In Fermanagh, they’d call it a clatty pracus

Often, in these crazy times on all fronts globally, I devoutly wish that I could deploy my most expressive language by far, to inform you fully of how I’m totally flummoxed and bamboozled, these days in the wake of April Fool’s Day.

The sadly pure truth however prevents that happening because — like many of you readers out there — we have all been divorced from the local Irish dialects that served us colourfully and totally for the last two or three centuries.

Since John Bull imposed his language and power across this little island, we have all allowed ourselves to be tongue-tied to the King’s English, a language far inferior to our own.

So, if I describe the ongoing Brexit fiascos in Westminster as “a clatty pracus”, in my own Erneside, Co Fermanagh dialect, sadly, few of you would understand.

That is sad indeed, at the linguistic level, and to be regretted.

By way of explanation, a clatty pracus is the kind of mucky, liquidy dung-streaked mess which heavy cattle create when passing through a gap between one field and

another in wet and windy weather.

Or when gathered around feeding troughs in fields of the kind of yellow clay we saw when we were boys in the local primary schools.

Or clustering around the scarred bark of winter trees, switching their heavy tails here and there, against the cold wind and weather.

That was what we termed a clatty pracus, and I guarantee many of you country dwellers have your own term for it.

Against that background, it is a frightening reality that John Bull’s political leaders across the Irish Sea are creating a clatty pracus by the day and by the hour and even by the minute, in the fashion in which they have all mired their Brexit plans.

It has taken them two years and more to create this very clatty pracus indeed and, at the time of writing this, it looks more and more likely to many seasoned observers across Europe and indeed here on this island that they could chaotically crash out the EU, by accident rather than deliberate design, in a fashion which will certainly create another clatty pracus for all of us, but especially for our farmers and exporters.

John Bull’s current crop of politicians are now akin to bulls in a china shop, and nobody really knows what is going to develop next.

On the lighter side, to divert myself from the ongoing mess, I’d love to be informed of any of your dialect equivalents to my clatty pracus.

There have to be a lot of them, out there across the Four Green Fields.

They are so richly expressive of what we really are about.

Growing up beside the Erne, for example, the Christian name of Nathaniel was nearly as common as the surnames of the Maguire clan.

The response in the dialect was perfect.

All the Nathaniels became Natties to us, and were defined as Big Natty or Small Natty, for example, or by their townlands.

So you had Natty of The Shore and Natty of Tully.

There was also a Natty from a very swampy and sodden lakeside farm, who was known as Clatty Natty.

They were all lovely country people, most of them involved in farming enterprises, and I recall that Natty of Tully was also the driver of the horse-drawn school van which conveyed us to school morning and evening.

There were canvas sides to the school van, which were furled up in gentle weather, but rolled down in winter, lest the boots of the young scholars (we were all scholars back then, in the dialect!) would create any kind of a clatty pracus on the wooden floor of the slowly lumbering old van.

I’m getting a little bit maudlin now, with memories of those days long before there was any talk at all about backstops or Brexit, or that kind of rapidly developing clatty pracus.

So I’ll leave it there and resolve not to watch any TV screen until the end of this incredible day.

And that is the confused truth.


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