Monthly Archives: March 2015

Céim Síos Do Cassidy

Nuair a thosaigh mé ar an bhlag seo a scríobh cúpla bliain ó shin, rinne mé cinneadh go scríobhfainn an chuid is mó de i mBéarla. Ní hé nach mbeinn ábalta an blag a chumadh i nGaeilge, ach tá an blag seo dírithe go príomha ar dhaoine a chreideann san amaidí a scríobh Daniel Cassidy ina leabhar How The Irish Invented Slang. Is Gael-Mheiriceánaigh formhór na ndaoine sin, nó daoine de bhunús Gaelach atá lonnaithe i dtíortha eile a bhfuil an Béarla i réim iontu. Is beag Gaeilgeoir arbh fhiú Gaeilgeoir a thabhairt air a chreidfeadh i leithéidí ‘uí bhfolaíocht án’ (an frása as a bhfuair an Béarla an focal high-falutin’, dar le Cassidy.) Duine ar bith a bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith aige, thuigfeadh sé láithreach nach bhfuil sa leabhar seo ach bocamadán craiceáilte ag smaoineamh os ard.

Agus sin ráite, is mór an díol spéise caimiléireacht Cassidy do lucht labhartha na Gaeilge, agus is iomaí duine a bhfuil an teanga aige a chuir in aghaidh na raiméise seo, leithéidí Eoin Uí Mhurchú ar An Tuairisceoir. Mar sin de, sílim gur cheart dom an scéal is nua a roinnt libh sa teanga s’againne.

Fuair muid teachtaireacht ar na mallaibh ó dheirfiúr Cassidy. Bhí mé i gcónaí amhrasach faoi cháilíochtaí Daniel Cassidy mar gheall ar a olcas a bhí an leabhar ach chuir sé iontas an domhain orm nuair a chuala mé nach bhfuair Cassidy a chéim riamh ó Ollscoil Cornell. Chuaigh mé i dteagmháil leis an Chláraitheoir ag Cornell, agus dhearbhaigh sise nach bhfuair Daniel Cassidy céim ón choláiste sin riamh. De réir cosúlachta, ní raibh cáilíochtaí ar bith aige. Ní raibh céim, ná céim mháistir, ná dochtúireacht aige. Caimiléir a bhí ann, duine a bhain úsáid as calaois agus béal bán le daoine saonta a robáil agus le dallamullóg a chur ar amadáin.

Tá muid ag fanacht le tuilleadh eolais a fháil ó Ollscoil Columbia agus ó San Francisco State, mar a raibh Cassidy ag teagasc sular thosaigh sé a obair in New College of California. Coinnigí súil ar an bhlag seo! Tá rudaí ag éirí iontach spéisiúil!

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A Victimless Crime?

Recently, we found out that the late ‘Professor’ Daniel Cassidy, a lecturer in Irish Studies at the now defunct New College of California and author of an appalling and almost completely fictional book called How The Irish Invented Slang did not have a degree from Cornell, as is currently claimed on his Wikipedia biography. His sister Susan tipped us off and the fact that he failed to graduate was then confirmed by the registrar at Cornell, Cassie Dembosky. Some sources claim that he had a degree from Columbia University and I have contacted the registrar there to see whether or not Cassidy gained any qualifications from them. As only a few sources even mention Columbia and the details are garbled, I doubt whether there is any substance to these claims either. (For example, on the Irish Crossroads Festival website it says that he had a degree from Columbia and a Master’s in History from Cornell. It seems highly unlikely that Cornell would have given him a postgrad after he was kicked out of his undergrad studies there and most sources don’t even mention Columbia.) His sister also says that it was his brother Michael who studied at Columbia, not Daniel Cassidy.

I have also contacted the registrar at San Francisco State, where it is claimed Cassidy taught before he was given his Professorship at New College of California. I will post any further news here as it arrives. However, while we’re waiting for clarifications, it seems timely to anticipate some of the things that Cassidy’s supporters might have to say about these revelations in relation to their hero.

Firstly, I’m not expecting any of them to say sorry or accept that they’ve made a mistake. Cassidy’s supporters are far too arrogant and smug to apologise. Like Cassidy himself, most of these people seem to be of the opinion that they are incapable of making a mistake and that they know better than an ivory tower full of dons and experts.

