Category Archives: An Ghaeilge

An Open Letter To Columbia University

A number of years ago, I started this blog to warn people about a fake academic called Daniel Cassidy who invented a large number of fake “Irish” expressions and pretended that they were the origins of American slang terms. He taught at the New College of California and founded a festival called the Irish-American Crossroads Festival in San Francisco.

A couple of years after I started the blog, I found out from his sister that Daniel Cassidy had no degrees or qualifications. He attended Cornell University for a few years but was kicked out of that institution in his final year without a degree. I know that to be the case because when I approached Cornell, they readily supplied me with that information.

Cassidy’s sister informs me that he never received a degree of any kind from Columbia. I have tried on a number of occasions to get confirmation of this from Columbia. I have written letters (which have never been answered), I put another open letter up here. Again, no reply.

The 16th Irish-American Crossroads Festival has just begun in San Francisco. You can go on the website of this festival and find the following dishonest statement:

Cassidy grew up in Brooklyn, and was shaped by the world that he encountered there.  His career was rich and varied.  He started his education at Columbia University, and went on to get a Masters in History at Cornell.

As we have stated before, Cassidy studied for his primary degree at Cornell, but failed to graduate. He never went to Columbia. I have pointed this out to the authorities at Columbia before. The organisers of this festival are associating Columbia with the greatest fraudster and liar in the history of Irish America. They are using claims that the founder of the festival had a qualification from Columbia to pretend that that founder was a serious and genuine scholar.

You would think that the least an institution like Columbia would do on being informed that a festival is using false claims of a Columbia degree to bolster the sagging reputation of its founder is to issue a statement denying that he had any degrees from Columbia. (To help you check, his full name was Daniel Patrick Cassidy and he was born on the 26th of April, 1943.) Or perhaps even to send a cease and desist letter to stop that festival from lying about its founder’s links to their university.

Anyway, here is yet another open letter, designed to goad Columbia University into taking this matter seriously. I don’t hold out much hope that they will do the right thing (they’ve never bothered before) but at least I’m continuing to do the right thing – and that really matters to me! This man was an appalling liar who treated the Irish language and Irish culture with supreme disrespect and no decent academic institution would want to be associated with him.

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Ballum Rancum

In 2003, a crony of the late fake professor Daniel Cassidy called Terry Golway, who at the time was writing a column for the New York Observer, allowed Cassidy to take over his column as a guest. Cassidy did what Cassidy always did – abused the kindness of the victims who fondly imagined themselves to be his friends to promote his insane theories. It is to be noted that the New York Observer no longer exists as a paper. Perhaps the fact that someone in a position of trust at the paper was stupid enough to allow Cassidy to publish fantasy garbage like this in it goes some way to explaining its demise.

In Cassidy’s guest article, he discussed a number of supposed 19th century criminal slang terms given by Joseph Matsell in his criminal slang dictionary and associated with the film Gangs of New York. Being an adept con-man as well as a nut, Cassidy realised that finding an angle to do with the film would enable him to promote his fake nonsense about Irish to an uncritical and naïve public and that this would help to spread his ideas virally. Thus, this was the first outing for Cassidy’s stupid claim that the obscure Irish word ráibéad (meaning a whopper or big item in the Irish of one parish in Connemara) was the origin of the Dead Rabbits gang, not a story about a dead rabbit being thrown on the ground in a fight.

Anyway, while it is not worth going through the other claims made by Cassidy in this article, there is one interesting phrase which shows very clearly how Cassidy rolled, the phrase ballum rancum. Firstly, while ballum rancum is quoted as a criminal slang phrase by Matsell, it’s highly unlikely that it was ever used by New York criminals. Matsell borrowed from lots of English flash and cant dictionaries. Its original meaning was an orgy, a naked dance.This phrase, along with the phrase rank ball and related terms like buttock ball and bare ball are found in lots of 17th century English plays, such as Dryden’s Limberham: “fresh Wenches, and Ballum Rankum every night”. The phrase seems to have originally been ‘rank ball’ (rank often had a sexual meaning in 17th century English) and it was then turned into ‘beggar’s Latin’ as ballum rancum.

