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Brewer's dictionary of Irish phrase & fable /

Main Author: McMahon, Seán.
Other Authors: O'Donoghue, Jo.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: London : Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2004
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Review by Choice Review

McMahon and O'Donoghue offer an enjoyable, informative addition to the esteemed Brewer's dictionary franchise. This dictionary's diverse and well-chosen entries represent a spectrum of items of interest culled from Ireland's rich historical past and present. Articles cover colloquialisms and euphemisms, street slang, literary authors and works, historical figures and events, folktales, music, food, and drink. They are well written and often humorous. The authors embellish many of the articles with a few lines of verse, an apt quotation, or a contextual phrase or sentence to indicate how a term or idea might be used in everyday speech. In addition, entries represent the remarkable linguistic diversity of Irish spoken and written idioms; Irish (Old, Middle, and Modern), Latin, English, Hiberno-English and Ulster-Scots words and phrases are all generously represented. Though more modest in length than other Brewer's dictionaries, this volume is an impressively thorough specialized tome that would only be better served by a pronunciation guide for Irish and Latin terms. It will interest anyone intrigued by this humble island and its remarkable culture and people. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Public and academic libraries; general readers. J. G. Matthews Washington State University Libraries

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek introduction, the authors of this work discuss the need for an "Irish Brewer" providing a fuller account of all aspects of Irish life and culture than that in the traditional Brewer volume. The result is a compendium recording people, places, and events in the tradition of its parent, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 0 (16th ed., HarperCollins, 2000). In keeping with its lineage, this dictionary is quite eclectic, beginning somewhat surprisingly with Aachen0 (the German city of the Holy Roman Emperors, here included because of the influx of Irish scholars) and ending with Zozimus0 (the nickname of balladeer Michael Moran). McMahon, editor of volumes such as the recent Derry Anthology0 (Blackstaff Press, 2002), and O'Donoghue, coauthor (with McMahon) of The Mercier Companion to Irish Literature0 (Mercier Press, 1998), fill in the intervening pages with entries as diverse as Collins, Michael; Linen Hall Library; Philadelphia, Here I Come 0 (Brian Friel's first play); and Smithereens0 . Entries read in the usual informative, casual style typical of the Brewer family of reference works. Each entry is completely cross-referenced within the volume. For example, the entry on Irish revolutionary Michael Collins points to those of others involved in the Irish fight for independence, the places and events of the period, and the cultural resurrection he underwent after the eponymous 1996 film of his life. The volume is not just limited to the Irish Republic, drawing as it does on some of the people, places, and events of the Northern Ireland Troubles (for example, events in Derry are cited under entries such as Bloody Sunday 1972; Bogside, Battle of the;0 and the Burntollet ambush0 ). As a volume documenting Ireland, its history, people, culture, places, and events, this is a worthy addition to any general reference collection. --John Doherty Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Everything you ever wanted to know about Irish folklore, language, and culture is packed into this new Brewer's Dictionary. Over 5000 alphabetized and cross-referenced entries succinctly but thoroughly define and furnish examples of language, phrases, and legends from the Emerald Isle itself as well as from places like the United States, where the Irish have emigrated in large numbers. The usual suspects are all present: Charles Stewart Parnell, leprechauns and little people, Mulligan stew, shamrocks, St. Patrick, the Troubles, Guinness-even Gregory Peck, son of an Irish immigrant, and George Boole, upon whose work so much fundamental search logic is based. What makes this volume exceptional, however, is the wealth of far lesser-known Irish lore. "Trimmlin' the chairs," for example, is the practice of knocking over the four chairs on which a coffin has sat to dismiss the spirit of the deceased from the wake house; the "Pinkindindies" cut off the points of their swords because they would rather "inflict considerable pain" than kill; "Plastic Paddies" are the first-generation children of Irish immigrants, who make perhaps a bit much of their Irish heritage. Bottom Line With applications and implications far beyond the boundaries of Ireland or the Irish, this volume is highly recommended for all reference collections.-Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.