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Brewer's Dictionary of Irish Phrase & Fable Hardcover – November 30, 2010
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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.
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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.Read more ›