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Spreading the Words

Spreading the Words

Spreading the Words is a series on the histories of Irish words from literature and everyday life written by Sharon Arbuthnot and Máire Ní Mhaonaigh and produced in association with the book A History of Ireland in 100 Words and the electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (

Immram (Voyage)

Spreading the Words

The theme of immram, or voyage, is central to a number of poems by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.

Tarbh – Bull

Spreading the Words

In early Ireland, many activities were not permitted on a Sunday; but you could still bring a bull to a cow.

Gé (Goose)

Spreading the Words

According to a ninth-century Irish poet, the sure signs of winter included the sound of a barnacle goose.

Clábar (Mud)

Spreading the Words

Irish clábar lies behind Hiberno-English clabber and clauber, but for long have we been saying ‘clabber to the knees’?

Duileasg (Dulse)

Spreading the Words

In his poetry, Seamus Heaney referred often to ‘dulse’, but how does this edible seaweed feature in medieval Irish law, literature and medicine?

Bog (Soft)

Spreading the Words

Some shared insights into the relationship between the Irish adjective bog ‘soft’ and the English noun meaning ‘bogland’.

Smugairle Róin (Jellyfish)

Spreading the Words

A look into the history of the Irish phrase smugairle róin, which is widely known and much-loved today as a name for a jellyfish.

Snámh (Swimming)

Spreading the Words

Could medieval Irish people swim? Did they swim for pleasure? Hear about traditions of wild swimming and the dangers of swimming on a full stomach.

Maighdean Mhara (Mermaid)

Spreading the Words

This episode explores the concept of fish-women and other sea-creatures mentioned in medieval Irish literature and historical records.

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