The mixture of Irish and English and the dorn and dúidín in the above tongue twister given to me by John Ward shows traces of a time when the Clonown-Drumlosh area was Irish speaking.
The Clonown, Drumlosh area is situated only a few miles from a garrison town. Though there was much contact between Clonown people and the English speaking town through the markets and door to door selling of turf and farm produce their speech patterns and vocabulary are not yet fully anglicised. Clonown’s isolation through folding during the winter months and the resulting self sufficiency of the people may have contributed to the slow rate of Anglicisation.
In 1813 Rev. Strean, Rector of St. Peter’s Parish, Athlone, reported that Irish only was spoken in the remote areas of the parish. These surely would have included Clonown. At this time everybody in Athlone with the exception of the very old people spoke English. Apparently Irish continued to be the spoken language of Clonown to the middle of the nineteenth century for in 1841 three people speaking Irish for every one speaking English in the markets in Athlone. A generation later Irish as a spoken language has died out almost completely in South Roscommon, except for a few isolated rural areas. One of the areas mentioned was Clonown (Antiquities of Ireland: O’Neill Russel). The census of 1901 showed that there was nobody in the area speaking Irish only but that there were twenty-three who were bilingual. Ten years later there were twenty-two people who spoke Irish and English. By 1942 the last three Irish speakers had died (Stair Dheisceart Roscomáin: an t-Ath. Eric Mac Fhinn).
A revival of interest in the Irish language occurred in the 1930’s when an Irish class was started by Iníon Uí Neachtain from Costeloe, Co. Galway. Later another native speaker, Séamas Ó Conghaile took over the class. Initially about thirty people attended the classes but gradually the numbers dwindled down to a mere handful. Mike Hynes, Curraghnaboll, John Ward and Johnnie McNeill from across the Shannon remained with the classes until the end. Eileen Roche was commended in the Irish Press for a poem she had written while attending the class. During this time a branch of Conradh na Gaeilge was founded in Clonown. Members attended feiseanna and collected money on both sides of the Shannon for the Conradh.
Although there are no native speakers living in Clonown or Drumlosh there is a store of words handed down from former generations, words that are still in daily use, mainly among the older people. In fact those using the words often do not realise that they are speaking Irish and they would be the first to tell you that they hadn’t a word of Irish. The younger generation rarely use Irish words in their speech.
Included here is a list of words which I have collected. Indeed the list is not complete. I have marked the words still in use with an asterisk and those not marked were used by people who have died and are remembered by relatives and neighbours. Jack Murray, Curraghnaboll, his son Ned (born c. 1890) and his daughter Biddy had an abundance of words and phrases, though most are now forgotten. People have memories of Jack losing his temper with the cattle and shouting “Do chorp don diabhal” or “Go to the diabhal you dirty olcan” and of Biddy shouting “Sciatháin! Sciatháin!” to the hens. I checked the words with the Ó Duinnín’s and Ó Donaill’s dictionaries. Often the words in the dictionaries differed in spelling and in meaning from the words given to me, but I have included them nonetheless. There is no problem with the plural of nouns. An ‘s’ is always added! Kathleen Cunningham of Cappaghmore formerly of Curraghnaboll has the largest store of words, expressions and phrases. Others who helped me in my research were Nancy Ward, John Ward, Curraghnaboll, Sr. Acquin Dunning, formerly of Ballinaculla, Sr. Rosanne Grenham, formerly of Curraghnaboll, John and Kitty Grenham, Drumlosh, Lil Ward, Jed Ward, Kilnamanaugh, Rose Reynolds (nee Halligan, Carricknaughton), Peter Dunning formerly of Ballinaculla and Seosaimhín Ní Mhuirí.
The thought struck me that the Department of Education may be going all the wrong way about reviving Irish in schools. Why impose ‘buachaill’ on children when ‘gasún’ is more natural? Why not build on the words already known even though they may not be the Irish equivalent of the ‘Queen’s English’? Wouldn’t a ‘gabháil móna’, ‘steall uisce’, ‘glám plúir’ or even ‘leadóg sa phus’ be more natural to a Clonown or Drumlosh child than all the fancy unpronounceable words in Buntús or Fios Feasa?
Róisín Uí Fhallúin
Bac, bacach* - Lame person.
Balbhán - Dumb person.
Bodach - Surly persion. He is a surly bodach.
Bodhrán - Deaf person.
Cantalach - Contrary.
Caoineoir - Crying woman at a wake (pr. keener).
Citeog* - Left-handed person.
Clúrachán = Undersized puny person.
