In my early years, it wasn’t too long before I became aware of a polarisation of the people who lived where I lived. Firstly, there was us. Good living country folk. Then there were townies. They seemed to play differently. They were the Tom Sawyer to our Huckleberry Finn. We spent summers picking potatoes and building rafts to sail down the river. They spent their summers throwing stones at things and nicking apples – at least that’s how it seemed to me.
I just assumed most people lived how we lived. People who blew up turnips at halloween, counted down the days to Christmas (from halloween) and were totally bored on Sundays because we weren’t allowed to do anything that constituted enjoyment (its a recurring protestant theme…).
Of course, it is easy to look back with an adult head and marvel at the tiny agricultural world I was in the centre of. But one thing that never appeared in this tiny world was the origin of the place names I used everyday. Tullylish, Lisnaree, Ballydown, Dooghary, Tullyear – they’re all of Gaeilge origin.
Then there are the agricultural words – like sheugh (a drainage ditch) or graip (a digging fork) that I thought were just local words.
It’s so obvious to me now, I can’t quite believe I didn’t see it before.
Bag. Head. Clunk.
This illustration was influenced by listening to this Irish Passport podcast episode.