Haines' "loud voice" addresses the "wondering unsteady eyes" of the milkwoman, declaiming some Irish to her, but she does not understand a word of it. Gifford notes that Mulligan’s mocking question, “Is there Gaelic on you?,” is a “west-of-Ireland, peasant colloquialism for ‘Can you speak Irish?’” The old woman's “Are you from the west, sir?” refers to the Gaeltacht, those isolated regions in western Ireland where Irish remained (and still remains, though these regions have shrunk) the native, vernacular language, spoken by residents either solely or in conjunction with English.

JH 2011

The Gaeltacht in 1926. Source: en.wikipedia.org.

Official Gaeltacht regions in 2007. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Penguin paperback edition of Finnegans Wake.