John Patrick Shanley, the playwright (best known for Doubt), has an op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY Times about a visit to his ancestral Ireland that perhaps tries too hard to be Irishly eloquent—but never mind that, the bit I want to discuss comes in the second paragraph:
I am not Irish. I am Irish-American. Some say I have the gift as well. If I do, it is because I listened to my father and my uncles and some of my aunts as they gave as good as they got in my living room in the Bronx. On many’s the Saturday night, they would drink rye and ginger ale, and smoke and talk and sing and dance, and I would sing, too, and dance with my aunts, and listen through the blue air. And because I listened to so much talk and so much music, perhaps I was spared somehow from the truly unfortunate fate of being an uneloquent Irish-American.
“On many’s the Saturday night” sounds completely wrong to me; it has to be either “On many a Saturday night” or “Many’s the Saturday night.” But I’ve long since learned not to trust my own intuitions about a various and changing language, and I’m curious how it strikes the Varied Reader. If you are Irish or Irish-American, I’ll be particularly interested in your reaction. And may the wind be always at your back!