October 24, 2017

Selt Or Kelt?

Tree2This is more or less a rant on a personal bug-bear of mine.  While I hope I am not quite attaining to the level of nit-picking as evidenced by Lynne Truss’s book on grammatical errors, “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”, I am about to relieve my mind as to why the use – or rather, the misuse and abuse – of the catch-all term “Celtic” has prodded me to inflict my opinions upon you.

In recent years, there has been a vogue for all things Celtic.  Record stores are full of hastily-assembled compilation CDs involving anything moody-sounding with wavering synthesizers and a female vocalist warbling in the background.  We have had the Celtic Tenors, yet another answer to the Three Tenors.  Film scores have had Hollywood composers throwing together anything vaguely in the “diddley-eye” style.  The worst example of this is the 2009 “Sherlock Holmes” film where the soundtrack composer selected the Dubliners singing “The Rocky Road to Dublin” for the pub fight scene, even though the film is set in London and there are no Irish characters involved at all!

New Age enthusiasts have jumped on the bandwagon with abandon, producing such historical inaccuracies as “Celtic Runes” as a divinatory medium (despite the fact that runes have nothing to do with the Celts but are associated with the Norse) and the “Celtic Year” which melds together Irish, Scottish and Welsh mythologies into a calendar of feasts that modern Wiccans may celebrate but which have little or nothing to do with traditional folklore.

The title of this essay derives from the fact that when the whole notion of “the Celt” became popularised in the 19th century, there wasn’t even agreement on how it should be pronounced in English – “Selt” or “Kelt”?  This uncertainty on so basic an element as pronunciation symbolises the two contradictory attitudes taken towards defining the characteristics of the Celts: the militant or the mystical, as demonstrated respectively by the “Sherlock Holmes” soundtrack and the New Age appropriation.

“Celtic” may today be a term of approbation, something that will be attractive to niche marketing, but this was not always so.  19th century progressivism loved to contrast the virtues of the Anglo-Saxon races with the dreamy failings of the Celts.  The half-paternal, half-superior attitude on the part of soi-disant Anglo-Saxons to the Celtic nations in the British Isles was best expressed by “The Times”, as lamented by Matthew Arnold in the Introduction to his book “On the Study of Celtic Literature”:

“The Welsh language is the curse of Wales.  Its prevalence and the ignorance of English have excluded, and even now exclude, the Welsh people from the civilisation of their English neighbours….Not only the energy and power, but the intelligence and music of Europe have come mainly from Teutonic sources, and this glorification of everything Celtic, if it were not pedantry, would be sheer ignorance.  The sooner all Welsh specialities disappear from the face of the earth the better.”

The attitude expressed by “The Times” of London is not extinct; here is a video posted to Youtube from 2010, by a popular English comedian, on the minority languages in the British Isles.

The irony of talking about “nationalist politicians using culture as a political weapon” will ring very heavily in the ears of those former dominions and cultures ruled by the English in former times.  I’ll spare you the indignant historical dredging up of ‘The Eight Hundred Years’, but by the same logic used in this segment, English should only be taught as a second language and all children in Northern Europe should learn at least one dialect of Chinese – a tongue spoken by the most populous nation on Earth – after all, if it’s better to learn Hindi than Gaidhlig because there are more speakers of one than the other, it has to be better to learn Mandarin, which is spoken by 14% of the world’s population, rather than English, which is spoken by under 6%?

The notion of “Celticness” was set up in opposition to the dominant culture: if the reigning culture was Anglo-Saxon derived, and thus hard, practical, masculine, successful in worldly attainments, utilitarian and forceful, the Celt was seen as dreamy, musical, close to nature, mystical, feminine, sentimental and even childish.

