LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L Archives

CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L@LISTSERV.HEANET.IE


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L  March 1994

CELTIC-L March 1994

Subject:

Black Irish

From:

"[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Fri, 4 Mar 1994 12:34:36 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (132 lines)

Thanks to all who responded to my query re: Black Irish.
Spanish genes seem to be the most popular explanation.
There was some suggestion of genes from the East as well
(of which more later).  There was no mention of another
theory that I'd heard.  That is, Black Irish were the peat
cutters who, during the day's work, became covered with
dust.  There was little support for my theory that the term
referred to Irishmen who tended, in one way or another, to
misbehave.  This lifts a cloud from the memory of my
departed uncles.
 
I must warn readers that the following discourse comprises
facts of several types: facts, Irish Facts and perhaps
facts that are not facts at all.  For those unfamiliar with
Irish Facts I suggest a review of the chapter "Warning" in
Hugh Kenner's excellent "A Colder Eye", Penguin Books,
(1984).
 
Some years ago I travelled extensively in India always
accompanied by a good friend and co-worker, a Bengali
possessed of great knowledge of Indian culture.  It
happened that we were in Calcutta and he invited me to his
home to meet his father and his young son.  I was delighted
but apprehensive as his father was a great scholar and
philologist of world renown.  When I arrived I was greeted
at the door by the male succession all dressed in dhotis,
sometimes called bed sheets by unthinking Westerners.  And
the patriarch greeted me warmly and graciously at the door
in Irish!  Whether it was Old Irish, Middle Irish or Modern
Irish I cannot for the life of me say, but Irish it was and
I recognized it as such from memories of my paternal
grandmother speaking the language to her sister when I was
a small child.  From Galway, mind you, both of them
transported to farms in New Jersey.  Strange, strange   . .
. dark night, heavy hot Calcutta with its humid human
smell, strange sounds and tinkling bells in the distance .
. . . two men and a boy in dhotis and a long greeting in
Gaelic from the elder whom I did not know!  And memories of
my old grandmother gone so many years from ours and yet
another world.
 
Completely taken aback by the sheer implausibility of it .
. . could anyone believe what I was hearing?  I managed a
bumbling apology for my inability to respond in the
language of my forebears to which the old dhotied
gentleman  responded in perfect soft Dublin-accented Irish
English, "Then you're a hell of an Irishman, sir, but do
come in and have a drink anyway!"  Understand that, as
I later learned, this man spoke thirty-four languages, many
of them already dead and Lithuanian for a chaser.  Well -
we had a drop or three and then to dinner, Bengali style,
all fish, which they prefer to any other foods, and other
items which I dared not seek to identify and all eaten with
the fingers and rice.  You've never seen the like of it.
As you'll learn, if you'll pay a little more attention,
this may explain why the Irish are forever eating boiled
flounder and such.
 
There was one other guest in addition to me and, of course,
his son.  The ladies were off somewhere in the rambling
house being harmonious.   The other guest was a real
gentlemen, all dressed in white he was with a colorful
shawl of silk. He was a Bengali poet who had taught a year
or two at a college in New York City.  Presumably, in case
they had trouble understanding me, the poet could translate
my primitive American English or otherwise explain why
wooden-tongued Americans couldn't speak five or six
languages, including one or two dead, like everybody else
in Calcutta.
 
The old man regaled me with funny stories in Irish and
Scots and English dialects.  And sang a song, in Bengali I
think it was, though it might have been any one of thirty
some odd other languages for all I knew.
 
Now again I beg you to think deeply on the meaning of all
these wonderful things that were happening to me.  Then,
like me though not as quickly I'm sure, you can put two and
two together.   Loquacious Bengalis speaking Irish with
great facility because the root language is the same as
that of their own mother tongue!  And having a whiskey and
telling funny stories and singing songs and forever arguing
with great wit about anything at all!
 
It is so clear to me now that when my mother spoke of black
Irishmen she was referring to none other than the
Bengalis.  How she knew this I'll never know.  But by God,
she was  right!  Do not conclude, as those of hasty
judgement will that Bengalis are Irishmen.  Not at
all!  Not at all!  The simple truth is that all Irishmen
are, in real, true and central fact, Bengalis!  Washed out
to a pale color they are for lack of sunshine and a diet
sadly lacking in chilis and mustard oil, but Bengalis
nonetheless.
 
There will be those who doubt the above facts of various
types.  But consider the root language shared by those who
speak Irish and those who speak Bengali.  Bengali and Irish
are languages at the outermost extremes of the geographic
spread of the Indo-European languages.
 
I would refer those doubting Thomases to a book by a noted
but alas deceased Irish philologist named Myles Dillon,
name to inspire confidence.  He was the Director, Institute
of Advanced Studies and of its School of Celtic Studies in
Dublin.  You might not know that the other branches of the
Institute of Advanced Studies deal with Theoretical Physics
and Cosmic Physics all of which is done with pencil, paper
and more talk than you would scarcely believe.
 
Professor Dillon's book is "Celts and Aryans: Survivals of
Indo-European Speech and Society".  This book was published
in 1975 in the Indian hill station of Simla and printed in
Calcutta by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, facts
which should compel your undivided attention for, say, a
half minute or so.
 
While it will not be generally available it should be found
in university libraries in Dublin.  This book (I quote from
the jacket) ". . . gives us startling exposition of the
similarities in the linguistics of Sanskrit and Celtic and
*in the customs and usages in the life of the people in
ancient India and ancient Ireland* (emphasis added)."   Now
you know the facts.  Including a few that you'll wish you
didn't know at all.  I'll leave it to the scholars to
separate the facts from the Irish facts.
 
I am happy to make this small contribution to the myths
surrounding the Black Irish.
 
Robert Logan

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

January 2019
December 2018
September 2018
March 2018
January 2018
December 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
November 2016
August 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
March 2015
February 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
February 2014
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996
September 1996
August 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995
October 1995
September 1995
August 1995
July 1995
June 1995
May 1995
April 1995
March 1995
February 1995
January 1995
December 1994
November 1994
October 1994
September 1994
August 1994
July 1994
June 1994
May 1994
April 1994
March 1994
February 1994
January 1994
December 1993
November 1993
October 1993
September 1993
August 1993
July 1993
June 1993
May 1993
April 1993
March 1993
February 1993
January 1993
December 1992
November 1992
October 1992
September 1992
August 1992
July 1992
June 1992
May 1992
April 1992
March 1992
February 1992
January 1992
December 1991
November 1991
October 1991
September 1991
August 1991
July 1991
June 1991
May 1991

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.HEANET.IE

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager