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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 17 ‘foot then leg then chest then all’


Down into the darkness then.Inteachán watched as the shadows ate her whole – foot then leg then chest then all. Aside from the gentle creaking of the rope the world was silent now.Not just anyone would be prepared to do what Inteachán was doing.Most of us would still be at home hoping that someone else was doing something.Well, someone was.Is.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 16 ‘groping for a better word’


Of course, lowering a rope is the easy part.Lowering yourself is another thing altogether.Breathing slowly, Inteachán checked her gloves and began her descent.If the sight of child feeding a rope to a hole was bizarre enough then the sight of this same hole slowly swallowing the same child whole would undoubtedly leave any onlooker groping for a better word.Not that the world will be saved by the finding of a better word.We are way beyond that now.Original link
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Accent and Dialect.


I went to an interesting talk recently about accent and dialect. They are not synonyms: accent is the way someone pronounces things; dialect is the grammar and sentence structure behind how this is delivered. It is (relatively) easy to convey dialect on the page; much harder to convey accent. We do not know, for example, how our predecessors actually spoke – though poetry can help as it will show some words that rhymed then that do not rhyme now. To pick just one word: right was once universally pronounced reet (and still is in many northern accents) but is now commonly rhymed with rite. (This change in pronunciation is known as the ‘great vowel shift’ that took place in England between the ...
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 15 ‘A Hungry Hole’


Lowering a rope at night down a black hole is not everyone’s idea of fun but Inteachán found the answer was not to think about the darkness but to focus only on the rope.Down it snaked into the black and anyone watching might have found it strange that a young girl was out and about at night feeding a hungry hole with a length of rope.Inteachán used a stevedore knot to tie one end securely to the lower hinge of an iron gate.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 14 ‘I’m away’


‘The 12th Earl of Silverhill let the stories of this land guide him where they led, ’explained Mac. ‘This is what brought him to Tibradden.’Inteachán said nothing. She let Mac be himself some more.‘There are more significant occurrences like Tibradden Lough elsewhere in the country, particularly where limestone is more common, but for us the place is close enough to suit our purposes.’Inteachán smiled and looked at the page. Though beautifully faded now, in the way of old papers and parchments, Inteachán could still make out the lines of a mountain with the edges of a lake drawn inside it.‘I’m away,’ was all she said.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 13 ‘only ink and intentions’


‘Armed with only ink and intentions the 12th Earl of Silverhill walked this country back and forth for thirteen years.Following trickles and noting their source; divining, descending and most of all drawing, we have the 12th Earl of Silverhill to thank for almost all we know about this island and its water.’Mac turned the pages of the Perambulatem Canalis.‘Ah!’ he exclaimed. ‘This is what I am looking for.’Inteachán leaned closer to take a look.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 12 ‘Perambulatem Canalis’


The book was little more than a sheaf of yellowed pages and Mac was waving it so excitedly that Inteachán thought it was bound to crumble at any moment and fall gently to the floor like a desiccated butterfly’s wing.‘This is the original draft of what later became the 12th Earl of Silverhill’s seminal Perambulatem Canalis.’Mac sat back down.‘Published in 1783, the Perambulatem Canalis tells the story of one man’s obsession with culverts, conduits, and cloaca.He pushed his glasses back onto his forehead and looked at Inteachán.‘I’m feeling more like my old self again.’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 11 ‘the city’s floodwater’


‘Technically,’ replied Mac, ‘it is an empty lake but that fact suits our purposes even more.’He smiled and Inteachán felt pleased inside.‘We, or should I say, you, are going to descend into the depths of the mountain, find a way to open up Tibradden Lough and then let it fill with the city’s floodwater.’‘Open it up?’ said Inteachán.‘Yes,’ said Mac, ‘open it up.’He walked to the nearest bookcase.‘This whole island is a network of channels and underground routes; the same as the city.’Mac found the book he was looking for.‘And just like plots and histories and civilizations and sewage systems, everything is connected somewhere.’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 10 ‘Tibradden Lough’


‘Legend has that it that the middle of this island can be reached by anyone plucky enough to descend into the depths of this mountain.’‘And what would they find?’ asked Inteachán.‘Well,’ continued Mac, ‘our interest is not with the middle of this troubled land. ‘He smiled at Inteachán.‘But we would be very interested in the Tibradden Lough.’‘A lake?’ asked Inteachán.‘What would a lake be doing inside a mountain?’Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 9 ‘Sliabh Thigh Bródáin’


Tibradden forest.Inteachán trod lightly on the midnight soil.Pine. Larch. Spruce. Oak. Beech.Heading upwards as the slope gradually leads. Granite boulders shine like teeth in the grin of the shadows.‘Sliabh Thigh Bródáin,’ Mac had said the next morning. ‘The mountain of the house of Bródáin.’‘Where’s that?’ asked Inteachán.‘Sliabh Thigh Bródáin is the 561st highest mountain in Ireland,’ continued Mac. ‘With a cairn on top and,’ Mac paused, ‘though I now hate to use the word, a legend attached.‘Tell me more,’ said Inteachan. Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 8 ‘as necessary and required’


