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Saturday, April 08, 2006


Sordes, I mean Swords

Beckett fact no. 60.

müüüüüüüde now
potwalloping through the promenaders ('Sanies I')

Speaking of swans as I was doing a post or two back, even dead ones, I'm reminded of the 'sad swans' of Turvey House Beckett notes in the early poem 'Sanies I', set on Dublin's Northside. Portrane gets a mention too, site of the Portrane Lunatic Asylum mentioned in 'Fingal' from More Pricks Than Kicks, and the tower in which Dean Swift imprisoned his 'motte'.

Repressing a multi-umlauted yawn of indifference, you may have wondered what 'potwalloping' is. Constituted by James I, the nearby Swords was one of the few free boroughs in Ireland, with its franchise vested in 'potwallopers'. A potwalloper was anyone, before the 1832 Reform Bill, who claimed a vote on the basis on having boiled his/her own kettle in the parish for six months. To wallop is to boil.

The name Swords can't help recalling, to my ear at least, the Latin word sordes, meaning filth and dirt (a sanies after all is an ichorous discharge from an ulcer). Just as well then it's so close to the hygienic-sounding Santry.

In case you think I'm being stingy with Beckett fact posts, with his centenary coming along next week, then think again. I'll be posting a 6000 or so word-er, once I've written the thing.

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