Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Irk – Not What you Think..?

April 11, 2013


256 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Irk – definition: to make weary, irritated, or bored : annoy – and it’s  an English river!

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new -eh?

 River Irk


The River Irk is a river in North West England that flows through the northern suburbs of Manchester before merging with the River Irwell in the city centre. Wikipedia
Source : Royton
Mouth :River Irwell
Cities : Manchester, Chadderton, Oldham, Middleton, Royton.
The river is known as Irk but has also been known as Iwrck or the Irke. These names are thought to have been derived from the Roebuck, which suggests that the Irk may at one time have been a swift-running river.
In medieval times a mill was sited by the Irk, where tenants of the manor could grind their corn. The fisheries of the river were controlled by the lord of the manor. In the 16th century throwing carrion and other offensive matter into the Irk was forbidden. Water for the city of Manchester was drawn from the river before the Industrial Revolution. The first bridge over the Irk was recorded in 1381 but as the river was noted for destructive floods there may have been previous ones . In a 1480 description by the burgesses’ of Manchester in reference to the highway between Manchester and Collyhurst, it states  “the water of Irk had worn out”. In 1816, of the seven bridges over the Irk, six were liable to be flooded after heavy rain but the seventh, the Ducie Bridge completed in 1814 was the first one above flood levels.
According to The New Gazetteer of Lancashire (1830) the Irk had more mill seats upon it than any other stream of its length in the Kingdom.” and that “the eels in this river were formerly remarkable for their fatness, which was attributed to the grease and oils expressed by the mills from the woollen cloths and mixed with the waters.” However, by the start of the 20th century the Irk Valley between Crumpsall and Blackley had been left a neglected river, “not only the blackest but the most sluggish of all rivers”. A project has been set up to rejuvenate the river and remove the pollution.
As for the definition of irk shown above …I’m sure we could all  make a fairly long list without too much trouble. It can be something simple such as a partner’s annoying habit or more serious news related items or a local dispute of some sort. Unfortunately we all have our ‘triggers’ that make us grind our teeth – or not! I suppose if we were not irked about some things we would not be human or totally oblivious of the world around us. Something I would guess writers are not – we ‘feed” off our environments utilizing sights, smells, tastes and touch.
I hope you have few irks in your life but if you do overcome them in your writing – anything goes there.
Blog at