Possibly my most popular old post here is the one on the music in the 1952 John Ford movie classic “The Quiet Man.”
Around St. Patrick’s Day and every time the film is on TV, I suddenly have dozens of hits from people looking for names of the tunes and the song lyrics.
One other common question on the movie is, What are Mary Kate Danaher (played by Maureen O’Hara) and Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond) saying in the scene when they speak in “the Irish” language?
Out of bed. The scene follows the wedding night of Mary Kate and Sean Thornton (John Wayne). Mary Kate refused to let Sean share her bed because her brother has not given her the dowry she expected.
Here’s the scene:
Father Lonergan: “Is ea, sea, sea, sea.”
Mary Kate: “Níor lig mé mo fhear céile isteach i mo leaba liom aréir. Chuir mé faoi ndearadh dó codladh i - Ó, i mála codlata! Mála codlata!”
Father Lonergan: “Mála c--? Céard é sin? ‘Bag?’”
Mary Kate: “Sleeping bag, Father, with... with buttons! Ó, mo spré, ní throid sé ar a shon. An peaca é?”
Father Lonergan: [angry] “Woman, Ireland may be a poor country, God help us. But here, a married man sleeps in a bed, and not a bag!”
And here, thanks to our friends (and particularly BridMhor) at Irish Gaelic Translator.com, is the translation of the Irish:
Mary Kate: “Father, could I... could I tell you in the Irish?”
Father Lonergan: [From Irish:] “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Mary Kate: “I didn’t allow my husband into bed with me last night. I forced him to sleep in - oh, in a bag for sleeping! a bag for sleeping.”
Father Lonergan: “Bag --? What’s that? ‘Bag?’”
Mary Kate: “[Original:] Sleeping bag, Father, with… buttons! [From Irish:] My dowry, he didn’t fight for it. Is it a sin?”
So that’s what they said. “Is it a sin?” seems to be the central point. It’s another “Quiet Man” mystery cleared up.
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More Irish: Earlier, Maureen O’Hara sings:
Oh, Innisfree, my island, I’m returning
From wasted years across the wintry sea.
And when I come back to my own dear Ireland,
I’ll rest a while beside you, gradh mochroidhe.
The last two words in Irish, which sound like “grah macree,” mean “love of my heart.”
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