Whether these attributes were seen as defects or charming qualities, the end result was the notion that the Celts (by which were primarily meant the Irish, Scottish and Welsh) were viewed as needing to be governed, led and improved by the dominant culture.  Naturally, George Bernard Shaw skewered this notion in his 1904 play “John Bull’s Other Island”, where his Irish character is a hard-headed business man who despairs of his English partner’s romantic notions of the Celts, which(as he points out) doesn’t prevent the Englishman from continuing to exploit them even as he praises their superiority in cultural matters:

BROADBENT [roused to intense earnestness by Doyle’s eloquence]. Never despair, Larry.  There are great possibilities for Ireland. Home Rule will work wonders under English guidance.

DOYLE [pulled up short, his face twitching with a reluctant smile]. Tom: why do you select my most tragic moments for your most irresistible strokes of humour?

BROADBENT. Humour!  I was perfectly serious.  What do you mean? Do you doubt my seriousness about Home Rule?

DOYLE. I am sure you are serious, Tom, about the English guidance.

BROADBENT [quite reassured]. Of course I am.  Our guidance is the important thing.  We English must place our capacity for government without stint at the service of nations who are less fortunately endowed in that respect; so as to allow them to develop in perfect freedom to the English level of self-government, you know.  You understand me?

DOYLE. Perfectly.  And Rosscullen will understand you too.

And that leads me to my conclusion: why the misuse of the term “Celtic” is so grating to my ear and my sensibilities.  Isn’t it breaking a butterfly on a wheel to make a fuss about cheap music CDs or dodgy films like “Braveheart”?  What harm does it do, after all?  That is exactly the harm: we don’t think about what we mean by it.  Now that the Celtic Tiger has come and gone, we’re quite happy here in my green little island to fall back on the tried and tested (and tired) clichés of the tourist industry.  Perhaps we lost the run of ourselves during the seven fat years and tried to branch out where Ireland was cool or happening or hip or some such.  Well, the seven lean years are well upon us and we need to appeal to the emigrant and more importantly, the third-, fourth- and later generation Irish abroad to come visit us and shower their dollars, euro or other currency upon us.  Cue “The Gathering”, a national project whereby we’re supposed to encourage everyone we know who may have gone abroad to come home and visit, or any friends, acquaintances, business colleagues, or person we sat beside on the beach when on a foreign holiday to come to Ireland for the various exciting events we will be hosting.

Paddywhackery is back in vogue – our veneer of sophistication peeled off very quickly, and now it’s leprechauns and shillelaghs ahoy if that is what the tourists want.  Communication becomes distorted and falsified when meaning is lost, and the term “Celtic” has become, to all intents and purposes, meaningless.  It’s become one of those catch-all ‘facts’ that “Everyone knows”.  “Everyone knows Columbus sailed to prove the earth was round” (except he didn’t); “Everyone knows the Celts are – ”

Well, what are the Celts?  The brave but undisciplined “Kelts”, hard-drinking, fond of blarney and a fight (as evoked by the “Sherlock Holmes” soundtrack)?  The “Selts” beloved by the New Age, Nature mystics, musical and poetic, melancholy and away with the fairies?  What does “Celt” mean to you?  As for myself, am I a Selt or a Kelt?  Neither: I’m Irish, that hybrid race, and in agreement with Shaw’s Larry Doyle on this: “When people talk about the Celtic race, I feel as if I could burn down London.”

 

Comments

  1. A Guinness for Martha! Hurrah! Wonderful rant.

  2. Stuart Boyd says:

    Hmmmm, if I remember my history of the British Isles correctly, and since it is after my bedtime, I may be completely wrong, but the Vikings brought the hard C (Kelt) sound with them as evidenced by names of towns prior to large-scale invasions by the horned ones. Since the Celts would have pre-dated the Norse visitations, isn’t it likely the Soft C (Selt) would have been the way the locals pronounced it?

    Then again, what the original people called themselves is anyone’s guess since the “blue” Pictish people were there a long time before the “locals” arrived via other parts of Europe and were driven to the outer rims of the Isles as each new wave of people made the leap over to Britian.

