four-years battles were fought in New
    Pallas in Tipperary down to a few years ago.

    Thrisloge; a long step in walking, a long jump. (Munster.) Irish
    _trioslóg_, same sound.

    Throllop; an untidy woman, a slattern, a _streel_. (Banim: very general
    in the South.)

    Thurmus, thurrumus; to sulk from food. (Munster.) Irish _toirmesc_
    [thurrumask], same meaning:--'Billy won't eat his supper: he is

    Tibb's-Eve; 'neither before nor after Christmas,' i.e., never: 'Oh
    you'll get your money by Tibb's-Eve.'

    Till; used in many parts of Ireland in the sense of 'in order
    that':--'Come here Micky _till_ I comb your hair.'

    Tilly; a small quantity of anything given over and above the quantity
    purchased. Milkmen usually give a tilly with the pint or quart. Irish
    _tuilledh_, same sound and meaning. Very general.

    Tinges; goods that remain long in a draper's hands. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Togher [toher]; a road constructed through a bog or swamp; often of
    brambles or wickerwork covered over with gravel and stones. {343}

    Tootn-egg [3-syll.], a peculiar-shaped brass or white-metal button,
    having the stem fastened by a conical-shaped bit of metal. I have seen
    it explained as _tooth-and-egg_; but I believe this to be a guess.

    Tory-top; the seed cone of a fir-tree. (South.)

    Towards; in comparison with:--'That's a fine horse towards the one you
    had before.'

    Tradesman; an artisan, a working mechanic. In Ireland the word is
    hardly ever applied to a shopkeeper.

    Trake; a long tiresome walk: 'you gave me a great trake for nothing,'

    Tram or tram-cock; a hay-cock--rather a small one. (Moran: Carlow.)

    Trams; the ends of the cart shafts that project behind. (North.) Called
    _heels_ in the South.

    Trance; the name given in Munster to the children's game of Scotch hop
    or pickey.

    Traneen or trawneen; a long slender grass-stalk, like a
    knitting-needle. Used all over Ireland. In some places _cushoge_.

    Travel; used in Ulster for walking as distinguished from driving or
    riding:--'Did you drive to Derry?' 'Oh no, I travelled.'

    Trice; to make an agreement or bargain. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Triheens; a pair of stockings with only the legs: the two feet cut off.
    It is the Irish _troigh_ [thro], a foot, with the
    diminutive--_troighthín_ [triheen]. In Roscommon this word is applied
    to the handle of a loy or spade which has been broken and patched
    together again. (Connaught and Munster.) {344}

    Trindle; the wheel of a wheelbarrow. (Morris for South Monaghan.)

    Trinket; a small artificial channel for water: often across and under a
    road. (Simmons and Patterson: East Ulster.) See Linthern.

    Turf; peat for fuel: used in this sense all over Ireland. We hardly
    ever use the word in the sense of 'Where heaves the _turf_ in many a
    mouldering heap.'

    Turk; an ill-natured surly boorish fellow.

    Twig; to understand, to discern, to catch the point:--'When I hinted at
    what I wanted, he twigged me at once.' Irish _tuig_ [twig], to

    Ubbabo; an exclamation of wonder or surprise;--'Ubbabo,' said the old
    woman, 'we'll soon see to that.' (Crofton Croker.)

    Ullagone; an exclamation of sorrow; a name applied to any
    lamentation:--'So I sat down ... and began to sing the Ullagone.'
    (Crofton Croker.) 'Mike was ullagoning all day after you left.'

    Ullilu; an interjection of sorrow equivalent to the English _alas_ or
    _alack and well-a-day_. (Irish.)

    Unbe-knownst; unknown, secret. (De Vismes Kane for Monaghan: but used
    very generally.)

    Under has its peculiar uses:--'She left the fish out under the cats,
    and the jam out under the children.' (Hayden and Hartog: for Dublin and
    its neighbourhood: but used also in the South.)

