Alotta Claddagh

The Claddagh ring. Fair warning, a ‘top ten’ list is coming next–and it is all about the Claddagh. The ring, that is.

In a previous post, I mentioned that the only pair of shoes I ever had to literally ‘t(h’)row in the wash’ were these, after a 12-mile walk. I had climbed over a cow pasture gate, just after which there was a low-lying electric fence I had to limbo under. A typical day in the Midlands.

Shoes  image

(Oct. 2014)

Anyways, this post is about the Claddagh ring barely discernible in the photos above.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

As many of my aunts had pointed out before my departure to Ireland, it should be on my right hand ring finger as I’m not married, but in the photos of me above it is culturally incorrect, placed on my left hand . See, I was writing with my right hand one day and the ring was bothering it, so I switched it. This lasted for about two years (again, prior to the time I left for Ireland). Shortly after this photo was taken, I adopted the correct way of wearing it.

Moving on: If you are fortunate enough to have a Claddagh ring–because someone has to buy it for you, heaven forbid you break tradition and get one for yourself–it has many potential advantages. The way you wear your Claddagh ring usually reveals more about you than your current Facebook relationship status does. As was pointed out to me, one can change hands and/or the direction the ring is pointing, to suit the locale and humo(u)r you find yerself in, or to finagle out of social situations that Emily Post never dreamed of. That is, if and when necessary, you remember to change your ring about. Which I rarely did in time. Obviously it doesn’t usually apply if you typically wear it on your left hand because that means you are: a) married, or b) engaged.


1. a cultural institution that Shall Remain Nameless: you’re the only one in said place on a weekday, early, enjoying the silence and then yer man who works there appears and starts up a conversation: asking what you’re studying, who your family is, what counties they’re in and within ten minutes he mentions he bought a house in the countryside, precisely how much he bought it for and the amount of land it’s on . . . Also, did I see the countryside and go mountaineering (hiking) with my cousin there (of course I did, it’s the midlands!) and then he invites you for coffee across the way and adds that he’s not hitting on you. Sure it’s only 10AM, so really he would ask anybody who walked in, ’cause it’s Irish to do that. In reply I (hopefully) politely decline as my Irish-inherited reserve kicks into overdrive (who tells you the price of their house?)  –– plus, doesn’t he have to work right now? He can’t just leave for the craic . . . so I explained that my cousin would be done with her errands around noon in the city centre any moment now but maybe I was too polite because he persists in saying that I should stop by when I’m back in the area and he gives you his contact info and finally somehow thirty minutes later you’re wondering if that whole shillelagh of a conversation just happened and laugh to yourself as you go down the main street, much to the mild confusion of preoccupied passers-by.

This is only half the story, as it’s the part I found hilariously confusing because I had at the time never experienced the above Irish approach of . . . whatever that was . . . but you get the point. All in all it was actually a really nice conversation. It was just a strange kind of culture shock because it was a lot of what I’d consider to be personal details that you wouldn’t say to someone you just met, and yer man looked about twenty years older than me (granted I pass for a first year anyways) so . . . My reaction definitely validates this writer’s fear of asking new acquaintances to go for a coffee anyways!

2. accidentally in the middle of a stag party: avoiding the more boisterous ones in a stag party who are already on the lash at 4PM sitting outside at a pub while you are just drinking your tea with a friend and then are suddenly joined at your table by some of the stags who continue to sing rousing choruses of trad songs and compliment you and your friend on your mutual sarcasm and banter

While the sarcasm/banter mention was flattering, it was more the off-key singing and burst blood vessels that put me off. They were fun to watch though. ‘On the lash’ means drinking with the intention of getting drunk, so it’s not really an *exceptional* afternoon there for those ones!

3. the bus to the Dublin airport

It’s not the airport I mind, it’s the bus. It was BUS ÉIREANN. At 6:30AM. Please take GO BUS if ever you have the choice. I learned eventually. 

4. in the local when the Angelus bell rings through its never-ending controversy

i.e., The local pub in a town . . . i.e. the ONLY pub in the town. If you’re lucky, there might be two! You know you’re not in Galway, Dublin, Tralee or Ennis if you find yourself in the local. The town you’re in probably has three different spellings of its name or three different place names altogether. And the angelus bell? I had no idea what to do when I hear it. My Irish roommates paused and looked up at the sound of Angelus bells in Galway. Even though they pointed out that they aren’t Catholic, apparently ‘it’s tradition and everyone does it’ to pause while the bell rings out.

