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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Irish Folklore: a joke

The folklorist Ray Cashman has done quite a bit of fieldwork in Ireland, one result of which is the book Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border (he's got another out called Packy Jim, which I'm going to get soon). It's a book that analyzes the anecdotes and other stories told, mostly, at wakes in the town of Aghyaran. There's a bit about the storytelling event known as the ceili (pronounced kaylee), which was once a common way to pass the night, especially in the north. Cashman's is a more academic book than the others I've been drawing upon, but it's all the more interesting because of it.

Anyway, the book has lots of humorous stories, such as this one:
An Irishman has a brother living in the United States. The traveler (he's called Mickey) in the comes back to Ireland often, but the other brother (Johnny) always dreads his return. Mickey is given to exaggerating, using big words and blowing everything out of proportion. With Mickey home, the brothers sat around the fire. Johnny says to Mickey, "You use the word 'coincidence' often. What does that word mean?"
Mickey says, "Well, it's like this. If your cat and my cat kittled on the same day, that'd be coincidence."
Johnny takes his pipe out of his mouth, spits in the fire, and says, "That's not a coincidence--it's a miracle. My cat's a boy."
I had to quote the story from the book for that one sentence, because the term "kittled" is just too great to omit. In this case, it means the cats were giving birth.

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