    Under-board; 'the state of a corpse between death and interment.'
    (Simmons: Armagh.) 'From the board laid on the breast of the corpse,
    with a plate of snuff and a Bible or Prayerbook laid on it.' (S. Scott,
    Derry.) {345}

    Variety of Phrases, A, 185.

    Venom, generally pronounced _vinnom_; energy:--'He does his work with
    great venom.' An attempted translation from an Irish word that bears
    more than one meaning, and the wrong meaning is brought into
    English:--viz. _neim_ or _neimh_, literally _poison_, _venom_, but
    figuratively _fierceness_, _energy_. John O'Dugan writes in Irish (500
    years ago):--_Ris gach ndruing do niad a neim_: 'against every tribe
    they [the Clann Ferrall] exert their _neim_' (literally their _poison_,
    but meaning their energy or bravery). So also the three sons of Fiacha
    are endowed _coisin neim_ 'with fierceness,' lit. with _poison_ or
    _venom_. (Silva Gadelica.) In an old Irish tale a lady looks with
    intense earnestness on a man she admires: in the Irish it is said 'She
    put _nimh a súl_ on him, literally the '_venom_ of her eyes,' meaning
    the keenest glance of her eyes.

    Hence over a large part of Ireland, especially the South, you will
    hear: 'Ah, Dick is a splendid man to hire: he works with such _venom_.'
    A countryman (Co. Wicklow), speaking of the new National
    Teacher:--'Indeed sir he's well enough, but for all that he hasn't the
    _vinnom_ of poor Mr. O'Brien:' i.e. he does not teach with such energy.

    Very fond; when there is a long spell of rain, frost, &c., people
    say:--'It is very fond of the rain,' &c.

    Voteen; a person who is a _devotee_ in religion: nearly always applied
    in derision to one who is excessively and ostentatiously devotional.


    Wad; a wisp of straw or hay pressed tightly together. A broken pane in
    a window is often stuffed with a wad of straw. 'Careless and gay, like
    a wad in a window': old saying. (General.)

    Walsh, Edward, 5, &c.

    Wangle; the handful of straw a thatcher grasps in his left hand from
    time to time while thatching, twisted up tight at one end. By extension
    of meaning applied to a tall lanky weak young fellow. (Moran: middle
    eastern counties.)

    Wangrace; oatmeal gruel for sick persons. (Simmons: Armagh.)

    Want; often used in Ulster in the following way:--'I asked Dick to come
    back to us, for we couldn't want him,' i.e. couldn't do without him.

    Wap; a bundle of straw; as a verb, to make up straw into a bundle.
    (Derry and Monaghan.)

    Warrant; used all over Ireland in the following way--nearly always with
    _good_, _better_, or _best_, but sometimes with _bad_:--'You're a good
    warrant (a good hand) to play for us [at hurling] whenever we ax you.'
    ('Knocknagow.') 'She was a good warrant to give a poor fellow a meal
    when he wanted it': 'Father Patt gave me a tumbler of _rale_ stiff
    punch, and the divel a better warrant to make the same was within the
    province of Connaught.' ('Wild Sports of the West.')

    Watch-pot; a person who sneaks into houses about meal times hoping to
    get a bit or to be asked to join.

    Way. 'A dairyman's _way_, a labourer's _way_, means the privileges or
    perquisites which the dairyman or labourer gets, in addition to the
    main contract. A {347} _way_ might be grazing for a sheep, a patch of
    land for potatoes, &c.' (Healy: for Waterford.)

    Wearables; articles of clothing. In Tipperary they call the
    old-fashioned wig 'Dwyer's wearable.'

    Weather-blade, in Armagh, the same as 'Goureen-roe' in the South, which

    Wee (North), weeny (South); little.

