Many people will assume that Cassidy, being a Professor of Irish Studies, must have been proficient in Irish but this is really a misunderstanding of what Irish Studies entails. Irish Studies embraces anything relating to the island of Ireland or the Irish diaspora, so it covers aspects of history, sociology, economics, literature and (sometimes) linguistics. However, most academic institutions which teach and research the Irish language do so in a department called Celtic Studies, usually in conjunction with work on other Celtic languages like Welsh, Breton or Scottish Gaelic.
Cassidy did not speak Irish. Firstly, on his own admission, he knew no Irish at all until the year 2000. In the book, he states that he was left an Irish dictionary in a friend’s will and said to his wife ‘I’m too old to learn Irish’.
There is plenty of evidence from other sources. On January 8th 2005, Cassidy registered on the Daltaí discussion forums and assessed his knowledge of the language as ‘Beginner. Though large vocabulary from family.’ This vocabulary presumably consisted of fantasy words and phrases like sách úr, bocaí rua and ceanndánacht ársa.
However, the main evidence is from the examples of Irish in the book itself, which clearly demonstrate that Cassidy was clueless about almost every aspect of Irish usage. Here are just a few examples:
- Cassidy thought that words beginning with a vowel in Irish are pronounced with a h- sound. They aren’t. The Irish word for apple is úll. It’s pronounced ool, not hool.
- Adjectives which begin with a vowel in Irish don’t acquire a h after masculine nouns or verbal nouns. Thus béalú h-ard (if it really existed as a phrase) would be béalú ard.
- Phrases like uí bhfolaíocht án are completely meaningless in terms of Irish grammar.
- Cassidy’s explanation for ‘hot-diggety-dog’, árd-iachtach-tach is just so stupid and so unlike anything you would really hear from a competent speaker of Irish that I can’t even be bothered commenting.
- The t in the word teas can’t be pronounced as a j in any dialect of Irish.
- Cling a clog, Cassidy’s (ludicrous) explanation for the phrase ‘to clean someone’s clock’ means to ring her bell, not to ring his bell as the great fraud states.
I could keep going but I really can’t be bothered. Take it from me. Cassidy didn’t know any Irish. He was a monoglot Anglo who was completely unqualified to comment on what is or is not correct or plausible in Irish.