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A Reply To Mark Corbett

One of the things you learn from blogging is that there isn’t much point in arguing with really stupid people, so I don’t intend to get sucked into a debate with anyone on the topic of white slavery. However, I have received a comment from a certain Mark Corbett and I think I will answer it here, just to make sure that everyone understands my position. Corbett says this:

“He’s saying that the way people of African descent were treated was much worse. Which it was.”

If Hogan stuck to claiming that the form of chattel slavery suffered by African slaves in the Americas was worse, there would be little controversy. What he’s actually saying is that people who had their land confiscated, were arrested as vagabonds, shipped to the new world and worked to death on Caribbean plantations were not slaves at all.”

Now, here’s a comment by Liam Hogan in a recently-published article in the New York Times:

Contemporary accounts in Ireland sometimes referred to these people as slaves, Mr. Hogan said. That was true in the sense that any form of coerced labor can be described as slavery, from Ancient Rome to modern-day human trafficking. But in colonial America and the Caribbean, the word “slavery” had a specific legal meaning. Europeans, by definition, were not included in it.

So, let’s please get certain things clear here. Hogan is not a Nine Years’ War denier, or a Plantation of Ulster denier. He’s not saying (and neither am I) that the British brought peace and civilisation to Ireland. He’s not saying that those who were in bonded servitude, or those who were captured as vagrants and sentenced to work in the Caribbean, were well-treated. He’s not saying that they all survived the experience (though your claim that the Irish were worked to death seems illogical – if you’re a plantation owner who has one of these vagrants for a period of seven years, you would want them to work for the full seven years, because labour was valuable). Any evidence for that claim? Having lived in an area where my neighbours were gunned down indiscriminately by pro-British death squads, and being a fluent Irish speaker, I am well aware that the British influence on my country has been baneful and disastrous and I don’t need to be reminded of that fact.

Here are some of the things Hogan is claiming:

  • That there is no evidence that the Irish labourers or prisoners were treated worse than African slaves.
  • That there is no evidence for the claims that Irish women were forced to reproduce with African men.
  • That the whole notion of Irish slavery has been used in recent times, not so much to criticise the British, but to attack African-Americans – “White Irish slaves were treated worse than any other race in the US: when did you last hear an Irishman bitching how the world owes them a living?” (Obviously whoever wrote this never had any contact with Daniel Cassidy and his odious fan club…)
  • That photographs of victims of Japanese prisoner of war camps or 20th century child laborers (like the photo above) are used with claims that they are pictures of Irish slaves.
  • That a reference to a 1625 declaration by King James II to send thousands of Irish prisoners to the West Indies as slaves is a fabrication. James II was not alive at this time.
  • That figures in relation to this have often been plucked out of the air and are completely unsubstantiated.
  • That the first work dealing with this subject was They Were White And They Were Slaves: The Untold History of The Enslavement of Whites In Early America, self-published in the US in 1993 by an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier called Michael A Hoffman II.

It seems to me that this is a pretty good set of reasons to complain about the way this ahistorical nonsense is being spread, even if it does deprive people like Mark of a little bit of that warm feeling of victimhood which certain members of the Irish diaspora seem to enjoy so much.

So, the fact is, slavery was one thing. And what the Irish suffered in the 17th century was bad but it wasn’t the same as slavery. Interestingly, one comment in support of the Irish slaves meme mentions Goody Glover, a woman burned as a witch in Boston because of superstition and racism and the fact that she was an Irish speaker and could only manage broken English. She had been sent to the Caribbean at some point, whether as a vagrant or an indentured servant isn’t clear. However, she and her children made their way to America. If they had been chattel slaves, she and her husband, and their children and their children’s children would have continued to be someone’s ‘property’ in the Caribbean. Is that a big enough difference for you, Mark?