    Well became. 'When Tom Cullen heard himself insulted by the master,
    well became him he up and defied him and told him he'd stay no longer
    in his house.' 'Well became' here expresses approval of Tom's action as
    being the correct and becoming thing to do. I said to little Patrick 'I
    don't like to give you any more sweets you're so near your dinner'; and
    well became him he up and said:--'Oh I get plenty of sweets at home
    before my dinner.' 'Well became Tom he paid the whole bill.'

    Wersh, warsh, worsh; insipid, tasteless, needing salt or sugar.
    (Simmons and Patterson: Ulster.)

    Wet and dry; 'Tom gets a shilling a day, wet and dry'; i.e. constant
    work and constant pay in all weathers. (General.)

    Whack: food, sustenance:--'He gets 2s. 6d. a day and his _whack_.'

    Whassah or fassah; to feed cows in some unusual place, such as along a
    lane or road: to herd them in unfenced ground. The food so given is
    also called _whassah_. (Moran: for South Mon.) Irish _fásach_, a
    wilderness, any wild place.

    Whatever; at any rate, anyway, anyhow: usually put in this sense at the
    end of a sentence:--'Although she can't speak on other days of {348}
    the week, she can speak on Friday, whatever.' ('Collegians.') 'Although
    you wouldn't take anything else, you'll drink this glass of milk,
    whatever.' (Munster.)

    Curious, I find this very idiom in an English book recently published:
    'Lord Tweedmouth. Notes and Recollections,' viz.:--'We could not cross
    the river [in Scotland], but he would go [across] _whatever_.' The
    writer evidently borrowed this from the English dialect of the
    Highlands, where they use _whatever_ exactly as we do. (William Black:
    'A Princess of Thule.') In all these cases, whether Irish or Scotch,
    _whatever_ is a translation from the Gaelic _ar mhodh ar bíth_ or some
    such phrase.

    Wheeling. When a fellow went about flourishing a cudgel and shouting
    out defiance to people to fight him--shouting for his faction, side, or
    district, he was said to be 'wheeling':--'Here's for Oola!' 'here's
    _three years_!' 'here's Lillis!' (Munster.) Sometimes called
    _hurrooing_. See 'Three-years-old.'

    Wheen; a small number, a small quantity:--'I was working for a wheen o'
    days': 'I'll eat a wheen of these gooseberries.' (Ulster.)

    Whenever is generally used in Ulster for _when_:--'I was in town this
    morning and whenever I came home I found the calf dead in the stable.'

    Which. When a person does not quite catch what another says, there is
    generally a query:--'eh?' 'what?' or 'what's that you say?' Our people
    often express this query by the single word 'which?' I knew a highly
    educated and highly {349} placed Dublin official who always so used the
    word. (General.)

    Whipster; a bold forward romping impudent girl. (Ulster.) In Limerick
    it also conveys the idea of a girl inclined to _whip_ or steal things.

    Whisht, silence: used all over Ireland in such phrases as 'hold your
    whisht' (or the single word 'whisht'), i.e., be silent. It is the
    Gaelic word _tost_, silence, with the first _t_ aspirated as it ought
    to be, which gives it the sound of _h_. They pronounce it as if it were
    written _thuist_, which is exactly sounded _whisht_. The same
    word--taken from the Gaelic of course--is used everywhere in
    Scotland:--When the Scottish Genius of Poetry appeared suddenly to
    Burns (in 'The Vision'):--'Ye needna doubt, I held my whisht!'

    Whisper, whisper here; both used in the sense of 'listen,' 'listen to
    me':--'Whisper, I want to say something to you,' and then he proceeds
    to say it, not in a whisper, but in the usual low conversational tone.
    Very general all over Ireland. 'Whisper' in this usage is simply a
    translation of _cogar_ [cogger], and 'whisper here' of _cogar annso_;
    these Irish words being used by Irish speakers exactly as their
    dialectical English equivalents are used in English: the English usage
    being taken from the Irish.

    White-headed boy or white-haired boy; a favourite, a person in favour,
    whether man or boy:--'Oh you're the white-headed boy now.'

