Greetings to all of you!
It's just about St. Patrick's Day again. Not only is St.
Pat the patron saint of Ireland, he's also the patron of
engineers, which might make you think that Irish engineers would
be doubly grateful. Or at least, that we could get them to buy a
round of drinks. Not much chance of that, I suppose.
Curious thing about St. Patrick's Day is that it's not
celebrated as much in Ireland as it is by the sons and daughters
of those who left Ireland for America, Australia and a thousand
other corners of the world. Chicago has a huge St. Patrick's Day
Parade, and they dye the Chicago River green every year. (Which
always makes me wonder why they couldn't just dye the ugly brown
water blue the rest of the year...) In Dublin, March 17th is a
bank and government holiday, but not much more. The celebrations
are much larger in places outside of Ireland. And you never know
where the Irish will turn up... The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
celebrates the Irish Saint Brendan, of all people, who may also
have visited America a few hundred years before that Italian guy
showed up. And it seems so unlikely that an Irishman named
O'Higgins became the liberator of Chile, as well as the country's
first president, but it's true. And then there's that famous
team of Irish songwriters, Lennon & McCartney, who may have been
best know as Englishmen, but whose ancestors where certainly from
the Auld Sod.
I'm still out on the road as this goes out, so if I've
missed thanking any of you for your contributions, I'll catch up
when I get back home. Our Thanks and a tip of the hat go out
this week to: Beth Butler, Timothy McChain, Laura Hong Li, Lydia
Cheong Chu-Ling, Carol Becwar, Mark Becwar, Jerry Taff, Don Ney,
Howard Lesniak, Peter Adler, Tomoko Naito, Ellen Peterson, Mark
Emnott, and Yasmin Leischer. May you all be in heaven a half
hour before the devil knows you're dead.
Have a green week,
A hut is a palace to the poor man
- Irish proverb
The Irish like to be thought of as artistic and sentimental,
but in reality, they are a very down to earth and practical
Even Irish poets tend to be very practical people. A friend
of W. B. Yeats, the greatest and most mystical of them all, had
the privilege of telephoning the great poet to tell him he'd won
the Nobel Prize, which he was doing wit great pride and solemnity
when Yeats interrupted. "For Jesus' sake, pull yourself
together. How much?"
- Walter Bryan in "The Improbable Irish"
So just how practical are the Irish? An Irish women's
magazine conducted a study last month to name the "sexiest man in
Ireland." One of the winners, to nearly everyone's surprise, was
former Prime Minister of the Irish Republic Charlie Haughey.
Haughey, age 73, placed high in the judging as Irish women listed
"brains and a healthy bank balance" as most important in finding
a man sexy. (Reuters)
[ So by that measure, Ross Perot beats out
Leonardo DiCaprio, right?! ]
MISTAKE IN THE MAKING...
Paddy and Murphy were driving along in a 2.5-meter-high
truck when Paddy decided to take a short cut across the river.
"Paddy, you can't go down there," Murphy said. "The sign
for that bridge says 2 meters only."
"Not to worry, Murphy, there's no police about!"
Say you're in a Dublin Pub, just having the landlord draw
you a pint, when this fella comes up to the rail and offers to
sell you part interest in his shamrock quarry located in a peat
bog in Londonderry. Well, if you've taken our course in basic
Irish speech, you'd know not to trust this man. Whatever he
claims to be, he's not really Irish. Peat is called turf in
Ireland and the city of Londonderry is called Derry, just as it
was before King James the First of England decided he could sell
it to some of his English pals. The Irish are known for colorful
speech, and even their modern usage reflects it. Here are some
current expressions from Ireland along with translations to more
Irish Slang Translation...
Are You For Flakes? Would you like cereal?
The Black Stuff Guinness Stout (a kind of strong
beer that's dark as coffee)
Blow In Foreigner, often American, who
settles in Western Ireland
Cheesed Off Angry
Cop On! Have some sense!
Crisps Potato Chips
Culchie A country person
Get Pissed Get Drunk
Gone all pan loaf Improved their life style
Is it yourself, Sean? Good morning, Sean
Jesus, I'm shagged Wow, I'm tired
Jibber Afraid to try new things
Plonker A fool
Rubber Pencil Eraser
Snug A booth in a pub
Strand Stuck on the beach
SAME TIME NEXT YEAR...
A newspaper reporter was sent to interview an old Irishman
who was celebrating his 99th Birthday. Stuck for a way to end
the interview, the reporter said, "I certainly hope I can come
back next year to help celebrate your 100th birthday."
"Can't see why it shouldn't be so, young fellow, you look
healthy enough to me!" came the old man's reply.
HOIST A FEW...
Of course, any culture that loves both language and social
drinking as much as the Irish would make a minor art form out of
a toast. Here are a few examples:
May those that love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts and if
He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
The sun shine warm upon your face
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Here's a health to your enemy's enemies.
May you live to be a hundred years with one extra year
May your neighbours respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.
Here's to a long life
and a happy one
Here's to a good wife
and a faithful one
Here's to a swift death
and a painless one
Here's to a good beer
and another one!
© 1998 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.