The Irish Way of Talking:
Blarney or Irish Truth?
Blarney or Irish Truth?
Painting Scenes with Artistic License
His landscape is a composition. In illustrating the beauty of it, he truncates a branch that obscures a blooming bush. He directs the eye beyond the narrow confines of the canvas. He captures the golden light of one hour of sunshine in a day of rain. The painter sees beyond the literal and the linear. Likewise, in the telling of an ordinary event an Irishman employs skills akin to those of the visual artist.
Does an Irishman eschew logic? Of course not! He simply takes logic a little further than others do. He realizes that there is more than one truth to be honored in a situation. To illustrate: if one of two adversaries about to duel is discovered to be myopic, an Irishman would certainly let the short-sighted belligerent stand in closer. And if you complimented an Irishman on a hunt who brought down a pheasant, he is likely to dismiss the praise by saying that "the fall would have killed the bird, anyway." And if the event is lacking in the sunshine of humor, why he would add some of his own. Why would he open his mouth if he could not add dimension or pathos or wit or the benefit of a liberated logic to the scene before him?
One must admire the expansiveness and inclusiveness of Irish speech and reject the pedantic insistence that much of it is "blarney." I have kissed the Blarney Stone myself and bear witness that I have not felt the need to embroider the facts or evade a direct question in the days since 1991 any more than I did prior. That legendary stone in the wall of Blarney Castle and my prolonged tarrying in the grove of magical trees nearby are merely two of countless treasured memories of a land where words, like the wings of a butterfly, let you soar above the mundaneness of everyday life to acquire a proper perspective on reality.
And as for the suggestion that an Irishman alters his song to harmonize with the music being played, I assert that it is his kind-heartedness which transforms a possibly discordant observation into one that leaves the hearer happier than before. After all, a conversation is a walk two people take together, not a syllogism, a tautology, or a legal disputation. And it is confidence in his own conversational talent that frees him to delight in the whimsy and wit of others and, probably, add it to his repertoire on a day when his own imagination is sleeping late. On the tedious days that befall each of us, Irish whimsy and obliqueness and extension of the truth surely enrich the telling of commonplace matters.
Ireland is a nation whose capacity for talk is exceeded by none and equaled by few. For the less gifted it is a folk art; for the accomplished practitioner, talk is a fine art. Talking is the natural condition of an Irishman. It is what his lungs were created for. A well-used pipe gives the sweetest smoke. Similarly, the words that issue from an Irishman’s lungs are the pipes, the pipes that are calling down the years to raise the faltering spirit and restore the smile to Irish eyes.
Try the following recommended books from Amazon on Ireland: