Top Ten County Armagh Sayings

3 10 2007

Recently Gary Brady posted on his blog about Irish words which have become common parlance in English. This has stimulated me to think about some of the words and phrases that have crossed my path during the five years I’ve now lived in Armagh. As a town boy it has been an enriching experience to learn some of the local lingo. Here’s a few of my favourites:

1. Proper order: used to express approbation at an action or outcome. ‘There’s a no smoking ban in effect in this restaurant…’ ‘Proper order!’.

2. You didn’t lick that off the grass: used to denote a behaviour inherited from parents or family members. In Belfast they say ‘You didn’t pick that up off the street’.

3. You’re not as slow as you walk easy: this is one of my favourites. It means that someone may give the appearance of stupidity or ignorance, but in actual fact is quietly intelligent or shrewd. A more way out version is ‘you’re not as green as you’re cabbage lookin’

4. Suckin’ diesel: unfortunately this has been popularised on the mainland by one of our worst exports, DJ Colin Murray. It’s a County Armagh phrase denoting pleasure that things are going as one has planned. It has fallen out of favour a little since the Radio 1 presenter made it his very own…

5. That’s a tara: used to express sadness or disgust at an outcome or event. The force of this expression can be increased by adding another adjective: ‘That’s a shockin’ tara’ for instance.

6. Kibblin’ about: this is a strictly South Armagh expression used to describe someone working at an activity or doing something for relaxation/pleasure.

7. Are you gettin’ her handy?: usually used by Armagh males to one another to ascertain the wellbeing or otherwise of their acquaintance.

8. How’s she cuttin’?: as with number 7. This phrase comes from the world of agriculture, perhaps with specific reference to the cutting of peat bog. If the respondent is in good form/health they will reply ‘full o’ the blade’. I’m not sure what is said if good health is not being enjoyed.

9. You do be: a phrase which is used exclusively west of the River Bann. It is used to express a definiteness or commonality of experience, rather than the simple use of ‘You do’.

10. Chivvy: again this seems to be an exclusively Markethill/South Armagh expression. It means to scold or to discipline.

Even with having lived in the County for half a decade, it would be an act of folly to try to use any of these phrases to gain credibility among Armagh folk. Everyone knows I’m from Bangor, and that they just don’t talk that way up there!!

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One response

3 10 2007
Anonymous

Look see, you’re looking well!! Aye, at the people!!




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