Tapas: Hiberno-English speakers understand they’re “meant to be” good or at least “supposed to be”.

You know how you hear a familiar phrase sometimes and, maybe because of the ambient lighting or whatever, it suddenly sounds odd? Well it happened aga(...)

 Ireland’s Niall O’Brien, in the team that beat the West Indies.   Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

There’s a theory, or at least there used to be, to explain why certain former British colonies, specifically India and Pakistan, chose cricket as thei(...)

  AP McCoy: “I read McCoy’s autobiography a few years ago, in which he spoke with brutal honesty about the price those around him paid for his drive to win. He is a very intense man, clearly. So I wouldn’t associate the Gaelicised ‘craic’ with him that much. But as for the word’s other spelling, it could be his middle name.”  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

I used to lament the Gaelicisation of that fine old Anglo-Scottish word “crack”. Seeing it spelt as “craic” would set my teeth on edge, as it did the (...)

Keith Wood pictured with his wife Nicola at the annual Ireland Funds’ rugby lunch at the Shelbourne Hotel. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

They were pushing their luck with a Friday the 13th lunch for a guest of honour nicknamed after a horror character, albeit a comic one. But som(...)

A cartoon from the ‘Lepracaun’. Illustration courtesy of Dublin City Public Libraries

Before the actual shooting of Ireland’s revolutionary period began, to paraphrase Declan Kiberd, there was a preliminary war in which the weapons were(...)

The cult of St Fechin is now growing in Britain too, thanks to ‘Father Ted’

Driving up the M1 at the weekend, I took a detour through Drogheda and headed towards the coast on the R166. I was confident this was the right road, (...)

A rogue “l” was implicated.

I have written here before about that bane of an Irish Times journalist’s life – the treacherous lower-case “l” that goes missing from certain words i(...)

Liam Clancy: his version of the ballad ‘Aghadoe’ has helped keep the name of John Todhunter alive. Photograph: Alan Betson

The name of John Todhunter, poet and composer, is all but forgotten in Ireland today, nearly a century after his death. But thanks to Liam Clancy, at (...)

Dante. “And as we boarded a boat to cross, I realised that the terrible noises were from a man playing guitar nearby.”

I was reading Dante’s Inferno one night recently, while eating cheese. And it must have been this combination that, later, gave me an appalling nightm(...)

“Even with Con Houlihan as a guide to who and where all the local singers were, Munnelly’s work proved, as it often did, slow and frustrating.”  Photograph: Alan Betson

Old songs, as folklore collectors know, can be like rare animal species. Countless numbers of them have died out over the centuries, unrecorded. And f(...)