The fact is, accuracy is important. We all know that there was a famine in Ireland in the 19th century. Historians argue about whether or not this was genocide. To my mind, the English establishment was to blame for the huge loss of life, whichever way you look at it. We don’t need to invent anything. But let’s just suppose that some lonely looney-tune in a dank apartment in Boston or Philadelphia or London or Ipswich decides that the truth about the famine was a far more hands-on thing. Suppose he claims that Queen Victoria and Trevelyan and Russell and lots of other English aristocrats caused the famine by floating over the West in hot air balloons throwing poison onto the fields and cackling hysterically. A thousand dumbasses will immediately ignore that fact that this isn’t possible, that there is plenty of evidence of the virus that caused the blight, or that there is no record of all these upper-class English people going on a prolonged holiday at the time and they will accuse anyone who doubts the veracity of this claim of being soft, and pro-English, and traitors to the national cause and blah blah blah …

The fact is, I want historians to uncover the truth and tell it like it is, with all its contradictions and uncertainties. If you want a nice pantomime version of history with pantomime heroes and villains, then that’s up to you. But I personally don’t want anyone turning the tragic history of my people into a fucking cartoon, least of all when their motives have more to do with the Aryan Brotherhood than the Fenian Brotherhood.

Anyway, I’ve said what I wanted to say. Don’t bother replying, Mark. I’ve wasted enough time on this stupidity. If you want anything clarified, you can read it again.

Hugh Curran Defends Himself (In English)

I have just received an answer to my last post from Hugh Curran. As I suspected, he doesn’t speak Irish. Here are his comments and my answers to those comments.

First of all, I never claimed to be a fluent Irish speaker but I have explored the etymology of Irish names and places fairly extensively.. My cousins, my parents, my aunts and uncles are all fluent Irish speakers. Our family immigrated to northern Canada when I was only eight years old so we seldom spoke Irish after that.

No, you never specifically stated that you were a fluent Irish speaker. However, as I pointed out, anyone reading your comment would assume that you were fluent. If someone said that they taught French and were born in France, you would assume they were competent in the language. What reason do you have for telling people about your Irish credentials at the start of the comment other than to imply that you are qualified to make a judgement on this question, which you obviously aren’t? And as for your relatives speaking Irish, what relevance does that have? You are the one making the comment and you don’t speak Irish and are unqualified to decide what constitutes plausible Irish or implausible Irish.

I”m surprised at the degree of vituperation in your response, especially by calling me a “liar” because of my comments on Cassidy’s book. This is. to my mind, beyond the pale. Then you also feel the need to bring in my Buddhist background, which you have absolutely no knowledge of, which is so bizarre that there is little use in further discussion.

As for the degree of vituperation, that depends on whether Cassidy was a misunderstood genius or a half-crazy con-man. Strangely, this is an issue you don’t discuss in your message. This is the crux of the whole thing. Either Cassidy’s work is an appalling hoax which no decent human being would support, or it’s a revelatory work of linguistics. If it’s the former (which it is) then your comments are supporting lies and my anger is justified.

I have been working for years to inform people about Cassidy’s lies and his exploitation of the Irish language. The evidence is freely available but clowns like you continue to pretend that that evidence doesn’t exist and that you know better than all the scholars and linguists and lexicographers. It makes me angry to see people championing these lies, helping to fleece the gullible and worse still, encouraging people to believe that arrant nonsense like fo-luach and sách úr and gus óil are genuine Irish.

I am not a Buddhist, though I do know a fair amount about Buddhism and I have more respect for Buddhism than for most religions. You think it’s bizarre that I mention this but to me, Cassidy’s work is about egoism and bigotry and dishonesty. Unless I’ve been misinformed, Buddhism sets great store by honesty and truth and humility. In other words, I think there’s a degree of hypocrisy in your position.

I presume from your comment that “there is little use in further discussion” that we probably won’t hear from you again. You are welcome to reply and I will publish and answer anything you say. However, I would remind you that I challenged you (as I’ve challenged every supporter of Cassidy) to read the posts here and provide evidence to refute my refutation of his nonsensical book. A cynic might say that you are refusing to engage in further discussion because you know that this is an argument you’re not going to win, because myself and the other critics of Cassidy are the ones who are telling the truth.