    • Good points there, Stuart. The idea of pure ‘races’ really was the zenith (or nadir) of the 19th century alliance between pseudo-science, political progressivism, and nationalism. This naturally led to things like the glorification of the Teutonic genius, as evoked by “The Times”, coming back to bite everyone in the rear in the periods 1914-18 and 1939-45.

      There isn’t any pure Celtic, pure Saxon, pure indigenous anything anywhere unless we find a group living on an island out in the Pacific somewhere who haven’t interacted with anyone else in a millennium, and the odds on that are very small indeed.

      The above overflowing of choler was brought to you all courtesy of (a) noting that on my mp3 player I have music from albums called “Celtic Dreams”, “Celtic Glory”, “Celtic Harp”, “Celtic Lamentations” (very à propos nowadays) and “Celtic Meditation Music” (b) the whole “Gathering” hoopla (c) the return of the “Riverdance” phenomenon to the Gaiety Theatre after its tour of the world – for what started as an interval act in the 1994 Eurovision, this has mutated into a zombie monster lurching around the globe and (d) the impression all that Celtic malarkey gives of Ireland (because it’s mainly Ireland, although Scotland and to a lesser extent Wales get it as well) of what Dylan Moran described in his 2006 comedy show as “Because that’s still how Irish people are seen: as twinkly-eyed f__ers with a pig under their arm, high-stepping it around the world, going ‘I’ll paint your house now, but watch out – I might steal the ladder, ho-ho’ – which is only half-true”.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The idea of pure ‘races’ really was the zenith (or nadir) of the 19th century alliance between pseudo-science, political progressivism, and nationalism.

        Ah, 19th Century “Scientific Racism”. Complete with phrenology measurements of Superior and Inferior skulls. Under which I am not a white man; neither is a blond friend of mine (impure blood; Italian in mine and Irish/Apache/Comanche in him). Irish were not white; Slavs were not white; Italians were not white; Spaniards/Portuguese were not white. (Funny how “white” and “not white” among Europeans broke down almost exactly along Protestant/Catholic lines from the Reformation Wars.)

        The above overflowing of choler was brought to you all courtesy of (a) noting that on my mp3 player I have music from albums called “Celtic Dreams”, “Celtic Glory”, “Celtic Harp”, “Celtic Lamentations” (very à propos nowadays) and “Celtic Meditation Music”…

        Wait until you get to “Celtic Celts”.

        “Because that’s still how Irish people are seen: as twinkly-eyed f__ers with a pig under their arm, high-stepping it around the world, going ‘I’ll paint your house now, but watch out – I might steal the ladder, ho-ho’ – which is only half-true”.

        Martha, that sounds like something out of Whose Line is it Anyway?

        • Headless, I’m just waiting for the “Celtic Bris” album 😉

          Regarding the Nordic race nonsense, Hilaire Belloc (who was pugnacious and opinionated in his own right and could be much more ferociously verging to the right-wing than makes comfortable reading today) skewered it mercilessly in a cod-scientific article where he mocks the jump from phrenology being considered rubbish by the up-to-date moderns who instead prefer to measure the “cephalic index” and how it turns out that all the virtues of the Nordic Man somehow are possessed by middle-class Englishmen:

          “Thus the first of my correspondents (who signs ‘Gallio’ and gives no address but Brighton) is puzzled by the apparent aptitude of the Romans in their best period for administration and government, and even, in a primitive fashion, for war. He admits that all this may be much exaggerated, and from what he has seen of the Romans (he was down among them lately) he cannot believe all he hears of their ancestors. But still (he supposes) there must be a solid kernel of truth in it; for after all, the name ‘Roman’ was given to a great number of institutions– including the Empire itself– and he asks me– rather crudely– how this was possible if the Mediterranean race were as vile as our greatest authorities have discovered it to be? It is odd that the simple answer to this difficulty has not occurred to the writer. It is that those who governed the Empire, and led the armies, called ‘Romans’ were Nordic. This could be proved in several ways, but all of them might be open to objection save the unanswerable one that if these men had not been Nordic they could not have succeeded as they did. The Scipios, the Julian House, Hadrian– to cite at random– were manifestly and necessarily Nordic: for men do not act as they acted unless they are of pure-bred Nordic stock.

