Dána Gránna: Nasty Words for People is a new book from Irish language writer and performance artist Manchán Magan that delivers, well, precisely what the title promises. Like his earlier work in 32 Words For 'Field,' Magan scoured written archives and traveled to the Gaeltacht regions of Ireland to speak with locals to collect and record an oral history of dying or forgotten words from the language — in this particular case, 42 wonderfully clever insults, each one accompanied by a charming illustrations from Hyemee Kim aka Antic-Ham.
Here's a more formal description of the book:
One of the few Irish words that everyone in Ireland knows is amadán, 'an idiot'. They might know liúdramán too, which is 'a wastrel or a lout, or a lazy-bones'.
It's appropriate that it's these nasty words that are most widely known, as Irish is particularly well-endowed with such slurs, insults and brickbats. It's built upon them, and not in any mean-spirited, vulgar way; the words have a warmth to them, a sense of comradery, that make them edgy, but not overly offensive.
Dána Gránna – Nasty Words for People is a collection of 42 such words selected by Manchán Magan, with illustrations by the Korean artist, Antic-Ham. It's a limited edition, handcrafted book, made by RedFoxPress on their kitchen table in a clifftop cottage overlooking the Atlantic on Achill Island.
Seriously though, not only are the drawings wonderful, but some of these insults are a lot of fun:
Megan wrote more about the book and the process behind it over at the Irish Times. The book itself is a limited-run artifact, but it's a nice, fun gift to show off the next time you have some guests in your home. Not that I've had many guests over in the last two years; still, I keep my copy propped on the bookshelf by the front door, just in case the opportunity arises to insult someone again.
Dána Gránna – Nasty Words for People [Manchán Megan and Antic-Ham / Mayo Books]
Snámhaí or gormaire? The best Irish insults and nasty words [Manchán Magan / The Irish Times]