Joyce Country Riddles
Maggi Nic Shiomóin
Tomhaiseanna as Dúiche Sheoigheach
The Coimisiuin Béaloideasa Éireann which was established in 1935 to collect folklore and stories of the native Irish speakers throughout the country, has left us with a wealth of such materials from Ceantar Dhúiche Sheoigheach. The riddles in the following link were written by a certain Seán O Caidain (sic) from Glenluisg (sic), which he has transcribed from his father. These riddles reflect the culture and attitude of the people. They relate mostly to nature and they do not translate meaningfully to English, for the most part. In the census of 1911, there were 3 Coyne families in Gleannlusk, see more here Seán was not yet born and so we are unable to ascertain to which family exactly he belonged.
What the language can tell us
Seán’s written Gaeilge indicates that he is older than Sarah Ó Súilleabháin who wrote the descriptions on the Holy Wells (Na Toibreacha Beannuithe). Sarah’s written Gaeilge reflects a newer and simpler form, both in writing and spelling. Seán’s spelling is also infinitely more complicated. She uses the modern “s” and “r” for example and Sean uses the older form of those two letters, which I cannot print with a modern computer, but can be found in the “Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla” (compiled by Patrick S. Dinneen M.A.) revised edition published in 1927 and re-issued many, many times. The changes to the lettering were made sometime between ’27 and ’33.
Destroyed in the Dublin fires of 1916
In the Editor’s Preface, the Reverend Patrick S. Dinneen writes: “The first edition of this Dictionary appeared, under my editorship, in 1904. The sterotype plates of that edition having been destroyed in the Dublin fires in 1916, the preparation of the present edition began the following year” (lth vii). Published by Irish Texts Society, Dublin. This book is an invaluable source for anyone with an interest in the Irish Language, as it contains a wealth of uses for words and phrases from different parts of the country. Recently the University of Limerick has put O Dinneen’s dictionary on line – check out the website www.scríobh.ie.