By Landan Seamy
Local spy Sean McGrinny maintains he has discovered a resurgence of the Irish language in Tyrone, after a series of damning incidents.
“I wasn’t originally researching this” admitted Sean. “I had been out investigating something else and was annoyed when I drove to my sister’s house in Omagh for a break only to find that my parking spot was taken even though she’s put up a sign for me saying “strictly no parking at any time”.
“I’d waited angrily for 5 minutes pondering what to do when I noticed the culprit sneaking back to his car so I leapt out and challenged him as to why he had parked there. His angry reply showed a poor command of English. He kept calling me a horse and asking was I off my face. When I shook him and asked if he couldn’t speak proper English I distinctly heard the words “Pog mo Thon” which I remember from school means ‘kiss my ass’ in Irish.”
Undeterred, he pondered:
“It suddenly dawned on me that perhaps he’d ignored the sign as his main language was Irish so I let go off the scruff of his neck, yet not being given to rushed conclusions I simply deposited this piece of information in my brain and decided to keep an eye out for corroborating evidence. I hadn’t long to wait for the following morning I was dandering through Omagh town centre mulling things over in my head when I noticed a sign for an alcohol free zone where it clearly warned it was an offence to consume beer on the street and yet I saw a man sitting on the pavement playing a stirring and emotional rendition of the Mountains of Pomeroy on a tin whistle with a lovely can beside him.”
As things began to fall into place, McGrinny unearthed further evidence:
“A wee bit later I found myself at the bus depot. I was intending to use the toilets but as often happens in Omagh there was a sign saying closed for cleaning. Then a young bearded man walked up, stared uncomprehendingly at the sign and started to bang on the toilet door. I could tell from his dress and demeanour that he was a local man and not a foreign national yet everything he shouted was unintelligible except for a few words that sounded like ‘Jesus Christ’.”
As ever, McGrinny weighed up the information, using his experience:
“To the civilian ear this might have sounded like English but to the trained ear, i.e. my ear, it wasn’t, for as a spy I know that some names don’t vary much from language to language. When I’m next in the Free State I’m determined to go to mass somewhere to test this theory.”
The more I research my theory the more truth I can see in it. Everywhere that I see an order written in English alone I see bearded Tyrone looking men disobeying it. Take your pick of people walking on the grass; dropping litter; letting their dogs foul on footpaths, not giving way in their cars etc etc.
As a result of my discovery I am publically calling on the council to get rid of its policy of English only signs.”
Mrs McGrinny weighed in:
“Some people may think my Sean just wants to see bilingual signs go up since he’s a republican” said Sean’s wife. “What utter dung! The other night we were going through a protestant part of Dungannon and saw men dropping cigarette butts where it clearly said no litter. These men were not Irish speakers but most likely speakers of Ulster Scots and as a typical non-sectarian Republican, Sean’s message to the government will be to face up to reality and erect trilingual signs all over Tyrone”.
Perhaps feeling flattered by his wife’s interruption Sean looked bashful and said “no comment”.