Eh? What’s That, You Say?

Ear trumpets. Wikimedia Commons

Ear trumpets. Wikimedia Commons

Now we’ll listen to some things besides music that are heard in Irish Firebrands. When I started totting them up, I gave up after I’d found 125. Adding them to the more than 90 times that music is mentioned, means that the Parallel Universe of Irish Firebrands is a very noisy place!

Sounds were made by people, birds, beasts, storms, machines, electronic gadgets, fires, and even foods.

In reference to hearing dialects, you can hear some of the differences between Ulster, Connacht, and Munster Irish by visiting and copying and pasting Irish vocabulary from my Learn Irish page (click on these text links, or the sub-menus Words, Phrases and Names) into the speech generator (they have an English version tab for those who don’t speak Gaeilge).

Here are the first 50 of the non-music sounds:

  1. “You’ll hear Connacht Irish in the village. There are Ulster and Munster dialects, too. If you live here long enough, you’ll learn to tell the difference.”
    Lana had already begun to detect differences in the Irish-accented English she heard. She was amazed that there should be such a variety of pronunciations of the same language on an island that was only as big as the State of Indiana.
  2. The door handles of the iron stove squeaked the way all the other stove handles she’d ever turned had done.
  3. The bathroom door squeaked open, and there was the sound of feet on the landing. The bedroom door hinges creaked – the door latched with a sudden click – hurried footsteps approached the hearth –
  4. Then, hearing Dillon’s rapid tread on the squeaky stairs, Lana leant the cover against the open side of the packing case, and she hastily cleared a path through the clutter.
  5. She spooned some curds into a saucer and tasted them. “Still a bit soft. When they’re done, they squeak between the teeth.”
  6. Sometimes he woke to the sounds of blows and screams, and sometimes to the rhythmic squeak of a bed in a nearby cubicle – accompanied by heavy breathing and underscored by faint moans. When the squeaking halted and the footsteps that followed it had faded, the moans became hiccoughing sobs….
  7. So, every night he wept in fear of an unseen punishment that might arrive on furtive footsteps, bringing with it stealthy squeaks and stifled sobs.
  8. … and the voice of the wind didn’t wax and wane as it roared amongst the trees – it just kept getting louder … until it stopped – suddenly – as if it had been switched off…. The protesting squeak of hinges followed, and the percussion of a closing door–
  9. A crow called from on high, harbinger of the dawn chorus….
  10. Her voice was low and her laugh was husky, qualities that contradicted his assumption that all women who were as small as she had high voices and laughed shrilly.
  11. The shriek of a steaming teakettle pierced Lana’s slumber, but her eyelids felt glued together.
  12. The wind shrieked through the orchard – there came a strident, zipping crackle – a searing flash – a deafening crash.
  13. Then a curtained dormer window glowed with light, and as if at a signal, a door of the truck opened with a shrill squeak and a tall figure emerged.
  14. Something electronic chirped.
  15. Strident sparrows quarrelled on the windowsill,
  16. His rhapsodic plans for the week fell into cacophony in the face of this catastrophe.
  17. Then, amidst the cacophony of the concourse a familiar voice haled his heart into his throat–
  18. but amidst the cacophony of newsroom banter he found himself straining in vain to hear a low-voiced salutation that had always made his heart leap,
  19. a farm vehicle that looked like a golf cart on steroids roared into sight on the intersecting lane.
  20. she exulted in pedalling her bike at full tilt up the hilly roads, and then sailing down the other side with the wind roaring in her ears –
  21. Then the engine roared and the vehicle sped away.
  22. His yell was hardly audible over the roar of the wind in the roadside trees.
  23. She kept glancing back up the road, fearing the bus would be late and that the pickup truck would come roaring in hot pursuit.
  24. The rain roared on the footpath.
  25. in the exchange of glad greetings, no ears were eager to hear his voice.
  26. Nervous titters greeted this remark.
  27. She chose a chair beside an iron bistro table just as a cloud of chattering starlings swirled overhead, and then settled into the trees – a noisy reminder that summer was nearly over.
