Words and phrases of the last century

There was great religious favour in the middle of last century. Religion was the central core of daily existence. Pictures of the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Virgin hung in every Roman Catholic house and the family rosary was recited
every night. Greetings, goodbyes, general comments and even blasphemy had religious overtones.

1) The following are some phrases and words gone from rural speech through lack of usage, and due in no small part to the departure of the Latin Mass and the fall in attendances at religious ceremonies:

a) Blessings and general comments:
It'll be Saecula Saeculorum before I see a penny of it back. (Never)
"Amen" to that (it's settled)
The blessings of God on you! (Thank you very much)
Ah! The poor man, I just gave him something small to help keep body and soul together. (To keep him alive)
God save all here! (On entering a house)
God be with you! (said to a person setting out on a journey)
See you soon again, Please God!
The Lord between us and all harm! (Expression prefixing a frightening story, eg "It was a ghost I saw that night")
Yes! I'll do that with the help of God.
I'll do that with the help of God and 40 policemen. (Granny's comment-inferring that prayer alone wasn't sufficient to get things done).
Thou art steward no longer. (You're fired - Grandad jocosely quoting Luke Chapter 16, to his grandson)
I wrote them a letter of complaint; a right epistle, it was too! (A long letter).

b) Swearing and irreverent comments. (Venial signs)
Christ! Why did you do that?
Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph! - you put the heart crossways in me with the hell' ova fright you gave me.
Go to hell! (Get lost. What you ask is out of the question)
Go away with you; go to hell out' a that. (You're only joking)
You haven't a snowball's chance in Hell.
I'd swear to it on a stack of bibles.
It's the gospel truth.
For the love of Christ! Would ye go away and leave me alone!
Mother of Divine Jesus! Clear off out'a that, the lot of ye.
I'll be playing for the bike till Kingdom come. (bought on HP).
Heavens' above! Do you tell me that?
He washed his hands of it (Wouldn't take responsibility - Like Pontius Pilate)
It's in immaculate condition. (Car salesman describing a banger; the word 'immaculate' usually associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary).

c) A rhyme some senior boys told a lad he must recite for the Bishop on getting a stroke upon the cheek at Confirmation:
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
If God doesn't take me; the devil must.

d) Setting out for home or short journey.
It's time I hit the road (time for me to go home or journey on -- from the Irish buail se on bothar)
I must be on the road (time to go - a long walk home).

2.) Confusion.
Most conversations, particularly between women, had religious overtones; women prayed a lot, attended evening devotations, were members of sodalities and listened attentively to the priest's prayers and sermons. Subconsciously, they emphasised points in their conversations by using words from the gospels or prayers. These Bible quoting discussions were at times overheard by children and caused them serious confusion.

a) The following conversation between three women over heard by a young lad subsequently caused him doubts about Christ's Resurrection.
Mrs. Finnigan: "Well! according to Mrs. Reilly, John Magee went to a Dance in Blacklion on St Patrick's night without his Mary and him going with her for the last six years; and what's more, he was seen dancing with young wans..."
Mrs. McEntee: "Now! According to Mrs. Magee, and she swears it's the gospel truth, ...it wasn't to Blacklion he went at all; it was across the border to a dance in Killesher."
Mrs. McIntyre: "Well, according to the Schoolmistress, the young wan who's spreading these stories, is a trouble maker and a word out of her head, shouldn't be believed."
The young lad's father advised him not to believe what he had overheard saying ... "the women are just repeating rumours and gossip; everything they say, is according to this one, that one and the other one". The lad has religious doubts on the following Sunday when he hears the priest quoting the Gospel, saying "And according to the Scriptures, on the third day Christ arose, glorious and immortal, from the dead". The lad wonders if he should clarify the matter with Mrs. Reilly, Mrs Magee, or with the Schoolmistress; no! Perhaps, just with Mrs Magee ... She was speaking the Gospel truth.

b) A child's confusion on hearing his teacher elaborate on the Powers of Angles and Saints:

"Angels and saints have great powers,” said the schoolmistress, addressing her class of 8 year olds. "Their powers are supernatural" she continued, "they don't have to open doors - they can pass through them or through walls; they don't have to take a bus or car or an aeroplane to get to where they are going ... they can instantly appear there; they can appear in several places at once; now when the Blessed Virgin appeared to the little children at Fatima, and to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, she didn't have to go to those places by car or by bus or by aeroplane. Like all of us humans beings would have to do ... she just appeared at those places; No human being has got such power ... only the Angels and Saints have this power ... Do you understand?" A small hand shot up at the back of the class; "you're wrong Miss," said a small boy, "Maise McDaniel (famous singer) is a human being, and she can do it; I heard her say on the wireless that she's appearing in the Lilac ballroom in Enniskean on Sunday night and in Saint Brigid's hall, Gowna on Monday. Me father says she must be some sort of saint because she's "appearing" all over Christ's Own Creation."
e) Some of the late Michael O'Heir's exiting radio commentary descriptions of GAA football matches... (Now gone from usage, due to changes in rules - crowding of the player in possession and man in possession allowed to charge, etc)
He sidesteps one man, and another.
He's sandwiched between two (opposing) players ... a foul, a foul, a foul.
He sells a dummy, sends a high lobbying ball that's dropping, dropping, dropping right into the square.
Up they go for it, caught by the Gunner who sends a long high ball away up the field.
Up they go for it: John Joe O'Reilly goes highest of all, down he comes with it; kicks a long ball towards Tighe who has wandered to the right away from his marker, finds him, and off he goes on a solo run, dummies past one man, sidesteps another, passes to Stafford who avoids a hard tackle and sends a low rasping shot into the back of the net.
A high ball away down the field; it's taken out of the clouds by Victor Sherlock. And the ball has gone wide; as wide as the proverbial gate.
A right shammozle has developed in the centre of the field.

By Brendan Murray