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Portion of bread given to Thomas Ash while on Hunger Strike, Dingle Library/ Leabharlann Daingean Uí Chúis

Yesterday’s words were gathered around the town from conversation, observation, questions, emails and books. It’s interesting to observe a picture of the place emerging, and how that’s informed by the words I’m trying to extract. I’m aware that these words are impositions I’m making, more in the spirit of addition than uncovering, and it’s interesting to watch myself doing that. Now that the week is ending, and the presentation is due to happen today, my ability or attempts to think a little bit more through Irish are sadly dissipating.

Previous posts have addressed the topic of nostalgia, and mentioned how different and particular words are present for it in different languages. Almost invariably these words emerge at the formation of a new national state, or come to consciousness after a war or revolution. (See this post) I was interested in the possibility of there being an Irish equivalent after the emergence of the Free State, and I’ve been trying to track it down. Part of this journey of course lies in the extrapolation of what nostalgia is or feels like – longing, sadness, homesickness, sentimentality… and for what – place, time, or something else. It was interesting to see these conversations emerge from the question (asked in Irish) about how to locate this feeling, idea, single word. 

Suggestions made to me and argued over included uaigneas (more like ‘loneliness’); bheith buartha; maoineachas. Most people were unable to locate an exact word, which makes me think perhaps I am looking at the question backwards in terms of ‘untranslatabilty’. Finally I ended up with a series of dictionaries in the library – the most appropriate place really (see photos) – and reached what seems to be the definitive answer: cumha.

Yesterday’s words: tír grátheoir (patriot – literally ‘country-lover’); ag iompú catsúla ar (making eyes at); cuidsúlach (eyecatching); tnúthán (longing); cúlaitheach (retrogressive); barántúil/ údarach/ intaofa (authentic); sochar (profit); inneach na cainte (texture of speech)

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