Thursday, May 13, 2010

English that for me...

On Sundays our home often echoes to the sound of sacred music - something to do with our backgrounds, I suppose.

The text of the Mass, in Latin, Greek, English, Spanish, German, Russian, matched with incomparable music and performed by choirs and soloists from around the world.

I recall, as a schoolboy, being taught to sing a setting of the Irish (Gaelic) text of the Mass as composed by Seán Ó Riada. I had long wondered if it might be available on CD.

Long wondered, but little done. This time, I decided, this time.

So I took myself to a store that should have it, if it were to be had. Two people behind the counter were quietly, and gracefully, explaining to two English tourists that, no, they didn't/wouldn't have any Enya music there. They then suggested where such music might be found. The tourists went on their way.

The older of the two turned to me and asked, in English, if I needed help. I asked about Ó Riada's Mass and she turned to the other and said "An Aifreann?" There followed a brief conversation in Irish between them and the younger of the two found the CD set for me.

The remainder of the transaction was conducted entirely in Irish, and I was given no quarter. I was going to hear/use my native language - if it killed me.

Money and CDs being exchanged, she looked at me and asked, "Mála uait?" "Do you want (lack almost) a bag?" Prepositions in Irish are declined.*

I held up the bag in my hand. "Tá mála agam," said I, and declined.

They bid me "Slán" and I escaped with mumbled thanks and as much dignity as I could muster.

Ah, but the Mass will be worth it.

*Truth be told, prepositions in Irish as conjugated, but then...the play on words above...well, you know how it is...


  1. ROFL! It was good for you. Is your Gaelic a bit rusty?
    I remember places like Bunratty sound beautiful in the Gaelic, but English butchers the sounds.
    By the way, if you travel by Kilkenny castle would you give a one finger salute to my relatives who gave it away without consulting me? ;)

  2. Laura, I'm afraid it is quite rusty. Too late to get to Kilkenny castle now, but I'll ask my sisters to deliver your message. They'll be quite happy to on your behalf.

    Glad the post made you laugh.