One summer when I was a kid, I decided, for reasons which I do not recall, to try to teach myself Irish from a book I found in the house, tucked away on a forgotten bookshelf. The book, Easy Lessons in Irish
, had a green leather cover imprinted with a golden harp, and was more than a hundred years old. Every time I turned a page, little bits of paper flaked off of it.
Unfortunately, the lessons were not particularly easy. Sure, there were some useful phrases like, "He tore a string of the harp" and "God is the beginning and the end, the foundation and top of all things." But I also remember some of the phrases you were supposed to memorize from the very first lesson - "hunger and sorrow," "slaughter and death."
I didn't get very far.