Furry Cat Stories

We blatherumskites rarely get to rattle on about Irish ABCs (Alien Big Cats… not saucer-of-milk endowed extraterrestrials, but rather reports of large felines running loose in the Irish countryside), at least not to the extent that the phenomenon is said to take place in England, Scotland or Wales. Back in July 1997 *BBC Wildlife* magazine came under attack from Blather for its hyperbolic claims concerning the *Beasts of Dublin — Craze for macho pets lets loose wild animals on the streets* (See *The SAS, Aliens and Big Cats*), which claimed that one had to be careful navigating one’s way about the nation’s capital due to the proliferation of crazed syringe-waving lynx-owners.

+Urban Big Cat Avoidance+
Let it be known, apart from the odd procurement of maltreated caged pets by the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the eagle-eared spies of Blather Inc. are so far blissfully inexperienced in the fine art of Urban Big Cat Avoidance.
However, this is not to say that we are totally bereft of *rural* reports. Tony ‘Doc’ Shiels reported claims of a lynx in Co. Cork in Fortean Times 34:20, and FT101:24 showed a picture of an African caracal lynx shot by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Fintona, Co. Tyrone on February 17th 1997. Other sightings are listed below. And while more ungulate than feline, that damned Wexford antelope is worth a mention.
On January 4th, 1999, the Belfast Telegraph (Or *The Belly Telly* as we have heard it referred to) told us that the ‘big cat is a dog’, and that according to the RUC, sightings of a ‘large puma-like cat in Tyrone over the weekend are probably shaggy dog stories’.
Apparently ‘the 5ft long, 3ft wide green eyed “feline” seen prowling fields and outhouses in the county is most likely a large St. Bernard dog reported missing from its home in Beragh’. The dog had strayed several days before the RUC announcement, but had only been reported as missing on January 3rd. Blather’s resident expert in canine optometry is currently enjoying his sabbatical in a Tipperary drying-out kennel, and we have no wish to disturb him, but we do wonder about green-eyed St. Bernards (and the small matter of witness testimony – they got close enough to determine eye colour, but not even a vague taxonomy?).
*Dirty and Unkempt*
A large ‘brown and beige’ and ‘dirty and unkempt’ animal was seen by several witnesses in the Aughnocloy area on New Years day, not far from Beragh, before it was seen in Sixmilecross. The RUC were quoted:
“As he wasn’t wearing the customary keg of brandy round his neck we can understand how there may have been mistaken identity”.
The hoors. Plans are now underway to rear St. Bernard-eating servals on Blather set-aside farmland. An application for grant aid from the European Community has been submitted.
(Thanks to Iain Bryson for passing on this story)
*Saints alive! ‘big cat’ is a dog*
Belfast Telegraph, 4th January 1999
*The SAS, Aliens and Big Cats*
*Silly Season: MOnsters, UFOs, etc.*
Other Big Cat Sightings:
Newry, Co. Down (Belfast News Letter Jan 23 1997)
Callow Lake, near Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon,
Irish Times 28th April 1997
Downhill, near Benone, north Antrim (photographed)
Belfast Telegraph August 16th 1997
+Well that’s the Kibosh on that+
Last week, Blather gave way to a footnote, ‘explaining’ the origin of the word *kibosh* by quoting from *Slanguage – a Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English in Ireland*; ‘…derivative disputed but possibly from Irish *caipín báis*, cap of death, or pitch cap, as employed by British forces against 1798 insurgents; verbal usage other origin and not general Hiberno-English’. Without seeking to turn Blather into a vessel of linguistic lessons, we take the liberty of expanding and expounding on this matter.
Consulted this week was *A Dictionary of Hiberno-English*, which tells us that the ‘origin is obscure: various claims have been made for its origin, including Yiddish, Anglo-Hebraic, Turkish, and Irish, with *kybosh* sometimes regarded as a re-formation of the Irish *caidhp (an) bháis*, ‘cap of death’, the black cap or judgement cap worn by judges when pronouncing sentence of death… *The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology* gives an origin in the 19th century and adds: “apparently associated with ‘bosh’ [Turkish *bos*, empty, worthless], nonsense.’
While this ‘cap of death’ theory is possibly more reliable than the pitch-cap explanation of last week, one can’t help but wonder how Irish got mixed up with Turkish and Yiddish…
A Bob Richardson was in touch to inform us of an article called *Putting the Kibosh On It – An unEnglish expression?*, which expands on the Hebrew explanations, and adds that Webster’s New World Dictionary ‘apparently derives it from Middle High German kiebe, meaning “carrion”‘.
Despite, our elevated hiberno-centric viewpoint on this frosty island, we concede that the word *kibosh/kybosh* should be evenly shared amongst the Earth’s nations…
*A Dictionary of Hiberno-English*, compiled and edited by Terence Patrick Dolan, Gill & MacMillan 1998, ISBN 0-7171-2437-1
Dictionary of Hiberno-English (Amazon.com)
Dictionary of Hiberno-English (Amazon.co.uk)
*Putting the Kibosh On It – An unEnglish expression?*
http://www.quinion.demon.co.uk/words/articles/kibosh.htm (dead link)
Review: An Irishman’s Diary, Terence Killeen,
The Irish Times, Monday, January 11, 1999 (Reg Required)

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