In this article, Cassidy ignores the fact that it long predates the massive Irish immigration to New York. He tries to pretend that this is Irish and that it comes from the ‘Irish’ phrase ball iomrá na gcumainn. Of course, this is not a real Irish phrase. Ball in Irish means member, spot, place, iomrá means mention and na gcumann (not na gcumainn) means ‘of the loves/ friendships/ companies/ societies’. So, if it existed, it would mean something like ‘the spot of mention of the companies’. Of course, you don’t talk about ‘a mentioning spot’ in Irish. You might say “an áit a bhfuil gach duine ag labhairt uirthi” or “an áit sin atá i mbéal an phobail”. So, where did Cassidy get ball iomrá na gcumainn from? He simply made it up, as usual. Cassidy was a stupid, lazy, half-mad, deceitful little bastard and any of his cronies who has defended or enabled this pompous fake-Irish scumbag should be totally scarlet with shame.

 

San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads Festival

For several years now, I have been criticising the organisers, friends, sponsors and supporters of the San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads festival. It was founded by Daniel Cassidy, phoney professor with no degrees, and has persisted in spreading the lies from Cassidy’s book and pretending that they were the truth.

Every year at this time, I look out online to see which of Cassidy’s vile cronies will be appearing in the festival. However, this year, there seems to be no information about the festival, which normally starts about the beginning of March.

It looks as if the festival is finished, and that the 15th Festival in 2018 will be the last. I certainly hope so. Cassidy was simply a con-man, a traitor to the Irish language and the Irish people, and his work should only be held up to other people as an example of how not to do things. The organisers of the festival made up their minds a long time ago not to tell the truth.

I hope that a new festival will rise from its ashes, one with less phoneys involved, one that doesn’t try to pretend that an obvious criminal was some kind of hero, or promote ridiculous theories about the Irish language by a man who didn’t know any Irish at all.

 

Le roinnt blianta anuas, tá mé ag cáineadh eagraitheoirí, cairde, urraithe agus tacaitheoirí na féile, the San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads. Ba é Daniel Cassidy a bhunaigh an fhéile, ollamh bréige nach raibh oiread is céim BA aige, agus ón chéad lá, níor stad muintir na féile seo de bheith ag scaipeadh na mbréag a foilsíodh i leabhar Cassidy agus ag ligean orthu gur lomchnámha na fírinne a bhí iontu.

Ag an am seo gach bliain, amharcaim ar líne lena fháil amach cé acu compánach de chuid Cassidy a bheas ag seinm nó ag tabhairt léachta ann. Agus sin ráite, níl aon eolas le fáil faoin fhéile i mbliana. Tosaíonn an fhéile i mí Mhárta de ghnáth.

De réir cosúlachta, tá deireadh leis an fhéile agus ba é an 15ú Féile in 2018 an ceann deireanach. Tá súil agam gurb amhlaidh atá. Ní raibh i Daniel Cassidy ach caimiléir, fealltóir don Ghaeilge agus do mhuintir na hÉireann, agus níor chóir a chuid saothar a úsáid mar eiseamláir, ach amháin mar eiseamláir den dóigh nár choir rudaí a dhéanamh. Rinne eagraitheoirí na féile an cinneadh na blianta ó shin cloí leis na bréaga agus gan bacadh leis an fhírinne.

Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh féile eile i gcomharbas uirthi, féile a bhfuil daoine ionraice páirteach inti, féile nach mbíonn ag iarraidh a chur in iúl gur laoch de chineál éigin a bhí sa choirpeach seo gan náire, féile nach ndéanann iarracht tacú le teoiricí áiféiseacha a chum amadán nach raibh Gaeilge ar bith aige. 

A Reply To Damien Scanlan

I had a message recently from a man called Damien Scanlan about my piece Did The English Ban Irish, in which I objected to the claim made by many Irish-American fakes that the Irish language was legally banned by the English. As I stated in that article, the English did a huge amount to weaken and undermine the language but they didn’t stop people who only spoke Irish from using that language. It wouldn’t have been practical to do so. Furthermore, the Irish language was the main or only language of the majority of the Irish population until the early 19th century. It was a major European language in terms of numbers of speakers at that time. There were more Irish speakers than Dutch, Danish or Swedish speakers at that time. (Which is food for thought.)