          The same is true of other manifestations of intelligence and vigour in the Mediterranean countries. Thus the Italians and even the Greeks have left a considerable body of remarkable literature both in prose and in verse, and in the case of Italy, we have even quite modern examples of literary excellence– at least, so I am assured by those who are acquainted with the idioms of the inferior races. But upon examination it will always be found that the authors, though using a base medium, were Nordic. The committee which we collectively call by the mythological term ‘Homer,’ and which drew up and passed certainly the Iliad and possibly the Odyssey were clearly Nordic in composition. Catullus was as Nordic as he could be. The Nordic character of Aristotle is a commonplace. Dante was Nordic. So was Leopardi.

          Take any outstanding Italian or other Mediterranean name and you will find upon close inspection that the man to whom it is attached was of the Nordic type: Napoleon Buonaparte occurs at once to the mind.”

          The quote is from his 2006 tour “Like, Totally”. Other quotes here; warning – he’s very funny, but like most Irish comedians (indeed, most Irish people), he swears like a trooper.

        • Dana Ames says:

          There was nothing “scientific” about my father’s father being suspicious that my mother was “too dark,” even though my dad’s family are all brunettes, and my mother’s parents came from northern Italy and about a third of my mother’s family both here and there are strawberry blondes. When my grandfather finally met my mom, somehow he determined she was “white enough.” Oh, and everyone was Catholic…

          Well HUG, another thing we have in common, the Italian connection 🙂

          Dana

          • Oh, gawd, me and HUG are related too. It’s all my mother’s fault, with that vowel on the end of her name.

      • Ah Martha – you forgot the massively popular “Celtic Woman” revue show that keeps on touring (relentlessly!) over here and selling CDs galore. Even PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) uses a concert film during their equally relentless fundraising drives.

        There’s a great, great deal of “Celtic” foolishness over here as well. The 1st time I ever heard the term “Celtic” used to describe music was back in the late 80s, when Enya had her 1st big hits. Prior to then, the categorizations were Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Breton (etc. etc. etc.)., but the vogue for a repackaged Celtic Twilight has led to only the Lord knows how many of the same dreary kinds of albums you speak of being produced here in the US.

        🙁

      • You may be onto something there, Stuart. I guess if I were Anglo-Caxon we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Well done.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      You are thinking of variations between Old Norse and Old English, which were quite similar. This is how we have doublets like shirt/skirt. ‘Shirt’ is from the Old English, and ‘skirt’ from the Old Norse, with the precise meanings diverging later on. The word “Celt” wasn’t used by either the English or the British Celts until many centuries later.

      • There are seafaring words that do that too: Skiff and ship; skipper and shipper; school and shoal (of fish); scull and shell (fast rowing boat). Not to mention “schedule”: American skedule and British shedule.

    • I’m having trouble posting this. I think I’ll try it here, to balance Stuart Boyd’s viewpoint:

      I’m going with the hard “C”, as in Kelt:

      I’m told that these folks were all over Europe before the Latin, Greek and Germanic folks started pushing people around, and Celtic remnants persisted in the corners of Europe, not merely in Ireland, Wales and Scotland, but also Brittany, the islands, and parts south and east. Way east. Etymological evidence of the hard “C” can be found in the following:

      Gaelic, pertaining to the Celts
      Gaul, or Gallic, pertaining to France, where there once be Celts in tymes ancient
      Gales, the Spanish spelling of Wales (pronounced “Gah-leys”)
      Galicia, the part of Spain north of Portugal
      Portugal
      And, way over in Asia Minor, what’s now Turkey, an early Christian named Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians.

