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18 Jan 2022

Then & Now: Timmy brings back memories

Then & Now: Timmy brings back memories

Fr Brendan Duggan, PP Athea with Timmy Woulfe, Author and Donal De Barra at Con Colbert Community Centre, Athea | PICTURES: Brendan Gleeson

CON COLBERT Community Hall Athea was the venue for the launch of As Tough as Táthfhéithleann (As Tough as Woodbine) a collection of old Irish words and phrases by Timmy Woulfe on Friday November 19.

A good crowd attended and enjoyed recalling words that were used daily around the village and parish by the sweeping waters of the river Gale.

Liam Woulfe son of Timmy and Nancy was MC, and he combined some old Irish words from the book in his introduction.

Jamie Kelly on behalf of Athea Credit Union, who provided generous sponsorship for the publication of the book, thanked Timmy for collecting the words and phrases into book form.

As a person interested in history, he was delighted to see this being done and happy to see Athea Credit Union being involved.
Domhnall de Barra neighbour and lifelong friend paid tribute to Timmy before he launched the book.

He described him as a great community person, a living legend who put Athea on the map.

As a school teacher in Athea he made music and dance available to all the children, which progressed to Athea winning two All-Ireland Scór titles in Junior and Senior Set dancing in the 1970s.

Domhnall said it was very important that a record be kept of these words and phrases that gives us an insight into the Ireland of the past.

Timmy in his address recalled how the book originated from a project being carried out in Knocknagorna NS 1959/62, while he was a teacher there.

The children gathered up the words and expressions they heard at home from their parents, grandparents etc, similar to the School Folklore Collection of 1937. One of the pupils was in charge of them but they got misled over time and were lost.

In recent years Timmy became active in recalling the disappearing language and began to write them into a copybook. A college thesis on the decline of Irish as a spoken language by his granddaughter Róisín Moore, added an extra push to Timmy to get the job done and the book published.

The book has over 500 entries, plus their English meanings. The book also contains Roisín's thesis, and the story of the Home Rule Flag which recently returned to Athea. The old photographs included enhance the publication.

Timmy went through several of the words included in the book and who he got them from. Timmy especially thanked Tom Moore for the design which contains a Woodbine on the book cover, Róisín for her energy and enthusiasm, family and all connected with the publication.

Timmy signed many copies of the book afterwards and refreshments were served, and people stayed on discussing the contents and recalling the disappearing words.

In the book, Timmy described his collection of Irish words and phrases as follows, “Many of them would not be in any glossary, which is understandable, because Irish, being basically oral, is full of local, spontaneous words, conjured up by the users of long ago, mainly derogatory sounds that conveyed the intention of the speaker”

This collection is not meant to be a scholarly dissertation, just a contribution of sorts to the local seanchas; maybe, providing a slight insight into the lives of our antecedents.

The book includes words I would have been familiar with being used by family and neighbours when I was growing up.

The cow would be addressed as - how, how, how or cullie, cullie, cullie. The calf was called - suck, suck. The horse - pwee, pwee, pwee. Calling the hens to eat was -tioc, tioc, tioc or cush. The turkey-bí, bí, bí, bí. The duck -feed , feed, feed or fionach, fionach. The goose- beaidí, beaidí, beaidí. The dog was called -hulla, hull or whistle. To call the cat was -pshee,-wee-wee, to hunt the cat was -quit.

A Bathram was a downpour of rain, Bóithrín was a little road, Bothán - a hovel, a house of poor quality, Bróg-shoe or a boot, Brosna- kindling, Buachallán- ragwort, Callup (Colpa)-the calf of the leg, Ceannabhán-bog cotton, Ciaróg-beetle, Ciotóg-left handed person, Cuardaíocht-rambling, Crúiscín- a jug, Dailtín-a brat, Dúidín-a pipe, Flaithiúil- generous, Fuastar-in a hurry to do something, Geansaí-a jersey/sweater, Gioballs-rags, Lúidín-little finger, Mhuise-indeed, Páirc -a field, Pincín-little sprat.

Our thanks to Timmy for preserving them in book form.

To recall the life and times of Timmy Woulfe would take up several columns, such has been his contribution to his own parish and beyond in numerous areas of life.

He has spent a lifetime promoting and participating in Irish culture, language, music, dance, men's and ladies Gaelic games and Scór.

I first heard of Timmy through Gaelic games when he was a player, referee and an officer of the West Limerick GAA Board over 50 years ago.

Coming from the next parish there was rivalry on the playing pitch and arguments at board meetings over borderline players.

With his wife Nancy he was part of the Athea set dancers that won the All Ireland Senior Scór title in 1978, having trained the club's Scór Na Nóg dancers to win the 1976 title.

He served as County Scór Chairman, delegate to the Munster Scór committee and adjudicator at All Ireland level.

Timmy won County football titles with Athea at Senior and Junior level, and a senior football and hurling medal with Western Gaels in the early 1960s.

He played with Limerick in senior and junior football, including the 1965 Munster final defeat to Kerry. He has been a selector and managed various county football teams as well as his own club Athea winning West and County honours with them.

He trained Glin to win the County Junior Football Championship in Centenary year 1984. Timmy was a much sought after referee around the county taking charge of West and County finals.

He refereed at all levels in Munster including club finals and took charge of National Football League games. He took charge of the an Australia versus Kerry match in Killarney in 1968.

Timmy was mainly responsible for the formation of the Limerick Ladies Football Board in 1990 and served as PRO for 7 years.

He managed the county junior team to Munster finals, and the semi final stages of Division 2 of the National Football League.

He enjoyed major success with his own club Athea winning 4 County senior titles and reaching the Munster final in 1995. He has also refereed the ladies at club, county and interprovincial level , including the All-Ireland B Final between Cork and Galway.

Over the years he has picked up various awards and been honoured at club, divisional and county level.

Timmy's love of set dancing has continued up to the arrival of Covid 19 as a teacher, organiser and participant. He has also collected and preserved many old set dances over the year's which is another valuable asset credited to his name.

Timmy is now free to return to his love of set dancing when Covid restrictions allow.

The book is available to buy in shops in West Limerick/North Kerry for €10. Enquiries please to 087-7947680.

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