“Me Fahdur And Me Muddur”

(Spoken in the Limerick dialect of the 1930s and 1940s)

ryan clan limerick

Ryan Family, Island Field, Limerick

Me fahdur packed up and left us whin I was only eight years old, just whin I was gettin’ to know and really love him.

For some reason or other, I don’t know what, a fella called Jeezez ‘called him away’.

Jeezez was a fella me fahdur and me muddur said we should look up to, if we ever got ourselves into any sort of trouble. Dat was funny. The ‘butchers’ at school were tryin’ to teach us the same ting.

I tought me fahdur was a real louser for ‘walkin’ out on us’ the way he did. Dat left me muddur to drag us all up. Witout me fahdur, me muddur was real mean.

She turned out to be the meanest muddur in the whole world. While most kids had nottin for breakfast, me muddur somehow gave us toast or porridge. While most kids had nottin for lunch, me muddur managed to give us a sangwedge. You guessed it, me dinner was different from what most kids had also.

I wasn’t alone in me sufferins. Me sisturs and bruddurs had the same mean muddur.

Me muddur insisted in knowing where we were at all times. You’d tink we were a chain gang. Me muddur had to know our friends and what we were doon. If we went out and said we’d be gone for an hour or so, that didn’t mean an hour an a minute. I’m really ashamed to admit it, but me muddur actually struck us. Not once, but every time we did as we pleased.

Can you imagine someone hitten a child because he disobeyed? Now you can see how mean my muddur really was. The worst was yet to come.

We had to be in bed at nine each night an’ up early next mornen. We couldn’t sleep until noon like our friends did, for our beds would be turned upside down. So while our friends slept, me muddur had the nerve to break any child labour laws, if there were any.

Me muddur made us work. Wash the dishes. Make the beds. Clean the house. Bring in the coal and light the fire. Learn to cook. All sorts of cruel tings. Me muddur probably stayed awake at night, tinkin up all sorts of cruel tings to do to us.

Me muddur always insisted on us tellin the truth, the whole truth, and notten but the truth, even if it killed us. It nearly did too.

By the time we were teenagers, me mean muddur was much wiser. Our life became more unbearable. One shout from the front door and we all came runnen. Me muddur embarrassed me by maken ‘all the boys’ come to the front door to get me. Yes, I forgot to mention this, but, while ‘all the boys’ wereout courtin at the mature age of thirteen and fourteen, my oldfashioned mean muddur refused to let me date Peggy until I was sixteen.

Me mean muddur was a complete failure as a muddur. None of us has ever been arrested or got into any sort of trouble. Who do we blame for the terrible way we turned out? Dats right, me mean muddur. Look at all the tings we missed. We never went to march in a Protest Parade. We never took part in a riot. Me mean muddur forced us to grow up into God-fearin adults.”

Using that as a backdrop. I raised my children and I stand a little taller and I would be filled with pride, if any of my children, called me


You see, I thank God, day in and day out, for giving me the meanest mother in the whole world.

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