    Whitterit or whitrit; a weasel. (Ulster.)

    Whose owe? the same as 'who owns?':--'Whose owe is this book?' Old
    English. My correspondent {350} states that this was a common
    construction in Anglo-Saxon. (Ulster.)

    Why; a sort of terminal expletive used in some of the Munster
    counties:--'Tom is a strong boy why': 'Are you going to Ennis why?' 'I
    am going to Cork why.'

    Why for? used in Ulster as an equivalent to 'for what?'

    Why but? 'Why not?' (Ulster.) 'Why but you speak your mind out?' i.e.
    'Why should you not?' (Kane: Armagh.)

    Why then; used very much in the South to begin a sentence, especially a
    reply, much as _indeed_ is used in English:--'When did you see John
    Dunn?' 'Why then I met him yesterday at the fair': 'Which do you like
    best, tea or coffee?' 'Why then I much prefer tea.' 'Why then Pat is
    that you; and how is _every rope's length_ of you?'

    Wicked; used in the South in the sense of severe or cross. 'Mr. Manning
    our schoolmaster is very wicked.'

    Widow-woman and widow-man; are used for _widow_ and _widower_,
    especially in Ulster: but _widow-woman_ is heard everywhere.

    Wigs on the green; a fight: so called for an obvious reason:--'There
    will be wigs on the green in the fair to-day.'

    _Will you_ was never a good fellow, 18, 114.

    Wine or wynd of hay; a small temporary stack of hay, made up on the
    meadow. All the small wynds are ultimately made up into one large rick
    or stack in the farmyard. {351}

    Wipe, a blow: all over Ireland: he gave him a wipe on the face. In
    Ulster, a goaly-wipe is a great blow on the ball with the _camaun_ or
    hurley: such as will send it to the goal.

    Wire. To _wire in_ is to begin work vigorously: to join in a fight.

    Wirra; an exclamation generally indicating surprise, sorrow, or
    vexation: it is the vocative of 'Muire' (_A Mhuire_), Mary, that is,
    the Blessed Virgin.

    Wirrasthru, a term of pity; alas. It is the phonetic form of _A Mhuire
    is truaigh_, 'O Mary it is a pity (or a sorrow),' implying the
    connexion of the Blessed Virgin with sorrow.

    Wit; sense, which is the original meaning. But this meaning is nearly
    lost in England while it is extant everywhere in Ireland:--A sharp
    Ulster woman, entering her little boy in a Dublin Infant School, begged
    of the mistress to teach him a little _wut_.

    Witch: black witches are bad; white witches good. (West Donegal.)

    Wish; esteem, friendship:--'Your father had a great wish for me,' i.e.
    held me in particular esteem, had a strong friendship. (General.) In
    this application it is merely the translation of the Irish _meas_,
    respect:--_Tá meás mór agum ort_; I have great esteem for you, I have a
    great _wish_ for you, I hold you in great respect.

    Wisha; a softening down of _mossa_, which see.

    With that; thereupon: used all over Ireland. Irish _leis sin_, which is
    often used, has the same exact meaning; but still I think _with that_
    is of old {352} English origin, though the Irish equivalent may have
    contributed to its popularity.

     'With that her couverchef from her head she braid
      And over his litel eyen she it laid.'


    Word; trace, sign. (Ulster.) 'Did you see e'er a word of a black-avised
    (black-visaged) man travelling the road you came?'

    Wrap and run: 'I gathered up every penny I could wrap and run,' is
    generally used: the idea being to wrap up hastily and run for it.

    Yoke; any article, contrivance, or apparatus for use in some work.
    'That's a _quare_ yoke Bill,' says a countryman when he first saw a
    motor car.

       *       *       *       *       *



    Who sent me Collections of Dialectical Words and Phrases in response to
    my letter of February, 1892, published in the newspapers.

    The names and addresses are given exactly as I received them. The
    collections of those marked with an asterisk (*) were very important.

  Allen, Mary; Armagh.

