The people of the Baronies of Forth and Bargy on Yola and the history of the area of Wexford where they live.

The Forth and Bargy dialect, known as Yola, is an extinct variety of English once spoken in this area of County Wexford.

The descendants of Norman and Flemish who arrived in Ireland during the Norman conquest of the late 12th century, these people developed a tradition and way of life all of their own. From the time of the Norman arrival in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy they influenced the religion, customs and language of the people.

Never was a conquest so amicable, indeed it was more of a marriage than a conquest.

The Normans were the ascendancy and the Flemish their artisans.

Landlord and tenant were at peace and agrarian troubles were unknown.

For some 800 years the Flemish, Normans and Irish lived in a harmonious community distinct from their neighbours on the eastern side of the River Slaney.

They’re all intermarried, the people down around here, they’re clannish, and in a certain way they do things quite different to the people over the water.

Historian Dr George Hadden says the geography of the region enabled the unique development of the twin baronies and the people of the region were known to be friendly, hardworking and excellent farmers.

Isolation from the rest of the country coupled with relative amity between the native Irish and the newcomers ensured the survival of the way of life for the people of Forth and Bargy. Many customs survive but their greatest  glory the dialect they call Yola their word for old, is extinct. 

Few people in Forth and Bargy are aware Yola existed, although some words from the dialect never died out. Flemish affected the sound of Yola and it contains elements of French, Irish, Frisian and old English, as well as conglomerates.

So that really, Yola is a gallimaufry of tongues.

‘All the Forth Men and Bargy Men’ was broadcast on 26 May 1969. The reporter is Diarmaid Ó Muirithe.