However, this isn’t about you and it isn’t about me. At the end of the day, this is about Cassidy and his lies and it’s about ensuring that as few people as possible are misled and cheated. Remove your comment from IrishCentral and I will take down this post and the other two. Continue to act as an enabler for a dead con-man, and I will consider myself entirely justified in continuing to call you a liar.

An Open Letter To ‘Enduna’

I recently received an ignorant little comment from someone calling themselves Corin on my post Niall O’Dowd Has Sold Out.

The man has been dead for almost a decade. Get a fucking life.

It got me wondering, who is this person and why are they defending a worthless criminal screw-up like Daniel Cassidy? It didn’t take me long to find out. Her comment contained the username endunadazi. Having a voluminous knowledge of the Cassidy Cronies and their activities, I remembered having seen enduna before.

On the 16th of November, 2007, enduna posted the following review (labelled AN ABSOLUTE TREASURE) on

I’ve been sending this book over to my Irish-speaking relatives and co-workers. They just love it.

Thanks to Mr. Cassidy for such an entertaining and informative piece of Irish-American history.

“Cassidy’s book (How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads)… is wonderful! Congrats to him on winning an American Book Award. ” – Stanford U. Professor of Linguistics

I couldn’t agree more.

Yes, entertaining … and informative … What an idiot! Fortunately, enduna is quite a distinctive name. A little more surfing on Google revealed that enduna is a writer and producer of TV thrillers called Corinne Marrinan. Under that name, she gave How The Irish Invented Slang 5 stars on Goodreads on March 15th 2008. And in October 2008, on, we find this in an article about her:

She’s also working on … an adaptation of the book “How the Irish Invented Slang,” …

So, at the very least, Marrinan is someone who fell hook, line and sinker ten years ago for the fatuous invented shite masquerading as Irish in Cassidy’s book. I suspect she probably got to know the Great Fraud personally while negotiating to produce the programme about his insane book but I may be wrong about that.

The reasons why she is in denial about Cassidy and his moronic book really don’t interest me. What I will say is this. It doesn’t matter a damn to me that Cassidy has been dead for ten years. That Hitler guy has been dead for generations – should we start being kind about him, Corinne? Perhaps you would like to enlighten us on how long the Statute of Limitations should run on a farrago of lying nonsense like How The Irish Invented Slang? Should we just forget it’s shite ten years after the author dies, in spite of the fact that it’s still out there swindling the gullible?

The toxic slick of nonsense released into the world by Cassidy is not dead. It continues to fester and to be reproduced ad nauseam by stupid and badly-educated people. And of course, the Irish language wouldn’t matter much to a Plastic Paddy like you. It matters a lot to me that the language I love and use every day is being smeared with excrement in a kind of dilettante Dirty Protest by a bunch of arrogant American nobodies who think they know it all.

And as for me “getting a life”, well, I’m sure your life is good, Corinne – and I mean that in the most Randy Newman sense possible. My life is also good. It’s very different from yours, I’m sure. For example, in my life, the Irish language is a reality, not a distant abstraction, as it is to you and was to Cassidy. And I’m sure that in the shallow, Californian media world that you inhabit, you can easily hand out orders to persuade a flunkey that you’re right even when you’re wrong. (Yes, madam, thank you for pointing that out to me. The crow sitting over there on the fence is indeed red and white polka-dotted and not black. It was very remiss of me to think otherwise. Please accept my profound apologies, madam.)

However, I’m nobody’s flunkey, and the facts remain the facts, whatever you think or pretend to think. Cassidy was a talentless, unqualified narcissist who invented hundreds of phoney ‘Irish’ phrases and accused anyone who disagreed with him of being a racist and a reactionary. That you fell for this charlatan and his obvious nonsense and now feel like an idiot isn’t my problem. I will continue to defend my language and culture from Cassidy, because Cassidy’s book is still spreading lies about the Irish language.

So, why don’t you get a fucking life, Corinne – an honest one! Just drop the denial and admit you were wrong! Because the day I stop defending the truth in deference to a swollen-headed, self-worshipping twit like you will be the day I stop respecting myself. Don’t hold your breath …

Cassidy and Sexual Harassment

I haven ‘t been posting much recently but I decided that it was high time I gave a brief update.

