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Illustration of a Celtic Bard Photo by: Google Images

Top ten words invented in Ireland - useful for St. Patrick’s Day

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Illustration of a Celtic Bard Photo by: Google Images

Here are some choice Irish words which have their roots in the Gaelic language and traditions.

1.  Bard

Bards were Celtic composers of eulogy and satire. The word is commonly known now as a poet of someone who writes lyrical verse.  Bards date back to as early as the 1st century AD.
William Butler Yeats would be considered a great bard.

2.  Bog

The word bog comes from the Irish word for soft.  Peat bogs cover one sixth of Ireland and have been used as a source of fuel for centuries in Ireland.

After the Ice Age, Ireland was covered in deciduous and pine forests. The wet mild weather caused minerals to be leached from the soil, forming an impermeable layer. As a result water couldn’t soak through and peat began to form.

Peat consists of partially decomposed remains of dead plant material which accumulated on top of each other over the centuries.  Raised bogs and blanket bogs are the main types associated Turf is cut from bogs to burn in the open fire.

3. Boycott

The word derives from Captain Charles C. Boycot, an 19th century British land agent who was ostracized by his local community in Co. Mayo.  The land agent was was socially excluded after refusing to reduce rents during the Irish Land League.  Charles Stewart Parnell had earlier made the proposal that rather than resorting to violence. Everyone in the locality should ostracize the man.
 
4.  Brogue

The word comes from “brog” which is Gaelic for shoe.  Now the word is commonly used to describe a heavy leather shoe which usually has ornamental perforations. The word is also used to describe an Irish accent.
 
5.  Callow

Derives from the Gaelic for bald, “calac,” this word is used to describe those with a distinct lack of maturity.  A person considered to be callow lacks adult sophistication.
 
6.  Galore

Comes from “go leor,” the Gaelic word for sufficiency.  The term is referred to as having an abundance of something.

7.  Glen

Comes from the Gaelic word “gleann” meaning a valley. It usually refers to a long deep u-shaped valley usually created by a glacier.  Ireland is known for many famous glens, especially Glendalough (Glen of Two Lakes) which is a glacial valley in Co. Wicklow.

8.  Loch

Derives from “loch” which is Gaelic for a lake.  It is the Irish term for a lake, normally a narrow inlet of the sea. Some of Ireland’s most famous lakes or lochs include Lough Derg in Donegal and Lough Corrib in Galway.
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9.  Tory

Originally the term was used to describe an Irish outlaw which came from the verb “toir,” to pursue. It was later used to describe English Jacobite supporters and was later adopted as a badge of honor by English conservatives.

10.  Whiskey

Derives from the term “uisce beatha” which translates to the water of life. Irish monks in the middle ages described alcohol as the water of life.

Originally published in March 2011.

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