5. the countryside in general

You never know.

6. the train to Dublin

Tracksuits. It’s not the tracksuit itself, we have them in the U.S. and I get it, they’re comfortable, sort of water-repellent and definitely practical. It’s the amount of them. Every day. Everywhere.

7. the city centre nightclubs

Or any clubs for that matter. You never want to go in amidst day-glo orange tans willingly, but sometimes you do so that you can bond with your roommates even though you MUCH PREFER GOING TO PUBS, as per with your classmates and being like yer aul’ wan with a pint, the banter and possibly a trad session. 

8. being an arts intern at a hospital

It’s not e-x-a-c-t-l-y like Grey’s Anatomy.

9. farmer’s market

Who doesn’t love the Church Street farmer’s market in Galway on the weekend? It has chorizo. And really good prices on actually-fresh vegetables.

10. Penney’s

Just because everyone likes a chance to say ‘Penney’s’ in reply to: ‘Where’d ye get that?!’ It’s like a miniature Wal-Mart.

I’m not saying all of the above situations applied to me, but some of them did.

For the ‘official’ use of a Claddagh ring, check out this gimmicky but nostalgic explanation of a video from Galway itself. I’m not slagging it too much because my own one is from this shop. So I guess it’s authentic!

Until next time.

Havin’ the Craic

My favo(u)rite part of Ireland: Connemara! It’s red like this in November. At least some Irish people can locate it on a map, contrary to finding Co. Leitrim. I’ve never seen lecturers look so surprised as when they asked me where my family was from. (Also Co. Clare, but that’s easier to locate).


Anyways, while I was not researching  for my almost-finished thesis, I came across this video, which may just as well be called ‘This is how it actually is in Ireland’. Good times : 

Woulda been helpful this time last year for the accents! 

P.S. The Franco-Moroccan crowdfunding campaign that I translated for on behalf of my friend and director was successful! I am happy about getting to be a part of it. Also, you can scroll down further on the page to see the campaign video with English subtitles. Filming starts in October/early November. I’m looking forward to the DVD. If anyone would like more info, or to contribute to the film in any way, give me a shout.

Did Somebody Say “MOROCCO”?!

Yep, you read right. Morocco.

Who wants to go to Morocco?! I do.

Who is going to be filming a documentary in Morocco if they can meet their donation goal within the next 60 days (thanks to crowdfunding)?

Well, my friend Laetitia Gau is. The one I went to Toulouse with when she invited me for Christmas. She is currently completing her Masters in Screenwriting at NUI Galway.

She will be documenting (some of) the nomadic culture found in Morocco, looking at how the literal expansion of the desert, increasing tourism and globalisation affect certain tribes’ practices. She is going on a preliminary trip is in late May for initial research; the actual documentary filming will be late next fall (2015).

Click here to find out more about the film, help spread the word, and/or donate – and keep in mind that if you *do* feel inclined to contribute to the film, there are perks for you, too. Also, with crowdfunding – your contribution is automatically refunded if the crowdfunding goal is not met within the next 60 days. So, it can’t be a “wasted” investment!


(Laetitia’s mom took this photo on her own trip to Morocco last October).

In case it helps sway your decision, although I will not be going to Morocco (at least not this time), I did the English translation on the page (although L. had the final say) – so that’s my claim to fame for this film! ;)

If ye’ve any more questions about the above, please ask. Any word-of-mouth publicity and otherwise would also be appreciated!!

Merci/Shukran/Thank You and Cheers!

“Bums on Seats” and Other Things Adults Say.

The Ring of Kerry, In A Tiny Town with Three Different Spellings, Co. Kerry, Ireland.


Two and a half months. That’s when I last posted, so be warned – it’s probably a long post. You might mistake it for a novel (if I’m lucky)! The above picture is from when my twin and Dad visited in November.

The Neolithic conception of the sunrise and sunset. Think of Newgrange (or Stonehenge). Our assignment was to think of how we would “interpret” this for an audience at a museum and to discuss it in class the following week. As the lecturer pointed out, you have to interpret everything, not just pass along information to people, because otherwise–who cares, really? A point just as important as some of our lecturers’ seemingly favorite phrase “Bums on seats”, meaning ticket sales are needed or else you can’t fund what you want, no matter what type of art it is. (We also have lecturer who adores saying “Between these four walls”, which is now our class’s catch phrase when something is supposed to be a “secret”).