    Then a quick crunching of the gravel began a bustle amongst the birds, and they burst forth from the branches on roaring wings–
  28. He clicked on it, and when the page loaded, he found the answer to his problem:
  29. Hips swiveling and fingers clicking,
  30. Then a cigarette lighter clicked.
  31. Lana stopped when she heard the clatter of a keyboard. “What are you doing?”
    “I’m just looking for flights,” Dillon said.
    “Flights?” Now mouse clicks broke the tense silence.
  32. She clicked on the last link with dread.
  33. When she heard a vehicle halt in front of the house she half rose from her seat, but he fixed upon her a look so stern, that she felt suddenly faint-hearted, and she sank down again. The hammering of the knocker startled Lana painfully,
  34. He was grovelling at the gates of hell when Lana’s ringtone terrified him.
  35. He’d heard the tears in Lana’s voice,
  36. Lana heard the click and whir of a heater fan switched full on;
  37. She was arranging kindling in the firebox when she was startled by raucous braying. The bulky grey shape of a donkey thundered out of the gloom past the front kitchen window, followed by that of a man in hot pursuit. Then Lana heard footsteps again,
  38. He groped for the door frame and leant against it; his breath hissing through his teeth as he fought the panic of sudden bereavement–
  39. The hiss of the breeze in the grass lulled her into a doze.
  40. When she stood shivering in the cold, quiet house, she couldn’t resist putting a match to a few sods – just to feel the warmth and hear the homely hiss of turf fires on the hearthstones….
  41. Drumcarroll farmhouse was cold and cheerless, no matter how many turf or apple wood fires hissed on its hearths.
  42. The whisper of snow against the windowpane beside Lana was so much like the gentle hiss of a turf fire,
  43. Under the marvelous male warmth radiating through his shirt his heart thumped soothingly in her ear.
  44. she listened to the erratic thud of apples striking the earth – reminiscent of the muffled thump of distant artillery –
  45. When she stopped petting it and walked her bike to the gate, it had followed her on emphatically thumping hooves.
  46. …frogs’ peeping serenade…tinkling bell in some faraway sheepfold…
  47. His voice echoed through the house – and as if in answer, the parlour clock began to strike.
  48. She pulled up in front of the stoop. “Okay, we’re here.”
    A chorus of crickets replied … and then a faint snore underscored the songs of the night.
    I guess I’m sleeping in the back seat. Lana opened her door – into a cloud of whining midges. That changed her mind, and with all her strength she slammed the door shut.
    Frank roused with a snort and rubbed his eyes with his knuckles.
  49. The cold was making her sleepy, when once again the halo of approaching headlamps narrowed into shafts of light – but then the screech of braking tyres skidding over wet tarmac roused her with a pounding heart.
  50. The door swung open on squealing hinges; then large hands hurled the bike aside and hauled her to her feet and into a tight embrace …

Next time: the sounds of silence….

©2012 by Christine Plouvier



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3 responses to “Eh? What’s That, You Say?

  1. These are great descriptives…. I can’t wait to see how you bring out the sounds of silence without mentioning Simon and Garfunkle. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with Rachel… some GREAT descriptions here! I’m wondering are you particularly stimulated by sound? Some people are. I have learned a lot about our senses, and sensitivities through my daughter. Perhaps sound resonates (sorry, no pun intended!) with you more than your other senses, and that’s why it translates so well into your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t say for sure that it does, Ali. For much of my life I was plagued with earaches, and when I was in the navy, I had such a noisy a job that by the time I got to my weekend liberty, my ears rang for 72 of the 80 hours I was off. I have some deafness and a moderately high level of chronic tinnitus, now. I like to listen to music when I write and I have music playing very quietly while I sleep. But at least, as far as my novel is concerned, all of my senses seem to be bombarded (see smell, starting with “The Nose Knows,” and sight, beginning with “Blinkered.”)


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