Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Our trip to Ireland had us staying in three locations. You can rent self-catering cottages almost everywhere on the green island. I suggest it to anyone planning to go visit. You get a whole house! We had three such houses, all different, all charming. Two were located on the West coast. Its a beautiful land with beautiful people, gentile and kind. For a landscape artist it was vista upon rolling vista of breathtaking views.
Our last house was located in Co. Offaly (pronounced awfully). As our journey progressed people inquired where we were headed next. Whenever we said, "Offaly", the strangest expressions appeared on everyone's faces. Looking back now, I wish we had focused cameras on their faces just before uttering this disfiguring word. Oh the shots we would have! At first we thought nothing of the crazy reaction, but as time went on we really began to wonder just how awful this Offaly was. We made sure to work it into most conversations.
Yes its true, my husband and I are silly like that... I offer no excuse.
Not only did we make the glaring eyed, raised lip, crooked faces happen, we began to ask what was wrong with Offaly? Oddly that question turned out to be a conversation stopper. It seemed no one had actually been to Offaly and couldn't tell us why it caused this reaction. Nonetheless there was definitely a consistency with the feeling associated with this word. How puzzling? How interesting. Naturally we continued to inquire about this mystery.
One day, Jennifer at the coffee shop in Ballyvaughan said, "Oh, Co. Offaly. I love it there!" Mike and I stood dumbfounded. "Why do you love it?" "Because its beautiful!" What? We couldn't have been more confused.
Further comments were all unfavorable. "There's just ugly bogs there," was about the only concrete statement we heard supporting the reaction. Jennifer's remained the only exception. One day in a pub in...? a young barkeep laughed at our question. She finally had a reasonable answer for us. The first who could actually offer some possible reason for this crazy reaction. She explained about all the different dialects in Ireland. Since we were from the States, we probably wouldn't notice them as much, but the Irish can tell where one is from by the way they speak. It seems Co. Offaly has the reputation for having the worse dialect in all of Ireland. I wish I had written down the word she had where each letter stood for a word in a phrase. The phrase was witty and something to the effect that people couldn't pronounce anything in Offaly.
If anyone knows this word and the accompanying phrase, can you please post it for us?
And so it was that the mystery was solved over the strange reaction from a place no one had visited. Tomorrow I will give you my reaction to Offaly...