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Brewer’s Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable

Reviewed by Fionnchú

Six thousand entries on language, folklore, history, and myth enliven these 800-odd pages, edited by Seán McMahon from Derry and Kerry-born, Dublin-based Jo O’Donoghue. The regional balance attests to the need, in such a compendium, to include pithy, sometimes wry, brief, but informative entries. The scope of this 2004 (published in 2010 in the U.S.) work rivals its parent Brewer’s, the Dictionary of Phrase & Fable’s 1300 pages, which first appeared in 1870. Other works from other presses focus on Hiberno-English derivations, history, culture, or literature, but this version tries to combine these fields into one volume.

The panoramic scope of such a volume even on such a small island demands a narrower focus. So, I spot-checked one letter’s section. I opened it at random to “S,” a promising section for variety.

Scanning its contents, I found the following among hundreds of selections. “Salt Monday” commemorates when this was sprinkled on bachelors and spinsters to get them married during Shrovetide; “Scrap Saturday” was a satirical radio show. “Save Ireland from Sodomy” as an entreaty from the Reverend Ian Paisley was met with in Ulster the inevitable transversion as graffito: “Save Sodomy from Ulster.” “Sapphira” as the pen-name of a protege of Swift and “Speranza” as that of Oscar Wilde’s mother appear.

Read the original article at: Blogtrotter

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