Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Compulsory Irish placenames for Dublin - Brabazon and Ni Dhailaigh decree

This is not a joke, right? This is for real.

All future building developments and street names in Dublin will be compelled to have Gaelic names, Dublin City Council has ruled. The council - which obviously has little else to do - supported a motion to that effect proposed by Fianna Fail’s Tom Brabazon and Shinner Criona Ni Dhailaigh.

The move, inspired by Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League), an Irish language lobby group, means it will be illegal for builders to use English when naming new housing or commercial units – whenever they get round to building them again. New estate names will be required to “reflect local history and topography”, but “as Gaeilge” only.

The Gaelic League's chairperson Seán Ó hAdhmaill believes that the edict will “normalise” the use of Gaeilge in Dublin. "I am sure that this initiative will increase the use of the national language in this our capital city".

Maybe someone should point out to these clowns that the extent to which Gaeilge was ever in common usage on the eastern seaboard is highly debatable – certainly in the Viking city of Dublin and surrounding counties (the much-maligned Pale, which I am in favour of reinstating). Indeed, it might be more apt for these jokers to decree that we use Hiberno-Norse, Norman or Anglo-Saxon monikers.

Sure, there may well be an argument for avoiding portentious names such as “Tuscany Downs”, but that does not justify a blanket ban on the use of the city's vernacular. After all, there is a housing estate somewhere in Meath called “Tir na Nog” (The Land of the Young). How embarrassingly, cringingly crap an address is that, then?

If a placename is to reflect “local history” it should be in the local language of Dublin – not Government Gaelic, as Dublin's heritage and influences are far more multifarious than that.

But that would be at odds with the spirit of Official Ireland and our idiot rulers.

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Anonymous said...

jaysus GM its gaelge down your troath or religion up your arse little wonder there is a lack clear thinking in eyerland CHEERS

Anonymous said...

For those who just plain don't like Gaelige this is obviously frustrating but it does reflect a broader issue which is positive. The big boost for Gaelige in recent years has come from Europe, from a very positive decision to support the huge variety of languages and cultures the make up Europe. In answer to the technical question of what we should call places, the very sensible answer was use the local language and don't use a mix of languages. The decision to go for Gaelige instead of English is one you may disagree with but things will get simpler once all English names are removed from maps and road signs (which I think is the overall plan).

It is worth saying also that the distaste for English among planners is somthing which is finds a lot of support in Europe. I think people in Ireland really don't appreciate how much English and English/US 'culture' is despised in Europe.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ BH Yes... they in every orifice, I'm afraid.

@ Anon (always anons) In case it hadn't occured to you, the "local language" of Dublin is English. In fact it is the vernacular of the country - outside the parallel universe of the Gaeliban, that is.

I think I can let your comments on English being "despised" and something to be "removed" from maps speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I love it when you shine the auld GM torch of truth on an issue like this and out from under a cloch mor squirms our cara "Anon" with his written in English criticism of the use of English as a means of communication amongst English speaking people in matters of cartography. But it's not the maps and the buildings' names is it? It's that crazy dream of an Irish speaking nation rearing its ugly little head again because of the notion that our language defines us to such an extent that we can't truly be Irish and take our place "amongst the nations of the world" unless we're doing it through the Irish language.
Well you know what - we're as Irish as we're ever going to be, corrupt and small minded not to mention our appalling collective attitude towards the migrants who recently came to our country of the cead mile failte looking for what our emigrants were denied in the US in the 1800's and in the UK in the 1900's. Are you following me Anon because if you are then you'll see that whatever chance we have as a nation of expanding our intellectual horizons and engaging with the world at large will only become more difficult in a system where Irish is the lingua franca and its inhabitants forced by default into becoming all the duller for it. Put up your road signs if it gives you that nice hard feeling in the groin area cos now that no one's working we've got heaps of time to sit under them explaining to the odd tourist that might happen by just where Beal Atha na Slua is on their AA Touring map of Europe. Oh and by the way will we be frog marching all our new non-Irish-speaking-background Irish migrant chums to Irish language schools in your brave new world or would you be taking the "Limerick send them all back" option. Yours cordially Ponyboy (who incidentally loves Irish and often sits down to read it)

Anonymous said...

