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Brewer's Dictionary of Irish Phrase & Fable Hardcover – November 30, 2010

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Hardcover, November 30, 2010
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 884 pages
  • Publisher: Chambers (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0550105654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0550105653
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.2 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek introduction, the authors of this work discuss the need for an "Irish Brewer" providing a fuller account of all aspects of Irish life and culture than that in the traditional Brewer volume. The result is a compendium recording people, places, and events in the tradition of its parent, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (16th ed., HarperCollins, 2000).

In keeping with its lineage, this dictionary is quite eclectic, beginning somewhat surprisingly with Aachen (the German city of the Holy Roman Emperors, here included because of the influx of Irish scholars) and ending with Zozimus (the nickname of balladeer Michael Moran). McMahon, editor of volumes such as the recent Derry Anthology (Blackstaff Press, 2002), and O'Donoghue, coauthor (with McMahon) of The Mercier Companion to Irish Literature (Mercier Press, 1998), fill in the intervening pages with entries as diverse as Collins, Michael; Linen Hall Library; Philadelphia, Here I Come (Brian Friel's first play); and Smithereens. Entries read in the usual informative, casual style typical of the Brewer family of reference works.

Each entry is completely cross-referenced within the volume. For example, the entry on Irish revolutionary Michael Collins points to those of others involved in the Irish fight for independence, the places and events of the period, and the cultural resurrection he underwent after the eponymous 1996 film of his life. The volume is not just limited to the Irish Republic, drawing as it does on some of the people, places, and events of the Northern Ireland Troubles (for example, events in Derry are cited under entries such as Bloody Sunday 1972; Bogside, Battle of the; and the Burntollet ambush).

As a volume documenting Ireland, its history, people, culture, places, and events, this is a worthy addition to any general reference collection. John Doherty
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Endless potential as a wet-afternoon distraction.' Terry Prone, Irish Independent

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. G. SFAELLOU on March 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have already read this work from cover to cover in a previous translatlantic edition (pub. by Weidenfeld and Nicolson,London, 1994) and I can guarantee that it is truly a brilliant work. American (and Irish-American) readers have every reason to look forward to the next publication of this and to pre-order it now to be sure that they don't miss a copy. For those of you who are familiar with the phenomenon of 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable' they will realise how enjoyable each entry is for lovers of words, folklore, history, mythology and so many more topics. The original Brewers dictionary covered a whole range of WORLD lore. It is so incredible that the distinguished authors have managed to present no fewer than 6,000 brilliant entries just related to Ireland!!! This book is an essential reference tool not only for the Irish (this book belongs to all Irish people who have every reason to be proud of it). It should also be possessed by anyone who seriously loves folklore and language lore and who has a love and respect for the history and culture of the beautiful Emerald Isle. P.S. As readers of my other reviews may notice, I always give good star ratings since I only review works that I believe are excellent (there is no point in anyone writing spiteful comments about books that are unworthy of a review).
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Format: Hardcover
Six thousand entries on language, folklore, history, and myth enliven these 860-odd pages, edited by Sean McMahon from Derry and Kerry-born, Dublin-based Jo O'Donoghue. The regional balance attests to the need, in such a compendium, to include pithy, sometimes wry, brief, but informative entries. The scope of this work rivals its parent Brewer's, the Dictionary of Phrase & Fable's 1300 pages, from its appearance in 1870. (I review the edition published in 2010 in the US, apparently that which first came out in Britain in 2004.) Rival volumes focus on Hiberno-English derivations, history, culture, or literature, but this version tries to combine these fields into one volume.

The panoramic scope of such a volume even on such a small island demands a narrower focus. So, I spot-checked one letter's section. I opened it at random to "S," a good section for variety.

Scanning its contents, I found the following among hundreds of selections. "Salt Monday" commemorates when this was sprinkled on bachelors and spinsters to get them married during Shrovetide; "Scrap Saturday" was a satirical radio show. "Save Ireland from Sodomy" as an entreaty from the Reverend Ian Paisley was met with in Ulster the inevitable transversion as graffito: "Save Sodomy from Ulster." "Sapphira" as the pen-name of a protege of Swift and "Speranza" as that of Oscar Wilde's mother appear.

As for another writer's merit, "Seamus Heaney" enters 1) "Seamus Famous" and 2) as neo-Cockney rhyming slang for "bikini," while "Segotia" as a Dublin derivative of who knows why to indicate a "dear friend" can be distinguished from "sonsy" as an epithet for all that beauty can bear. The early saint "Senan" is not to be confused with the plastic explosive "Semtex," taken from a Czech village near its manufacture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I Am Celt on November 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book in February, 2010, but it was on back order until last week. I received it today and have to was well worth the wait! I've hardly put it down since it got here...what a wonderful way to learn about my heritage!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Niemer on April 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this as a gift (fortunately, it was for a close relative, so although it did not arrive in time for 2 occasions, I was able to get to the recipient at an appropriate time.) It is on the coffee table of the "giftee" and it appears to be enjoyed. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars was the interminable delay.
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