"A Dub from Crumlin"

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"Irish man leaves funny recording for his funeral":

My friend, Clifford Coonan, remarked:  "A Dub from Crumlin, can recognise the accent!"

Clifford's confident identification of the deceased as a "a Dubliner from Crumlin" tickled me, and I told him so.  He replied:

It sounds like my parents' accent (both are from Crumlin), though it's harder to tell these days. It's interesting how the Dublin accent from the more affluent south of the city ("Dublin 4 English"*) has spread throughout the city and to neighbouring counties. Presumably it's an aspirational thing as it really started with the economic upturn in the 1990s. The traditional Dublin accent is associated with poverty and "too working class". My working class parents were very keen that I sounded different from them, it's interesting isn't it?

I was in contact with a call centre in Galway and the young woman, who was from Galway, could have been from the rich suburb of Blackrock. She also had this annoying South Dublin thing about saying "No problem" in response to queries. There was a problem, that's why I was calling!

On the subject of Hiberno-English, I was shocked the other day when I said to my children "I'm just in the door", meaning I had just come home, and they didn't know what I was talking about. Also "I'm just after seeing him", meaning "I saw him very recently" is a direct borrowing from Irish.



A change in accent occurred between those born roughly before 1970 and those born in the early 1970s or later.

In the early 1980s, a group of people in Dublin 4 developed a different accent, partly in rejection of older views of Irishness. The accent was known as "Dublin 4", "Dartspeak" or later "DORTspeak / Formers Morket" (after the Dublin 4 pronunciation of DART, which runs through the area). It has also been noticed that people who move into the area and parts of south Dublin from outside the county and who would normally speak in their native accent develop the DORT accent as well. The accent quickly became the subject of ridicule.



Selected readings


  1. john v burke said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:32 am

    Ken Doherty is a former world snooker champion, now a snooker commentator on British TV. He’s known as “the darling of Dublin" (sobriquets are a snooker thing) and has a pronounced accent, one feature of which is that unvoiced th becomes unvoiced t—“three” becomes “tree,” etc. Wikipedia says he lives in Rathgar but doesn’t say where he was born. Anyone know more about his accent? Where does Rathgar fit on the Dortspeak map?

  2. Victor Mair said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 11:59 am

    From J. P. Mallory:

    Interesting log although my hopes were dashed when he said it was THAT Crumlin (there is a Crumlin – Irish cromghlinn 'crooked glen' in County Antrim as well but yer man certainly didn't sound like he was local. "No problem" seems to be universal in Ireland as far as I can see. Being just in the door, I wouldn't have thought, would seem strange to anyone but "after doing" something is alive and well and a direct translation of the Irish syntax (there is a well known excerpt from a book on the odd sayings of Ireland where an English lord has asked his Irish servant girl to light the candles and she says she is after lighting them which summoned up in his lordship's mind a girl chasing floating candles through the house.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:03 pm

    "Crumlin (there is a Crumlin – Irish cromghlinn 'crooked glen' "

    Ah, this perhaps explains the name for Crum Creek, which runs through the Swarthmore College campus, and a branch of which flows through my backyard.

  4. Vance Koven said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:23 pm

    Is the Irish "crum" or "crom" related to the German "krumm"? Is the latter a ghost of the early Rhineland Celts?

  5. John F said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:37 pm

    I wondered about the particular Crumlin being referred to, since until now the only one I was familiar with was the County Antrim one between Belfast & Antrim town. There are many place names in Ireland (& England) that are fairly generic descriptors nationally, but specific enough locally, like Dromore or Clough (or Avon in England) & so that multiple places across the country have the same name.

    Another attestation for ‘just in the door’ or ‘just after doing X’ (County Antrim native, County Down resident). I don’t know how often I use the formula myself, but it’s something I hear fairly often.

  6. Stan Carey said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:57 pm

    I have a discussion on the 'after perfect' (aka 'hot news perfect') in Irish English at Sentence First, for anyone interested. The construction is indeed from Irish; less well known is the fact that it seems to have undergone a shift from future to immediate past reference, following a similar change in Irish, in the 18–19C.

  7. Stan Carey said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 1:02 pm

    Tom Scott's video on 'No problem' (and other phatic expressions), meanwhile, may help explain the antipathy to it. It's less a 'South Dublin thing' than a generational thing.

  8. mollymooly said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 2:02 pm

    To my ear, Dublin accents vary more by class than neighbourhood. Ken Doherty is from Ranelagh, Dublin 6, a postcode almost as salubrious as Dublin 4. When he was a boy both D4 and D6 had significant working-class populations, of which Ken's family were part. Ranelagh was genteel in 1900 and shabby in 1960; in the Celtic Tiger the bedsits were reconverted into family homes.

  9. wohz said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 4:49 pm

    Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy spent most of his childhood in Crumlin, living with his grandparents, so classic rock fans might be quite familiar with Crumlin accents.

    Richie Egan, who records as Jape, had a hit in Ireland about ten or twelve years ago with a song about US sludge metal band Mastodon, a solar eclipse, and Phil Lynott. The song is called "Phil Lynott" and includes these lines, sung quite distinctly in a Crumlin accent:

    And I was thinking, one day I will be
    A dead man who plays the bass from Crumlin
    A dead man who plays the bass from Dublin
    Like Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil Lynott

    It's available on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WX8jMmSMoI

  10. Colin Watson said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 6:06 pm

    Vance: yes, Wiktionary agrees that Irish crom is cognate with German krumm, apparently with a root meaning something like "bent".

  11. Dara Connolly said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 4:09 pm

    Learning not to speak with the accent of where you are from has been a feature of Dublin for generations. Dubliners such as Gay Byrne and Eamon Andrews went to elocution lessons and worked hard to lose their native accent. My father was born and raised in Dublin's north inner city but learned to speak with an "educated" accent.

    I have a very clear memory from Senior Infants class of being taught to pronounce the voiced and unvoiced "th" sounds. I was given the task of reading a sentence which began "The theme of today's mass is…" I began reading: "Da team of today's mass". The teacher patiently and repeatedly corrected me until I got it right. "Put your tongue between your teeth", she said.

  12. Philip Taylor said,

    November 4, 2020 @ 5:23 am

    I confess to being completely ambivalent regarding the intentional loss of one's native accent. As someone born in South-East London, I did my d@mndest to ensure that no trace of it remained in my speech, yet to my ear a broad Irish accent is a sheer joy to hear, and I remember to this day the little Irish nurse in my tuberculosis ward asking me which soup I wanted — /tɪk ɔːr tɪn, ˈfɪl‿əp/, she would say …

    And I have never understood those who claim not to be able to understand Sean Kelly, the cycling commentator — to me, despite never having had the privilege of living in Ireland, his accent is as easy to understand as the finest RP.

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