This Project Gutenberg eBook for English As We Speak It in Ireland, by P. W. Joyce (London: Longmans, Green & Co., Dublin, M.H. Gill & Son, Ltd, 1910), was recently linked on MetaFilter, and I would be remiss if I did not pass it on to my own readership. It’s chock full of delights, from the Preface (“My own memory is a storehouse both of idiom and vocabulary; for the good reason that from childhood to early manhood I spoke—like those among whom I lived—the rich dialect of Limerick and Cork”) to the chapter on affirming, assenting, and saluting (“The Irish ní’l lá fós é [neel law fo-say: it isn’t day yet] is often used for emphasis in asseveration, even when persons are speaking English; but in this case the saying is often turned into English. ‘If the master didn’t give Tim a tongue-dressing, ’tisn’t day yet‘ (which would be said either by day or by night): meaning he gave him a very severe scolding”) to the chapter on swearing, which begins:
The general run of our people do not swear much; and those that do commonly limit themselves to the name of the devil either straight out or in some of its various disguised forms, or to some harmless imitation of a curse. You do indeed come across persons who go higher, but they are rare. Yet while keeping themselves generally within safe bounds, it must be confessed that many of the people have a sort of sneaking admiration—lurking secretly and seldom expressed in words—for a good well-balanced curse, so long as it does not shock by its profanity. I once knew a doctor—not in Dublin—who, it might be said, was a genius in this line. He could, on the spur of the moment, roll out a magnificent curse that might vie with a passage of the Iliad in the mouth of Homer. ‘Oh sir’—as I heard a fellow say—”tis grand to listen to him when he’s in a rage.’ He was known as a skilled physician, and a good fellow in every way, and his splendid swearing crowned his popularity. He had discretion however, and knew when to swear and when not; but ultimately he swore his way into an extensive and lucrative practice, which lasted during his whole life—a long and honourable one.
If you don’t find hours of entertainment in it, ’tisn’t day yet.