Irish poetry poets poems Ireland Dublin St Patrick

The Newry Nyuck

IRELingus Poetry Home

- with Northern Irish links

Started 31st October 1998
Updated 30th April 2012

782 entries so far .... Watch this space!

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y |Z

Contributions from Nyucks near and far would be most welcome!

The term 'nyuck' refers to the variation in Northern Irish vocabulary and pronunciation found in the Newry area. It also refers to someone whose family has lived in Newry for at least three generations (hence 'he's a real Nyuck'). I have no idea where the term nyuck originated, but Rosaleen Cole of Newry tells me that an entry in the Anglo-Irish Dictionary lists 'niuc' as meaning 'rogue: origin Co Monaghan'. Newry is situated thirty-eight miles south of Belfast and sixty-four miles north of Dublin, about three miles from the border with Co. Louth in the Irish Republic. The boundary between the Counties Down and Armagh runs through the middle of town.

This page is intended to give a flavour of words and expressions used in conversation which will be unfamiliar to most standard English speakers, but probably familiar to Lallans speakers and Appalachian residents. For confirmation of the latter, many thanks to Richard L. Turner, whose comments may be read by clicking here. Many would be in use all over Northern Ireland, with the odd variation, and I'd imagine that the same would be true of many parts of Scotland. Some expressions and pronunciations persist from Elizabethan times (indicated by (Eliz)). Some (e.g. banjaxed) are in use all over Ireland. The inclusion of a word or expression does not imply that every social group/age group/religious group in the area would always use it; this is indicated in the 'English' column where appropriate. Quite a few expressions are falling into disuse as the influence of television has been killing them off gradually for about thirty-five years, and teachers have tended to discourage them in favour of 'proper' speech. I have tried to use spellings which indicate pronunciation e.g. final 'g' is usually dropped (I have not indicated this by using the apostrophe; thus going would be spelt goin). Initial h is often dropped, but not where a word is emphatic. I is a except where emphatic (similarly, my is emphatic but the variants ma and m' are not). I'm is a'm. Words in bold in the examples are defined elsewhere.

The page makes no claim to scholarship and its main source is my memory! The spelling of some words in the 'Newry' column is a personal choice since I have never seen them written. In the 'example' column, you will not find any spelling mistakes! You will find my attempts to spell words as they are spoken. Where a word or expression is not peculiar to Newry I have included it to show a preference for its use to that of a standard English one (especially if it has fallen into disuse elswhere; I have indicated this with '(pref)') and these are words/expressions which can be found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Where part of a word is shown in (brackets) it is not normally pronounced - so, in w(ith), for example, only the w sound is heard. It may not come as a surprise that there are quite a few expressions about the weather (mostly rain-related) and about alcohol consumption. Many relate to (comparatively) minor acts of violence.My personal favourite is gripper - what a graphic word! Leading entry to date is brave (10).

If you spot any words or expressions that you think are actually standard English, I'd be grateful if you'd let me know.

Abbreviations: n (noun) v (verb) adj (adjective) adv (adverb)
Male gender in examples used for convenience

The last letter of many words is dropped and the resultant final syllable slightly lengthened. Examples include weekenn (weekend), lass (last), pass (past). The indefinite article is usually attached to the preceding word, e..g. we hadda good time. There is a sprinkling of Irish words, e.g. scréach (screech), feis (festival), ceili(dh) (get-together); and there are words from Scots, including one I thought was Irish - craic (fun, company - by way of Dutch 'kraaken', 'to chat').For this sourcing, thanks to Ian James Parsley, who maintains a non-political site dedicated to Ulster-Scots. Words marked (vulgar) are not recommended for use in polite circles!

Latest additions in yellow.

Thanks to the following exiled Nyucks for their contributions:

Ross Smith in Calgary, Canada (items marked SRS);

Darroll McAlinden in Seattle, WA (items marked DMc);

* Brendan Dodds (my brother) in Warrenpoint, Co.Down (items marked BD);

and to my non-exiled sister, Gloria Hutchinson in Newry, Co.Down (items marked GH);

Paul Mckevitt in Warrenpoint, Co. Down (items marked PMcK);

Paddy Savage in Ballyholland (pronounced 'Ballyhoalin'), Newry (items marked PS);

Rosaleen Cole in Newry (items marked RC);

Jane Maze of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (items marked JM);

Many thanks also to my parents, my sister-in-law Adamur, and my brother Mervyn.
* not so much 'exiled' as 'flitted down the road a wee bit'

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y |Z

IRELingus Home


They's raat smart o words at is tuk raat fum Ullans inte Appalachian on yir web-saat. This hyer leetle list o yorn is a faan saimple o how the two tungs is se close te each other. Is that yir voice recorded on the saat? In at first saimple ye sound laak ma brother; pitch, timbre an tempo.

Hyer's how Aa wint hit:

a went ta Dublin [sounds same as App "Aa"]
a hadda glass a milk [same as App "o", schwa]
acause [same as App]
afeard [or "afeart']
what/who are ye after? [what/who air ye atter?]
ahine [App ahaant]
all delighted [App aw tickled]
allus [same as App]
arse about face [App uses "bass-ackards"]
aneath [App, also "underneath]
apiece "take a shillin an gie them sixpence apiece" [same usage in App]
aside (beside) [same as App]
ast [same as App]
a-tall [same... App emphatic, Ay-tall]

belongs to [App usu. family or congregation "he belongs down te Straight Creek (church)" or "he belongs te them Lone Mountain Janeways", both are in Claiborn Co, Tennessee]
bile [same as App]
bogey [App "bolger wagon"... Aa had one maself]
bound up [same as App... see "dose o sawts"]
boy [App affectionate term, one's mates]
brung [same as App]

childer/chile ["childer" is rare, but my wife uses it]
cord (pr. coard, any string) [same as App]

dinner [same as App... breckfist, dinner, supper]
dint [same loss of "e" before "n" in App]

fornent/fornenst [App "ferninst"]

give [remains 'give' in past tense in App]
got [same in App "He got older afore he daad off"]

heard tell [same as App "heerd tell"]
heel of the loaf [same as App]
hold/grip ["holt" in App]

kilt/killed (also to exaggerate effort or ailment) [same in App]

lack [App laak (my spelling... [lQk] in SAMPA)]

man/husband [same as App]

not as bad as ee lets on [same as App "lettin on"]

on/about "a got in trouble coz ee toul a lie on me" [same as App]

pan [App "pone" as in "a wee leetle pone o bread"]
physic [same in App, but more colorfully "hit wint through im laak a dose o sawts"]
poke [in App, a bag or sack... it's possible to say "a leetle poke-sack full"]
powerful [same in App... "Aa got me a pairful hankerin fer some o them."]
quair (peculiar/queer) [in App, unknown or mischancy]

redd, reddin [same in App]

sody bread [same in App, same recipe]
steeple [same in App]
strainer [same in App... I didn't hear the word colander until I was more than twenty]
sweet milk [same in App]

theirselves [same in App]
till [in App, so that... "She give im a pen till he cuid wraat er a letter."]

vegebles/vegetables [spelled as the second, pronounced as the first... cf. victuals, inwards (n.)]

wee small [App "wee leetle"]
windy/window [spelled as the second, pronounced as the first... cf. borrow, tomorrow]

yistery [App "yisterdy", also "Mundy" through "Sundy"]
yit [same as App, rhymes wi git]

Yorn, +Fr Andreas Richard Turner.

Original content in this page including 'Newry column' spellings, Examples and the association of definitions with particular words and phrases is © B.Dodds 1998-1999 and may not be reproduced in any form for commercial purposes

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y |Z