Tuesday 21 February 2017

Bad weather is price of the cuckoo's misdeeds

Published 01/04/2015 | 02:30

The cuckoo returns to Ireland in early Spring
The cuckoo returns to Ireland in early Spring

Strolling out from Mass on Saturday evening, a friendly neighbour - aware that I am a year-round sea swimmer - jocosely advised me to stay out of the sea until "Scaraveen" has passed. Her reference to "Scaraveen" reminded me of a gifted teacher who taught me Irish, history and geography in Tralee CBS.

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I always enjoyed this particular teacher's classes, as he had a wonderful way of blending his extensive general knowledge seamlessly into his teaching. When it came to Irish culture, folklore, history and sport he was without equal. So, while I have heard and read many definitions of "Scaraveen," I have never deviated from my former teacher's description.

According to him, "Scaraveen" is an anglicising of the Irish phrase "garbh shion na gcuach", which means "the rough weather of the cuckoo". The Irish term gradually became "garbh shion", then "Garaveen" and, finally, "Scaraveen."

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