In spite of what Cassidy’s friends and supporters say, there has never been any doubt about the worthlessness of Cassidy’s research. Anyone can log on and examine an online Irish dictionary to discover that almost all of Cassidy’s claims about the Irish language are untrue. And if that isn’t enough to convince them, they can look up etymological dictionaries of English to see how Cassidy lied and distorted the truth about the known origin of the words in Cassidy’s book.

In addition to that, it has often been claimed that Cassidy had degrees from Cornell and Colombia Universities. In fact, Cassidy attended Cornell but never received a degree, and he certainly never received any qualifications from Colombia. Not only was his ‘research’ a fraud, but Cassidy himself was a fraudster and a criminal.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we received a message from Colleen Whalen, who studied at New College of California for a semester and was unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of Cassidy’s bullying and arrogance. She also informed us (and this is an allegation I find entirely convincing) that Cassidy often sexually harassed female students at New College.

So, Daniel Cassidy was incompetent, arrogant, a fraud, a criminal, a plagiarist and worse still, he was apparently a letch. A worthless piece of shit. Yet for some reason, many people still choose to defend this creep. None of Cassidy’s Cronies has repudiated him or accepted the truth about this lying sleazebag. They are probably comfortable enough with maintaining their silence. After all, this blog has only had about 23,000 hits in its history. Apparently, it doesn’t bother the Cronies, people like Peter Quinn and Michael Patrick MacDonald, that the few thousand people who find their way to this site know that their friend was a criminal fraud and that they don’t care enough about the truth to put things right. However, the fact is, the readers of this blog and the many people who have stopped by to lend their support and provide information know exactly what kind of person Cassidy was and what kind of people his supporters are. And the people who support him know what they are, even if some them aren’t prepared to admit that, even to themselves.

Moron Niall O’Dowd – Sorry, More On Niall O’Dowd

I notice that Brendan Patrick Keane’s ridiculous piece of brown-nosing in support of Cassidy’s nonsense has once again reappeared on Nihil O’Dude’s IrishCentral, only a couple of weeks after the last time it was republished there. Since Christmas they have also republished Tom Deignan’s list of 20 books which all Irish Americans should read, another article which I have criticised here for giving support to How The Irish Invented Slang.

I should point out that I didn’t find this by chance on IrishCentral, a resource which I don’t read and which is strictly for Plastic Paddies and tourists, IMHO. I have minimal interest in the kind of rubbish that IrishCentral specialises in, items like The Top Ten Whackiest Irish Saints or Which Green Food Coloring Should You Use This St Patrick’s Day? or The Rose of Tralee Makeover: Discover Your Inner Colleen. (Just to be clear, I made these up, though the real thing is often worse.) I noticed it because Cassidy’s nasty, lying little book is once again selling more copies on Amazon, as unsuspecting suckers read Keane’s dumbass opinion piece and think the book sounds like fun.

I would like to think that the republishing of these articles is happening because someone at IrishMental has read my comments on this blog rather than because they have no ideas and are forced to endlessly recycle garbage. The thought is flattering. I would love to think that I have pissed off Niall O’Dowd and his cronies. After all, if they are republishing trash that they know to be trash simply because I criticised them for doing so, that isn’t flipping the bird to me. It’s cynically flipping the bird to their own readership. Still, pigs and grunts and all that.

Let me just say it once more, for the sake of anyone who hasn’t got the message yet. Cassidy’s book is full of fake Irish. (And O’Dowd knows enough Irish to realise that. Snua ard? Really?) Most of the words which Cassidy provided fake Irish versions for already have credible and even proven origins in English or other languages. Cassidy himself didn’t speak any Irish. Cassidy was a malignant fraud who spent 12 years pretending to be a professor on a full salary on the strength of a Cornell degree that he flunked. And we all know that the only reason why O’Dowd and the bómáin at IrishCentral are supporting this garbage is because Cassidy had lots of important cronies in New York, people like Joe Lee and Peter Quinn, and offending them by acting like a genuine journalist would open up the appalling vista of O’Dowd and his mates having to buy their own cheese and wine for a change.

