A Sign of Ireland

Following my post earlier this week about Irish orthography and related matters, I thought I’d share a couple of random thoughts inspired by the above road sign.

First, notice the font used for the Irish names, which is a variant of the UK Transport typeface, but is notable for the absence of any tittles (a ‘tittle’ being one of those little dots above the i and j in standard type).

The other thing, which I only found out a few days ago, is that`Leixlip’ is a name of Norse origin – it means ‘Salmon’s Leap’. Apparently there was a viking settlement there, positioned because of the abundance salmon in the River Liffey which flows through on the way to Dublin. `Leix’ is similar to, e.g., the Danish `Laks’, meaning salmon, and ‘leap’ is similar to many words in modern European languages derived from proto-Germanic sources.

There is a Salmon Leap Inn in Leixlip. I have heard very good things about the food but not yet dined there. Nowadays however Leixlip is best known for the presence of a huge Intel ‘campus’, which is home to a large semiconductor fabrication facility, among other things.

9 Responses to “A Sign of Ireland”

  1. Bryn Jones Says:

    Interested by this, I had a look at the English-language Wikipedia. It tells me in the article about Maynooth that Maigh Nuad means “plain of Nuadha”, where Nuadha was the very old Celtic mythological figure Nuada or Nuada Airgetlám. It also tells me that this is the same figure as the Welsh Nudd, which I knew of as the father of Gwyn ap Nudd, one of three holy starwatchers referred to in passing in one account of astronomy in Wales. Curious.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Ah, so the wonderful Laxdaela Saga is really the saga set in the valley of the salmon!

  3. The salmon is a magic fish in Irish myth.

    A silver trout features in the Yeats poem-The Song of Wandering Aengus

    I went out to the hazel wood,
    Because a fire was in my head,
    And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
    And hooked a berry to a thread;
    And when white moths were on the wing,
    And moth-like stars were flickering out,
    I dropped the berry in a stream
    And caught a little silver trout.

    When I had laid it on the floor
    I went to blow the fire a-flame,
    But something rustled on the floor,
    And someone called me by my name:
    It had become a glimmering girl
    With apple blossom in her hair
    Who called me by my name and ran
    And faded through the brightening air.

    • telescoper Says:

      Is salmon magic when you smoke it?

    • telescoper Says:

      ps. you missed the beautiful last few lines:

      And walk among long dappled grass
      And pluck till time and times are done
      The silver apples of the moon,
      The golden apples of the sun.

      • Also set to music by the wonderful folk-rock band Clarion. I saw them a couple of times at Cropredy back in the 1990s. They then disbanded and the drummer became an undertaker! Last year in Cropredy, I awoke to the sound of a familiar song and thought that someone was playing their CD. I wandered into the village to find them playing at the fringe festival at the Brasenose arms, their first gig in 25 years. Definitely one of the best folk-rock bands; they should gig more often. Worth checking out.

  4. Though I am old with wandering
    Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
    I will find out where she has gone,
    And kiss her lips and take her hands;
    And walk among long dappled grass,
    And pluck till time and times are done,
    The silver apples of the moon,
    The golden apples of the sun

    Put to music by Mike Scott of The Waterboys!

  5. The “Appointment with Mr Yeats” is one of my favourite Waterboys albums.

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