GM Fair point about 'local language' but I use the term to distinguish it from the vernacular which is English.
Going with Gaelige may appear silly now but given the number of Geal Scoils popping up all over the place I imagine it won't seem so odd twenty years from now.

The word 'dispised' might be a bit strong but I know many Europeans who get very cheesed off with having English shoved down their throats (e.g., with companies who don't bother to translate their advertising into german or french or whatever)

The removed from maps bit is not a dig. As far as I know there is a plan whereby place names in English will at some point loose their legal standing, so at some point in the future if a court issued a summons to someone with an address at 'Willow Close' they could say 'sorry mate - doesn't exist'

Bernd said...

Just wondering how come that such a spirited (yet anonymous) defence of Irish placenames in Dublin manages to include the term "Gaelige" three times. Is it just me not recognising this unusual spelling as a local dialect or is it plain wriong?

Anonymous said...

"The word 'dispised' might be a bit strong but I know many Europeans who get very cheesed off with having English shoved down their throats"

Isn't it 'despised'?... in english!

Are you 'merican?

Bernd said...

Must be local dialect, as now Geal Scoils appear ...

Anonymous said...

not sure if Gaelige is wrong or not. I just did a copy-paste from Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

Ok then. I didn't check wikipedia on the geal scoil bit, and yes it is wrong. It should be gealscoil (plural gealscoilanna) - good old wikipedia.

GM posted here and requested comments. I commented and now alot of people appear upset.

This all may be an urban myth but I have heard that there will be a europewide rationalisation of placenames and that in France the official names will be in French, in England English, in Ireland Irish and so on. English placenames in Ireland area considered bad practice by the EU bods apparently because they are not proper translations, so being fluent in English doesn't help you understand what the name means. (e.g., look up Ballybofey in wikipedia. In english it means nothing but in Irish it means Feich's road. Knowing this is of no importance in itself but the EU line is that names with some meaning are better than names with no meaning)

I may be wrong but I think this placenames thing is part of a bigger European agenda.

I do agree with the view that Ireland is a small island populated with people who too inclined to look inward , too parochial in their thinking and a bit too full of their own importance. I think Ireland would benefit from widening her horizons a bit, but when I say a bit I really mean a lot, more than for example looking to our nearest neighbour - a slightly larger island populated with people who are too inclined to look inward, too parochial in their thinking and a bit too full of their own importance.

Bernd said...

Hmmm, can't have been "Wikipedia As Gaeilge" then ... I am really sorry, but if one's agenda is to defend Irish one should at least take the pains to get the name of the language right. C&P is a somehow lame excuse.

But it would fit in with the many excuses made by Dublin City Council when it was discovered (a few years ago) that many of their "Irish" street names were wrong or even nonsensical. With some streets having different spellings depending on which side of the road you spotted the sign ...

Anonymous said...

Who is this anonymous twerp who actually thinks that he has "upset" me or anyone else with his posts. Honestly - people like you make me sick (I've always wanted to use that expression), with your clearly demonstrated ignorance of just about everything to do with both Ireland and her near neighbour whose name I notice you can't even bring yourself to utter. Do you really believe that the English are inward looking, parochial and full of their own importance or are those just some more words that you've cut and pasted without due consideration? Let me see if I can draw you out from under your veil of ignorance into the light with regards to England and her people and this whole argument concerning ar teanga ducais. If the British had adopted the same inward looking parochial position as the Irish did with respect to Germany's aggression in 1939 then it's a certainty that all the roadsigns in Ireland today would have a lot more Umlauts in them than Fadas. Why don't you pull your head in like a good lad and pay attention to what GM and Bernd et al have to tell you. You might even find that learning can be fun. Ponyboy

Anonymous said...

Did a quick Google on 'misspelled road sign' - 89,800 hits and 'mispelled street sign' 48,600 hits. You will be happy to hear that they all relate to Dublin City Council - proving your point I think.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Sorry ponyboy. Forgot to include backward looking... I mean... 1939.. Come on..

The Gombeen Man said...

At least he's not looking back 800 years.

Anonymous said...

You assume I ascribe to the 'Cromwell... Grrrr... Britian Bad' school of thought. Not so, but I am a big fan of Europe but am unimpressed with Britain's attitude to it.