What a pathetic bunch of fuckwits!

The Liebster Award

So, I have finally got around to responding to Emma’s very kind nomination of this blog for a Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is a kind of viral award designed to promote blogs with small readerships. Anyone can nominate a blog for a Liebster Award. If the recipient accepts it, they then nominate some other blogs they like and so it continues. The rules are as follows:

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  • Display the Liebster Award on your blog.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer 11 questions your nominator has asked.
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers with less than 1000 followers.
  • Ask them 11 new questions or the same ones you were asked.
  • Let the bloggers you nominate know!
  • Copy the rules into your post.

So, first things first! Many thanks to Emma at for nominating my blog. I am nominating the following blogs: (A great blog about etymology!) (Toritto’s wonderful mixture of observations on life and politics, along with some extraordinary poems) (Social Bridge – Jean Tubridy connecting with you from one of my favourite counties in Ireland) (Stephanie Huesler’s enjoyable observations on words, writing and history)

Personally, I have enjoyed answering the questions and composing a few of my own but I realise that others may regard this as a chore. I will not take offence in the slightest if people choose to break the chain and not pass the Liebster Award on to other blogs.

Here are 11 facts about myself:

I have never seen a Star Wars or James Bond film all the way through.

There are only about three or four foods I’ve eaten that I didn’t like, things like tripe and brains.

I prefer the winter to the summer.

My favourite film is Inherit The Wind.

I love ruins and graveyards.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I like the idea of them.

I am deeply intolerant of intolerant people and I hate racists, homophobes and other bigots.

I dislike grammar bores and people who obsess about split infinitives and the like.

I always drink red wine. (When I drink alcohol, that is – I’m not hooked up to a drip or anything!)

I consider The Wire to be the best TV series ever made (so far).

If I won the lottery, I probably wouldn’t give up my job because I enjoy it so much.

Here are the questions that Emma sent and my answers to them.

Do you have a favourite accent? I love the Donegal accent. It’s very soft and lilting.

Does music help you work, or does it distract you? It distracts me. I like reggae and ska music but in moderation and not when I’m working.

Do you consider yourself an organised person? No. But I probably consider myself more organised than other people consider me, if I’m honest …

If you could play any role in the performance of a lifetime, what would it be? Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof. If I vere a rich man …

What was your favourite childhood book? Comet In Moominland by Tove Jansson when I was very young. Then The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. I also really liked The High Deeds of Finn McCool by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

What is a past mistake you have learnt from? Without going into embarrassing detail, I can be a bit of a mouth and sometimes I have slagged people off who really didn’t deserve it. However, not on my blog. Cassidy and his vile cronies are really asking for it!

Which fictional character do you love to hate? Dare I say, Daniel Cassidy? I know he was a real person, but he was also a self-constructed myth.

Is there a particular song that chokes you up every time you listen to it? Misty, because it was played at my father’s funeral.

Do you prefer salty or sweet foods? Salty. But I eat the sweet foods as a dessert afterwards …

What would you name your autobiography? A Certain Deathtrap. It’s a description of life in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? History, without a doubt, because I love reading and learning about history.

These are my questions to the recipients, if they should choose to answer them:

  1. If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
  2. Do you have any phobias or not entirely rational fears?
  3. What is your favourite season?
  4. Is there a particular spice or herb or cooking ingredient you especially love?
  5. What three words describe you best?
  6. If you had to choose a ‘totemic’ animal that represents you, what would it be and why?
  7. If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
  8. Is there a particular ancestor you’re most proud of and why?
  9. What do you think of tattoos and piercings?
  10. Do you believe in ghosts?
  11. What would your dream job be?

So, thanks again to Emma, and I hope the recipients will enjoy going through the process and nominating a few other blogs!

