“It was my grandmother, Sighle Humphreys, who taught me Irish and when I asked her one day what the word for hole was, she replied: ‘Do you mean one dug into the ground by an animal? That’s an uachas. Or one made by fish in a sandy riverbed for spawning? That’s a saothar. Or if it’s been hollowed out by hooves of beasts and then filled by rain it’s a plobán. Or if a lobster is hiding in one it’s a fach. Or if it’s been created as a hideaway by a wild beast it’s a puathais.’”
Manchán Magan connects language to landscape and routes it back to our beating hearts in Thirty-Two Words for Field, his exploration of the wisdom and insight encoded in words.
Like a saunter on a soft day, he guides us down etymological boreens (bóithrín) always hand-holding and assuring that we will be all the better for the journey we embark upon.
Cover illustration by Steve Doogan