AskDefine | Define irk

Dictionary Definition

irk v : irritate or vex; "It galls me that we lost the suit" [syn: gall]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. to irritate; annoy; bother
    It irks me to do all this work and have someone destroy it.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

The River Irk is a river in Greater Manchester in north-west England that flows through the northern suburbs of Manchester before merging with the River Irwell in the city centre.
Rising to the east of Royton, north of Oldham and running west past Chadderton (where it passes under the Rochdale Canal) and Middleton, its course has been extensively altered as the Industrial Revolution took its toll on the city's landscape; the Irk has been labelled 'the lost river of Manchester'.
Historically, the Irk has also been known as the Iwrck or the Irke, names thought to have been derived from the Roebuck, suggesting that the Irk was at one time a swift-running river, but 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". Recently a project has been set up to rejuvenate the river and remove the pollution.
The Marxist writer Engels vividly describes the banks of the Irk in Manchester at the height of the city's industrial excess:
The south bank of the Irk is here very steep and between fifteen and thirty feet high. On this declivitous hillside there are planted three rows of houses, of which the lowest rise directly out of the river, while the front walls of the highest stand on the crest of the hill in Long Millgate. Among them are mills on the river, in short, the method of construction is as crowded and disorderly here as in the lower part of Long Millgate. Right and left a multitude of covered passages lead from the main street into numerous courts, and he who turns in thither gets into a filth and disgusting grime, the equal of which is not to be found - especially in the courts which lead down to the Irk, and which contain unqualifiedly the most horrible dwellings which I have yet beheld. In one of these courts there stands directly at the entrance, at the end of the covered passage, a privy without a door, so dirty that the inhabitants can pass into and out of the court only by passing through foul pools of stagnant urine and excrement. This is the first court on the Irk above Ducie Bridge - in case any one should care to look into it. Below it on the river there are several tanneries which fill the whole neighbourhood with the stench of animal putrefaction. Below Ducie Bridge the only entrance to most of the houses is by means of narrow, dirty stairs and over heaps of refuse and filth. The first court below Ducie Bridge, known as Allen's Court, was in such a state at the time of the cholera that the sanitary police ordered it evacuated, swept, and disinfected with chloride of lime. Dr. Kay gives a terrible description of the state of this court at that time. Since then, it seems to have been partially torn away and rebuilt; at least looking down from Ducie Bridge, the passer-by sees several ruined walls and heaps of debris with some newer houses. The view from this bridge, mercifully concealed from mortals of small stature by a parapet as high as a man, is characteristic for the whole district. At the bottom flows, or rather stagnates, the Irk, a narrow, coal-black, foul-smelling stream, full of debris and refuse, which it deposits on the shallower right bank.
The river has long since been culverted as it reaches the city centre. The murky brook disappears beneath Manchester Victoria railway station into a cavernous brick tunnel at Ducie Bridge and empties unceremoniously into the Irwell beneath a railway viaduct.
On August 15 1953 the front coach of a Manchester to Bury electric train fell from the viaduct over the River Irk after colliding with a local steam train. Ten people were killed and 58 injured in what became known as the Irk Valley Junction disaster.


  • Boggart Hole Brook
  • Boardman Brook
  • Wince Brook
    • Springs Brook
  • Trub Brook
    • Whit Brook
  • Moston Brook
  • Luzley Brook
    • Long Brook


image:River_Irk.JPG|Newtown Weir image:Irk and Irwell Confluence.JPG|Confluence with River Irwell




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Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abrade, aggravate, ail, annoy, badger, bait, be at, be infinitely repetitive, be tedious, be the matter, bedevil, beset, bother, bristle, brown off, bug, bullyrag, burn up, chivy, complicate matters, concern, devil, discommode, discompose, distemper, distress, disturb, dog, drag on, exasperate, exercise, fash, fatigue, fret, gall, get, glut, go on forever, gripe, harass, harry, heckle, hector, hound, incommode, inconvenience, jade, miff, molest, nag, needle, nettle, nudzh, pain, pall, peeve, perplex, persecute, perturb, pester, pick on, pique, plague, pluck the beard, pother, provoke, put out, put to it, puzzle, ride, rile, roil, ruffle, satiate, strain, stress, tease, tire, tire to death, torment, trouble, try, try the patience, tweak the nose, vex, wear, wear on, weary, worry
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