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Remembering Larry O'Rourke...and why I stopped using "stage Irish"
by Patrick Talty

My father (first generation Australian from Irish parents) used to tell me that there were only two nationalities in the world: The Irish and those who would like to be Irish. Now, I don't want to debate the issue here, I just want to report it because I think that it is an appropriate introduction to the following cautionary anecdote.
The story is set in the western Queensland mining town of Mount Isa, Australia, where, in the mid-fifties, I worked as an accountant for a large construction company. In those days Mount Isa bore a strong resemblance to the stereotypical town of the American Wild West.

Its workers were mainly migrants (known at that time as New Australians) and came from almost every corner of Planet Earth.There were Greeks, Italians, Russians, Germans, Poles and, well, you name it!

One of these migrants was a charming Irishman, about forty years old. His job was Warehouse Manager and that's one of the few things I can tell you about him because, although Irish and, as I have said, charming, he had a strong taciturn streak which somehow seemed to be quite compatible with his Irish gregariousness. His name was Larry O'Rourke.

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!
(c)2001 Patrick Talty

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!


Married and share in the care of a toddler son Brendan. My day job is as a lecturer at a College of Further Education in Western Australia. My night job is "tickling the ivories" at a restaurant in my home town. I have from an early age been influenced by the writings of Dylan Thomas, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and William Shakespeare. Later in life I learnt to appreciate the works of Australian writers such as Kenneth Slessor, Patrick White, Dorothy Hewitt and Thomas Kenneally. Women have been major influences in my life: my mother; my aunt Paddy; various wives and lovers. However, the passive results of those influences did not become activated until I reached the age of fifty. Slow maturer, or a person seeking personal growth through experience? Who knows/cares? Let me tamper with a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The foolishest kind of emotional instability is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in somehow." Birth Place Broken Hill, Australia Accomplishments Bachelor of Arts (English), Curtin University, Perth, W.A. Australia. Grad Dip Arts (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages); Edith Cowan University, Perth, W.A. Australia Model Teachers' Award for High Quality Teaching: Hechi Teachers' College, Guangxi Province, People's republic of China. Additional Information.

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!

Images
Old Irish postcards are available for viewing all over the internet, so it is difficult to give credit where credit is due. We found these through a search on google and by entering "top o' the mornin". If we are encroaching on a copyright, please let us know; but, our guess is that the man or woman who drew these cards has long since gone to meet St. Peter. In any event, we'd like to thank Patrick from down under for giving us the opportunity to publish his article and for the fun we had trying to find an appropriate image to accompany it.

 

Wed, Mar 22, 2017

The Galway Hooker

This unique vessel, with its distinctive curved lines and bright red sails, originated in the village of Claddagh. During the 19th century, hookers supported a significant fishing industry and also carried goods, livestock and fuel. Seán Rainey is remembered for building the last of the original boats, the Truelight, for Martin Oliver who was to become the last king of the Claddagh; as king, he was entitled to white sails on his boat. Since the mid seventies, many of the old sailing craft which were on the verge of extinction have been lovingly restored and new ones have been built. During the summer months they can be seen at festivals such a Cruinniú na mBád - the Gathering of the Boats - in Kinvara.


Click for More Culture Corner.




Wicked Irish
by Howard Tomb

While I wouldn't recommend you use many of these phrases, this is a terribly funny book. I picked it up after leafing through it at the store and finding phrases about sheep and inns and the hazards of driving in Ireland without insurance. Each little section starts out innocuously enough, then quickly degenerates into truly funny comments. If you like Monty Python or BlackAdder, this will really make you laugh. If you liked the Father Ted tv show, this little book will make you keel over giggling. Ah, go on, ya eejit, buy it already! Amazon Reviewer
(We want this, you may see a few on these pages - watch out).
Click for Wicked Irish.



Slanguage
by Bernard Share

...for all 'decent skins', 'crawthumpers', horse-protestants', 'hard chaws' and 'strong farmers'...a dictionary of Irish slang that's as amusing as it is informative.
See our Article A Bit of the Blather
Click here for Slanguage

 

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