Sitting outside of a cafe the day before (about two months ago now), the six or so of us decided that we would do a sort of interpretive dance, instead of just throwing out our ideas in class. Eurovision 1994 (Riverdance) was one of our main inspirations. The next week was when we performed our three-minute sketch, much to everyone else’s entertainment. A classmate prefaced our dance with a short explanation, and then she controlled the lights and blinds in the room so that it was nearly pitch black. Myself and one of my classmates were the “dancers”, which meant we walked around in a circle each holding one end of a long scarf (I was “sunrise”, all in orange, and another classmate was “sunset”, who was so convincingly dressed in all black that she could have been mistaken for a cat burglar).

Meanwhile, our other classmates were playing the bodhran, triangle, tambourine and tin whistle. The best part was that aside from the bodhran player, everybody else improvised as they had no idea how to properly play the instruments. We had our last classes last week. I start my internship this week but should be back in the U.S. mid-May, where I’ll be writing my thesis for the summer and finishing essays. That said, if anyone knows of any bilingual English/French or arts/culture jobs in France, Europe (or the U.S.), or anywhere else, let me know. I’d be happy to apply – REALLY!

Anyways, one day after class while waiting for the light to turn green so I could cross the street, a rather chipper high-schooler on his bike in the stopped cross”traffic” that is Galway at 4PM said “Hi” to me. I said “Hi” back, but in the kind of way where you question if you’re supposed to know them or have met them somewhere. Even if they think you’re still in high school, most people are really friendly in Galway.

Another day, I was at the supermarket and saw the French lady who owns the only pâtisserie (pastries, bread and coffee essentially) in Galway. We had talked several times before in her shop in English and in French but, at the end of our supermarket conversation, she mentioned (in French) “how great it was that I would be able to perfect my language-learning doing a Masters degree in an Anglo-Saxon country”! All I replied was “Oui” with a smile because I didn’t have the heart to correct her or to tell her I wasn’t French. I mean, last time in her shop she gave me a free biscuit (that’s French for “cookie”)!

Two weekends ago I went to a play by myself. I half-ran all the way to the theatre. Since I was going out with some friends after the play, I rushed to get ready, as I decided to go the play last-minute.

The play, “Bassam”,  was written by a Sligo-based Israeli writer and director, Idan Meir, and is a one-man show acted by a Donegal-based Palestinian actor, Fadl Mustapha. It is based on a true story of Bassam, the founder of the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement, Combattants for Peace (CFP), and you can read about it here.

So, I arrived at the theatre nicely dressed, but out of breath and with wet hair. Anyhow, the play wasn’t going to start for ten minutes, so I grabbed a seat in the back corner, seeing as I got in for free thanks to a friend’s generosity (he may or may not be an employee of this theatre), and so I could watch the show undisturbed. Naturally, this backfired one minute later, as a man walked up to me and with no introduction or preface said: “Ah, the corner. It’s nice and cosy, right? Are you hiding here in the corner because theatre scares you?” To this complete stranger, I replied “Sometimes”, because seriously, sometimes the plays are terrifying and depressing, like the ones we had to go see for theatre class.

Then he asked if I was studying theatre, so I told him no and what I was in fact studying, which he seemed to find interesting. I asked him what his name was and vice-versa–it turns out it was Idan, the writer of the show. Of course. He asked if I had a brochure and I explained I decided to go last-minute, so no. So he ran out and got me a brochure and said he wanted to know what I thought of the show after.

After the show, there was an open discussion with Idan and Fadl which, despite many differences between the two and the audience members, was passionate yet still respectful. Most supported the two-state solution for Israel and the West Bank (Palestine). Following this, scripts were on sale in the lobby. Most people left pretty quickly, so I was able to tell Idan what I thought of the show (definitely one of the few plays I’ve thought was worth seeing or would recommend to others). He insisted on giving me a free copy of the script and also wrote a nice note. Normally, the script and brochure cost 12 euros, so that was a plus. I should make last-minute decisions more often!

Fadl and Idan’s goal is to raise enough money to be able to perform the play outside of Ireland, across Europe and, hopefully, in Israel and Palestine.

