Ulster Ancestry : Newsletter
The Role Of Digging Implements In Ulster Folk Mythology

The Lurgan Spade 1.
In Ireland in the early part of the last century, every district seemed to have a spade of different shape. The town next to my home Portadown, Lurgan, Co. Armagh had a distinctive spade with a very long thinnish face which narrowed to about half its width at the base - known, naturally, as a Lurgan Spade. A common expression in Ireland for someone looking glum and despondent - "he has a face on him like a Lurgan Spade". Maybe some of you snow shovellers should send for one!
from rec.gardens.roses

The Lurgan Spade 2.
There is an expression current in Ulster (Geographic term - no political significance) English -- He/She had a face as long as Lurgan Spade. Now people assume that this is a reference to the town of Lurgan in (the wrong end of) County Armagh.
Actually it is a direct translation of the Irish: Bhi aghaidh chomh fada air/uirthi le lorgan spaid! where lorgan is the Irish for handle, and spad (genitive spaid) means spade. So it actually means a face as long as a spade handle/shaft.
Actually Lurgan (Irish An Lorgan) comes from the same word but in this case it has the similar meaning of a long thin ridge.
from soc.culture.irish

And finally ... a piece about that oul' "left-footer/right-footer" conundrum ...
On a visit to the Ulster Folk Museum in Cultra, County Down a few years ago I finally learned the origin of the phrase "to dig/kick with the other/left foot".

One of the reconstructed buildings in a spade mill and inside it is an exhibition of spades and sleans (for cutting turf) from all around the country showing common designs and influences of new design. In common with many items of folk craft most areas had traditional spades.

Now the traditional Irish 'slean' only had one 'shoulder' to press your foot on, and so the native Irish dug with the left foot but towards the right and doing most of the work with the right shoulder.

However when the work-ethic-motivated planters arrived they brought their own spades which had two shoulders and were usually used with the right foot. Therefore you could tell someone's background by watching them work.

Of course in time most commercially produced spades had two shoulders, but you will still see one shouldered sleans all over Ireland.

It all just proves that there are left-footers after all !!!




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