Irish Language Blog

Aimsir na Cásca Posted by on Apr 21, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Hmm, “Aimsir na Cásca”?  “The Weather of Easter”?  Not really, even though Easter weather may be important for such outdoor activities as tóraíochtaí uibheacha Cásca or for the temporary workers who wear cultacha coiníní Cásca and stand outside places like bialanna and seomraí taispeántais carranna to attract customers to come in.  Iad ag croitheadh a lapaí, nó le bheith níos beaichte, ag croitheadh a lámhóidí.   

Ciall eile an fhocail “aimsir” atá i gceist, .i. “tide”“time.”  You may have already seen this idea in phrases like “An Aimsir Chaite’ (the past tense, regarding verbs) or “in aimsir na bhFiann” (in the time of the Fianna).  For Easter, “tide” is a better translation than “time.”  It’s not really related to “taoide” (of the ocean).  Interestingly, though, especially perhaps to lucht labhartha na Gearmáinise (a Luisa, an bhfuil tusa ann fós?), the use of “tide” as “time” is related to the German word “Zeit” (time), which we know in both Irish and English through the focal iasachta “Zeitgeist”

In this respect, Irish is a bit like Spanish (tiempo, weather/time), except that in Irish, “aimsir” as “time” is definitely a secondary meaning, pertaining maybe 5% of the time.  Mostly, of course, it means “weather,” be it “drochaimsir” or “dea-aimsir” or in-between. 

So we’ll be dealing with the word as “tide/time,” i.e. the period a little before and after and including Easter.  This concept can also be applied to Christmas, “Aimsir na Nollag” (Christmastide) and Whitsun (Aimsir na Cincíse), but, curiously, doesn’t seem to be the norm for Shrovetide, which is usually just “an Inid,” (from Latin initium).  I’ll start with “Déardaoin Mandála,” and please note that the emphasis here is on “Déardaoin Mandála” and “Máirt Chásca,” simply because the other days in the “tide” are more widely discussed, in this blog and elsewhere.

Déardaoin Mandála, Holy Thursday, or literally, the Thursday of the Mandate (from “mandáil,” itself based on Latin “mandatum”).  Sometimes “Déardaoin Naofa” (lit. Holy Thursday), is used; the following mionchuardach may shed some light on the degree to which each term is used:

“Déardaoin Mandála,” 321 hits online and used in most traditional dictionaries (hard-copy)

“Déardaoin Naofa,” about 24 hits but not found in most traditional dictionaries (hard-copy).  For good measure, I also tried “Déardaoin Naomhtha,” which uses the older spelling showing the tie-in to the word “naomh” more clearly, but there were no matches.  Google did ask me if I wanted to search for “Déardaoin Naphtha.”  Silly Google!  If I had wanted to search for Irish examples of “Déardaoin Naphtha,” I would have typed it in Irish, with its nice logical spelling, “nafta.”  With the latter comment, I am, as you probably observed, ag iarraidh bob a bhualadh ort, of course.  But it is true that that’s what Google asked me!

Aoine an Chéasta, the Friday of the Crucifixion, from “céasadh,” which also means ”torment” and “agony.” “Céasta” is the genitive singular form, “Chéasta” after the word “the” in a genitive phrase.

Satharn Cásca, lá Bhigil na Cásca

Domhnach Cásca (éirí gréine na Cásca; maidin Domhnach Cásca OR maidin Chásca, srl.)

Luan Cásca: Lá saoire bainc in Éirinn, i Sasana, agus sa Bhreatain Bheag, ach ní lá saoire bainc é in Albain.   

Máirt Chásca, Easter Tuesday: as far as I can tell, this isn’t widely observed as an actual holiday, but it is a lá saoire bainc sa Tasmáin.  Apparently it used to be a bank holiday ar fud na hAstráile, but this changed in 1992.  Bhuel, whaddya know?  Perhaps some Astrálach or Tasmánach ar an liosta could tell us why?  Or a little more about “an Bilbí Cásca,an cineál seacláide, that is.  The Easter Bilby, ah, I can just see next year’s Easter blog, revamping the theme I developed for 9 Aibreán 2010, That’s The Way The Easter Bunny Goes – Cluas i ndiaidh Cluaise (using the Irish verb “to eat”)!  So next year, it will be a “bilbí seacláide” — cluas an bhilbí, ceann an bhilbí, srón fhada an bhilbí, ruball fada an bhilbí, srl.  Can’t wait!  ‘Course it would help if I could sample one first (chocolate, that is) just to get into the groove.   I guess I’ll be checking out the mail- order possibilities.

Back to pointí gramadaí.  It’s a little puzzling to me that searching for “Máirt Chásca” yielded absolutely no hits, even if Easter Tuesday is less significant than Luan Cásca.  Slouching toward drochghramadach, and using “Cásca” after “Máirt” instead, brings me 8 results, 6 of which are all about the same coffeehouse (!).  In general, it doesn’t surprise me in the least, when gender issues get scrambled online (I’m just talking inscne ghramadúil here, by the way), but it does sort of surprise me when I find no examples of the form I believe to be correct and some examples, at least, of the form I believe to be incorrect.  “Máirt” is a feminine noun, so when the word “Easter” follows it, I’d expect “Cásca” to be lenited (“c” changing to “ch”), like “ubh Chásca” and “tine Chásca.”  Hmm, well, ar an nóta Cásca, úúps, an nóta casta sin, sgf, ó Róislín.

P.S. One final mionphointe: “An Cháisc” by itself can also refer to Eastertide, but adding the “Aimsir na … “ part makes it a bit clearer that you’re talking about a stretch of time, not the day itself.

Gluais: beacht, exact, with níos beaichte as its comparative form; bilbí, bilby (ní nach ionadh!); iasacht, borrowing; lámhóid, forepaw of a rabbit; lapa, paw (in general), flipper; nafta, naphtha, the liquid (and how ‘bout that for a reversal of the usual silent-letter scenario?); tóraíocht, hunt

Nóta faoin bhfocal “bob” (trick, stump, target): for more on this word, and my nod to the Bobs of, please see the blog of 24 Deireadh Fómhair 2009, a Halloween blog on the saying “Bob nó Bia” (,  The phrase “bob a bhualadh ort” is used for “to pull your leg,” but more literally, it means “to play a trick on you.”  “Bob” can mean “prank” or “trick” in general, though, not just the leg-pulling kind, so I’m not actually crazy about equating the two activities.  However, in am riachtanais, I guess it will do.  Barúil ar bith ag duine ar bith eile ar son “leg-pulling” i nGaeilge?  An Béarlachas é “tarraingt do choise”?  Frása níos fíortha (níos meafaraí)?  Curiously, I do remember a fully comparable phrase in Welsh, “dim ond tynnu dy goes” (just pulling your leg), which seems to be quite well entrenched sa Bhreatnais.  Even if you’re not learning Welsh, you might have fun spotting the focail ghaolmhara in that phrase (freagra thíos).  “Siaradwr Cymraeg” thú?  In that case, it should be a “píosa císte” (darn o deisen), to use some unabashed Béarlachas (priod-ddull Saesneg). 

Freagra don nóta: tynnu, tarraingt; coes, cos  

Gluais don nóta: fíortha, figurative; meafarach, metaphorical

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