Exclamations

Ach achon ach am toirsech monuar!

Ach achon ach am toirsech monuar!

oh * alas * oh * I am * tired * alas

Alas, I'm weary, alas, alas.

This is a marginal note by Murchadh Ó Cuindlis, the scribe of the Leabhar Breac, at the bottom of page 86. The words "ach achon" are often spelled "och ochón" in other, and later, texts. The formal structure of this personal comment, which has the feel of a cliché, contrasts with the scribe's comment at the bottom of page 58, which is more colloquial in style:

Isam toirsech indiú eter chend is choiss. (I am weary both head and foot.)

Nom-choimmdiu-coíma!

Nom-choimmdiu-coíma!

(may me * lord * protect)

May the Lord preserve me!

We find this exclamation is written down in the "Thesaurus" (ii 290.11). The word order is archaic, involving a feature called tmesis, which allows a noun to intervene right in the middle of the verbal complex, something like "May pro-the Lord-tect me!"

Dar fír ar cubais!

Dar fír ar cubais!

(by * truth * of our * conscience)

Upon our conscience! By what we deem right!

The first thing that Fergus exclaims upon hearing Medb's plan to wipe out a company of her own allies at the beginning of the Táin, before going on to tell her "Over my dead body!" ("Ní dingnea bás dóib-siút acht intí dogéna bás dam-sa!") Keating uses the expression "Dar mo chubhas" in an Early Modern Irish poem, and the modern version of the same is "Dar mo chúis!" For another example of the Early Irish use of the potent word "fír" (truth), see "For fír th'ainich ocus t'anama!"

Scéfe día·tuidchis ní bus mó!

Scéfe día·tuidchis ní bus mó!

(I will vomit * if you were to come * anything * that would be * more)

I'll vomit if you come any closer!

In "Scéla Cano Meic Gartnáin" the legendary poet Senchán Torpéist is described as a strange desiccated little man, all wrapped up in his woolen cloak. When his enormous wife goes off on a trip, the wife's handmaid attempts to serve him the mid-day meal. The poet responds in alarm approaching hysteria, warning her off and ending his speech with the above threat!

Uch a lám...

Uch a lám,
ar scribis de memrum bán!
Béra in memrum fá buaidh,
is bethair-si id benn lom cuail cnám.

(och * o * hand/
all that * you wrote * of * parchment * white/
you will carry * the * parchment * under * fame/
and * you will be * in-your * tip * naked * of heap * of bones)

Alas, hand,
so much white parchment you've written!
You will make the parchment famous,
and you will be the naked tip of a heap of bones.

The comment left by a scribe in the margin of a manuscript he was copying, edited by Kuno Meyer in ZCP 2.225. Such comments are common in Irish manuscripts, a kind of graffiti recording the passing thoughts, feelings and opinions of the scribes. In "Dánfhocail", O'Rahilly gives a later version of this quatrain, as well as another one in the same vein:

Och, a lámh, ón och, a lámh,
ar sgríobhais do mheamram bhán;
mairfidh an meamram fá bhuaidh,
's beir-se san uaigh id chuail chnámh!

Truagh sin, a leabhair bhig bháin,
tiocfaidh an lá, is budh fíor,
déarfaidh neach os cionn do chláir:
"Ní mhaireann an lámh do sgríobh."

A cenna dona druídib ocus dona filedaib!

A cenna dona druídib ocus dona filedaib!

(their * heads * from the * druids * and * from the * poets)

Off with the heads of the druids and the poets!

This is what Scoriath threatens in "Orgain Denna Ríg", if his men of wisdom do not find out who has taken his daughter's virginity.

Amrae n-amrae!

Amrae n-amrae!

(wonder * of wonders)

Wonder of wonders!

This is the sentiment of the crowd when Conaire, a beardless lad, fulfils a prophecy and wins the kingship of Ireland, in the tale "Togail Bruidne Da Derga". In today's Irish they would say "Iontas na n-iontas!"

Am trú-sa trá!

Am trú-sa trá!

(I am * a doomed man - emphatic * indeed)

I'm doomed for sure!

So says Cú Chulainn in "Serglige Con Culainn" when he misses his second shot with a sling stone at a pair of magical birds who are flying in tandem, linked by a chain of gold. His failure to hit them shocks him because, as he goes on to explain, "Ó gabus-sa gaisced níro lá iomroll mo urchur cuss indíu." ("Since I took up arms my aim has never failed until today.")

Tíagam ass trá!

Tíagam ass trá!

(let's go * out of it * then)

Let's get moving, then! Let's set out!

Spoken by Ailill in "Táin Bó Cúailnge", to put his army in motion.

Is mór in bét!

Is mór in bét!

(great * the * calamity)

What a pity!

This exclamation, used as a cheville in a short poem found in "Sanas Cormaic", is still alive virtually unchanged 1,100 years later in Scottish Gaelic as "Is mór am beud". See also the quatrain that begins "Mór in bét!" in this collection.

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