For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.
The Gopher Gang was a group of New York Irish gangsters in the early twentieth century. Their name traditionally derives from their habit of hiding out in cellars, like a bunch of subterranean gophers.
Daniel Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, ignored this explanation and claimed that the word gopher is really a corruption of the Irish comhbhá, which he claims is pronounced gofa (it isn’t) and means “alliance (gang), close alliance.”
In fact, comhbhá comes from bá, which means sympathy and is defined as follows:
comhbhá1, f. (gs. ~). Fellow-feeling, sympathy; close friendship, alliance. (Var:~idh f)
In other words, comhbhá is more something you feel than an organisation or group and it sounds nothing like gopher. The origin from gopher (as in the animal) makes perfect sense.