One of the most interesting blog posts I have read on the subject of Daniel Cassidy is this one, from a friend of his called Mo Hurley:
This shows many of the flaws of the Cassidese Liberation Front in that it blames the dictionary dudes for their refusal to give the Irish their due, ascribes Irish origins to words like lollapalooza and kybosh and doesn’t check the sources very well. At one point, it claims that this is a quote from Cassidy:
“The English language does not often absorb other languages, especially the Celtic languages. Irish has the longest association with English of any language on the planet, yet in England all we’ve got are a handful of words such as whiskey.”
Of course, this is not a quote from Cassidy. This is nearly the antithesis of everything that Cassidy claimed, as Cassidy insisted without evidence that hundreds if not thousands of common English words were derived from Irish. The quote above is saying that very few words were borrowed from Irish and it comes from a genuine academic called Terence Dolan.
However, this blog post does not belong in my hall of shame. Why? Because while Hurley plainly admired and liked Cassidy, and you would expect her to be as positive as possible in an obituary, she is quite open about the fact that she found most of his Irish derivations of English words dodgy and hard to believe. She says that he may have done more harm than good, that:
“I didn’t always agree with Danny’s interpretations of Irish and the development of street slang, as he sometimes played it a little too fast and loose with linguistics. Danny didn’t speak Irish and didn’t know the grammatical rules of Irish, an ancient highly inflected Indo-European language.”
She also says that the post is: “in honor to the man himself, not the (de)merits of his book.”
So, while there are things I dislike about the blog, she is displaying an admirable amount of integrity here and drawing a clear line between the man and his crazy theories. Unfortunately, this kind of integrity is rare. Most of Cassidy’s friends still insist that his crazy theories must have been right because he was a personal friend of theirs, which frankly is an insult to the rest of us and especially to our intelligence.