There I am in the paper #28 (take 2 I did it again!)

Here is my article from last weeks Irish Examiner’s Feelgood. It tells the tale of what happens when a Dublin girl meets a Cork/Kerry accent.

Recently one of my children has spoken of the possibility of leaving home to work in Dublin. I was only a little younger than she is when I left to live in Cork. I’m not sure if at the time I believed I’d never go back, but twenty-seven years later I’m still here and while I’ll always speak of Dublin as ‘home’, I love living in Cork.

Our home is a village five miles from the city centre. Recently I tried to explain to my children that in Dublin they would be classed as ‘Culchies’. They totally disagreed, insisting they are residents of Cork city, but as I sit here typing, the fields opposite full of cows, I don’t believe Dubs would agree.

Definitely not city!

If my daughter leaves Cork I wonder how she will find moving in the opposite direction?

When we decided to live here permanently, I’d imagined one city to be pretty much like another. To familiarise myself with the roads and streets of my new home, I filled the car with petrol and headed off to explore. One hour later I’d been everywhere and was beginning to realise Cork city was not like Dublin and there was also a very different accent to deal with.

I’d have been deaf not to notice yer mans Cork accent when I met him first, phone calls in particular being a nightmare. However, it wasn’t until I went to visit his family for the first time that I fully realised the wonder that is the Cork/Kerry accent and the speed at which it is spoken.

My, now in-laws owned a shop which was a hive of activity, especially on a Sunday after Mass. Despite the language barrier I was happy to make a guest appearance making up for my lack of understanding by smiling and nodding an enormous amount.

I remember one particular Sunday helping out when the shop was very busy. Perhaps it was because I was new and pretty useless with a cash machine, or maybe the locals were curious as to who I was, but the queue for my till was double the size of the other. Sensibly I was moved to the sweet counter where I relied on customers to point out what they wanted. I was beginning to feel a little more confident when a young boy stepped up and asked for a variety of sweets in a very strong accent. I struggled through and finally, his arms laden, he asked me for a bag. Unfortunately I couldn’t for the life of me understand him.

“Can I have a big please?”

“Ahbig?” I asked.

“Yes,” he nodded.

I stared at the array of sweets around me, trying to see one which might sound like ‘ahbig’ to no avail.

“I’m sorry what are you looking for?”

“Ahbig, please,” he repeated, his arms dripping with sweets.

I stared blankly at the shelves once more before a genius solution struck me.

“Oh I’m sorry we are out of those.”

As I spoke my future father in law, nestled on a stool beside me greatly enjoying the show, chuckled,photo credit: garryknight <a href="">Inside Hardys</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

“In Dublin they say baaaag,” he said with a grin in my direction as he handed the demented boy a bag.

Over time my comprehension improved but my confidence remained low. One day, not too long after the bag incident, we were invited to a wedding. I begged yer man not to abandon me during the day with fast speakers, explaining at length how the Dublin accent was slower, more distinct and easier to understand.

In the bathroom later that day I overheard my name mentioned outside the cubicle.

“She’s a lovely girl.”

Pleased with what I’d heard I listened on,

“She’s a lovely girl alright, but God Almighty I haven’t a clue what she’s saying.”

******* Just to help you understand how challenging a Cork/Kerry accent can be here is a kerry accent in full flow.

photo credit:London Irish Graduate Network
photo credit: garryknight Inside Hardys via photopin (license)

30 thoughts on “There I am in the paper #28 (take 2 I did it again!)

  1. Oh I loved this Tric. I laughed through the video because basically, I didn’t understand much of what those guys were saying. It reminded me of a time when I recorded myself and posted it on my blog. You don’t realise how different you sound to others until they say they were thankful I posted the text alongside my recording. When I had a friend in the USA she would say after the first few recordings that if I slowed down my speech she thought she had a fighting chance of understanding me.
    The other thing for me is that the men in the video could well be relations of mine as my grandparents came from County Cork and I remember an aged aunt saying the grandmother was the joke of the kids around as no one could understand her.
    Thanks so much for sharing this, though I did catch on to the “”β€œCan I have a big please?”””.
    An Irish priest once asked me to go to the shop nearby and get him a packet of ” cock tipped cigarettes”. So off I went in all innocence only to be laughed at by the shopkeeper who thankfully knew what it was I needed….”cork-tipped cigarettes.”

    1. ‘Cock tipped cigarettes’ for a priest. That’s brilliant.
      Glad you enjoyed the post Michael I thought the video really added to it. I love the way they are obviously so happy and all because the pub has re opened.
      As to your Cork heritage…I think if we look hard enough there’s Irish in most people. You’ll have to come find them, especially now you’ve studied the accent.

      1. I think I’ll have to do more than study the accent….lol….apparently my own is challenging enough…..I went on a tour around Eurpoe a few years ago and in hindsight I think the puzzled looks on my fellow travellers was because they couldn’t understand what I was saying….I do enjoy your posts…The Dublin accent I do understand as I worked with a guy from there for a few years and who incidentally returned to live in Dublin….who’d a believed he gave up Australia for Ireland…lol

    1. Thanks Beth. Posted it earlier but then realised it’s date was early May which was when I first wrote it. I’ll never learn!

  2. hilarious ! I did the move from Limerick to Dublin when I was 18 ( my heart pulled me back to Limerick a year later ) but yup you will always be a culchie when you walk through the college doors and announce where you hail from but i reckon we drew the long straw ;). best of luck to her x

    1. Thanks. Hopefully her blue Dub blood will shine through! The Dubs are very unforgiving on where you are born, regardless of how long you live there. Mind you I think it’s no different in Cork or maybe elsewhere?

        1. Whoops Sue Replied to wrong comment.
          I’d say using phones for online purposes has the potential to cause a war! πŸ˜€

  3. It’s not just me! When we visit we are always a teeter wondering if we’ll understand who it is we’re talking to from county to county. Surely they think we’re daft when speaking with us. Our next trip we will surely experience the joy of this again. πŸ™‚

  4. I may have mentioned before that I couldn’t understand my ex’s Dublin accent for a long long time, but a boss from Kerry meant that I could follow most of the video – and I suspect there might have been additional reasons why a couple of them were so unclear!!!!

  5. Can totally relate Tric. When I first moved to Cork in 1980 Douglas shopping centre was roofless. I did a Sunday paper run to the newsagents there and besides my newspaper, had to ask for a couple of things. On my third repetition and being told “I don’t understand you” I left with just a paper. I felt perplexed. How come they couldn’t understand me whereas within 3 months I had become well attuned to the Cork accent by listening carefully.
    On a drive in the North side we stopped and asked where a certain establishment was to be told “der law”. (There look).
    Now being from north Donegal it can’t have been easy for them to decipher my particular twang. Alls fair in love and war.
    Cork 1 Donegal 1

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