It was announced the next morning that Crowley-Baird Inc. had extended a ‘significant’ loan to the government for ‘the administration of logistical support and other measures as necessary and required.’Later that day the Taoiseach addressed the nation live on television.‘Extraordinary times,’ he intoned, ‘will always require extraordinary measures not to mention extraordinary generosity.’The news roused Mac from his stupor.“Have we learned nothing from our past?’ he railed at the screen.Inteachán was pleased to see the old Mac returning.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 7 ‘Front Square is full of boats again’


The next morning Mac awoke to find that Inteachán had made him breakfast.She smiled kindly.‘You must eat something, Mac. It has been three days now.’Mac couldn’t manage a smile.‘Why waste your time with a charlatan like me, my child? All I have done is tell you a lifetime of lies and nearly kill you.’ Mac started to sob. ‘There is nothing left for us to do.’Inteachán didn’t answer. She looked out of the window.‘Front Square is full of boats again. It must be high tide this morning.’Inteachán looked back at Mac.‘Stopping the flooding would be a start.’Original link
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Leaving the EU and the Oxford Comma


The Oxford comma is in the news again – and all because the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on Friday 31st January. Who would have thought that with all the other matters to argue about – like trade agreements, and free movement of citizens, and immigration, and squaring numerous other circles, there would be time for the Brits to have a tiff among themselves about a comma? The Oxford comma, as you well know, is the insertion of a comma in a list of words before the final and + word.  Many argue that a comma is unnecessary here as the and indicates you are coming to the end of the list. Others always insert one. Others again say they use one if, by not adding a comma, the senten...
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 6 ‘in lonely anguish’


Picture the scene.You are twelve years old and the only person you know in the world has now decided that they are totally and utterly worthless. Worse than that, they have decided to destroy their entire life’s work page by page.Inteachán was overwhelmed by the ferocity of Mac’s despair. He wouldn’t eat and she could hear him pacing his room in lonely anguish.Inteachán eventually fell asleep to the sound of Mac sobbing.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 5 ‘Mac cried his heart out’


Over the days that followed Mac became more and more disconsolate.One evening Inteachán found him furiously ripping pieces of paper and throwing them into the fire grate.‘Mac!’ she gasped. ‘What are you doing?’‘I fear, my dear,’ said the sad old man, ‘that everything I have worked on for my whole life is just fundamentally mistaken and wrong.’He ripped another page and screwed it into an angry ball.‘Fomhóire. Infections. Kings. Horns. Tombs. All those tiny words I spent years scribbling now worthless.’Inteachán stood silent as Mac cried his heart out.[contact-form]Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 4 ‘the tides of the Liffey’


From Mac’s window Inteachán could see Front Square flooding twice a day as the tides of the Liffey turned in and out again.This Biblical turn of cataclysmic events was particularly hard on Mac as he had always veered away from the sensationalism of the religious education from his childhood.‘Don’t tell me that I am now going to have start believing all those stories about end times that I have spent a lifetime rejecting?’He looked over at Inteachán.‘I am at a loss, my child.’Original link
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The Language of Cyberspace.


We all know how the Internet has changed our access to knowledge (two clicks on the laptop rather than a trudge to the local library), and our access to readers (how else would you be aware of this post?). We also know that language constantly evolves – and has done so since the start of time, or at least since the beginning of speech.Always, in both speech and writing, there have been two styles: informal for communicating with friends, formal for oration and essays. What the Internet has done in recent years is speed up the pace of evolution and added a third dimension – cyberspeak.Take, for example, the keymash – in this context  a random bashing of the keys (e.g. afshjkf) to signify inte...
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 3 ‘Black slime and waste water’


One canal.Four dates.1751. 1756. 1804. 1960.Conceived. Started. Opened. Closed.A new date added now as the Grand Canal begins to flood beyond control.Basements fill first and fast. Black slime and waste water rises. Drains clog. Sandbags are deployed but do not work.Boats are floated to save the elderly.Helicopters pluck corpses from ruined trees.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 2 ‘Amaranthine’


And so it rained.Rained like never ever before.Falling hard and straight and long.Dark clouds lay low in the sky like a hateful pall.Spewing.Incontinent.Unchecked.Endless.Unceasing.Amaranthine.Filling the streets.Original link
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Inteachán – Book Three: Operation Turnback 3: 1 ‘Clanbrassil Bridge’


So those cosmic cogs and folds and gears and sinister synapses beyond the sense of those of us still left alive continue to grind and grate and turn and as they do so the Second of TheFive finds the moment opportune and duly crosses over fresh with purpose to surprise the world by taking the form of the bridge over the Grand Canal called Clanbrassil.Original link
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