Crantachán* - A wretch (not in dict.).
Créatúr* - Creature. The poor créatúr.
Cruiteachach - Stooped.
Cruiteachán - Stooped, miserable person.
Domán or Dúmán - Slow-witted person (not in dict.).
Fág a' baile - Leave at home: the poor old fág a' baile!
Glic* - Shrewd or cunning.
Gligín - A giddy, flighty girl.
Lúdramán* - A lazy person.
Mí-adhnach* - Unlucky person.
Miseán* - A distuber of a person (not in dict.).
Misniúil - Courageous. He is a misniúil person.
Pleidhce* - Fool.
Pucán/pocán* - Strong ugly person (not in dict.).
Síóg* - A puny person.
Siúlaí - Tramp.
Slíbhín* - Sly person.
Spideog* - Little wiry person.
Straoill* - Slovnly person.
Sreathaille - Slut.
Tuathalach* - Awkward.
Clab* - Open mouth.
Clab mór - Person with a lot to say.
Cruit* - Hump, hunched shoulders. Take that cruit off you.
Cúl* - Back. She has a lovely cúl of hair.
Cúl do chinn - Back of your head.
Dorn - Fistful.
Dread - Toothy grin.
Dúdóg - A blow in the ear.
Fuainnín* - Numb fingers.
Gabháil* - Armful (pr. goal). Bring in a gabháil of turf.
Glám* - Fill of two hands together. A glám of flour.
Glibín* - Loose trees of hair.
Gob* - Mouth.
Leadóg* - Clout, skelp. I'll give you a leadóg in the puss.
Liobair* - A crying pouty face.
Liobair cum Smuit - Sulky, angry look.
Mairtín gág - Sore chapped feet (Mairtín gágach in dict.).
Mant* - Gap in teeth.
Méagram* - Dizzy head.
Oighreach* - Sore legs from cold or chafing;
Plobaire - Fat. ró-phlobaire - too fat.
Pus* - Mouth.
Spág* - Foot.
Tráille, Táille* - Swelling on wrist (differs from word in dict.).
Brosna* - Fule referring to turf. Bring in a brosna of turf.
Bróigín - Part of Sleán.
Caorán* - Clod of turf.
Cis - Large basket for cart where banbhs were placed before being sold.
Ciseán - Basket.
Ciseog - Large wicker tray for straining potatoes. Potatoes were put on dinner table on the ciseog.
Clabhar* - Mud, soft muck.
Clais - Place between drills in a field.
Cliabh* - Large basket.
Coichín, coitín* - Handcock of hay.
Coinleach - Stubble field.
Colpán - Handle of flail.
Críol - Creel.
Dallóg - Blind put on a cow.
Doirneán - As much hay as can be cut with a scythe (not in dict.).
Doirnín - Hand grip of a scythe.
Fear beag - Scarecrow.
Gad - Rope tied over top of a load.
Glac - (pr. lock) Large quantity. A lock of turf, potatoes.
Gróigín* - Footing of turf.
Laí - Spade (pr. lee).
Láí* - Spade (pr. loy).
Meitheal* - Work party for threshing etc.
Mudhlach - Soggy mass.
Plodach* - Muddy ground.
Poc or Puc* - Useless turf at the top of the bog (not in dict.).
Pucán* - Blind for a cow.
Scolb* - Looped stick made of willow hazel or briar for thatching (pr. scallop).
Scib - The same meaning as for ciseog above.
Sleán* - Implement for cutting turf.
Spáid, Spáide* - White turf on top of bog.
Spairt* - Wet soggy turf.
Splincín - Nose of cot (boat).
Sraitheog - Sod of turf that is not cut properly (not in dict.).
Súgán - Straw rope. Ass's collar.
Briosclan - Silverweed.
Brúitlín* - Mashed potato.
Buachalán* - Ragworth.
Cealaí* - Colcannon.
Ceannabhán* - Bog cotton.
Caora caorthain* - Rowan berries (pr. keary kearns).
Cuasán* - Hollow in potato.
Dris, driseog* - Briar.
Fás aon oíche - Muchroom.
Fraochán* - Bilberry (pr. frohan).
Múnóg - Small potato (not in dict.).
Póicín, póithín, póitín* - Little potato.
Praiseach* - Charlock. Also means a mess, e.g. mash in a pot.
Sceallán - Potato set, part with an eye.
Sop - Small piece of straw.
Tráithnín* - Blade of grass. I didn't give a traithnín for it.
Tromán* - Elder buch.