Anyway, here is Damien Scanlan’s (barely literate) comment, with my countercomments in Italics. Enjoy!

 

I get the impression you’ve completely missed the point of these writings. You seem to be attacking the notion based on the premise of how it has been worded in these other writings.

You mean, I am missing the point by thinking that they are claiming that the Irish language was banned by the English? Because that’s what their words tell me? So, what should I be using, if not the words that people actually write?

Of course there was no law stating that the use of Irish was illegal.

Eh, of course? Both the comments I cited in the post say that there was a legal ban on Irish. I am pointing out that there was no such ban. So you’re giving me a hard time for saying what you’re saying?

But the use of the language within public gatherings often lead to public beatings by frustrated soldiers unable to understand ‘what all the commotion was about’ – It’s commonly known that this restrictions on public gatherings encompassed both public discussion in Irish, singing in Irish and writings in Irish for fear they contained anti British rhetoric or revolutionary subject matter.

In fact, many soldiers and even more members of the constabulary in the 19th century probably spoke Irish, because at the beginning of the 19th century approximately half the population of Ireland spoke Irish as their first or only language. It’s certainly not true that all of the soldiers in Ireland would have been English. Still less with the constabulary.

The weight you put on your title ‘did they ban Irish’ is completely misrepresented in what you’ve writing and shows poorly selected partial facts. The Irish language had no official status and was actively discouraged and suppressed. By 1800, any Irish persons at any level of optical or socioeconomic stature had to more or less completely disown the language as it was seen to be a peasant language of the uneducated.

Optical? As I wrote in the original post: The fact is, of course, that the English administration in Ireland was no friend to the Irish language. Irish was progressively squeezed out of any realm of life which would have given it power or influence.

In other words, you seem to be arguing with me by saying exactly what I’m saying. 

When the only schooling available is conducted in one specific language and all governmental, media and employment deties are conducted in that language, it stands to reason that nobody would want to speak it, so effectively, the ban existed, in the form of all out suppression.

Again, the English did everything but ban the language legally. But they didn’t ban the language legally. That’s what I’m saying. That’s ALL I’m saying. (Yawn!)

This concerted effort to suppress the language is in no way different to how Yiddish was suppressed in the early stages of the holocaust, yet you speak about these writings as though the writer(s) are idiots and about how their theories are idiotic, purely because it didn’t enter a colonist legal system.

We aren’t talking about Yiddish or Central Europe. And if people claim that the Irish language was banned by law, and it wasn’t banned by law, then they should have checked the truth of that information first, so yes, I think that’s pretty stupid.

You don’t seem to realise that a ban in legal statute is barely different to a heavily enforced regulation. I mean they were hardly about to broadcast their methods of cultural destruction and ethnic cleansing to the rest of the world. Ask yourself.. How much is taught in British schools of the multiple massacres in British India. How much do you read of the restrictions placed on the regional Indian languages during those times.

Sorry, I thought we were talking about Ireland, and the policies of the British in Ireland? That’s what I was talking about, anyway. I don’t know much about the legal status of native Indian languages under the Raj and I suspect you don’t either. What are you talking about? (If you know!)

Although I doubt you’re intentionally coming across like this in your writing, it seems you’ve completely missed the point and that because you’ve read a couple of articles on the matter you’re an expert in debunking ‘the myth of banned Irish’ – Your reasoning is quite laughable actually .

Laugh away, Damo! You’re the one who is missing the point – over and over again! The Irish language was not banned by law. Your argument that a ban in legal statute is almost the same as heavily enforced regulation – you do know that the primary meaning of regulation is rule or directive made by an authority, as in a law, don’t you? – makes no sense at all. Even if you mean regulation as in close control rather than in a legal sense. I’ll say it again – a legal ban and no legal ban ARE DIFFERENT THINGS. Is dócha nach bhfuil Gaeilge ar bith agat ach, seo é i nGaeilge fosta, ar eagla na heagla – IS RUDAÍ DIFRIÚLA IAD!

My grandfather spoke many times about the scars his mother bore on her face when he was you, a result having been punched in the face and then kicked repeatedly on the ground when she was a teenager, by the ‘lawmen’ of Dublin in the latter part of the 1880’s; purely because she was unable to respond to their barrage of questions and kept responding with “ní thuigim”… Would you speak your language in public of there was a possibility this might happen? I doubt it very much.