I just think there is a big world out there and a '..don't mind us, were just an offshoot of Britain attitude' won't cut it anymore. Britain was a big power back in the day but its influence is waning.

I find Britain inward looking and parochial when I drive down roads measured in miles to pubs that sell beer in pints and peanuts in ounces, paid for with money in pounds and pence. I also despair and the fact that if given a free vote to leave the EU they would probably say YES.

Anonymous said...

all ican say gm is that gaelge is is not spoken here in beverly hills, it wasnt even spoken in culchimac in my time there niether was it needed by the millions that had to leave irl in the last century to the extent that there are more irish outside irl than within , irish ,religion and the sight of a priest ruined many a day for me when at school ihated them all , obviously it has become a hobby horse and a meal ticket for afew in that open air playschool over there

The Gombeen Man said...

Similar bad memories myself, Mr BH.

Anna said...

Here is a quote from Anonymous;"As far as I know there is a plan whereby place names in English will at some point lose their legal standing, so at some point in the future if a court issued a summons to someone with an address at 'Willow Close' they could say 'sorry mate - doesn't exist!!"..

The language has endlessly been sullied by scum bags who use it to escape often serious charges, drunk and dangerous driving etc..... there is an alcoholic, I know of, in the Gaeltacht , in a public service job, for which he often needs a car. He's been charged many times with drunk driving. He should be fined/ imprisoned, lose his license and most likely his job- Gets off every time- as this bilingual man insists on the case being heard in Irish-and there are no personnel to conduct it.

Imagine Anon can think of no better benefit of the language- than using it to escape a summons- which the other 98.5 % of us law abiding citizens don't attempt to escape. No-one does the Irish language more damage than some of its own champions - Nothing like getting English place names to lose their LEGAL STANDING - so that Irish speakers can evade the law.


The Gombeen Man said...

Good point, Anna. And "as Gaeilge" lawyers who coin it in.

Here's an example:


Anna said...

Irish language should be preserved – its part of our heritage BUT is not a national language – but is (nonsensically) promoted as such: It is A language of the country- not THE language (policy here is about as meaningful as the British Govt declaring that Welsh should be the language of the UK.

Wexford had a language called Yolla from some Dutch? Settlers. Should Yolla not be promoted as the language of this country? Ok it has no living speakers- but Irish has just 70,000 daily speakers.)

· I am from the North, I learned some basic Irish at primary (totally optional – our teacher was interested). I did it for 4 yrs at secondary – then dropped it- some catholic secondaries taught it then ( the '70s) …but it was not obligatory beyond 3rd yr ( junior cert level). I still know more than co-workers who did it for 12 yrs.( I suspect it is often taught to a good standard in the north- I have 1 relative who works in Irish language media ).

· School kids here have less choice re foreign languages, (or taking an extra science) than those in other countries - as so much time MUST be devoted to Irish. My school did French, Italian, Irish and Latin- you could drop Irish and Latin after 3 rd year if you wanted.

· I was on a 1 week Gaeltacht scholarship in September in Galway (from public centre language centre –with participants from all Govt departments)… I always intended to learn more Irish as a sideline, but after doing a few more languages . However I went this yr as I suspected these Gaeltacht courses will not run next yr- but I'm sure I will be wrong- when the country is sinking there will always be money for Irish (but not for Crumlin Hospital) – by rights these scholarships should never have run this yr).

· I was in the beginners class- many of classmates didn't even recognise basic things like a list of the counties and towns in Irish, tho I could – also many could not even say the name of their own Dept in Irish.

· Irish should be dropped after Junior cert. If you really want to carry on after, then you can. But what good is it for someone doing a degree in Physics? Its no good saying – but people will lose interest if they are not forced to carry on to LC level- from what I can even those who get up to LC level often don't achieve a great standard- if you saved money on extra years of school education then you could give some to bodies who promote it to people who are genuinely interested in it.

I am a northerner (from a V nationalist area- I am Irish) and I'm Perplexed and Appalled at the endless sniping at 'Our Nearest neighbour!'- Can't you even spell the name of the country?…What is clever about this? Do the Finns indulge in these Witty half-baked insults about the Russians?

