I have always been fascinated by regional accents. I love hearing them – in comparison to ‘Dublin 4’ dialogue, or worse still, the ever-increasing ‘Americanisation’ of the English language. We have written about this previously, but last week I was again reminded of the beauty of somebody retaining their own county accent.
I had a call from a person in the Department of Agriculture office. This lady is highly qualified, highly educated and as they say, ‘well on top of her brief’. At this point, I can mention that our area agricultural office is in Cavan and the lady I conversed with had the broadest Cavan accent I have heard in a long while. Nor did every sentence commence with the word ‘so!’
There is something about Cavan people; they are so comfortable in their own skin and don’t ever feel the need to ‘talk posh.’ A strange phenomenon concerning Cavan is that whilst the county is in the province of Ulster, it is totally different to the sharpness of its neighbouring counties; other than Monaghan, I suppose – which is as different from Donegal or Fermanagh, as is chalk from cheese.
When I worked behind the bar in ‘Paddy’s Point’, I prided myself on pinpointing where a new customer came from in our first exchanges. I didn’t always get it spot-on, but my success rate was high – and I was never far out!
Kerry folk are another people who appreciate the richness of their own accent. Cork too, has a lovely warm, lilting and inviting accent. Of course the fact that Cork is our largest county, means that there are varying degrees of ‘Corkiness.’ Some may tell you that there is a separate, unique ‘posh Cork’ tongue – but I wouldn’t know anything about that one.
A Dublin accent lends itself very well to the sharp wit of its natives. Even after you think you have heard versions of all Dub one-liners, some ‘Jackeen’ at a football match will cause you to laugh heartily at a loudly delivered gem. No, the Dublin accent doesn’t do humility or ciuineas very well!
I have three Mayo grandchildren and I am concerned that none of them possess a sufficiently pronounced Mayo accent. As a Mayo football supporter and an incurable Galway hurling fan, the western accent ‘warms the cockles of my heart.’ This sentiment very much applies to Clare as well, due to our treasured Clare connections.
With all due respect to my friends in Donegal, Tyrone and Antrim; I find that the northern accent does grate a bit with me. You do get used to it, but it is not as embracing as the warm accent the further south you go. Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Waterford speak as if they are inviting you in. The Wexford and Kilkenny accents also ten to endear the speaker to the listener. Now, of course I admit this survey has no scientific basis – so just send your complaints on a postcard to our editor!
Oh, God knows how much I hate the Meath accent! I hate it with the same feeling that a long-term prisoner must hate the sound of his jailer’s voice. You see, ‘The Royals’ look on us in Westmeath as the far-out relations that you have to tolerate – but don’t have to be nice to. They have more and better footballers, and except for one exception, they have kept us under the cosh and in our place for the past 140 years.
In a way, accents can be an entirely different language. My best friend, Philip, is a Meath man. His brother-in-law, Frank is from Donegal. Philip is a farmer and likes talking about cows and bullocks. One night we were all out for a meal together in a fancy restaurant and Frank started off the evening by attempting to remove farming discussions from the agenda.
This is how it went, in Frank’s booming voice – for the entire dining room to hear: “Ach eye… now Phallop … hang on a manut; I want to hear na talk tonight about your big bollo#ks.” (A Donegal man’s pronunciation of ‘bullocks’ sounds like b******s!) People all around us could be heard inhaling their soup…
Across the pond, my favourite accent is Liverpudlian. Like the ‘jeordie’ accent, I can always identify a ‘Scouser’ – and I think it is beautiful. Maybe this dates (no pun intended) back to my roaring twenties when I once had a Liverpool girlfriend. I used try to arrange a date for a Thursday night, just to hear her say: “See ya Th-airrs-day night then, Luv!”
You can also let the editor know how you feel about the Westmeath accent – on a separate postcard!
A man’s language is an index to his mind