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Day 20 - In Loving Memory Dundalk Style

Jun 28, 2024

Every Friday, I dedicate the blog to Irishisms and Hiberno English. I've been back in my hometown, "da town" for 10 days now, so it's time to share some of our unique turns of phrase. I do so in loving memory of a wonderful woman whose smile encouraged mine, smirk showed you were in for craic, and scowl said you needed to watch out. 

Ode To Lily

This week, what a culchie like me would call a "pure townie" tipped on for once and forever, said her last "right, am away." Though she will be sorely missed, her family would not hesitate to say, "our lassie was class!" She was another mother to my sister, Mam to her husband, whom I now call brother. She was a grandmother, great-grandmother, a friend, a confidant and a mad Dundalk head.

Irish Funerals

Though some of the traditions are dying out, Irish funerals are still generally celebratory occasions. We toast the life of the deceased for two or three days, usually with an open coffin, over tea, coffee, food and drinks. People come out of the cracks of life you've not seen in ages. In Dundalk, you hear "Ah, well, what's the craic? Jesus, I haven't seen you in I don't know how long!" Stories are shared, laughter is heard between sobs. There are hugs and handshakes, prayers and songs. Time is taken to say goodbye and remember a life well lived. 

Today, as we said slán to Lily one last time, the respect always held for funerals could be felt as 'our lassie' was being walked out past her old home. Before the hearse passed trucks and cars, they slowed to stop. Those which couldn't could easily be heard softening the press they placed upon their pedals, aware not to let the engine roar too loudly as she was walked past. Some nodded, others crossed their hands in the sign of the Holy Trinity, muttering an unheard Rest In Peace. 

Behind me, I heard her friends reminisce. "She was a determined woman. Sometimes, you need a bit of sheer thickness to keep moving," one said. Another proudly stated she still knew her order off and "that was nearly 10 years ago" she worked in the café Lily frequented. 

Up Da Town! 

"Da Town" is Dundalk Football Club. Lily was a mad fan! She'd have been raging to see them beaten by Waterford tonight. No doubt her family were, all of them present on the grounds that houses "The Shed" cheering on da town in Lily's name. "The Shed" is a covered area in Oriel Park that avid Dundalk supporters are to be found in.

In Loving Memory - Dundalk Style

At the beginning I called myself a culchie. That's someone from the countryside, as opposed to a pure townie, someone from - can you guess? - yes, the town. The use of "pure" is emphatic. It means a "real, real" townie. "Pure" can also mean "absolute" or "absolutely." Lily was "pure class!" That means she was an absolutely deadly woman. Not deadly like a viper, deadly as in class as in brilliant!" 

I told you Lily said her final, "Right, am away." This is pure Dundalk. (Pure here means total and complete or typical of). Simply put, we announce our departure just before we leave somewhere. The "right", is an interjection to show that an internal decision has just been made. "am" is how we say, "I'm" - our /ai/ comes out like an /ae/. "Away" means leaving. 

Before I left home today to go gallivanting around Portlaoise, Tipperary and Limerick looking for churches and wells with cures and curses, I said to my sister, "right, I've got everything. Am away." 

Lily had found herself ready to tip on (to leave) the physical plain. 80 years young, she said goodbye. I'm not saying she said this phrase to her loved ones. And just in case you think my writing this is insensitive, Lily had one of the best senses of humour you could ever sit in the presence of. It is my intention to write this with her mischief in mind, as a lasting memory for her family to smile at.

"Our lass" is another very Dundalk thing to say, though I think the "our" is used in other parts of the country. We claim people as our own. If I talk about "our Liam," I mean Lily's son, my brother-in-law. He's part of our family now. That makes him "our Liam." The "our" is used to differentiate this "Liam" from another Liam I may be discussing with someone. It was not uncommon in Dundalk to hear Gerry Adams referred to as "Our Gerry" over the years. A lass in Ireland is a female, usually a young female, but in Dundalk, not necessarily. Your Mam, for instance, is your 'auld lass. 

 

Today, we cheer for Lily, one last c'mon da town. When you read this, please raise your cup of tea, your mug or your glass for our lass Lily - a class of her own renown! 

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