Talk Like A North Antrim Native: A 101

Very impressed with this Belfast Live guide to some of our wonderfully thran placenames but, as a frequent favourite subject on Twitter, I reckon we can take it a step further here.

The Belfast Live version includes, for example, the correct pronunciation of ‘Doagh’ as closer to ‘Doak’. For brevity this is a very good explanation for how the name is said.

Viewers of a north of the north inclination will know, however, that the 100% authentic pronunciation of Doagh sounds like someone spilled a bag of Scrabble letters while on horseback after one too many in McConnells Bar.

Therefore, let’s take a purist and perfectionist look at some similar placenames.

Sticking mostly to the North Antrim I know so well (but feel free to add your own) and in no particular order:

Ballymena: Pronounced along the lines of ‘Bal-MEN-a’, it uses a sort-of rushed and lazy tone as if you’d just landed exhausted from a trip to the Maldives or been lambing half the night.

Clough: Said in full while barely completing a syllable (the explanation for this is beyond the wit of modern science), the ‘Clo-ghk’ sound is similar to expressing surprise that a small place can have a Rangers club with a bigger capacity than the village it sits in.

Demesne: A place in Bal-MENA-a, pronounced ‘Domain’ for no one reason except that Liam Neeson, a former resident, says so.

Aghafatten: This is a pro-level placename beyond the scope of this article, therefore access needs to be unlocked by doing a special exam.

Carnalbanagh: This is said with about one ‘a’. At a push. If you can manage this you can pronounce anything.

Kilraughts: Easy. ‘Kilraats’. However, you have to live north of Logan’s Fashions to know where this is.

Ballycastle: A classic acid test placename to check your progress. Belfast whans say ‘BallycAstle’, locals say ‘BAllycastle’. Residency is not permitted in the town without mastery of this essential.

Loughguile: Closer to ‘Loughgeele’. They have their own American football club up the road in Armoy – pronounced ‘Armoy’ – so it’s probably best not to argue.

Cloughmills: Try ‘Cloughmulls’ instead. Just because.

Broughshane: It’s ‘Bruhk-shn’, but visitors from oversees get a free pass to say ‘Boroughshaine’ because the correct way involves a kind-of gutteral sound only developed through decades of sitting through Sunday Meetings in Good Shoes.

Cargin: Say it like ‘Car-gn’ because, if in doubt, drop some letters.

Portglenone: A magnificent classic of the genre. Go for ‘Port-GLEN-own’ to fit in down the Wild Duck Inn.

Ahoghill: Another expert grade place name with a Doagh-esque ‘ghk’ sound stuck in the middle of ‘Ah-aw-ghk-ul’. If you wondered what the word thran means in the opening paragraph, this name is fantastically thran.

And there it is. A whole other batch of these exists for Derry and Armagh and Tyrone and every county along the way.

Enjoy. If in doubt stop at a few pubs. Tip: Don’t be asking the local council for help. They’re kind of busy right now.

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