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A Potter's Moll: Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

... the traffic in Dublin when we got off the ferry was horrendous and there did not seem to be any directional signs. I mentioned this to a lady at the festival and she agreed with me and added: ‘And the ones who know their way will be hootin’ and tootin’ behind you.’ (which they were). ‘Ah well, you just have to say a prayer for them’ she added...

Liz Robison is back home again after a summer of gallivanting.

Do please visit the Web site of Liz's husband, potter Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

To read more of Liz’s good-humoured columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_potters_moll/

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. We seem to have been gallivanting here and there all summer. We had two old neighbours years ago: one who never went anywhere, and one who travelled widely. When the traveller returned from a holiday in West Virginia, the stay-at-home said ‘We shall have to tie your leg t’table.

We shall stay at home for a while as this weekend we are part of the Huddersfield Open Studios Trail (HOST), whereby artists open their workplaces to the public who can visit as many venues as they wish. Last year the organisers laid on a mini-bus on the Friday night, but it was later in the year and therefore dark – and rainy. The only visitor that night was the mini-bus driver who came on the hour every hour. Potter Jim has tidied his studio in honour of the occasion.

The other reason for staying at home is our younger son’s wedding in a couple of week’s time. We have hired a small coach to take everyone from here in Holmfirth to Bradford which I think will be much more fun than lots of cars battling city traffic. The weekend will also be an opportunity for the family to say goodbye to my nephew and his girl friend who are leaving soon to start a new life in Perth, Western Australia.

Our recent visit to Ireland for a Clay Festival in Co. Kilkenny was great, though the traffic in Dublin when we got off the ferry was horrendous and there did not seem to be any directional signs. I mentioned this to a lady at the festival and she agreed with me and added: ‘And the ones who know their way will be hootin’ and tootin’ behind you.’ (which they were). ‘Ah well, you just have to say a prayer for them’ she added.

The festival was fun and ran like clockwork, though through the eyes of a visitor from England, it is a slightly different clock they have in Ireland.

The River Nore which flows through Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, was in spate after torrential rain for the past few days, but by Sunday ‘the country smiled’ (Oliver Goldsmith), and everything in the Emerald Isle seemed to sparkle.

The organisers held a ‘hooley’ (party) on a couple of evenings, putting the tables from three self-catering cottages together and serving up lots of tasty grub. I love Irish words: craic, shenanigans and mullarkey come to mind.

By coincidence, the weekend we were there, Co. Kilkenny hurling team were playing neighbouring Co. Waterford in the All-Ireland finals. Excitement was palpable and many, many houses, cars and businesses were bedecked with amber and gold flags. On Saturday afternoon a procession of Waterford boys dared to drive round town with their blue and white flags tooting and taunting.

For fun I bought a window flag for the car that had the colours and the coat of arms of Cill Chainnigh, as it is in Gaelic. When Kilkenny Cats won on Sunday, someone told me I could now bear my flag with pride.

I once saw a play by Brian Friel called Translations about the way the Ordnance Survey mapped Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars and anglicised all the names, so Cill Chainnigh became Kilkenny. The play made the point that by doing this you debase the culture, because place names cease to have meaning.

A similar thing took place in Wales, so that Yr Eifl, a mountain on the Lleyn peninsula in North Wales became The Rivals, whereas the original word means ‘anvil’ and legend had it that a giant used to use it to beat out his weapons. This is lost in translation. The resurgence of the Welsh language at least means place names are restored to their proper spelling, so Caernarfon now replaces Carnarvon.

I do love language. More from me in a fortnight.

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