Other than that, in our last dance class, instead of learning about dance, we were able to actually dance, which was really fun. It didn’t feel awkward to me, but I was surprised how most of my arts-loving classmates suddenly became self-conscious about it. I had fun anyways! On that note, Galway Dance Days were this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and this year’s theme was Bodies in Conflict (focusing on war zones). I was going to go on Sunday to the open-air dance lesson, but that is exactly when one of my Irish cousins called to let me know she was in town with her fella, so instead, I went for a couple pints with them. That’s Ireland! We had a good time and chatted for the whole of the afternoon, eventually ending up in The Quays which, given that it was pouring buckets outside, turned out to be a good decision.

Tomorrow I start my internship with a classmate of mine who is also working with the same arts charity at the hospital. Last time we were there, we spotted the medical students, complete with business attire, serious faces and stethoscopes, and had a good laugh at them for it when we went to visit the different wards.

In other news, on Sunday we moved one hour ahead. Spring is here, even if it still feels like winter.

Until next time amigos and family!

An Email From My Brother

A man of few words is how I would describe Jeremy. Initially. Except that is only surface level, because when he writes – and when he sends me an email like the one below – it is definitely worth sharing:


I wanted to send you this link to my MS 150 donation page in case you post it or forward it on:

Contributions go to the national multiple sclerosis society on my behalf.


Any donations of any amount would be greatly appreciated! In the spirit of “Mes Deux Pieds” (“My Two Feet”), Jeremy will be using his own two feet slightly differently and for a much better cause than merely walking around, running into walls, or hopping on a train: biking to help out the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. So, please donate if you feel so inclined! If you could also forward it on to your friends, family, acquaintances or rich uncles who don’t know what to do with all of their money, as you deem appropriate, please do so!
The man himself: Jeremy in Montserrat, Spain (April 2013). (He was smart enough to bring sunglasses, unlike his little sister.) He is ready for the MS 150!

La ville en rose: Toulouse

L. and I stayed in Avignonet-Lauragais with her parents and took the car or train into Toulouse (about 40 minutes drive each way). The first night, we met her friends (most of them friends from childhood) at a bar. Most of the time, the weather was warmer than in Ireland and if it was significantly colder on some days, there was usually blue sky and sunshine. Click here for the link to some of the photos (L. had a camera). We even went to the Christmas market. I went to mass on Christmas with one of L.’s cousins and her grandma, although the tiny village church was so packed that it echoed incessantly, so none of us heard what was being said. Around 10 or 11PM on Christmas eve, we celebrated with a multi-course dinner, complete with two different cakes. We opened presents at midnight on Christmas eve; I received a book and shampoo (L.’s cousin gave us natural-ingredient-derived shampoo that smelled like paradise).

One evening in Toulouse, I was too tired to go out, so I took a train back to Avignonet. The plan was for L.’s dad to meet me at the train station because, although they are a 10 minute walk away, I did not pay particular attention as to how we got to the train station from L.’s house when we had left. However, my train had an unplanned 20-minute stop (normal for France) and I didn’t have a cell phone. Neither did I see L.’s dad’s car when I arrived. After waiting a while, I decided to try to find her house, even though I only knew the house number – because of course, her street has a name, but there is no street sign whatsoever in the tiny village. A dog followed me part of the way, but luckily I recognised the cross walk and a certain hill that the road was on and made it home in less than ten minutes without having to retrace my steps – hooray! Turns out L.’s mom was surprised I found the house and that L.’s dad was still waiting for me at the train station. Apparently he didn’t see a train come to a stop at the station, and I didn’t see his car. This village has *A* main street and *ONE* platform, so I’m not sure how we missed each other, but it’s a good story now and they joked about being glad they didn’t have to call the village police.


Near La Garonne (river) – Toulouse.

L. and I also visited a French friend (who lives in Ireland but returned to France for vacation) in the beautiful, warm and sunny city of Montpellier. We went in covoiturage, meaning you go online and search via registered people someone who is driving by where you are and either to or by the destination you want to go to. It can be cheaper than the train and is convenient when it is too much hassle to take the train. To go to Montpellier, a (presumably retired) well-dressed elderly couple drove us and there was one guy beside us in the car who was going to Marseille. We even stopped at a rest stop. Two hours later, we were in Montpellier for the day.