Your grandfather was me? An interesting anecdote. Ach mar sheanfhondúir ó na Sé Chontae a bhfuil Gaeilge aige, tuigim go maith gur féidir leis bheith contúirteach Gaeilge a labhairt leis na péas, nó le saighdiúirí, nó in áit ar bith a bhfuil Dílseoirí thart. Cibé ceachtanna atá le teagasc agat, a Damo, níl an ceacht sin de dhíth orm, go raibh céad mile maith agat.

So next time you’re so quick to debunk theories that you don’t have any real understanding of, maybe you could at least choose more appropriate wording for your perspective. The lack of a constitutional/legal literal ban, does not, in any way shape or form, mean no such ban existed.

Eh, yes it does. 100%. A legal ban is a legal ban. An absence of a legal ban is an absence of a legal ban. They’re two different things. And please read through some of your own sentences above (optical?) before accusing me of not using appropriate wording.

Food for thought.

If you think that’s food for thought, perhaps you should be eating more fish. Here’s some food for thought for you. When you, or any other moron nach bhfuil focal den teanga ina phluc aige tries to claim that the Irish language was banned under the Penal Laws, you are giving comfort and support to the many enemies of the language and culture who like to pretend that Irish was virtually dead by the 17th century. Lies sometimes have unexpected consequences. Which is why everybody should stick to the known facts. That’s what I’m doing. Suggest you do the same (or shut the fuck up). Either option is fine by me.

Bíodh muinín agat as – is dlíodóir é!

Longshoreman certainly derives from the Gaelic/Irish word, longseoireacht meaning shipping. From the Irish word for ship which is , long, but pronounced,lung. There can be little doubt about this. Just as stevedore derives from the Portuguese Spanish estivador meaning a person who unloads a ship. Longshoreman is as Irish as the word smithereen meaning smidiriní or a small particle. Gaelic was broadcast throughout the world by Irish speaking emigrants fleeing the Great Famine in their millions.

Fuair mé an teachtaireacht thuas cúpla lá ó shin, ar an phíosa a scríobh mé faoi Longshoreman. Is léir gur dlíodóir é an t-údar, Maurice O’Callaghan, agus go bhfuil ardmheas aige ar a chuid tuairimí féin. Rud amháin a chuireann an dú-iontas orm ná nach bhfuil aon tuiscint ag an dlíodóir seo ar bhunchoinchip ar nós fianaise agus cruinnis.

Mar a dúirt mé a lán uaireanta roimhe seo, sílim féin go bhfuil an ceart ag na daoine a deir gur focal é longshoreman a cumadh i Meiriceá, agus atá ag tagairt do na sluaite daoine a chruinníodh ar na dugaí nuair a tháinig long isteach le corrlá oibre a fháil ag iompar an lasta amach as bolg na loinge. Sin an scéal atá ag ceardchumann na Longshoremen, mar a dúirt mé san alt faoin fhocal. Sin an scéal a bhí ag an staraí Maud Russell nuair a scríobh sí an leabhar Men Along The Shore: The I.L.A. and its History sa bhliain 1966. Is scéal iomlán inchreidte é gur ‘men along the shore’ a bhí i gceist, dar liom féin.

Is dóigh leis an fhear seo O’Callaghan nach bhfuil an ceart ag na saineolaithe sin. Creideann seisean go bhfuil baint ag an téarma le loingseoireacht, a chiallaíonn shipping, dar leis. Ar ndóigh, “seamanship, navigation, voyaging” is ciall don fhocal loingseoireacht. (Loingeas an focal is fearr ar ‘shipping’.) Go dtí seo, níor chuala mé duine ar bith ag nascadh loingseoireacht le longshoreman. Cuid mhór daoine, Daniel Cassidy ina measc, nascann siad an focal longshoreman le loingseoir, a chiallaíonn (de réir FGB) “mariner, seaman, navigator”. Mar a dúirt mé roimhe seo, deirtear loingseoir mar ‘lingshore’, ní mar longshore (tá comhaid fuaime sna canúintí éagsúla anseo https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/navigator mura gcreideann sibh mé). Agus cé go mbíodh cuid mhór de na dugairí amuigh ar an fharraige sular chuir siad fúthu ar an tír mór, níl ciall ar bith le loingseoirí a thabhairt ar dhaoine nach mairnéalaigh iad. ciall leis an bhunús eile, ‘men along the shore’.