  Atkinson, M.; The Pavilion, Weedon.

  Bardan, Patrick; Coralstown, Killucan, Westmeath.

  Bentley, William; Hurdlestown, Broadford, Co. Clare.

  Bermingham, T. C.; Whitechurch Nat. School, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford.

  Boyd, John; Union Place, Dungannon.

  Boyd, John; Dean's Bridge, Armagh.

  Brady, P.; Brackney Nat. School, Kilkeel, Down.

  Brady, P.; Anne Street, Dundalk.

  Breen, E.; Killarney.

  Brenan, Rev. Samuel Arthur, Rector; Cushendun, Antrim.

  Brett, Miss Elizabeth C.; Crescent, Holywood, Co. Down.

  Brophy, Michael; Tullow Street, Carlow.

  Brown, Edith; Donaghmore, Tyrone.

  Brown, Mrs. John; Seaforde, Clough, Co. Down.

  Brownlee, J. A.; Armagh.

  Buchanan, Colonel; Edenfel, Omagh.

  Burke, W. S.; 187 Clonliffe Road, Dublin.

  Bushe, Charles P.; 2 St. Joseph's Terrace, Sandford Road, Dublin.

  Burrows, A.; Grass Valley, Nevada Co., California.

  Byers, J. W.; Lower Crescent, Belfast.

  Byrne, James, J.P.; Wallstown Castle, Castletownroche, Co. Cork.

  Caldwell, Mrs.;  Dundrum, Dublin.

  *Campbell, Albert; Ballynagarde House, Derry.

  Campbell, John; Blackwatertown, Armagh.

  Cangley, Patrick; Co. Meath. (North.)

  Carroll, John; Pallasgrean, Co. Limerick.

  Chute, Jeanie L. B.; Castlecoote, Roscommon.

  Clements, M. E.; 61 Marlborough Road, Dublin.

  Close, Mary A.; Limerick.

  *Close, Rev. Maxwell; Dublin.

  Coakley, James; Currabaha Nat. School, Kilmacthomas, Waterford.

  Coleman, James; Southampton. (Now of Queenstown.)

  Colhoun, James; Donegal.

  Connolly, Mrs. Susan; The Glebe, Foynes.

  Corrie, Sarah; Monaghan.

  Counihan, Jeremiah; Killarney.

  Cox, M.; Co. Roscommon.

  Crowe, A.; Limerick.

  Cullen, William; 131 North King Street, Dublin.

  Curry, S.; General Post Office, Dublin.

  Daunt, W. J. O'N.; Kilcascan, Ballyneen, Co. Cork.

  Davies, W. W.; Glenmore Cottage, Lisburn.

  Delmege, Miss F.; N. Teacher, Central Model School, Dublin.

  Dennehy, Patrick; Curren's Nat. School, Farranfore, Co. Cork.

  Devine, The Rev. Father Pius; Mount Argus, Dublin.

  Dobbyn, Leonard; Hollymount, Lee Road, Cork.

  Dod, R.; Royal Academical Institution, Belfast; The Lodge, Castlewellan.

  Doherty, Denis; Co. Cork.

  *Drew, Sir Thomas; Dublin.

  Dunne, Miss; Aghavoe House, Ballacolla, Queen's Co.

  Egan, F. W.; Albion House, Dundrum, Dublin.

  Egan, J.; 34 William Street, Limerick.

  Fetherstonhaugh, R. S.; Rock View, Killucan, Westmeath.

  FitzGerald, Lord Walter; Kilkea Castle, Co. Kildare.

  Fleming, Mrs. Elizabeth; Ventry Parsonage, Dingle, Kerry.

  Fleming, John; Rathgormuck Nat. School, Waterford.

  Flynn, John; Co. Clare.

  Foley, M.; Killorglin, Kerry.

  Foster, Elizabeth J.; 7 Percy Place, Dublin.

  G. K. O'L. (a lady from Kilkenny, I think).

  Garvey, John; Ballina, Co. Mayo.

