John McCullagh January 29, 2004
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In the wake of the culvert explosion near his home, the Cross’ man was admitted to Daisy Hill Hospital for observation. 

‘Did your bowels move yet?’ the staff nurse asked solicitously. 

‘Bouls, is it?’ he roared. 

‘Amn’t I tellin’ ye, the whole effin’ dresser came crashing to the flure?’ 

He thought she was referring to the breakfast crockery.






My nephew from Newtown(Hamilton) – an outspoken lad of four then – when first brought to Mass, and seeing the priest walk on to the altar, proclaimed loudly,
‘Wud ye luk at the aul iijit – a man wearing a dress!’

Some minutes later, after the Communion, when the priest was wiping clean the chalice, he loudly asked his mother,

‘Ma, is he reddin’ up now?’


The people of South Armagh may be long removed from the Gaelic tongue of their ancestors but their language, attitude and tradition is still reflective of that bygone day.  Their speech is succinct and impregnated with a startling, intellectual patience.

‘Don’t have your heart in a thing!’ they will say, of the offering of a helping hand, or a gift, meaning merely that it should be freely given. 

‘Sorry for your trouble’, may sound trite – almost meaningless to a stranger’s ears – when offered to the recently bereaved.  A mantra maybe, but the hearer is content that the feeling expressed is genuine and the words bridge a gulf that might otherwise be filled with embarrassment. 

‘He got the bad word yesterday’, conveys both the degree and the nature of the acquired illness.  If he had got ‘the good word’ then the feeling of relief at the

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