Thirty-Two Words for Field
Lost Words of the Irish Landscape
The Irish language has thirty-two words for field. Among them are:
Geamhar - a field of corn-grass
Tuar - a field for cattle at night
Reidhlean - a field for games or dancing
Cathairin - a field with a fairy-dwelling in it
The richness of a language closely tied to the natural landscape offered our ancestors a more magical way of seeing the world. Before we cast old words aside, let us consider the sublime beauty and profound oddness of the ancient tongue that has been spoken on this island for almost 3,000 years.In Thirty-Two Words for Field, Manchan Magan meditates on these words - and the nuances of a way of life that is disappearing with them.
Publisher: Gill Books (4th Sept 2020)
Hardback. 386 pages
It's on its 7th printing as of April 2021
Irish Times Feature: "Thirty-two words for field, 50 for penis. What the Irish language tells us about who we are" by Jennifer O'Connell. "A rip-roaring, archaeological and anthropological exploration of the lyricism, mystery and oddities of the Irish language, and the layers of ancient knowledge encoded within."
Irish Independent Review:
"Thirty-Two Words for Field is a labour of love by a passionate intellectual within a tradition we more recently associate with Tim Robinson and Robert MacFarlane," writes Hilary White in the Irish Independent Review on 5th Sept 2020. He describes the book as a "rich and absorbing work."
RTÉ Radio 1: Manchán talks about the book on the Claire Byrne Show on RTÉ Radio 1, 2nd Sept 2020.
RTÉ Guide Review: "Reviewed: Thirty Two Words for Field by Manchán Magan" "There is a ready market for the works of the late Tim Robinson or the very much still with us Robert MacFarlane, along with a number of illustrious others who continue to till the land to see with wonder what it yields. Manchán Magan is at least the equal of such writers in levels of meticulous scrutiny and general understanding of what is in essence a difficult subject” Paddy Kehoe, RTÉ Guide, 12 Sept 2020.
Totally Dublin Review: "Manchán Magan connects language to landscape and routes it back to our beating hearts in Thirty-Two Words for Field, his exploration of the wisdom and insight encoded in words.Like a saunter on a soft day, he guides us down etymological boreens (bóithrín) always hand-holding and assuring that we will be all the better for the journey we embark upon.”
Sunday Times Review: The richness of the Irish language is linked to the natural landscape and our ancient ancestors in this evocative study. "Because the ancient Irish were far more chilled about sexual matters than our nearest neighbours, and the words relating to copulation were less offensive than their English counterparts, our forefathers didn’t simply rely on obscenities and body-part references when they wanted to insult. Old Irish curses are therefore impressively inventive, and just one of the many reasons recorded in this marvellous book to lament the loss of our first tongue’s immeasurable richness." Brenda Power, 15 Nov 2020
Irish Independent column:
Losing part of what we were, as Gaeilge "Every once in a while you come across a book that is very different from anything you have read before. It is one of life's great pleasures. The oddest of books was sent to me during lockdown and it made me think afresh about a lot of things. It is called Thirty-two Words for Field - Lost Words of the Irish Landscape by Manchán Magan. It may be one of the oddest titles I have seen in some time but it does what it says on the tin and a lot more." John Masterson, 1 Nov 2020.
Blindboy Podcast interview:"I chat with writer Manchán Magan about the origins of Irish words, and the psychadelic origins of Irish Folklore. Manchán has just released his book, 32 Words for Field (Lost Words of the Irish Language)
Manchán is interviewed by Annemarie Ní Churreáin for Westmeath Libraries on 11th Feb 2021 on Facebook video
Manchán is interviewed by Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland - Feb 2nd 2021
Manchán and the nature writer Sean Lysaght are interviewed by Fergal O'Dowd 25th Jan 2021 for Mayo Books