  Gilmour, Thomas; Antrim.

  Glasgow, H. L.; 'Midland Ulster Mail,' Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.

  Glover, W. W.; Ballinlough Nat. School, Co. Roscommon.

  Graham, Lizzie F.; Portadown.

  Greene, Dr. G. E. J.; The Well, Ballycarney, Ferns, Co. Wexford.

  Hamilton, A.; Desertmartin, Belfast.

  Hannon, John; Crossmaglen Nat. School, Armagh.

  Harkin, Daniel; Ramelton, Donegal.

  *Harrington, Private Thomas; 211 Strand, London, W.C. (For Munster.)

  Haugh, John; Co. Clare.

  Haughton, Kate M.; Lady's Island Nat. School, Wexford.

  *Healy, Maurice, M.P., 37 South Mall, Cork.

  Henry, Robert; Coleraine.

  *Higgins, The Rev. Michael, C.C.; Queenstown, Cork.

  Hunt, M.; Ballyfarnan, Roscommon.

  *Hunter, Robert; 39 Gladstone Street, Clonmel.

  Irwin, A. J., B.A.; Glenfern, Ballyarton, Derry.

  *Jones, Miss; Knocknamohill, Ovoca, Co. Wicklow.

  *Joyce, W. B., B.A.; Limerick.

  *Kane, W. Francis de Vismes; Sloperton Lodge, Kingstown, Dublin. (For

  Keegan, T.; Rosegreen Nat. School, Clonmel.

  Kelly, Eliza, Co. Mayo.

  Kelly, George A. P., M.A.; 6 Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin. (For

  Kennedy, J. J.; Faha Nat. School, Beaufort, Killarney.

  Kenny, The Rev. M. J., P.P.; Scarriff, Co. Clare.

  Kenny, Charles W.; Caledon, Co. Tyrone.

  Kilmartin, Mary; Tipperary.

  Kilpatrick, George; Kilrea, Derry.

  *Kinahan, G. H.; Dublin. (Collection gathered from all Ireland.)

  Kingham, S. H.; Co. Down.

  *Knowles, W. J.; Flixton Place, Ballymena.

  Knox, W.; Tedd, Irvinestown.

  Lawlor, Patrick; Ballinclogher Nat. School, Lixnaw, Kerry.

  Linn, Richard; 259 Hereford St., Christchurch, New Zealand. (For Antrim.)

  Lynch, M. J.; Kerry.

  *MacCall, Patrick J.; 25 Patrick St., Dublin.

  McCandless, T.; Ballinrees Nat. School, Coleraine.

  McClelland, F. J.; Armagh.

  McCormac, Emily; Cnoc Aluin, Dalkey, Dublin.

  MacDonagh, Mr.; Ward Schls., Bangor, Co. Down.

  McGloin, Louisa; Foxford, Mayo.

  MacSheehy, Brian, LL.D., Head Inspector of Nat. Schools, Dublin.

  McKenna, A.; Clones, Co. Monaghan.

  McKeown, R.; Co. Tyrone.

  McNulty, Robert; Raphoe.

  Maguire, John; Co. Cavan.

  Maguire, M.; Mullinscross, Louth.

  Mason, Thos. A. H.; 29 Marlborough Road, Dublin.

  Mason, Thos.; Hollymount, Buxton Hill, Cork.

  Montgomery, Maggie; Antrim.

  *Moran, Patrick; 14 Strand Road, Derry, Retired Head Constable R. I.
      Constabulary, native of Carlow, to which his collection mainly

  *Morris, Henry; Cashlan East, Carrickmacross, Monaghan.

  Murphy, Christopher O'B.; 48 Victoria St., Dublin.

  Murphy, Ellie; Co. Cork.

  Murphy, J.; Co. Cork.

  Murphy, T.; Co. Cork.

  Neville, Anne; 48 Greville Road, Bedminster.

