It may surprise many to know that much is actually known about the Gaelic spoken in Cluain Daimh and County Down for at least two thousand years but sadly now lost.
Not as much as is known as is about the Irish of South Armagh and North Louth, as recording exist of these dialects and well as a considerable body of folklore and song, but a considerable amount can be gleamed from the evidence available nevertheless.
The fundamental aspect of Irish as spoken in Cluain Daimh, as opposed to theIrish taught in schools today is that the dialect of Cluain Daimh was a 'cha' /xa/ dialect.
That is to say that the negative particle was 'cha' rather than 'ní'.
For example, 'ní raibh mé' (I was not) was 'cha rabh mé' in Clonduff. As it would be everywhere above the line in the map opposite.
The evidence being that Cluain Daimh is above the line in the diagram, which is known as an isogloss.
That is not to say that 'cha' does not occur below the line, it does, but only in specific cases to denote emphasis, see the bibliography listed below.
It may be the case that 'cha' was used more extensively in Leinster than denoted by the diagram, but the evidence is lacking either way.
To find out more about how to use 'cha' click here.
'Cha' was traditionally never used anywhere in Ireland in literature as it was seen as a vulgarism, a stain it has never fully lost.
It is generally assumed that Ireland's official standard prohibits its use, this is however an urban myth, indeed it is to be found in the Standard Irish dictionary.
Its lack of promotion is simply due to the preferences of teachers and examination boards.
Its use is generally frowned upon by learners of Irish even in East Ulster today.
Féach chomh maith :
Ó Buachalla (Breandán): Ní and cha in Ulster Irish.
In Ériu 28 (1977), pp. 92–141.
1. Scottish Gaelic influence [on Ulster Ir.]; 2. O’Rahilly’s theory [cf. BILL II: 527]; 3. Present for future in Ulster Irish; 4. Present for future in Early Irish; 5. A reconstruction of the data; 6. An alternative interpretation [cha associated with ‘informal’ style in Ulster].
Ó Dochartaigh (Cathair): Cha and ní in the Irish of Ulster.
In Éigse 16/4 (Geimhreadh 1976), pp. 317–336.
Incl. sections on [1.] Areal distribution of the forms ní and cha; [2.] Transitional zone; [3.] Emphatic use of cha; [4.] Vowel quantity in cha; [5.] Diferential use of cha and ní; [6.] Origin and spread of cha.
Ó Buachalla (Breandán): Nótaí ar Ghaeilge an tuaiscirt I.
In Éigse 16/4 (Geimhreadh 1976), pp. 285–316.
On the use of ní and cha in Uster Irish.
Wagner (Heinrich): Iarfhocal ar ní agus cha sa Ghaeilge.
In FS de Bhaldraithe (1986), pp. 1–10.