Saturday, 12 May 2012

Review : 'Labhrann Laighnigh'

'Labhrann Laighnigh'
Téacsanna agus Cainteanna ó shean-Chúige Laighean
Daithí Ó hÓgáin

Can I be candid with the reader at the start, just so we are on the same wave-length, I love this wee book, I think it is great and very very interesting.

The book has a particular focus on the Irish of Kilkenny, for the simple reason that Irish survived longer in that County than in any other part of 'Old' Leinster. 

There are phrase lists, folklore etc. from Kilkenny, the same kind of material is simply not available for the other counties unfortunately. 

There is material from all of the counties of Old Leinster (i.e Leinster without the province  of Meath, Louth and Longfort).

Not all of the material comes from modern Irish and / or 'caint na ndaoine'. 

Much of it is modernised materials from Old Irish through to Classical Irish.

An tOllamh Daithí Ó hÓgain, nach maireann
There are at least snippets of examples of modern Irish from most of the other counties however. 

As a specialist in Oriel Irish I was particularly fascinated in the Dublin material, it is clear that the linguistic border or Oriel / Ulster extended into Dublin, a remarkable fact given that traditionally the Irish of Munster has been favoured in the capital. 

There are some 'Connacht' type features revealed (for example, final -amh pronounced as 'a' and even some 'Munsterisms'. Could it have been the case that in the past the Liffey acted as a dialect border? 

However, as I stated previously, most of the modern Irish material is from Kilkenny and it is a very useful addition to the corpus of Kilkenny Irish, much of it published for the first time. Much of that material comes from Pádraig Paor of Gleann Mór.

Kilkenny Irish was most certainly one of the more exotic Irish dialects, 'mixing' many features which we associate with quite far flung areas today.

This is definitely a popular book rather than an academic tomb. 

As there author states (my translation) : 

"It is not my intention to write an academic book here ... the aim is to provide reading material in the native Irish of their own province for Irish speakers who leave in Leinster today"

I, given a natural inclination to the study of dialect, have perhaps focused my attentions on the dialect material in the book but there should be no doubt that this is some very good 'high' literature to be found in the work.

Despite the author's stated intention, one cannot help thinking that his untimely death robbed Daithí Ó hÓgáin to do something more academic, more substantial on the subject, but that should not be taken as a fault, for I in fact associate no fault with the work.

It does give the impression of being 'notes' from time to time, but that is not to say that then have not been polished, just not as developed as they could have been and as I suspect the author may have wished.

In conclusion, I would advocate the view, that if you are an Irish speaker from Leinster and haven't purchased this book you have to ask yourself why!

This is a gem of a book. I return to it often.

Go raibh maith agat a Ollaimh Uí Ógáin, ar dheis Dé go raibh d'anam.

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