Sigginstown Castle

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Yola, the Extinct Language of County Wexford

The Barony of Forth and Bargy, right near Sigginstown, is the ancient seat of an archaic language called Yola.  It is thought that its origins lie with the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. As the newcomers established a foothold in Wexford and the south-east they brought their medieval Middle English language with them.

Along with the language there were the Yole people who lived in the area. They seem to have been a marginalized group, but a fascinating one. The radio story below talks about them. There are few to no remaining speakers of Yola although there were until fairly recently. 

Liz loves to learn languages and thinks this is the coolest thing ever! Recently we were told that "skooch"  is a Yola word. As in "skooch over" (move over).  We have to learn some along Yola along with Irish...

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A Yola song about Billy and Sooney on the back of their pony en-route to the Cross of Shad beside Lady's Island in Wexford

Yola Zong o Barony Vorth.
Billeen Scalaane an hys yola moan, 
Thaay heighed upa Buckeen twi hours avar dawn, 
Thaay paaced awi up to tha Cross o Shad 
Fan Buckeen hay pooked lik own thing mad. 

"Faad thay goul ez upa thee, thou stouk" co Billeen,
If thou dinna gow on chul daf thee yola skien.'' 
Wi spur upa heel hay gaed him a goad, 
Fan Sooney shu tumbled vlat upa road. 

Co Sooney, " Billeen dowst thee zee faads lewer, 
Aal haar, an wi eyen lik torches o tar?" 
Fan the loughraan itzel feight e big bawl, 
'Tus a gearded ee freightened Billeen's yola caule.

Old Song of the Barony of Forth. 
Billy Scallan and his old woman, 
They mounted on Pony two hours before dawn. 
They paced away up to the Cross of the Shad,
When Pony he jumped like a thing mad. 

" What the divil is on you, you fool?" quoth Billy " 

If you don't go on I'll strip your old skin."
With a spur on his heel, he gave him a goad, 
For Sooney she tumbled flat upon the road.

Says Sooney " Billy, do you see what's there?" 
" All hair, and with eyes like torches of tar,"
When the ghost itself gave a loud bawl, 
'Twas a goat that frightened Billy's old horse.

Paddy Berry sings a song in Yola. The tune and pronunciation were unknown so Paddy was commissioned to create this version for the opening of Yola Farmstead in 1969. 

The Yola Folk Farmstead was located in Tagoat, Wexford and run as a community/tourist site. Unfortunately it is now closed.