The Story Behind The Little Book of Irishisms

I was staying with my pal, Molly, in New York. Molly is someone I really connect with and, when we’re together, we just chat away without thought.

At some point, I asked Molly to “give me that yoke.” What she gave me was a look. This look: “What are you talking about?” That’s when it hit me: though both speaking English, we were using two versions of the same language. I explained to Molly that, in Ireland, we say “yoke” when we’re too lazy to think of a word. It’s our version of “thingamajig.” And we use it a lot.

I started to think of all the Irish words and expressions that we use that might be thought of as colourful – or just plain confusing. Bockety. Banjaxed. Craic… I decided to collect them. I loved this slow and casual process, just jotting things down as I heard or thought of them. Singling out our unique words and our own quirky way of using everyday words (like grand) gave me a greater appreciation of what it means to be Irish.

The way we use English (Hiberno-English) says so much about us as people, relaxed about some things, picky about others. I love that. I also love how many of our sayings come from the Irish language.

I had no great plan for my collection. It was really just for myself. Find out what happened in this Irish Echo article.

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