Friday, August 21, 2009
Sentiment Or Sadism? I was so thrilled a few days ago to receive a book from my brother, which he picked up in a second-hand bookstore, ‘Ulster-English Dictionary’ written by John Pepper and published in 1981 by ‘Apppletree’ or more correctly ‘’An Appletree Hawnbook’’. What a find.........! As the children of a Monaghan mother , we spent long glorious sunny Summers on the border between Monaghan and Armagh on our grandmother’s farm. Heaven on earth , with memories of sun and fun, time standing still and feeling wonderfully disconnected from ‘real-life’ . Browsing through the book , we competed to see who could best remember the expressions of our Northern relatives-as we always called them-with their lovely soft accent ,full of its own idioms and pronunciations. Almost a language of its own. ‘’The cowlsrife down in our part’’= A lot of people have a cold down where we live. ‘’Close thawn dure’’ = Close that door. Still today when I hear my -Northern relatives- speak.......I go right back to a magical and wonderful period in my life. Memories of my mother ,who still had the lovely warm Northern tone but who had largely lost the ‘’language’’-except when she got together with her family – and then she reverted right back-she once again spoke of the ‘vit’ (vet) and the ‘wee foosies’ (something nice to eat). All of this ,of course led on to many reminiscences and the lovely rhymes and poems my mother used to say for us –often just out of the blue –but sometimes triggered by her own memories of childhood. One in particular was a poem called ‘’Wee Hughie’’.....a sure fire tear jerker . Even now-actually , probably more so now, having packed a fair few 4/5 year olds off for that first day of school. ( 10 to be precise )......I never fail to fight a tear or two. Having great difficulty remembering the poem –word perfect- I found it ,at last ,on a blog by Fr. Murtagh, himself a Northern man. So, it being that time of year again ..........here’s a wee taste of Northern sentiment........or ......is it sadism? Wee Hughie: He's gone to school, Wee Hughie,An' him not four. Sure I saw the fright was in him , When he left the door. But he took a hand o 'Denny An' a hand o' Dan, Wi' Joe's owld coat upon him, Och, the poor wee man! He cut the quarest figure, More stout nor thin; An' trottin' right an' steady Wi his toes turned in. I watched him to the corner 0' the big turf stack, An' the more his feet went forrit, Still his head turned back. He was lookin', would I call him -? Och me heart was woe- Sure it's lost I am without him, But he be to go. I followed to the turnin' When they passed it by, God help him, he was cryin',..... .... An', maybe, so was I. Elizabeth Shane.