I’m also sure that some of them will shrug and say that it doesn’t matter. After all, some people thought that Cassidy was a great teacher and nobody realised that he didn’t have the qualifications a professor is supposed to have. So where’s the harm?

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where the harm is. Maybe Cassidy seemed competent but the book suggests he had no idea about methodology or genuine research. And even if he was very able and a great lecturer, so what? I believe in equality of opportunity. If a person meets the criteria for a job and has better experience and skills and qualifications than the other candidates, they should be given the post, regardless of their colour or sexual orientation or whether they have the approbation of the local Grand Poo-Bah of the Orange Order. When people lie about their qualifications, what right do they have to lecture others about ethical and decent behaviour?

After all, suppose that Cassidy earned a salary of 50,000 dollars a year at NCC for a period of twelve years as a professor. And let’s assume that even in a badly-run and nepotistic outfit like NCC he wouldn’t have been given a professorship with no qualifications. That’s six hundred thousand dollars that went to Cassidy when it should have gone to someone with appropriate qualifications. This is a white-collar crime and didn’t involve violence but is it really so much better in moral terms than walking into a bank with a fake gun and stealing sixty thousand dollars?

The law still calls it theft. In 2014, a Professor of Business Studies at Polk State called David Scott Broxterman, 55, was arrested and charged with grand theft over $100,000 and cheating. That figure was based on his earnings for the job for which he was unqualified. The State Attorney’s Office said he submitted fake transcripts to Polk State claiming he earned a doctorate degree from the University of South Florida in 2007 and that he displayed a forged diploma in his office. Apparently the diploma was badly produced, with a signature from USF President Judy C. Genshaft that should have been Judy L. Genshaft, the wrong color and placement of the USF seal and the word “Board” misspelled “Baord.” Broxterman was a popular teacher and had an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 on the popular website ratemyprofessor.com.

The only real difference between Broxterman and Cassidy is that Cassidy got away with it for a lot longer. That, and the fact that Broxterman actually had some genuine qualifications!

An Unqualified Failure

Revelations have come thick and fast over the past week. Firstly, Susan (Daniel Cassidy’s sister), tipped us off that Cassidy never received his degree from Cornell. I contacted Cassie Dembosky, Registrar at Cornell, who has responded very quickly. This is what she had to say:

Thank you for this information. I’m writing to confirm that Daniel Patrick Cassidy, Jr. did not graduate from Cornell University. He was withdrawn from the university on June 8, 1965.

In other words, the claim made on his Wikipedia entry that he was a Cornell graduate is as phoney as the claims made about Irish in his absurd book. Cassidy did not have a degree.

I have contacted the registrar at San Francisco State, because this raises a lot of questions. How did Cassidy end up with a Professorship at New College of California when the majority of the population in some developed countries is better qualified than he was? What qualifications did he claim to have when he found work lecturing in San Francisco State?

So much for all Cassidy’s blather and lies about equality and the rights of the underdog! I am really looking forward to hearing from the Registrar at SFS. Watch this space!

Dhá Bhliain de Cassidyslangscam

Bhuel, shílfeá nach raibh ann ach faiteadh na súl ach tá dhá bhliain i ndiaidh dul thart ó chuir mé tús leis an bhlag seo. Tá obair mhaith déanta agam, dar liom, agus tá mé bródúil as an méid atá curtha i gcrích anseo.

Go raibh maith agaibh as spéis a chur sa bhlag seo agus san ábhar seo.

An Ghaeilge Abú!

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig daoibh!

More On Cassidy’s Degree

Recently, I received messages from Cassidy’s sister in which she stated that Cassidy flunked his degree at Cornell. If this is the case, then it seems to suggest that Cassidy had no degree.

As I have said before, I cannot prove that this particular claim is true, but I think it certainly makes sense. There is a lack of any solid information in accounts of Cassidy’s educational background. While it says on Wikipedia that he graduated from Cornell, in other interviews he simply talks about studying at Cornell. There is no indication anywhere of what level of degree he might have achieved, if any.

The fact is, knowing what I know about Cassidy, I consider the claim entirely credible. I have met plenty of narcissists like Cassidy and I know that someone like him, on realising that getting a good job required lying about his educational background, would immediately invent lots of justifications for committing such a fraud. I wudda had dat degree, only coicumstances was against me. I should really do dis, because dey need more Irish-American workin’-class stiffs like me. If I can geddaway wid dis, dat proves dat dese guys in academia are da real frauds. Dey should be thanking me! I can do good things for Irish-America if I can only get a break. I’m smart. I’ll prove it once I get into da job! etc. etc. etc.