Bunaithe ar na fíricí seo, ní féidir an bunús Béarla a bhréagnú. An cás is láidre a thiocfadh leat a dhéanamh ná gur chóir an dá bhunús a chur ar chomhchéim lena chéile (agus caithfidh mé a rá, ní aontaím leis sin – tá teoiric na ‘men along the shore’ i bhfad Éireann níos láidre). Ní thuigim cad chuige a bhfuil an fear seo chomh cinnte sin gur Gaeilge atá san fhocal loingseoir. An bhfuil fianaise ar bith aige? Má tá, cá háit a bhfuil sí?

Maidir leis na focail a scaip na Gaeil ar fud an domhain agus iad ag éalú ón Drochshaol, an bhfuil aon fhianaise aige le tacú leis sin? (Agus ar ndóigh, ní fianaise leabhar amaideach Cassidy How The Irish Invented Slang, agus níl aon fhianaise luaite ag Cassidy ann. Níl oiread agus leabharliosta ann, gan trácht ar thagairtí cearta!)

Agus, ar ndóigh, bhí longshoreman sa Bhéarla sular tharla an Drochshaol, agus mar sin de, níl baint ar bith ag an fhocal longshoreman leis an diaspóra a bhí ag teitheadh roimh an ghorta in Éirinn.

Agus, ós rud é go bhfuil O’Callaghan chomh flaithiúil sin leis an chomhairle maidir le bunús stairiúil na bhfocal sa Ghaeilge, agus gur saineolaí féincheaptha Gaeilge é, scríobh mé an freagra seo sa teanga s’againne d’aonturas. Tá súil agam go mbaine sé sult as!

Moolah Isn’t Irish

I have just noticed a tweet put out by Shamrock Clubwis (Wisconsin Shamrock Club) on January the 12th.

Today’s slang word from the Irish language is “Moolah.”

Moolah comes from the Irish phrase, “Moll Oir,” meaning “a pile of gold.”

Thanks to Daniel Cassidy’s “How The Irish Invented Slang,” from 2007.

It’s unfortunate how this garbage just keeps on circulating, disappearing and then surfacing again like a dead rat in a blocked drain. No, there is no evidence that moolah has any connection with Irish. While Cassidy’s suggestion of moll óir is much better than his usual standard (at least the phrase could exist and doesn’t infringe any grammatical rules) there is precious little evidence of anyone, anywhere using this phrase. On Google, the one example I found was in relation to a taped interview with a native Irish speaker from Donegal. In a description of the contents of the audio, it talks about someone finding a pile of gold (moll óir) under a flagstone. However, listening to the actual audio, the phrase isn’t mentioned.

There are numerous theories about the origins of the word moolah, which first appears in America in the 1930s. The strongest suggestion, as far as I’m concerned, is the Spanish phrase (especially associated with Venezuela) bajáte de la mula, which literally means ‘get down off the mule’ and figuratively means ‘give me the money!’ Mula sounds exactly like moolah. (However, there are problems with this. See the comment from David Gold below.)

Moll óir, on the other hand, sounds like ‘moll oar’. In other words, it sounds absolutely nothing like moolah.

 

Tá mé díreach i ndiaidh tvuít a fheiceáil a chuir Shamrock Clubwis (Wisconsin Shamrock Club) suas ar Twitter ar an 12ú lá de mhí Eanáir.

Today’s slang word from the Irish language is “Moolah.”

Moolah comes from the Irish phrase, “Moll Oir,” meaning “a pile of gold.”

Thanks to Daniel Cassidy’s “How The Irish Invented Slang,” from 2007.

