Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Edgeworth, MariaCastle Rackrent, An Hibernian Tale, Taken from Facts, and from the Manners of the Irish Squires, before the Year 1782.
Author Details
First Names:Maria
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard.
Novel Details
Genre:Anecdotal; domestic; historical; humour; manners/society; social commentary
Setting:Ireland; Castle;
Period:From 1751 to within 5 years of publication
Thady Quirk, an elderly Irish steward, narrates the fictional history of the life and times of four generations of aristocracy taking their seat at Castle Rackrent in Ireland. His reflections are warmly nostalgic at the outset, recalling splendid parties and hospitality, and move on to less amenable times to the eventual loss of the castle through mismanagement and profligacy. Although Thady's son, Jason, through shrewd (if cynical) investment, eventually owns the castle, the novel ends on a sad note for Thady, who bemoans the passing of the aristocratic residency.
Overview of the Dialect
The narrator, Thady, recounts his view of the life and times of the occupants of Castle Rackrent in his own Irish (Hibernian) voice, using idiom, colloquiallism, and vocabulary peculiar to the region. There are several instances of dialect vocabulary being glossed in footnotes, and an extensive glossary, complete with anecdotal evidence from 'the Editor' (Edgeworth) occupies pp. xv - xliv.
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Speaker #1:Authorial voice ('Maria Edgeworth') - Author
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Authorial voice ('Maria Edgeworth')
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:1st person
Dialect Features:Idiom, Metalanguage, Vocabulary

Social Role
Social Role Description:Author
Social Role Category:
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:
Place of Origin Category:Unspecified
Extract #1 dialect features: Metalanguage, Vocabulary
Childer --this is the manner in which many of Thady's rank, and others in Ireland, formerly pronounced the word children .
Extract #2 dialect features: Metalanguage
Boo! Boo! --and exclamation equivalent to Pshaw! or Nonsense .
Extract #3 dialect features: Metalanguage
This is the invariable pronunciation of the lower Irish.
Extract #4 dialect features: Idiom, Metalanguage
Page 31. I thought to make him a priest . --It was customary of those in Thady's rank, in Ireland, whenever they could get a little money, to send their sons abroad, to St. Omer's, or to Spain, to be educated as priests. Now they are educated at Minnouth. The Editor has lately known a young lad, who began by being a post-boy, afterwards turn into a carpenter; then quit his plane and workbench to study his Humanities , as he said, at the college of Minnouth: but after he had gone through his course of Humanities, he determined to be a soldier instead of a priest.
Page 37. Flam.-- short for flambeau.
Page 40. Barrack room .--Formerly it was customary, in gentlemen's houses in Ireland, to fit up one large bedchamber with a number of beds for the reception of occasional visitors. These rooms were called Barrack rooms.
Page 41. An innocent --in Ireland, means a simpleton, an ideot
Page 58. The Curragh --is the Newmarket of Ireland.
Extract #5 dialect features: Metalanguage
To those who are totally unacquainted with Ireland, the following Memoirs will perhaps be scarcely intelligible, or probably they may appear perfectly incredible. For the information of the ignorant English reader a few notes have been subjoined by the Editor, and he had it once in contemplation to translate the language of Thady into plain English; but Thady's idiom is incapable of translation, and besides, the authenticity of his story would have been more exposed to doubt if it were not told in his own characteristic manner.
Speaker #2:Thady Quirk - Steward
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Thady Quirk
Age:Adult - elderly
Narrative Voice:1st person

Social Role
Social Role Description:Steward
Social Role Category:Servant
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:Ireland
Place of Origin Category:Ireland
Extract #1 dialect features: Grammar, Idiom, Orthographical Contraction, Vocabulary
Speakers: All , Thady Quirk
Having out of friendship for the family, upon whose estate, praised be Heaven! I and mine have lived rent free time out of mind, voluntarily undertaken to publish the Memoirs of the Rackrent family, I think it my duty to say a few words, in the first place, concerning myself.--My real name is Thady Quirk, though in the family I have always been known by no other than " honest Thady "--afterwards, in the time of Sir Murtagh, deceased, I can remember to hear them calling me " old Thady ;" and now I'm come to "poor Thady"--for I wear a long great coat, winter and summer, which is very handy, as I never put my arms into the sleeves, (they are as good as new,) though come Holantide next, I've had it these seven years; it holds on by a single button round my neck, cloak fashion--to look at me, you would hardly think "poor Thady" was the father of attorney Quirk; he is a high gentleman, and never minds what poor Thady says, and having better than 1500 a year, landed estate, looks down upon honest Thady, but I wash my hands of his doings, and as I have lived so will I die, true and loyal to the family.--The family of the Rackrents is, I am proud to say, one of the most ancient in the kingdom.--Every body knows this is not the old family name, which was O'Shaughlin, related to the Kings of Ireland--but that was before my time.
Extract #2 dialect features: Grammar, Idiom, Metalanguage, Orthographical Contraction
"These shrubs?" said she-- "Trees," said he-- "May be they are what you call trees in Ireland, my dear, (says she) but they are not a yard high, are they?" -- "They were planted out but last year, my lady," says I, to soften matters between them, for I saw she was going the way to make his honor mad with her-- "they are very well grown for their age, and you'll not see the bog of Allyballycarricko'shaughlin at all at all through the skreen, when once the leaves come out--But, my lady, you must not quarrel with any part or parcel of Allyballycarricko'shaughlin, for you don't know how many hundred years that same bit of bog has been in the family, we would not part with the bog of Allyballycarricko'shaughlin upon no account at all ; it cost the late Sir Murtagh two hundred good pounds to defend his title to it, and boundaries, against the O'Learys, who cut a road through it." -- Now one would have thought this would have been hint enough for my lady, but she fell to laughing like one out of their right mind, and made me say the name of the bog over for her to get it by heart a dozen times--then she must ask me how to spell it, and what was the meaning of it in English --Sir Kit standing by whistling all the while--I verily believe she laid the corner stone for all her future misfortunes at that very instant--but I said no more, only looked at Sir Kit.
At this Judy takes up the corner of her apron, and puts it first to one eye and then to t'other, being to all appearance in great trouble; and my shister put in her word , and bid his honor have a good heart, for she was sure it was only the gout that Sir Patrick used to have flying about him, and that he ought to drink a glass or a bottle extraordinary to keep it out of his stomach, and he promised to take her advice, and sent out for more spirits immediately; and Judy made a sign to me, and I went over to the door to her, and she said-- " I wonder to see Sir Condy so low!--Has he heard the news?" "What news?" says I.-- "Did'nt ye hear it, then? (says she) my lady Rackrent that was is kilt and lying for dead, and I don't doubt but that it's all over with her by this time." --"Mercy on us all, (says I) how was it?"--"The jaunting car, it was that ran away with her, (says Judy).
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Version 1.1 (December 2015)Background image reproduced from the Database of Mid Victorian Illustration (DMVI)