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UP THE KINGDOM AND OTHER ACCENTS

Updated: Nov 23, 2020


Aren’t accents lovely.

We all have our own peculiar town ,county or country accent .

Accents and languages have developed all over the world with people travelling from one area to another. We have come a long way since the good Lord spoke in his Aramaic or Adam and Eve spoke to each other in Hebrew.

When I am out walking, I might greet a fellow walker and the rejoinder is often a “Howar’ye Is that a Kerry or a Cork accent ? When I tell them that I am originally from Kerry they reply with a knowing nod and “ I knew that”.

I follow on with “ I suppose that’s a Wexford accent you have ‘ and last week a man said, “ no, it certainly is not, mine is a true blue Enniscorthy accent”. So, there you have it .We have town and village accents and variations on the County melodic tones to suit sub areas.

In my younger days I remember people going abroad for a while and coming back to Kerry with a slightly modified accent speaking with a bit of a twang.You might hear the locals remark “ there they are ,away for a wet week and they’re back with the Yankee or Cockney accent’. Those were the days when people just travelled to England and America for work.

Country folk coming to town once a week to do the shopping were often disparaged by the townies for their accents with comments like” that’s a real bogger accent or the accent was so thick you could cut it with a knife’ . Occasionally they were referred to as culchies and told to go back to the bog. This was a reference to those poor people from Kiltimagh [culchiemock]in Co. Mayo who went on the emigrant ships to America during the great famine. I love the various Mayo accents of my many Mayo acquaintances.

The yanks love our lingo and the way we speak and our brogue. I remember being with an Irish group in Pennsylvania once and they were talking about the Irish and German coal miners who were early settlers. In particular they spoke about the Molly Maguires, that Irish group of activists from 1845.They spoke about the rough brogues[Broga] worn by the Irish. They said their English was so bad you’d think they were speaking with their brogues in their mouths. The Irish brogue is a word embedded in the American lexicon since then when they refer to an Irish accent.

I love native Irish accents. In my own beloved Kerry, we have the West Kerry accent with its mix of Irish and English. Killarney has its own unique accent developed over many years talking to American tourists. North Kerry has pockets of very cultured accents around Listowel and Ballybunion. Tralee also has an accent peculiar all to itself.

I love the Cork accent .”Come 'ere I want ya “.It is so unique and so easily recognisable and really stands apart. Cork people are after all citizens of the real capital of Ireland .They don’t really have attitude. They speak with an accent you can’t diminish. “Here’s up ‘em all “says the boys of Fairhill.

My own favourite accents are Derry and Donegal. Derry in particular is so soft. I remember doing the Derry tour a couple of years ago and I was struck by the softness and lilt of the accent of the native Derry people. A neighbour of ours was a Derry woman and it was a joy to listen to her speaking and singing. When I think of Derry I think of the gentleness of such voices as Phil Coulter, John Hume, Seamus Heaney and of course Dana.

I remember when we were in St Patricks Training College in 1966 and we were on a stable diet of Seamus Heaney because his collection “Death of a Naturalist “had been published in 1966. I learned his lovely soft accented sad poem “Mid Term Break” off by heart and used it as a party piece. That was before I progressed to the more raucously accented ‘Poc Ar Buile’.

Donegal likewise has its own beautiful accent and it’s always lovely to tune into it’s softness. You only have to listen to Daniel O Donnell to get an idea of its relaxing mode of expression.

Carlow’s gentle soft accent is well served in media circles with those lovely soft and charming accents of Olivia O Leary, with her cultured Borris accent, and also by Catherine Thomas, another Carlow native.

I would contrast that to that Fermanagh harshness ,thinking of the actor Adrian Dunbar in his role in “Line of Duty”. Fr Brian Darcy ,his fellow county man, has a far softer more nuanced accent when delivering his message.

Marty Morrisey's Americanised Clare accent is well known throughout the land of Ireland from his GAA match broadcasts.

When I mention accents the name Tommy Tiernan with his unique Navan accent springs to mind. His brilliant caricature of the Cavan man and his accent is a joy to listen to.

The Irish accent scene is also well served by comedians Oliver Callan and Mario Rosenstock whose take offs of the Offaly , Waterford ,Limerick , Kilkenny ,now made so familiar through Phil Hogan. Their mimicking of county accents are memorable pieces of entertainment.

I know the Louth accent well. It is generally very easy on the ear and it was so well accented by Dermot O Brien and his clubmen band for many years. We also have some family and teacher friend connections with Louth and they are all lovely gentle spoken people.

The County Tyrone accent also comes in for regular commentary .This is mainly because of the well- known dulcet tones of Mickey Harte, their football manager for many years.

Our nation would be diminished without Dublin and its 59 varieties of accents from inner city to D4, from Dollymount Strand radiating out to the Kildare , Wicklow and Meath borders. Poor Molly Malone must have a torrid time trying to recognise any resemblance of a true native Dublin accent around Dublin’s fair city streets nowadays.

Immigration has also given Dublin ,in particular , a new richness of culture and accents.

I myself have a particular affection for the Wicklas. I remember some years ago when we were on a trip down under. We were walking around Kings Park in Perth and waiting to be joined by my sister in law . We arrived at the appointed coffee shop and we heard a pure unadulterated Wexford accent. It was our near neighbours who were out there visiting, as you would. When Ber, my sister in law, arrived we had another chat with the neighbours and off we went trotting around Kings Park .

We walked and talked and snapped and viewed until I heard this peculiar accent behind us.

I informed senior management that it was a very distinct Avoca accent from the Conary region of the mining valley in Co Wicklow. Senior management told me that I was not in Gorey now and to keep walking. I just could not continue walking and I had to turn around and greet the pair walking behind us and I told one of them that he had a Conary accent. He immediately and matter of factly told me that he was originally from Avoca and had been in Australia for many years and had married a Gorey Woman.

I duly called senior management and it transpired that this Avoca man knew all the old teachers in Avoca National School and many people I knew from years of working around the Avoca area. My women knew his wife and all her family and relations in Gorey. All this info was shared because of accent recognition.

Later that night we met up with them again. Australia and South Africa were playing rugby in Subiaco Stadium and after-wards we went for a drink in an Irish bar. I think it was the one and only time in my life I experienced full Irish Tribalism. Every county in Ireland seemed to be represented and everyone was wearing their own county colours. We met a whole swathe of people from Clare, Galway ,The Rossies ,Laois and many more counties. It was a great session with some great fun and frolics but got a wee bit too boisterous at the end of the night. The elder members retired while the younger set partied on the street.

Some years later we were in a restaurant in Gorey and I heard the very same accent and loh and behold it was our Aussie friends who were home to visit their daughters who did some reverse immigration coming back and getting married and staying in their parent’s country .

It somehow made the world a very small place to live in.

G’day mates to you all agus go raibh fada buan sibh uilig.

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