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.
This is not an Irish loanword into English. It is an Irish word (meitheal, a working party, a group organised for a specific task) which apparently was sometimes used in conversation by a union activist called Mike Quill, who spoke some Irish, in order to confuse the police and stop them from anticipating their plans.
Some of Cassidy’s dimmer supporters have tried to imply that critics of Cassidy do not believe there were any Irish speakers in the USA. This is obviously nonsense. For generations, most of the young people left Irish-speaking areas in the west of Ireland and headed into exile in the USA, Australia, England, Scotland and other places. However, there was no major influence from Irish speakers on American speech and the fact – the blindingly obvious fact – that Cassidy couldn’t discover any genuine examples of Irish words in English that hadn’t been identified before proves this.