      Now, assuming all of this isn’t an English plot to destroy Celtic pronunciation, it all comes down to the hard “K” sound.

      • JoanieD says:

        Thanks for that etymological evidence, Ted! Language is certainly fascinating.

  3. It’s a way for white people to pretend to be ethnic minorities, by adopting the trappings of leprechaun culture. If they celebrated being white, people would call them racist.

    (Conan the Barbarian is kind of a proto-Celt. By Crom!)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And don’t forget the one race throughout all of REH’s Antedeluvian AND Hyborian Ages, the era of Kull AND the era of Conan: THE PICTS.

  4. Say what you will, but I love me some Irish and Welsh saints. Saints Patrick, Columba, David, Non, Brendan, Bron, Bridgit, Malachy, Winifred, Finian and all the multiple Saints Colman pray for us.

  5. Richard Hershberger says:

    And here I thought it was going to be about how to pronounce “Celt”. Since you left that earth-shaking question unanswered, I’ll give it a go:

    People who neither know nor care about the question usually pronounce it “Selt” due to the influence of the sports team. Whether the team in question is the Celtic F.C. of Glasgow, Scotland or the Boston Celtics of the NBA varies.

    People who know just a little about the question usually pronounce it “Kelt” so as to set themselves apart from the first group.

    People who really understand the issue pronounce it however they wish, as they know there is no one correct answer.

    I once asked a friend of mine who was at that time in graduate school studying medieval Welsh (after abandoning a career in computer science to do what she really wanted to do). She tells me that in academia it depends on what institution you are at (or from), with no rhyme or reason beyond that.

    From an etymological point of view, there are arguments both ways. The word is a relatively recent import into English. It ultimately derives from the Greek “Keltoi”, where it was pronounced with the hard /k/ sound. But the word worked its way into French, where the initial sound was converted into /s/ So if you regard it as a borrowing from Greek, pronounce it “Kelt”. If you regard it as a borrowing from French, pronounce it “Selt”. Or mix it up, using one pronunciation on odd days and the other on even.

    • Robert F says:

      Are you a philologist, dude? And if so, could you tell me something about the etymology of the word “dude,” a word which I’ve come to dislike even as it’s become more pervasive.

      • The OED gives 1883 as the first print sighting of “dude” in its meaning of “dandy” or “fop”. At about the same time, Western US and Canadian newspapers began using it to mean “non-Westerner”, particularly those who toured the West as sightseers. There was some disagreement as to whether the feminine of “dude” was “Dudess” or “Dudine”, both being observed.

        By the 1920s, the usage had extended to mean “a guy” or “a fellow”, and by the 1960s it was being used to mean “the cool guys”.

        [“1883 Graphic 31 Mar. 319/1 The ‘Dude’ sounds like the name of a bird. It is, on the contrary, American slang for a new kind of American young man..The one object for which the dude exists is to tone down the eccentricities of fashion..The silent, subfusc, subdued ‘dude’ hands down the traditions of good form.”

        “1883 American 7 151 The social ‘dude’ who affects English dress and the English drawl.”

        “1883 Prince Albert Times (Sask.) 4 July 5/1 The dude is one of those creatures which are perfectly harmless and are a necessary evil to civilization.”

        “1918 L. E. Ruggles Navy Explained 139 In a gang of snipes there is generally one dude who is known as the ‘king snipe’.”

        “1950 H. E. Goldin Dict. Amer. Underworld Lingo 156/1, I got a chill on (doubt the courage of) this dude we’re working with. He might phony up on a drop”

        “1967 Trans-Action Apr. 6/1 My set of Negro street types contained a revolving and sometimes disappearing (when the ‘heat’, or police pressure, was on) population of about 45 members ranging in age from 18 to 25. These were the local ‘dudes’, their term meaning not the fancy city slickers but simply ‘the boys’, ‘fellas’, the ‘cool people’.”]