We didn’t have a plan in particular for Montpellier with our friend C. We ate lunch sitting by the fountain at the Place de la Comédie WITHOUT COATS (hooray!) and people watched. We went into a lingerie store (with our backpacks and cameras) because it looked high quality (and didn’t buy anything) and also to the Jardin des Plantes (essentially a public garden). After we sat at an outdoor café and had the obligatory French discussion about everyones’ relationships (past or present), the waiter came by to collect his part of the receipts. Only that they were crumpled up so much he was shocked. C. and L. explained that the two receipts were that way because they had been “talking about their past passionate relationships”. The server replied fairly daringly (L.’s words) but with a wry face that “he hoped they did not do the same to their exes’ couilles“. He left and came back for the payment, closing with “Remind me never to date you (all)” yet laughing all the same. Ah, France: it is taboo to talk about money and politics, but everything else is completely acceptable.

That night, we did covoiturage again to go back to Avignonet – this time our driver was a middle-aged French military man and his teenage daughter. We learned a lot of presumably semi-classified things about French military intervention and it was sincerely interesting. L.’s dad picked us up from the “meeting point” and drove us the rest of the 15 minute drive home.

As an aside, I did try to better my southern France accent. I.e., pronouncing words as if they all ended in EH or AY or pronouncing the n in pain so that the word “bread” actually sounds like the english word “pain” – and for once, French is pronounced how it looks! Eating meals at 2pm and 9pm is perfectly normal; so is having butter and nutella on bread for breakfast; dark chocolate on bread.

One day in Toulouse with some of L.’s friends we decided to see the film “Mommy” by Canadian director Xavier Dolan (who is Quebecois, so the film is in Canadien French). It was really good and unlike any other film I’ve seen before.

On New Year’s Eve, L.’s parents somehow had a crazy idea that they would leave us the house for 48 hours. L., myself and an Irish friend of ours who came to visit prepped the house for a party. By 10PM, all fourteen of us – including those from the group I met on the first night – were assembled around a table attempting to play a card game meant for five people. Naturally this transitioned into giving the game up, going outside, enjoying the ironically high-quality wine (seriously, everyone brought really nice bottles of wine) and assorted beverages and eating all of the food. Those of us outside missed the countdown to midnight but nonetheless were offered champagne. Yes, please.

Around 5AM, most people had vacated the first floor in favor of the sleeping arrangements above but, because the staircase is not enclosed by walls and all floors from the first to third floor are left fairly open to it, a constant chain of music, giggles and half-whispered conversations could be heard.

Eventually around 1PM on New Year’s, some of us managed to make our way down to the first floor and start to clean up. Conveniently, most of the guys decided they had to smoke whilst the rest of us cleaned. Some did, however, try to redeem themselves when they came back in, so I did not have to wash and dry dishes by myself (other people swept, etc). Little by little, people left via train and eventually it was just six of us. We made a late lunch at 4PM, all of us either setting the table, chopping lettuce, cooking lardons or cutting bread. It was like a little family when we sat down to eat, complete with blue sky and sunshine. L.’s parents came home that night to a pristinely clean house needless to say.

One day – when L.’s parents were on vacation – we all went to the village of Minerve together, which included eating crepes and going hiking.

We went back to Toulouse nearly every other day afterwards to visit some of these same friends and, as they all have apartments or share one, we always had a place to stay over so that L. didn’t have to drive home.

We were able to walk most everywhere, sometimes taking the métro. I like Toulouse even more than Poitiers and made friends with some of L.’s friends as well . We got home last night after midnight, greeted by blustering winds that blew the rain sideways and the hoods on our coats backwards. Welcome back to Ireland! Class starts on Monday.

Wandering Éireann

My dad and twin brother visited two Saturdays ago. I took the 6:30AM train to meet them. I drank more alcohol with them than I normally do in two weeks (because we went for a pint every day), and naturally our very first stop was the Guinness factory. We were there before it even opened for the day, after we figured out how to not get ticketed in the car park (or “parking lot”, for the Americans reading). Anyhow, at the factory (my second time in two years!) I did learn that I can safely drink 14 pints a week, per a trivia game backed by Guinness’ own research. Nowhere near that target currently. Men, you can have 21 pints or so.

Apart from the scenery, my most favourite part was visiting family in County Clare and Leitrim. We met some of the cousins that we hadn’t met before, had tea, sandwiches and biscuits, and lots of craic. (You know what I mean, there). I was invited to stay with a few, which I hope to be able to do soon. Also – we went to the *quickest* mass I’ve ever attended in my life. I couldn’t even keep up with how fast the priest was saying everything, and the first and second readings were said one after the other, practically in the same breath. There was no music and certainly no fluff, but then neither was there much *apparent* significance because of the haste (although it seems that’s not speedy according to some ;) ), so we were at mass for maybe half an hour. The chat outside afterwards with the family lasted longer than the mass itself!