Hopefully, Cornell University will look at this question and let the world know officially whether Cassidy was a graduate. While we wait for corroborating evidence, all I can say is that there is a real question mark about whether Cassidy had any kind of academic qualification at all. I always thought that a primary degree was a poor basis for a professorship. Graduating from high school (assuming that he even did that!) is an even poorer basis for a chair. It might entitle him to a job as a janitor. But a professorship? Not a chance!

Ballyhoo

The word ballyhoo was originally carnival slang for the spiel which a showman used to get people to gather round his show. It is first recorded in this sense in the early twentieth century and around the same time, it is found in the more general sense of a ruckus or a hubbub.

Now, Cassidy (and Loretto Todd before him – one of the rare examples of a word which both of them claimed for Irish) claimed that this word comes from the Irish bailiú, which means gathering or collecting. There is nothing terribly improbable about this claim but neither is it a great fit. A ballyhoo is a loud thing full of razzamattazz. Bailiú is rattling a box for St Vincent de Paul outside of mass on a Sunday.

And then, of course, there is the little matter of alternative claims.

It seems that the most likely origin of the word is a shortened form of Ballyhooly, which meant a ruckus or rumpus or fuirse-má-rabhdaileam (what a great Irish expression that is!) This apparently derives from Ballyhooly in Count Cork. According to the OED, this came about because Ballyhooly was famous for faction fighting. While one irate local has commented on line that this is a slur on the good name of Ballyhooly, the idea that Ballyhooly was a byword for faction fighting is confirmed in a book called Cork Past and Present, published in 1905:

“At the close of the 18th century, there was a poor and plain Catholic Church about a mile from Ballyhooly but on the southern side of the river Blackwater. It was built on the side of a hill on the road to Rathcormac.
In the year 1819 a lamentable scene was witnessed within its walls. A few of the parishioners were at enmity with some of their neighbours and even in their place of worship and heedless of the counsel of their priest, they could not restrain their angry feelings, but came to blows.”

Apparently at least one person was killed when the riot spilled out onto the roadway outside. By the 1830s, to ‘give someone Ballyhooly’ meant to give someone hell, as in an 1837 story set in the west of Ireland in Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine.

In other words, a shortening of Ballyhooly is a pretty good fit for the origin of ballyhoo – at least as good as bailiú, anyway.

Did Daniel Cassidy Have a University Degree?

Wow! For several years now, I have been posting regularly here, trying to convince people that Daniel Cassidy’s insane theories about the Irish origins of American slang have no basis in fact. In the process, I have often questioned Cassidy’s qualifications. According to Wikipedia, he had a degree from Cornell. He seems to have had no other qualifications. No Master’s degree, no doctorate. Not even a diploma. However, I never doubted that he had a primary degree.

This rainy and miserable evening, I logged on to the computer to start writing a post about the subject of the word ballyhoo and the claims made by Loretto Todd and Daniel Cassidy about its origin from the Irish word bailiú. However, when I logged on, I was amazed to receive a message from Cassidy’s sister Susan Cassidy Connors:

Danny was always an FOS person–he was older than he claimed, was a liar and a thief, and tore the family apart.

BTW, he did attend Cornell, but flunked out!

So, it looks as if the Cassidy scandal might be an even bigger scandal than I thought. We knew that Cassidy was guilty of egoism and misinformation and deception but if this is correct, then Cassidy was guilty of far more. Claiming to have an academic qualification to obtain employment is a serious criminal offence, and surely nobody would have employed him as an academic knowing that he had no academic qualifications at all! Several sources also mention Columbia, with one of them claiming that he graduated from that university, but as this is only one source, it seems unlikely.

As it stands, of course, I cannot prove this claim one way or the other. I have contacted the Registrar’s Office at Cornell to inform them and I hope that they will investigate and issue a statement on this if appropriate. I suggest that the Registrar’s Office at San Francisco State should also investigate if Cassidy worked with them and what proof he offered of his academic qualifications. (According to a discussion on Wikipedia on the origins of the word jazz, Cassidy worked on the faculty of SFS before taking up his chair at NCC, which was in 1995.)

To those who have followed cassidyslangscam with interest, watch this space. Things are starting to get very interesting!