Irish Language Blog

Corned beef (mairteoil shaillte) or corned pork (muiceoil shaillte) — cé acu is fearr leat? Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Public Domain Clip Art Image: Pig silhouette, By: laobc, Courtesy: Open Clip Art Library; bó:, cow silhouette 3 clip art, shared by ocal, 11-13-2007; cow silhouette 3 clip art, shared by ocal, 11-13-2007; lipéid Ghaeilge le Róislín, 2018

The more I read about “mairteoil shaillte” (corned beef), the more I end up reading about “muiceoil shaillte” (corned pork)!

There seems to be endless debate as to whether “corned beef and cabbage” is actually Irish, or is it Irish-American?  Also, some people say that “muiceoil shaillte” is more traditionally Irish than “mairteoil shaillte“?  Do bharúilse?

This also brings up a question about ethnic foodways in general — does everyone have to eat the alleged national or regional dish, just because it’s labeled as being local or ethnic?  Can corned beef be “Irish,” even if many Irish people say they have never eaten it, and that only Irish-Americans eat it?  And what about Irish-Canadians?

So far I haven’t really seen much input from Canadians in this debate, although I would love to hear from some of the Ceanadaigh reading this.  The Jiggs dinner (corned beef and cabbage), of course, is traditional in “Talamh an Éisc” but that only represents a fraction of the Canadian population (daonra Thalamh an Éisc agus Labradar: ca. 529,000 san iomlán vs. Ceanada ina iomláine: ca. 36,000,000, 2016).

While I’m not going to try to answer the underlying questions, I would like show a few examples of “mairteoil” and “muiceoil” in context, including the various forms of the words.   And it would be great to hear from any readers.  Which do you like better: corned beef or corned pork?  Or both equally, or neither?  Más mian leat freagairt i nGaeilge, seo an cheist — cé acu is fearr leat, mairteoil shaillte nó muiceoil shaillte?  Nó an dá cheann acu go cothrom, nó an é nach maith leat ceachtar acu?

Anyway, here are the grammatical forms.  Unlike the root word, “feoil” (meat), which does have a plural (feolta), I doubt that plural forms of “mairteoil shaillte” or “muiceoil shaillte” are used much, if ever.  True, there is the word “beeves,” for “beef” in general, but I’ve never heard of “corned beeves” and doubt that even “beeves” is used much these days.  So that leaves us with two basic forms each:

an mhairteoil shaillte, the corned beef

na mairteola saillte, of the corned beef

ceist shamplach: An maith leat blas na mairteola saillte sin?

Notice that while “” (seen in the graphic above) means “cow,” it’s not used to form the word “mairteoil,” which is a combination of “mart” (a carcass of beef) and “feoil” (meat).  In the plural, “mairt” can mean “beef cattle” or “carcasses of beef.”  “Muiceoil,” on the other hand, shows a clear relation to the animal it comes from, “muc” (pig), again as seen above.

an mhuiceoil shaillte, the corned pork (may also be translated as “the bacon”)

na muiceola saillte, of the corned pork

ceist shamplach:  An síleann tú go bhfuil blas na muiceola saillte níos fearr ná blas na mairteola saillte?

If you want a little more background on the Irishness (or not) of mairteoil shaillte, there are some links (naisc) to the most recent posts in this blog listed below, and there’s quite a lot to be found on the Internet, especially if you search for “corned beef” and “corned pork,” if you search in English, that is.  Searching in Irish for “muiceoil shaillte,” however, only gave me a total of 16 hits in a Google search, and some of those are repetitions or gobbledygook.  With lenition, as in “an mhuiceoil shaillte,” I got no hits.  “Mairteoil shaillte” fares noticeably better, but not anything like the hits for English (hits in Irish: “mairteoil shaillte,” 59; “mhairteoil shaillte,” 49).  So what are the counts in English for “corned beef” as opposed to “corned pork”?

Corned beef:  15,500,000 (!)

Corned pork: 124,000 (still lagging way behind “corned beef”)

I think this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the background of the St. Patrick’s Day “corned beef and cabbage” dinner, but at least we’re off to an interesting start.  B’fhéidir níos mó níos moille. SGF  – Róislín

Iarbhlagmhíreanna ar na cineálacha bia a luaíodh sa bhlagmhír seo:

Cén fáth a dtugtar ‘corned beef’ ar mhairteoil shaillte muna bhfuil ‘corn’ ar bith i gceist? Agus cad a itheann tusa i gcomhair ‘St. Patrick’s Day’?Posted by  on Mar 7, 2018

Irish Vocab Round-up for the “Corned Beef” (mairteoil shaillte) BlogpostPosted by  on Mar 12, 2018

Tags: beef, corned, day, dinner, Jiggs, mairteoil, mhairteoil, muiceoil, mhuiceoil, pork, St. Patrick’s, shaillte, saillte, cabbage, muc, mhuc, bó, bhó

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