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Some friends, who have seen Thady's history since it
has been printed, have suggested to the Editor, that many of the terms and idiomatic phrases, with which it abounds, could not be intelligible to the English reader without further explanation. The Editor has therefore furnished the following Glossary.
Page 1. Monday morning.—Thady begins his memoirs of the Rackrent Family by dating Monday morning, because no great undertaking can be auspiciously commenced in Ireland on any morning but Monday morning. “O, please God we live till Monday morning, we'll set the slater to mend the roof of the house. On Monday morning we'll fall to, and cut the turf. On Monday morning we'll see and begin mowing. On Monday morning, please your honour, we'll begin and dig the potatoes,” &c.
All the intermediate days, between the making of such speeches and the ensuing Monday, are wasted : and when Monday morning comes, it is ten to one that the business is deferred to the next Monday morning. The Editor knew a gentleman, who, to counteract this prejudice, made his workmen and labourers begin all new pieces of work upon a Saturday.
Page 3. Let alone the three kingdoms itself.Let alone, in this sentence, means put out of consideration. The phrase, let alone, which is now used as the imperative of a verb, may in time become a conjunction, and may exercise the ingenuity of some future etymologist. The celebrated Horne Tooke has proved most satisfactorily, that the conjunction but comes from the imperative of the Anglo-Saxon very (beoutan) to be out ; also, that if comes from gift, the imperative of the Anglo-Saxon verb which signifies to give, &c.
Page 5. Whillaluh.—Ullaloo, Gol, or lamentation over the dead
Magnoque ululante tumultu."-VIRGIL.
66 Ululatibus omne Implevere nemus.”_Ovid. A full account of the Irish Gol, or Ullaloo, and of the Caoinan or Irish funeral song, with its first semichorus, second semichorus, full chorus of sighs and groans, together with the Irish words and music, may be found in the fourth volume of the transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. For the advantage of lazy readers, who would rather read a page than walk a yard, and from compassion, not to say sympathy, with their infirmity, the Editor transcribes the following passages :
“ The Irish have been always remarkable for their funeral lamentations, and this peculiarity has been noticed by almost every traveller who visited them ; and it seems derived from their Celtic ancestors, the primæval inhabitants of this isle. " It has been affirmed of the Irish, that to
cry more natural to them than to any other nation, and at length the Irish cry became proverbial.
“ Cambrensis in the twelfth century says, the Irish then musically expressed their griefs ; that is, they applied the musical art, in which they excelled all others, to the orderly celebration of funeral obsequies, by dividing the mourners into two bodies, each alternately singing their part, and the whole at times joining in full chorus.
The body of the deceased, dressed in grave clothes, and ornamented with flowers, was placed on a bier, or some elevated spot. The relations and keepers (singing mourners) ranged themselves in two divisions, one at the head, and the other at the feet of the corpse. The bards and croteries had before prepared the funeral Caoinan. The chief bard of the head chorus began by singing the first stanza in a low, doleful tone, which was softly accompanied by the harp : at the conclusion, the foot semichorus began the lamentation, or Ullaloo, from the final note of the preceding stanza, in which they were answered by the head semichorus; then both united in one general chorus. The chorus of the first stanza being ended, the chief bard of the foot semichorus began the second Gol or lamentation, in which he was answered by that of the head ; and then, as before, both united in the general full chorus. Thus alternately were the song and choruses performed during the night. The genealogy, rank, possessions, the virtues and vices of the dead were rehearsed, and a number of interrogations were addressed to the deceased ; as, Why did he die ? If married, whether his wife was faithful to him, his sons dutiful, or good hunters or warriors? If a woman, whether her daughters were fair or chaste ? If a young man, whether he had been crossed in love; or if the blue-eyed maids of Erin treated him with scorn ?”
We are told, that formerly the feet (the metrical feet) of the Caoinan were much attended to; but on the decline of the Irish bards these feet were gradually neglected, and the Caoinan fell into a sort of slipshod metre amongst women. Each province had different Caoinans, or at least different imitations of the original. There was the Munster cry, the Ulster cry, &c. It became an extempore performance, and every set of keepers varied the melody according to their own fancy.
It is curious to observe how customs and ceremonies degenerate. The present Irish cry, or howl, cannot boast of such melody, nor is the funeral procession conducted with much dignity. The crowd of people who assemble at these funerals sometimes amounts to a thousand, often to four or five hundred. They gather as the bearers of the hearse proceed on their way, and when they pass through any village, or when they come near any houses, they begin to cry
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Agh! Agh! raising their notes from the first Oh! to the last Agh! in a kind of mournful howl. This gives notice to the inhabitants of the village that a funeral is passing, and immediately they flock out to follow it. In the province of Munster it is a common thing for the women to follow a funeral, to join in the universal cry with all their might and main for some time, and then to turn and ask_“ Arrah ! who is it that's dead ? -who is it we're crying for?” Even the poorest people have their own burying-places, that is, spots of ground in the church-yards, where they say that their ancestors have been buried ever since the wars of Ireland ; and if these burial-places are ten miles from the place where a man dies, his friends and neighbours take care to carry his corpse thither. Always one priest, often five or six priests, attend these funerals ; each priest repeats a mass, for which he is paid, sometimes a shilling, sometimes half-a-crown, sometimes half-a-guinea, or a guinea, according to their circumstances, or, as they say, according to the ability of the deceased. After the burial of any very poor man, who has left a widow or children, the priest makes what is called a collection for the widow; he
round to every person present, and each contributes sixpence or a shilling, or what they please. The reader will find in the note upon the word Wake, p. 117, more particulars respecting the conclusion of the Irish funerals.
Certain old women, who cry particularly loud and well, are in great request, and, as a man said to the