We also went to the Cliffs of Moher/Mohr/Mohair (pick your spelling) on a day that was clear enough to see the Aran islands, with only about ten other people around and a deserted car park.

My favorite part of our trip was the drive south, including Kerry, Dingle, Tralee, and middles-of-nowhere:

Tralee city centre, Co. Kerry (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


We also hiked (for about 45 minutes):


Once we got to Galway (the night before they left to head home via Dublin), Dad, the twin, myself and the LAL’s (minus A., who was sick), went out to Cava Bodega, an insanely delicious tapas restaurant. L&L really liked meeting two of my American family, so – even though we invited Dad to join our “pub crawl” (no, really, it’s too crowded to NOT crawl through the pub) – the rest of us went out.

My twin also met some of my friends’ friends, too (other Brazilians, not the same as previously mentioned), and stopped by the grungy movie-set looking but amazing Pizza Napoli, run by a Romanian. I secured a Fanta (no H2O available) by yelling for one in Italian, after I realized that while the owner was Romanian, the three guys behind the counter were repeating customers’ orders in Italian. It’s the kind of place where there is no queue (“line”), so you crash the counter in a frenzy.

Then – of course – we ran into the one French guy that works there, who was there for some reason on his night off. A couple of nights before, as I was with the LALs and we thought we were being discreet chatting loudly in French, he replied to our pizza orders in French. He looks like he walked off of Plus Belle la Vie, a very cheesy (no pun intended!!) yet successful French soap opera set in the south of France, complete with too-small T-shirts and laughably macho men who wink a lot and have one too many girlfriends.

Oops – I should have prefaced my ode to Pizza Napoli by stating that I only learned all of this (with the exception of yer man mentioned above) because I went there during the -*shock*- daytime in broad daylight with one of my friends and it was very empty. So, naturally, we decided to guess what country all the workers were from. Also, we met an Italian who works at the University (not an employee of Pizza Napoli, however), who talked at me in Italian about his job and asked if we worked at the University as we waited on our pizza.

Anyways, after Pizza Napoli (we made sure my twin found the hotel on the way back), one of the L.’s and I walked the usual 30-minute-plus (albeit completely flat and no hills in sight) trek home.

Unrelated to the above: per Dad, my twin and my friends, I apparently have a bit of an Irish accent. To be fair, I’d say it comes and goes in waves depending on who I’m with. Taxi drivers, shop owners, and 100% of everyone I meet think I’m either French, Irish, Franco-Irish, Italian or Not American. (Ah yes, Not American is apparently a new nationality I was not aware of).

One day, I realized while staring at poster in pubs all of a sudden that I knew more Irish than I thought. Aside from a couple classmates, I know a few others who “have Irish” (meaning they know Irish), and one of the LAL’s (the friends next door) started learning it this semester. Some of the words I’ve learnt since being here, from English phrases to Irish, are surprising.

“____, love”.  – You could be in a shop checking out, in a pub being handed a pint, or a classmate could be saying ‘bye. Followed by “love”. It’s kind of like “hun” in the South (of the U.S.), and does not mean anything in particular.

“yoke” – usually means “thing” when the speaker forgot what they were saying or looking for. As in, “Where’s the yoke”? could mean “Where’s the tea towel”?

Tea towel – dishcloth used exclusively for drying dishes. Before we bough kitchen rags for cleaning, I mistakenly used them to clean our who-knows-what-that-was-encrusted-on-the-stove-and-everywhere in the kitchen.

Hoover – vacuum cleaner

to give out – let’s just say, not at at all what I thought it meant when I first came to Ireland and one of my classmates said (after leaving a pub) “She just gave out to me. Do you think I should to her?” and my look of stunned confusion. “S/he gave out to me” means that someone got really angry at you/blew a metaphorical fuse for something or told you off for something you did or didn’t do.

jumper – sweater

aul/auwl – old. Sounds kind of like “owl”, but not quite.

trad/trad music/trad sesh/trad session = traditional music and/or traditional session: generally means a gathering of people in a pub playing traditional tunes. Although my friends trad session at the pub also included a Greek bouzouki, which vaguely recalls an American banjo.

