Following a long Twitter discussion to the etymology of ‘to make a hames of’ with Stan Carey (@stancarey) Gerard Cunningham (@faduda), Karenwq4 (@Karenwq4) and Ciarán Ferrie (@ccferrie) I compiled a list of Irish words where the phrase could have derived from. The only certainty is that ‘to make a hames of’ something is of Irish origin.
Éamann (n. rapparee)
éamh (vn. of éigh, cry, scream)
éamh (int. Bah!)
éigean (m. violence)
éimigh (v.t. refusal, denial, rejection)
féimheach (bankrupt) (v. féimhigh)
géim (v. low, bellow, shout, roar)
séimhigh (v. Thin, attenuate)
séimhní (a. tame Could even be an ironic use of English word ‘tame’)
téamh (vn. of téigh, heating, warming)
This is in no way a definitive list and is only speculative. As the Irish can be playful with the English language and have been known to use it ironically, I have added these words in. Honestly, I would have a tough time making a case for all or any of the aforementioned words.
For further information on the etymology of ‘to make a hames of it,’ please read Stan Carey’s blog: http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/making-a-hames-of-it/.
The Twitter thread can be found here.