Irish language

Mr B reads a book of mad Irish superlatives and strange facts

AN PUB iS SINE: Grace Neill’s is considered Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1611, the same year that Giolla Brighde Ó hEoghusa published An Teagasc Criosdaidhe – the first devotional work in Irish – in Antwerp
Robert McMillen

IT’S THE season of mists mellow fruitfullness so you are all welcome to an Autumnal Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

Now, Ireland is a very funny place, sir and this idea was re-enforced when the Bluffer read Erindipity by David Kenny 

Now focloir.ie will tell you that cor dea-chinniúna is the Irish for serendipity, a twist of good fortune.

Tháinig mé ar £20 i seanchóta - I found £20 in an old coat or fuair mé an rollóg ispíní deireanach - I got the last sausage roll in the Mace.

But what of Erindipity? It’s 125 essays start off a little Guinness Book of Recordsy with The Longest and the Shortest, from an abhainn is faide in Éirinn - the longest river in Ireland which we all know to be an tSionainn - the Shannon but then the author meanders into subjects such as Limerick’s dodgy reputation for gang feuds, Willie O’Dea and the game of polo.

(Did you know that the first polo match played outside Asia was in Limerick? Or that an Irishman 

The book will tell you that the longest place-name in Ireland is Muicineach-idir-dhá-sháile brutalised into English as Muckanaghderdauhaulia.

But let’s digress.

When you go to your local tráth na gceist - quiz, how many questions are asked about Ireland? 

Q: Do you know cad é an Contae is mó/is lú in Éirinn? What is the biggest/smallest county in Ireland?

A: Corcaigh agus - Cork and Louth respectively. 

Q: Cad é an t-eas is airde in Éirinn? - What is the highest waterfall in Ireland?

A: Eas Chonaill - Powerscourt Waterfall, in County Wicklow.

However, Dave goes down the road less travelled for some of his more, er, enlightening pieces of information about the Emerald Isle.

He’ll give you the thumbs up as to an áit is measa boladh - the stinkiest place (there are a number of candidates), the Worst Place to Worship the Hindu Elephant God, Danesh and the Best Place to Dig for the Ark of the Covenant!

Yes, all in Ireland. Of more interest to readers of the Bluffer (allegedly) are tithe tábhairne - pubs.

Apparently, Grace Neill’s in Donaghadee, County Down is the oldest licensed pub in Ireland, dating back to 1611, two years before the Brazen Head in Dublin got its licence as a coaching inn. 

Coimisiún na Teorann - the Boundary Commission and unionist  ability to move mountains get a mention in Erindipity.

“As the Boundary Commission carved up the new Ireland,” writes Kenny, “they shifted the entire Mourne Mountain range (207 sq km of spectacularly beautiful County Down) north of El Paso, because of fears that Dev and the boys might attempt to poison the water supply.”

People were worried that De Valera would poison the Silent Valley and Justice Richard Feetham, the Commission chairman bought the idea despite a request from the people of Newry in 1924 that they should be part of the Irish Free State.

Erindipity is probably out of print but you can get it from your library. 

CUPLA FOCAL

cor dea-chinniúna (cor jaa-kinyoona) - serendipity

Tháinig mé ar £20 i seanchóta (hanick may er feeha punt i  shaankhawta) - I found £20 in an old coat 

fuair mé an rollóg ispíní deireanach (foor may un rollawg ishpeenee jeranakh) - I got the last sausage roll

an abhainn is faide in Éirinn (un owen iss fwidge in yerin) - the longest river in Ireland 

an tSionainn (un chunnan) - the Shannon

Muicineach-idir-dhá-sháile (mwickinyakh-ider-ga-haalya) - Muckanaghderdauhaulia

tráth na gceist (trah ne gesht) - a quiz

cad é an Contae is mó/is lú in Éirinn? (cadge ay un conday is moe/iss loo in yerin) - What is the biggest/smallest county in Ireland?

Corcaigh (corkee) - Cork

(loo) - Louth 

Cad é an t-eas is airde in Éirinn? (cadge ay un tass iss arja in yerin) - What is the highest waterfall in Ireland?

Eas Chonaill (ass khonil) - Powerscourt Waterfall

an áit is measa boladh (uniytch is massa boloo) - the stinkiest place 

tithe tábhairne (teehee tavernya) - pubs

Coimisiún na Teorann (comishoon na choran) - the Boundary Commission

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