If you didn’t get a copy of the Stinging Fly and want to read more of this material, you can now do so at the Irish Times website, which has published an abridged version of the essay. (I did the abridging myself, but some of the italics got lost in transit.)
Because the new Stinging Fly is a Galway special, the essay looks in particular at the Galway dialect, though this does not differ hugely from Irish English more broadly. The excerpt below elaborates on that point, using geography as an analogy:
Different regions of Ireland have distinctive landscapes, yet it makes sense sometimes to refer to ‘the Irish landscape’: it has unifying traits. Similarly there is merit to the idea of Irish English as a dialect. Any local dialect on the island will have properties that mark it as Irish English, though their frequency and proportion will vary from one place or speaker to the next.
So it is with Galway. Its dialects are close to those spoken anywhere west of the Shannon, where Irish lingered longer and had more effect on the English that largely, and violently, supplanted it. But the county’s size and topographical range mean there are considerable differences in local speech as we travel from the towns and farmlands of the east – virtually the midlands – through the city and westward to Connemara and the islands, where in many households Irish prevails.
Contact between languages is a driving force in language change. From the early 17th century ‘many Irish speakers began to communicate with English speakers by grafting English words and structures onto the stem of their Celtic language’, Loreto Todd writes in Green English. In this way there emerged ‘a form of English that reflected Irish influence at every linguistic level’ – sound, syntax, rhythm, idiom, vocabulary. Galway’s Gaeltacht and distance from Dublin and Ulster meant that influence was relatively strong here.
Irish is the source, for example, of the after-perfect, which uses after to form the perfect tense, usually in reporting something recent and of high informational value – hence its other name, the hot news perfect. Since Irish lacks a verb for have, a literal translation of the perfect tense (‘I have eaten’) was not possible, so we transposed Irish phrases like tar éıs and ı ndıaıdh to form ‘I’m after eating’.
You can read the rest here. The essay’s title is from a line in The Bitter Glass (1958) by Galway writer Eilís Dillon. 2020 is the centenary of her birth. The year has been a horror show, but it has its good points.