In fact, I was sitting in on my first trad session a couple of weeks ago, as one of my classmates and a spectacularly gifted violinist friend of hers regularly do trad sessions. Although instrument-less, I was keeping the time with my equally non-instrument-playing Brazilian friend (whose wife is the already-mentioned spectacularly gifted violinist) when a man came up to us, kneeled down on both knees and whispered his question apologetically: could he could take a picture? I think he thought we were the managers. I assumed that role, then he asked me “What nights do ye play on”? To which I elegantly replied “Emmm”. We did eventually find out this info and passed it on to the delight of said man. In the meantime, there was also a soccer game on, once my eyes became dizzy from watching ten people do a variety of musical acrobatics between the tin whistles, bodhrans, violins, guitars and the one bouzouki.

As we were leaving the pub after midnight, one of the crowd in the bar stopped my trad sesh. classmate and said, in an unmistakable French accent “I juice wanted to tsell you zat your seenging waz byooteefuuul” (she had sang a song earlier). To which my Irish friend replied “thank you” and promptly demanded that I speak to the Frenchman in French. After glaring daggers at her, I did. He was with a guy friend (who stood in the background) in Galway visiting for the week. All the while, my Irish friend and Brazilian violinist who were behind me began making very suggestive gestures and started singing something suspiciously like a Marvin Gaye song, wiggling their eyebrows and completely enjoying it (the Brazilian speaks some French).

Eventually I was able to leave and met the two troublemakers outside, where I gave out to them half-heartedly, because by Murphy’s law that *would* just happen. I love Galway.

As for learning any Irish? Little by very little, I’ve learned some. Don’t ask me how, I wouldn’t quite be able to tell ye. (Yes, “ye”). Or I could, in fact, but I’m being contrary for the craic of it.

As gaelige? (Ahs gwail-guh): Literally ‘Do you have Irish?’, meaning ‘Do you speak Irish?’

Conas atá tu? (Kunnus ataw too): How are you?

Tá mé go maith (Ta may guh ma): I’m good/fine.

Go raibh math agat (Grr ama gutt): Thank you. (I know, so romantic-sounding, right?)

leabhar ceoil (lower keyole, like “keyhole” w/o the ‘h’): music book

bodhran (bow, as in “to bow down”, + ran): a type of drum particular to Ireland that you hold against your side, (the drum facing in towards you) and beat a type of stick against (I don’t know if this is called a drumstick or not). I was lucky to get to attempt playing the bodhran because I was with my trad session friends at the time.

slán (slahn): Goodbye/’bye

a stóírín (a store-een): usually a term of endearment for grannies towards their grandkids or your SO, according to my classmates. It always depends on the region and the person(s) though. The ‘ín’ or ‘een’ means ‘little’ and can be affectionate or patronizing depending on the word it is attached to. In other words, it depends on the context. Ah, ambiguity! Just when you thought it didn’t exist anymore.

In other news, what about the Irish? I’ve met some Irish (guys in particular) who do not speak nor seem to move or have any emotions at all – which is curious and exasperating – but then, conversely, between daily life and “chance” encounters (even though I don’t believe in coincidences), I’ve met very lovely people, too. My classmates told me this range is normal, because according to them (and my roommates), an Irish guy needs several pints before he is remotely comfortable talking about feelings or any non-GAA subject. Otherwise he’ll be slagged for not being ‘manly enough’. When they get talking though, it’s all I can do to keep up with the pace and their banter, so then it’s brilliant. Of course, not all Irish men are like this – remember the grain of salt with this blog so!

Anyways, between the above, my classmates and the Irish plays we read for class, my English/Irish vocabulary/”accent” is expanding quicker than I though it would.

Lastly, some Galway musicians have released a song protesting the Irish water charges, as you can read per the Irish Times here. Whatever side of the issue you are on (or not), it is entertaining and worth a read and a listen! A big protest march was held in Dublin today and there were quite a few buses mobilized to go from Galway to Dublin. Some of my favorite Irish musicians even made an appearance at today’s Dublin protest: Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard. From summer 2014, here’s a brilliant article on ‘Damo’, (i.e., Damien Dempsey). I’d go to a concert of his!

That’s all for now, folks! and an early Merry Christmas/Nollaig Shona in case I don’t write beforehand!