        • Robert F says:

          Thanks, Scott. And thank you, OED. Of course, none of this lessens my inclination to abbreviate the word by dropping that final letter “e.”

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        In answer to your first question: strictly amateur.

        Scott has addressed your second question. All I have to add is that the word was slang that appeared and spread very suddenly. There are newspaper and magazine articles from 1883 discussing the word, including how new it was and how it suddenly was everywhere. As for its origin as slang, this is a mystery.

    • JoanieD says:

      “Or mix it up, using one pronunciation on odd days and the other on even.”

      Good idea, Richard! 🙂

  6. Damaris says:

    An educational rant, Martha — the best kind. Thank you. I have another question, perhaps too far off topic: what do the three “Celtic” peoples, the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, think of one another these days? Do they resent being bunched together by the new-age sentimentalists and the twee marketers, or do they feel any sort of solidarity?

    • Not to mention the Cornish, Manx, and Bretons!

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Yes! My wife has both Irish and Breton ancestry. Which explains a lot… 🙂

    • Ali Griffiths says:

      @Damaris: Speaking as the English wife of a Welsh speaking Welshman, it is apparent that any Celt is better than the English – especially when it comes to rugby.

    • Yes and no. It’s one of those tangled, political, religious, historical questions.

      But we are all (mostly) united on one thing – it’s all the fault of the English 🙂

  7. As my father used to say (and he was supposed to be descended from the Hydes of Scotland), “It’s neether of nyther, it’s nayther.” I should love your rant, Martha, because I’m fairly OCD about pronunciation myself and a sucker for details, but I find that it left me only fairly amused, bordering on disturbed. Not a great way to start the day. I’m just sayin’…

  8. Robert F says:

    What are the Celts? Everybody knows that the Celts are a professional basketball team.

  9. I know I have Irish, Scotch and Welsh blood in me. Also, Rollo the Viking, the founder of Normandy, was my 36th great-grandfather. When people ask me my heritage, though, I just tell them I am half Scotch and half water …

  10. Adam Palmer says:

    I try to learn something new every day–wasn’t expecting to learn *this*. Grade-A, Martha.

    Also: thanks to paragraph three, Bandwagon Abandon is now the name of my new Celtic band. Call us, promoters! We’re available for St. Patrick’s Day!

    ap

  11. Cedric Klein says:

    Celts, Teutons, Angles, Saxons, Normans, Jutes…. all just different waves of the Lost Tribes of Israel!

    *I just heard Martha’s head explode! *L*

    • I think Martha’s trying to make our heads explode.

      Do you pronounce your name Sedric or Kedric? 🙂

  12. Ah, now you’ve shattered another of my illusions. I’m going to go drown my sorrows in some Guiness while listening to Loreena Mckennit or watching Riverdance for the umpteenth time.

    Great article, Martha! It was needed.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Ah, Guinness is now part of the British based, multi-national conglomerate Diageo. Just to bust another illusion…

  13. David Cornwell says:

    Martha puts some life into a cold and damp July morning.

    But– I have a question, or a concern. I know a man, older like me, who is full of so-called wisdom that he advertises for all to see. Every so often he goes to the Isles (seems to have a lot of money), spends some time and money, and goes on and on about Celtic spirituality (which rubs off on him) . He makes visitations, and then seems to receive visitations in turn (spritual). He writes little books of poetry and wisdom also, which he manages to sell to all who will have them each Christmas. He just returned from a trip to Ireland, photos and all, so I expect another onslaught of newfound closeness to Christ.

    So– what gives? If I come over wll some of it rub off on me? How will I know what’s real?

    • David Cornwell says:

      Forgot something– he’s Baptist.

