Irish Language Blog

Liúdair go dtí a) an Caisleán Nua, b) an Aithin nó go c) Toraigh? Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Liúdar ar stampa Íoslannach

As the final entry in this mionsraith ar chaint fhíortha, we’ll talk briefly about liúdair (coalfish) and their role in a traditional Irish expression.   Of course, we could talk about figurative speech  till the cows come home or till we’re all blue in the face, but there are other topics looming so we’ll wrap the topic up with this blog for now.  But if any of you have been mulling over some interesting samhlacha, meafair, or other tróip chainte, please do write in about them.

Meanwhile, let’s start with beagán meaitseála.  Which product goes with which destination to indicate mí-éifeacht or díomhaointeas or éadairbhe (all words for futility); freagraí thíos, mar is gnách:

1. gual a. Toraigh
2. ulchabháin b. an Caisleán Nua
3. samaváir c. München
4. liúdair d. an Aithin
5. beoir e. Tula

So what exactly is this “liúdar” in the Irish expression “ag breith liúdar go Toraigh“? A coalfish, particularly, a large coalfish.  “Small coalfish?”  That’s a topic I’ll have to research later, not being much of an iascaire or an iasceolaí.  They’re also called “coley,” in English, not surprisingly.  Apparently they are fairly abundant around Tory, but one recent fishing blog I looked at didn’t seem to indicate that the piscine population was doing very well.  A iascairí?  “Coalfish” primarily refers to Pollachius virens, a pollack (aka pollock) with a black back, although it can also refer to a sablefish, which, presumably is also somewhat dark in color.

There are two other words for “coalfish” in Irish, “glasán” and “mangach,” and it’s not clear to me exactly what the difference is between all these species, if in fact they are different species.  Eolas ag duine ar bith agaibhse?  Just to add to the mix, “glasán” (lit. “green one” or “greenish-grayish one”) can also refer to a plant (sea-lettuce), and a bird (finch).  “Mangach,” sometimes spelled “mongach,” can be “pollack” in general and can also refer to a maned animal.

Although the flesh of the coalfish is dark-colored, apparently it turns orange when salted and smoked, resembling salmon in color.  It is sold in Germany under the name “Seelachs” (lit. sea-salmon) although it is not at all connected to salmon.  “Lachs” is the German for salmon; related words include “lax” (Icelandic, Swedish), “laks” (Danish, Norwegian), and laex (Old English), all of which are also linguistically related to the “Leix” of Leixlip”, in Co. Kildare, Ireland, whose name means “salmon leap (Irish: Léim an Bhradáin).  Not to mention the “lox” (bradán deataithe) and cream cheese (cáis uachtair) one might have with one’s bagel (béigeal) and  “kawfee” (“caife,” le blas an Úill Mhóir“), especially around Nua-Eabhrac.

So taking coalfish to Tory apparently is no more useful than taking coal(s) to Newcastle, owls to Athens, etc.

I suppose that one could make up tons of these expressions, based on famous products or associations, but time seems to sort out the catchiest.  For some reason, we never seem to talk about carrying pónairí bácáilte to Bostún or cáis uachtair to Filideilfia or lachain to Beijing.  Probably no great loss!

Freagraí: 1b. gual, an Caisleán Nua (referring to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, not the various other Newcastles); 2d. ulchabháin, an Aithin (cf. γλαῦκας εἰς Ἀθῆνας κομίζειν, glaukas eis Athēnas komizein; Eulen nach Athen tragen; mostly known in Greek and German, but sometimes also used in English); 3e. samaváir, Tula (cathair sa Rúis, clú uirthi mar áit ina ndéantar (fós?) a lán samavár); 4a. liúdair, Toraigh; 5c. beoir, München (Munich)

P.S. Now if only the folk expression had involved another type of fish found in the Tory waters, called “Tope,” the Galeorhinus galeus or related species, we could have had some fun talking about “tope tropes,” but c’est la vie!  That “tope,” btw, presumably has nothing to do with being a “toper,” otherwise we’d be back to one of our favorite previously discussed topics, póiteanna (hangovers).  And the Irish for “tope” (the fish), while interesting, doesn’t lend itself to this rhyme — it’s “gearrthóir” (lit. cutter)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

Leave a comment: