Thursday, October 14, 2010

To: Ronnie Peterson From: Ireland

Killeineagh denizen

Before Diane and I left for Ireland this summer, I offered to take photos for SherWords readers while we were there if the opportunity presented itself. Several took me up on the offer, and the results will be sprinkled out over on over the next few months.

The first installment goes to Ronnie Peterson, simply because her suggestions led to two places we otherwise never would have seen (and co-incidentally on two consecutive days, August 21st and 22nd) and which turned out to be highlights of our trip.

One was Killeinagh, a hamlet near Ennistymon, on the southwestern fringes of the Burren, where Ronnie's great-grandfather Patrick Shannon grew up -- and left for America in 1850 during the famine. The other was Clonfinlough, a tiny village on an esker near the Shannon, where her friend Bridget Kelly O.P. is from.

Church at Clonfinlough

Each is a part of Ireland's heart more surely than any Blarney Stone or "Leprechaun Crossing" or the like that we can find all along the fringes of the island, and neither will ever be seen by more than a tiny, very lucky, percentage of us tourists.

Thank you, Ronnie.

Please click here to be taken to the photos.



Mike said...

That looks a lot like the place where my great-great-grandfather grew up. Lovely stuff, Sherwood, and I thank you for the trip home.

And a note on the mandatory teaching of Irish: On my one trip over there, my cousin in Dundalk did study Irish in school, but I got the impression that it was not a favorite course and that he was planning to scrub it from his brain as soon after graduation as possible. On the other hand, I later met a woman in Denver who had grown up speaking it at home in Donegal and had some contempt for the version taught in schools because they tended to skip over the more difficult pronunciations. A lot happens in the back of the throat and you can hear the links to French -- unless you learned it at school in Dublin!

There are not only links to the accent but even moreso to idiom. For instance, there's no word for "yes" in Irish -- you use the verb to be. And so it is in English in Ireland -- if you say it's a nice day, the response is less like to be "yes" than "It is, that."

My Donegal friend worked at her father's pub as a young woman and used to chuckle over a story about how one of the old guys didn't want to look like a hick in front of her, so, when someone came in and asked (in Irish), "Have you seen Huey?", he answered in English, but directly translated it. "He was here afore he left, but he's not long gone since."

That much idiom you won't find in Irish-English.

Ronnie said...

It certainly should look like it, young fella. And thanks a million, Sherwood - what a gift! It is a real thrill to see where this man came from, and where relatives ended up. I love Pappy and his wife, Maisie, and wonder if at any point he was Paddy instead. And of course I was tickled to see a Veronica in the crowd.

All those Celtic crosses looked especially fine drawn up in ranks like that.

Mike - I got the impression that it was an honor for Terry to have been selected for that language education. He may not have felt it but his mother did.

Brian Fies said...

Terrific travelogue, thanks for going to the effort to post it.

Mike said...

(I suspect it is a universal rule that 15-year-old boys prefer honors that don't involve extra homework.)