Most of these woolly minded insults have no basis in fact…I saw one person refer to " the English never got their heads around our independence!?'Do Modern day English people worry and say " I just can't get my head around Ireland's independence!' What good is independence- when no-one will admit when anything is wrong? Such as an idiotic language policy ….

Mr Anonymous, you won't get more parochial, in ward looking or ostrich like than a country which endlessly promotes a language spoken INTERNALLY by 70,000..when there is no money for foreign languages …OR EVEN THE HEALTH SERVICE.


Anonymous said...

Hello Anna

Really enjoyed your post. You describe and experience of Irish that I imagine is very common north and south.

I agree dodging fines is a bad thing, but just because language is used as an excuse it doesn’t make the language bad.

“Do the Finns indulge in these Witty half-baked insults about the Russians? – Yupp they sure do!!!, as do the Belgians and Dutch, Germans and Czechs to name but a few.

The small number of Irish speakers is often used as a reason to stop funding it but I don’t think that argument holds water. 100 years from now we’ll all be dead and there might still only be 70,000 Irish speakers or there might be more, or there might be less. The number depends on what future generations decide. Let’s not prejudge the issue for them. Let’s preserve it for those who want it and give future generations the chance to make a better go of it than we did, if that is what they decide to do.

I don’t agree with your conclusion that Irish should be dropped to save money for more worthy causes. I think the reality is that the is plenty of money in Ireland if you know where to look. Certain worthy causes are under funded because politicians take decisions to under fund them. Freeing up money by scrapping something else (like Irish) doesn’t mean the money will go to the places you want it to.

You make a case for supporting languages but I feel you do so in a way that undermines the general argument for languages. Anyone I know who speaks a few languages tells me learning one helps you learn another so I would have a curriculum dominated by languages. If I had my way the curriculum for schools would be languages, science, maths and very little else. In my view advocates for language should advocate this language-dominated curriculum and should stick together, and not get into a ‘…mine is better than yours’ argument. As Abe Lincoln once said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

If I was scrapping anything it would be subjects like History (a subject better suited to adult learning classes in my view) Art & Music (great subjects but best done out of school), and Geography (once again a subject better suited to adult learning classes in my view).

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Anon.

With regard to a knowledge of one language being a help in learning another, I agree. But only if the languages are related. Thus, a knowledge of a Romance language such as French will make it easier to learn Italian or Spanish. A Germanic language such as, erm, German will make it easier to learn Dutch or, to a lesser extent, Danish or Swedish. English is Germanic but with a huge Norman influence, hence it's a mix of the two in effect.

I think Anna questioned the amount of money spent on promoting Gaeilge, and asked that the compulsory nature in Irish education be dropped. I agree, as that's the best way of letting people decide whether they want to do it, while also elimating any resentment from people who don't.

With regard to obligatory hatred of neighbouring nationalities, I refuse to sign up to that Little Irelander/ nonsense - but I lived in London for nine years and I can tell you that the level of knee-jerk anti-Irishness (even during the bombings of Canary Wharf, Harrods and the rest) was nothing like the residual resentment of all things British you get here.

Though I suspect you know this? (From your opening line).

Larry said...

Can't believe Dublin City Council think they have so little to do that they waste time on this crap. Not to mention their obvious contempt for the hundreds of years of heritage of Dublin City conducted through the medium of the English language. Will Sinn Féin's next step be the eradication of Swift, Beckett or Wilde from the history of Dublin?

How can this "party", which associates with convicted murderers, be given any credibility or even allowed a seat in any reputable state?

The only renaming which should be a priority for Dublin City Council is removing the name "Archbishop Ryan Park" from Merrion Square. I suggest "Brian Trevaskis Park" as an alternative.