Banbh* - Piglet.
Cuileog - Horse fly.
Easóg - Weasel.
Glugar* - Infertile egg.
Gráinneog* - Hedgehog.
Gríscín - Giblet of pig.
Líbín* - Minnow.
Pilibín* - Plover.
Pincín* - Minnow.
Píobaire na ngríosach - Cricket.
Pocán - Goat.
Puisín - Kitten.
Scearthán - Tick.
Sicín* - Chicken.
Baitín - Walking stick.
Buaile - Grassy area in front of house.
Buailtín - Stick, pounder, part of flail.
Cliabhán - Cradle.
Cipín - Little stick.
Créatúr* - Whiskey. A drop of the créatúr.
Deoch - Drink. Deoch a' Dorais - Drink on entering.
Deoir - Drop.
Dúidín* - Pipe.
Gríosach - Ashes.
Luideog - Scrap. A luideog of bread.
Lasaid - Kneading board for bread.
Raic* - Comb - to raic on's hair.
Scálóg - Large mixing bowl.
Scléip - Festive evening.
Sleachtar - Rubbish heap (not in dict.).
Snas* - Shine.
Stóilín* - Stool
Tigín* - Little house.
Cáibín, caipín* - Cap.
Carbhat - Neck tie.
Cleabhtaín - Nappy (not in doct.).
Galluses* - Braces (gealasacha)
Geansaí* - Jumper.
Práiscín - Apron made of sacking.
Bán - Flat piece of land near house.
Bogán* - Soft ground.
Bóirín, bóithrín* - A little road.
Caladh* - River meadow.
Cos* - Small bridge.
Garraí* - Garden.
Gort* - Fielf.
Léana* - Low-lying grassy place.
Marl bán - Mud containing shells beside the river.
Póirse* - Narrow laneway.
Polca - Place where farm equipment is parked (not in dict.).
Sconsa* - Mearing beside a drain.
Scarbh* - Spongy bog land by stream.
Síbín* - Illicit place for selling whiskey.
Srufán, scuthán* - Stream.
Suamair* - Swamp, quagmire in the bog.
Súileog - Small hole in the bog (this meaning is not in dict.).
Trála* - Land uncovered when folld has subsided. Trá tuile?
Turlach - Winter lake. Ponds left when folld has subsided.
Be gone to the diabhal you dirty olcán! - Said to cattle.
Do chorp don diabhal. - Curse used on contrary cattle.
Mí-adh ceo. - Ill luck, misfortune.
Mí-adh and anró - misfortune and hardship.
Macaí Dea - Son of the father.
Beadaí, beadaí. - Said to geese.
Mar dhea. - By the way.
As go brách. - Away with _. Tell us a story. As go brách.
Magadh de asal. - Person who is a bit of a clown.
Mo dhuine - a mhic, a ghrá, a stóir mo chroí*
Féar gorta* - Hunger. My informant told me that shw always gets the féar gorta at a certain point on the Egan's Road.
Féire gleinte - The word that I was given sounded like this but I could not find anything like in in the dictionary. According to my informant it means the will-o'-the-wisp.
Dia linn* - Said when somebody sneezes.
Go leor* - Sufficient.
Sí gaoithe* - Blast of wind.
Trína Chéile* - Raving
Bearna Baoil - Danger
Fáilte* - Welcome.
Ribhe Days - Spell of cold weather at the end of March and the beginning of April (ribheach in dict.).
Go mbeirimis beo - Said e.g. when eating the first potatoes of the season.
Slán* - Goodbye.
Dún do chlab* - Shut your mouth.
Cailín* - Girl.
Corp - Body. Used in Corphouse where there was a wake.
Flaithiúil* - Generous.
Flúirseach* - Plentiful.
Fústar* - Fidget,; fustering; fidgeting.
Gasún* - Boy.
Giog, miog - Sound. He hadn't a giog or a miog out of him.
Lag - Weak. I'm as lag as a gosling.
Meas* - Respect. I have no meas on it (note the direct translation from Irish - Níl meas agam air.).
Pisreog* - Superstition.
Plámás* - Flattery.
Póirceáil - Searching.
Ráiméis* - Rubbish. You're talking a lot of rubbbish.
Ritheach - Run, dash. The dog made a ritheach for me.
Seafóid* - Nonsense. Seafóiding - Speaking nonsense.
Siocán - SLight frost.
Slog* - Swallow.
Smidirín* - Little bit.
Suim* - Interest. I have no suim in it.
Taibhse - Ghost.
Uatamáil* - Searching.