Ní thagann. Más féidir leat an Ghaeilge seo a léamh, beidh a fhios agat nach frása coitianta é “moll óir”. Agus níl an frása sin ar dhóigh ar bith cosúil le moolah, agus cé go bhfuil a lán teoiricí ann faoi bhunús an fhocail moolah, an ceann is fearr, is dócha, ná an frása Spáinnise (atá le cloisteáil go coitianta sa Veiniséala, de réir cosúlachta) “bajáte de la mula”, a chiallaíonn “tuirling den mhiúil” ach a bhfuil brí fháthchiallach leis, mar atá, “tabhair dom an t-airgead!”  Tá an focal mula go díreach cosúil le moolah, ní hionann agus moll óir. (Agus sin ráite, tá fadhbanna ag baint leis an tsanasaíocht seo fosta – féach na tuairimí thíos.)

Holy Mackerel

Of all the stupid things invented by Daniel Cassidy and presented to the world as truth in his idiotic work of fake etymology How The Irish Invented Slang, none is more ludicrous than his claims about the English exclamation ‘Holy Mackerel’, which dates back to 1803. 

Holy Mackerel, as we’ve said before, belongs to a class of exclamations called minced oaths, where a similar word is said in order to avoid a vulgar or blasphemous term. Thus, the French say Sacré Bleu (Holy Blue) to avoid saying Sacré Dieu (Holy God), and the Irish say Dar Fia (by the deer) instead of Dar Dia (by God). Holy Mackerel is probably a minced oath for ‘Holy Mary’. Mackerel is particularly appropriate because the mackerel is associated with Roman Catholics – people of the Catholic tradition tend to eat fish on a Friday instead of meat, and mackerel was a common choice.  Mackerelism was used as a pejorative slang term for Catholicism in the 19th century.

Cassidy claimed that this was wrong and that it derives from an Irish phrase mac ríúil – ‘kingly son’. In other words, it was supposedly something to do with Jesus. The problem is that while mac rí (son of a king) is a common phrase for a prince in Irish, mac ríúil is not. By definition, a prince is a mac rí. But princes are princely, not kingly and ríúil means kingly, not royal. That’s another word, ríoga.

As with the other minced oaths dealt with by this pompous dilettante (Holy Cow, Holy Gee), there is no evidence for mac ríúil (or the older spelling mac righiúil) existing in the Irish language as a term for a prince, or for Jesus.

 

As na rudaí amaideacha uile a chum Daniel Cassidy agus a chuir sé i láthair don tsaol ina leabhar bómánta bréagshanasaíochta How The Irish Invented Slang, is beag ceann acu atá chomh bómánta lena chuid tuairimí faoin uaillbhreas Béarla ‘Holy Mackerel’, atá le fáil chomh fada siar leis an bhliain 1803.

Mar a mhínigh mé roimhe seo, baineann Holy Mackerel le haicme uaillbhreas ar a dtugtar mionnaí mionaithe. Sa mhionn mhionaithe, baintear úsáid as focal atá cosúil leis an bhunfhocal le focal gáirsiúil nó blaisféimeach a sheachaint.  Mar sin de, deir na Francaigh Sacré Bleu (Gorm Naofa) le Sacré Dieu (Dia Naofa) a sheachaint, agus deir muidne  Dar Fia in áit Dar Dia. Is dócha gur mionn mionaithe é Holy Mackerel bunaithe ar ‘Holy Mary’. Tá maicréal (nó ronnach nó murlas más iad sin na focail atá agat air) thar a bheith fóirsteanach cionn is go raibh baint idir an t-iasc sin agus Caitlicigh – ar ndóigh, bíonn Caitlicigh ag ithe éisc ar an Aoine in áit feola, agus bhí maicréal saor agus flúirseach. Baineadh úsáid as Mackerelism mar théarma maslach ar an Chaitliceachas sa 19ú haois.

Deir Cassidy nach bhfuil an tsanasaíocht seo ceart agus go dtagann sé ó fhrása ‘Gaeilge’, mar atá mac ríúil, ainm ar Íosa. Ar ndóigh, ní raibh mac ríúil riamh ann sa Ghaeilge. Níl ann ach cumadóireacht.

Go díreach mar an gcéanna leis na mionnaí mionaithe eile a phléigh an t-amadán poimpéiseach seo (Holy Cow, Holy Gee), tá ciall leis na bunúis Bhéarla agus níl ciall ar bith leis an ‘Ghaeilge’ a chum Cassidy.