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Remembering Larry O'Rourke...and why I stopped using "stage Irish"
Two things about him that fascinated me were his mellifluous Irish brogue and the fact that he had once owned and run a delicatessen in Rome for eight years, another fact I elicited from him about his personal life. That element of my fascination was enhanced when I spotted him one day chatting to a group of Italian workers. I stood entranced for a while, listening but comprehending only that he was talking with them in Italian with an Irish brogue. Well, that's how it sounded to me, anyway.
Now, because my roots are firmly planted in a strong Irish background, I suppose one could say that I came (and still come) into the second category of my father's tongue-in-cheek statement about the number of nationalities in the world.
I quite often demonstrated this by telling Irish jokes to my friends and feeling quite proud of myself, not only because of the hearty laughter which my stories generated, but also because quite often, many of my listeners would compliment me on what they perceived to be an authentic Irish accent.
And so we come to the reason why I described this story as a cautionary anecdote:
On the building site where Larry and I worked, starting time each morning was eight thirty. We used to exchange greetings as we passed each other on the way to our respective offices. Now, because of the pride I felt at being able (according to my friends) to reproduce an Irish accent like a true Irishman (and, by implication, authentic Irish linguistic items) I was in the habit of greeting him with something like, "The top o' the mornin' to ye, Larry me boyo! And the rist o' the day to ye! And how're ye doin' at all at all?"
Larry usually reacted to this flood of "authentic" Irish dialect with a "good mornin' Patrick" in a soft voice accompanied by a slight smile which I interpreted as a sign of approval. How wrong I was!
One morning after we had exchanged greetings Larry indicated that he would like to say something to me. So I stopped, full of joyful anticipation at the thought that he was about to compliment me on my ability to imitate the Irish together with an appropriate use of language.
He looked me straight in the eye and gave me the following advice: "Patrick", he said, "they may use that kind of language and accent on the vaudeville stage, but I can assure you that no one talks like that in Ireland!" Then, with a friendly smile, he turned and walked steadily off to work.
I walked off to my office in reflective mode. I never ever used "stage Irish" again!
To read more of Patrick's works, please click here: Authors Den A Not So Brief Bio; we enjoyed reading it so much, we're printing it all; hope you enjoy it too!
I also have quite a catholic taste in music. I am a pianist\entertainer as well as a teacher of English as a second language. I have travelled extensively in my own country, Australia. I have also travelled and worked in other countries such as Italy, Switzerland, England, Ireland, China, Singapore... to name just a few. I love to write and have had newspaper articles and poetry published in Australia. I also post non-fictional articles and poetry on several publishing web sites. I look forward to publishing on this site also. One day I would like to put all my stuff together and publish a book. We'll see!
Holly and Ivy hanging up and
something wet in every cup*
Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now. The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle. This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house. As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.
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March 4, 2011
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