      • *runs screaming from the room*

      • Dana Ames says:

        Ah, that helps explain it. There is something about his sensibilities that wants to connect to a tradition, but his theological framework does not have it, and does not allow it. I’m sure the benefit he derives is not simply subjective; I’m sure he meets God in those places; it’s just that his theology won’t allow him to have those experiences here.

        I think I recognize this. I did a like thing with keeping the Jewish holidays with Jesus as the focus, in my early Protestant years.

        Dana

    • Advice on dealing with suspected fairy illusions:

      To break the spell, turn your coat. Take off your jacket, coat, whatever you are wearing, turn it inside-out, put it back on. That’s how my granny got out of the field where she’d been stuck going round and round and couldn’t find the gap in the ditch to get out.

  14. Great piece Martha, thanks. 🙂

  15. A good rant should be entertaining, informative and a bit edgy. Check, check and check. Thanks, Martha!

  16. In the US the fever for “diversity” is aflame, and “white” people are cast as devils responsible for every evil on the planet. Since it’s virtually illegal and considered both fascist and bad form to champion anything created by white people, the enthusiasm for anything “Celtic” allows many of us to take a little bit of pride in our ancestors, who were not all slave-owning patriarchal genocidal psychopaths. Some of the “Celtic” rock and folk is actually good!

    • David Cornwell says:

      One can get by wth a lot by using a “Scotch-Irish” descripton of our heritage rather than “white.” Add “Applachian” on to that and people might run!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Ironically, I’m reading Jim Webb’s “Born Fighting” right now. Scots-Irish is possibly the more accurate name, though, even if the Scotch was used at one time. OR Ulster-Scots (yeah, sorry about leaving Northern Ireland in such a mess, but it wasn’t our fault ….really!….and we enough sense to move on when we saw it going south in the early 1700s)

        • David Cornwell says:

          Elizabeth, thanks for correction, it makes sense. I’ll have to look into “Born Fighting.” At least three sides of my family have this background, and were here at least by the 1700’s. The Cornwell side is a little more iffy, harder to trace except for being here during the same period. It’s a bloody heritage in more ways than one.

          • Yep – Irish Protestants. The area where I grew up was settled by them and by German immigrants, early in the history of the 13 colonies. The odd thing is that today, many Scots-Irish-isms (and English idioms as well) are mistakenly thought to be “Dutch.”

            But then, this area must be the only place in the country that still celebrates Goose Day (aka Michelmas, but Goose Day is local parlance). For some reason, this is thought to be “Dutch” as well, but I have a feeling it comes from the UK and ireland…

  17. Christiane says:

    I admit to a romantic infatuation with ‘Ireland’. It’s likely at the other end of the spectrum with ‘Paddywhacking’ at one end, and altogether likely as infuriating to the people of Ireland HOWEVER:

    there’s the literature, there are the plays, the poetry, the prayers

    there’s a spirit in them that IS ‘special’ in ways I don’t have words for, but that spirit comes through

    I suspect that there may be something to the legend of the ‘thin places’ and that, if it is true, Ireland must be high on the list

    okay, am I thinking ‘mystical’?
    guilty
    but unrepentant . . . an infatuation needs no apology, it is what it is,
    and if I think it, and I am to be condemned and it doesn’t matter to me,
    then perhaps it’s because I must be enchanted

    “and I
    Delight to imagine them seated there;
    There, on the mountain and the sky,
    On all the tragic scene they stare.
    One asks for mournful melodies;
    Accomplished fingers begin to play.
    Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
    Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay. ” ( W.B. Yeats)

  18. “Freeeeddddommmm!”

  19. Robert F says:

    I’m a Sicilian Celt. I like the way that sounds. Eat your heart out, Van Morrison.

  20. Jeff, or Mike, I’ve posted a message that won’t show up. Maybe the html tags are flagging it as spam.

    I wouldn’t bother, but it could settle Martha’s question. 🙂

  21. Long comment section and yet no mention of Ireland’s greatest export, U2? C’mon now.

    Achtung, baby.