  Niven, Richard; Lambeg, Lisburn.

  Norris, A.; Kerry.

  O'Brien, Michael; Munlough Nat. School, Cavan.

  O'Connor, James; Ballyglass House, Sligo.

  O'Donnell, Patrick; Mayo.

  *O'Donohoe, Timothy; Carrignavar, Cork. ('Tadg O'Donnchadha.')

  O'Farrell, Fergus; Redington, Queenstown.

  O'Farrell, W. (a lady). Same place.

  O'Flanagan, J. R.; Grange House, Fermoy, Cork.

  O'Hagan, Philip; Buncrana, Donegal.

  O'Hara, Isa; Tyrone.

  O'Leary, Nelius; Nat. School, Kilmallock, Limerick.

  O'Reilly, P.; Nat. School, Granard.

  O'Sullivan, D. J.; Shelburne Nat. School, Kenmare.

  O'Sullivan, Janie; Kerry.

  Reen, Denis T.; Kingwilliamstown, Cork.

  Reid, George R.; 23 Cromwell Road, Belfast.

  Reid, Samuel W.; Armagh.

  *Reilly, Patrick; Cemetery Lodge, Naas, Co. Kildare.

  Rice, Michael; Castlewellan, Co. Down.

  Riley, Lizzie; Derry.

  *Russell, T. O'Neill; Dublin. (For central counties.)

  Ryan, Ellie; Limerick.

  Scott, J.; Milford Nat. School, Donegal.

  *Scott, S.; Derry.

  *Simmons, D. A.; Nat. School, Armagh.

  Simpson, Thomas; Derry.

  Skirving, R. Scot; 29 Drummond Place, Edinburgh.

  Smith, Owen; Nobber, Co. Meath.

  *Stafford, Wm.; Baldwinstown, Bridgetown, Wexford.

  Stanhope, Mr.; Paris.

  Supple, D. J.; Royal Irish Constabulary, Robertstown, Kildare. (For

  Thompson, L.; Ballyculter, Co. Down.

  Tighe, T. F.; Ulster Bank, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan.

  Tobin, J. E.; 8 Muckross Parade, N. C. Road, Dublin.

  Tuite, Rev. P., P.P.; Parochial House, Tullamore.

  Walshe, Charlotte; Waterford.

  Ward, Emily G.; Castleward, Downpatrick.

  White, Eva; Limerick.

  White, Rev. H. V.; All SS. Rectory, Waterford.

  White, John Davis; Cashel, Co. Tipperary. (Newspaper Editor.)

  Weir, Rev. George; Creeslough, Donegal.

  Weir, J.; Ballymena.

  Wood-Martin, Col., A.D.C.; Cleveragh, Sligo.

  *Woollett, Mr. Marlow; Dublin.

       *       *       *       *       *



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[1] For both of these songs see my 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs.'

[2] See my 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs,' p. 202.

[3] See the interesting remarks of O'Donovan in Preface to 'Battle of Magh
Rath,' pp. ix-xv. Sir Samuel Ferguson also has some valuable observations
on the close packing of the very old Irish language, but I cannot lay my
hands on them. From him I quote (from memory) the remark about translating
old Irish into English or Latin.

[4] For the Penal Laws, see my 'Child's Hist. of Ireland,' chaps. lv, lvi.

[5] For 'Poor Scholars,' see O'Curry, 'Man. & Cust.,' i. 79, 80: Dr. Healy,
'Ireland's Anc. Sch.,' 475: and, for a modern instance, Carleton's story,
'The Poor Scholar.' The above passage is quoted from my 'Social Hist. of
Anc. Ireland.'

[6] See my 'Smaller Social Hist. of Anc. Ireland,' chap, vii.

[7] See for an example Dr. Hyde's 'Children of the King of Norway,' 153.
(Irish Texts Soc.)

[8] From my 'Old Irish Folk Music and Songs,' p. 56, in which also will be
found the beautiful air of this.

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