Anonymous said...

yes Larry is just right....remove the unworthy from Dublin city names..with haste...Quiz Q: which EU city has a park named after an Archbishop who didn't care his priests abused children- and another park with a statue to a Nazi collaborator? We should honor our notable citizens ...only a week ago a briDge to Nobel winner Beckett opened, what would that be in Irish?
ALSO TO Anon, I work in well known Govt office & did several yrs language classes at Public service Language centre- French & German, and started Polish & Russian . This yr ( no money ) my work would only let me do Irish…and I tried them on all the others .Only Irish was relevant to my office ( 2003 act). In 8 yrs I have recd 2 letters in Irish. That’s how the civil service here supports language learning! Irish! - That how we’ll compete in the EU! (while in N I even some primary schools have the chance to learn a foreign language …I once did some research for an educational publication here …this country is very unique in not just low language choice. …But less school subjects than rest of EU. EG it is in unique in not teaching computer studies (not just ECDL)…other EU countries including the UK have done this for decades…)
Minutes of a senior manger meeting 1 yr ago stated they were taking a newspaper ad to tender for more of our website, documents etc, to be translated into Irish. The boss said they ran same ad in 2007- and got not 1 reply( still they do this- because of 2003 act). What’s your point - ‘similar experience of Irish North & south?’ I LIKED learning Irish there – not obligatory and WELL taught, that’s why it has a steady popularity, there. Now you’re saying it’s bad to use language to escape fines- when you were approving before! … yes GM is right about cross fertilisation of languages…my knowledge of Latin made travel in France & Spain easier and my work as a one time horticulturalist (Latin is international language of horticultural nomenclature) …also useful in medical terminology.
Re hatred of the UK…you miss my point..Other countries do make Witty barbs about their neighbours…. Here it is incredibly stupid hatred… I was in Guernsey and England late 1980’s- early 1990’s- and I Never experienced anti Irish feeling to match it. I actually Never said Irish funding should be stopped…far from it…
It should be cut to an appropriate level…. appropriate to keep it alive, without the ridiculous idea that it is 1st language…meantime , , €500 million a year will be spent promoting it to an indifferent nation , whose children can’t get money for their life saving operations ..Or crumbling schools…and I’ll carry in paying €800 per year for a Russian night class at TCD. . Anna

Anonymous said...


You say "I can tell you that the level of knee-jerk anti-Irishness (even during the bombings of Canary Wharf, Harrods and the rest) was nothing like the residual resentment of all things British you get here."

Tell that to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for the post Larry, and a big welcome to the blog... and make sure you keep popping in. Your points about Wilde, Beckett, Swift (Joyce too) are spot on - as is Anna's about the bridge and our authorities' unfortunate habit of honouring the wrong people.

Do you happen to have any more info on Brian Trevaskis?

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anon. Fair point - but the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four were stitched up by scumbag coppers, the PTA and Denning in the 70's, in the aftermath of the IRA bombings in those cities. To be honest, I'm glad I wasn't living there in the 70's.

I lived in London from the mid 80s to 90s when they were eventually released, thanks to the good work of Sunderland MP Chris Mullen (when there was little official interest in Ireland).

Ironcially, when we were back here in Ireland for our hols back then, my girlfriend went on a demo to support their release, and got a visit from the Garda Branch afterwards!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to join in with a red-herring that I know is off the point of the original post but as an Irish person living in London in the late 80s-90's I have to agree with you, I was treated very fairly and to be honest felt a lot of Londoners were embarrassed by what was going on in their name.
What worries me is how the attitude is so different now. Back then I got none of the ‘our boys are heroes’ stuff that I see every day now I in relation to Iraq & Afghanistan.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, when I was there it was Iraq Round One, but no-one I worked with seemed too bothered by any of it... there was one pub nearby (Limehouse) which had a Sun front page with a squaddie on it in the window with a "SUPPORT OUR BOYS" type caption, but I think it was maybe the East End equivalent of the Widow Scallans! I'd say the Little Driver in Bow might have been similarly adorned! See below:


As I say, other than that, it was just something going on at the time for any of the natives I knew

Obviously I can't comment now. Where are you based yourself?

Anonymous said...


This ban is very intolerant to those who prefer to use English.

I've set up a Facebook group to campaign against compulsory Irish.


Please join, and spread the word!


Anonymous said...

Brian Trevaskis- see above post from Larry - was someone who heavily criticised Irish Bishops on a probably ground breaking Late Late show in the mid- 'sixties- Anna
Source- some V intersting books I'm now reading , Great little nation, the A-Z of irish scandals( gene kerrigan) & GUBU Nation ....after reading these I am not just AMAZED at the way rich scoundrels have controlled this country- but that there is even ANY MONEY left at all for public services for us serfs... should be on Junior Cert reading lists ..Anna