Friday, March 18, 2011

Cead Mile Failte!

Since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day (Happy belated St. Patrick's Day to ye!), I feel like rambling about the Irish hero in my first novel and about the Irish in general.
It’s said that the Irish have a uniquely self deprecating and dark sense of humor.  This is true.  There’s a thread of sadness that runs through their well known love of “the craic” (pronounced “crack”).  My hero, Cian, is no exception.  If you ask someone from Ireland why they’re so known for their humor, most of them will tell you it has to do with Irish history.  Years and years of oppression followed by more years and years of economic and political strife created a people that laugh in order to simply remain sane.  One man simplified it for me: “It’s either laugh or pop yourself, so ‘tis better to laugh, yeah?”
I have to agree.  You’ll be hard pressed to meet anyone more demonstrative, talkative, and humorous than the Irish, but it’s not all “Top of the mornin’ to ya!”  As a matter of fact, the Irish don’t use that phrase at all.  They’ll get a “right laugh” off you if you assume they do. They also don’t worry about wearing green on March 17th, lest they get pinched.  My husband’s family looked at me like I was a “feckin’ eejit” when I asked them that. 
Cian might say, “Ah, jaysus no.  Whoever heard of such carrying on?  The cheek of it!  You’ll get a dig into the face you try it 'round here.  And that’d be from the women!”
The Irish also have this wonderful way of throwing in extra words when they speak.  It not only draws out what they’re saying (so the Irish are literally using more words, but saying the same thing as we cut & dry Yanks) it also makes conversations lilt along like a pub song.  They’re little, throw away words, but they make me smile when I hear them in use:
 Sure. So. Now.
“You won’t. Sure, you can’t.”  “I told you I’d be home, sure.”  “Sure, you know how she’s always carrying on.”
“It’s whatever you want, so.” “It’s like that, so?”  “You know yourself, so.”
“Ah, now.”  “Don’t be like that, now.”  “C’mere to me now.” 
“Now, now. Sure you can’t be doing that, so.”
I keep the dialect toned down a bit in my dialogue, but even using a few Irish-isms makes Cian a joy to write.  Most Irish have the gift of the gab anyway and they sound so lovely gabbing!  I smile to myself, even as I write Cian, because the man knows he shouldn’t chat up the heroine.  He knows he ought to remain distant and cool, but he can’t!  Asking an Irishman NOT to talk or make someone laugh, not to charm or inadvertently flirt with a lady, is like asking a snake to use its strong arm. 
“Yeah, sure.  Good luck with that so!”


Elizabeth Michels said...

No "Top of the mornin' to ya"?!?! Well, as long as they sing while showering in waterfalls and are on freindly terms with the leprechauns, I guess I'll get over it. LOL That was just for the craic. ;)

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