A Reply to Robo

In my post Did The English Ban Irish (June 8, 2014), I criticised an article by a Canadian journalist which states that the Irish language was made illegal in Ireland in the 17th century under the Penal Laws. The other day, I received a comment on this article from someone called Robo in New York. Here is Robo’s comment in full:

The Statutes of Kilkenny in 1366 commanded that “if any English, or Irish living among the English, use the Irish language amongst themselves, contrary to this ordinance, and thereof be attainted, his lands and tenements, if he have any, shall be seized into the hands of the immediate lord…” That is the first of many. Henry VIII – 1537 And the closest to modern memory: The bata scóir or tally stick was usually a piece of wood which Irish-speaking children were forced to wear around their necks. Anybody who heard the child speaking Irish was expected to mark the stick with a notch. At the end of the day the marks were counted and the child was punished for each offence. Watch your language : an bata scóir, the insidious silencer.

What is Robo saying here? It’s difficult to say exactly (because he doesn’t specifically tell us) but it seems to me that by quoting a statute of 1366 banning the Irish language and the fact that the National School system in Ireland punished children for speaking Irish, that he thinks these two things are part of a continuous process, that they are somehow the same thing. This is implied in the article (not a very good one, IMHO) to which he provides a link:

“For more than six centuries, British policy in Ireland has aimed at the destruction of the Irish Gaelic language.”

I don’t agree with this. It makes me deeply uncomfortable when people put forward a clearly ideological argument and then cherry-pick the facts that suit that argument. The view that Robo is giving is history with an Irish Nationalist slant. Don’t get me wrong. I am a Nationalist and an Irish speaker. I am not pro-British, as I explain in the article. However, I am strongly opposed to the notion of Nationalist history. Facts are right or wrong, not Irish or English, and just as we don’t need an Irish mathematics or an Irish chemistry, we don’t need a specifically Irish history. All historians are biased to some extent, of course, but any decent historian should avoid polemic and try to find out what really happened.

In the Middle Ages, the English established an enclave in Ireland called the Pale (hence the expression ‘beyond the Pale’). The Statutes of Kilkenny were aimed at preserving this English enclave, which was being undermined by the strength of the Irish language. English speakers were marrying native Irish people and their children were being raised Irish-speaking.

I am quite sure that the English speakers of this enclave thought they were better and more civilised than the ‘mere Irish’ outside. However, the idea that they saw this statute as a prelude to a total blanket Anglicisation of the country is not supported by the facts. They were clearly on the back foot, and they probably thought that the chances of English surviving at all in Ireland were not good.

Through the hundreds of years in which the English consolidated their control over the country, Irish remained the language of the majority of the people. While the upper classes and the courts and institutions of government were conducted in English, English probably didn’t become the majority language of the country until the early 19th century.  In the 17th century, almost nobody in Ireland spoke English, so a law against speaking Irish would have been unenforceable. That particular claim is simply nonsense, which is the point I was making in the post.

As I have stated in another post, there is a specific reason why I object to the claim that the English banned Irish in 17th century Ireland (apart from the fact that it’s obviously not true!) Many people of a pro-British slant like to play down the importance of the Irish language in Ireland’s history and pretend that it has been a marginalised peasant patois since the 16th century. Claims like this make it easier for enemies of the language to present Irish in this light, rather than as the first language of roughly half the Irish population and of 20% of the combined population of Ireland and Britain at the beginning of the 19th century. (Which is the reality.)

However, throughout the 19th century, the Irish were encouraged by the English to fall out of love with their own language. This happened and it happened for various reasons (including the fact that many priests and Daniel O’Connell were hostile to the language). The bata scóir in the Natonal Schools is certainly a fact. It is also a fact that the National Schools were founded in 1831 and that education became compulsory in Ireland sixty years later. People didn’t have to send their kids to a school where they were beaten for speaking their own language. They chose to do so because they thought an English education was a good idea for children who would probably end up in Manchester or Glasgow or New York anyway.

In addition, this kind of simplified ideological history leaves out a huge amount. It ignores much of the complexity of the interaction between ethnicity, religion, language and class. It ignores any information which seems paradoxical. (For example, Wikipedia says: ‘Queen Elizabeth I encouraged the use of Irish even in the Pale with a view to promoting the reformed religion.’ And of course, the first printed book in Irish was a Protestant Catechism in 1571.)

And as in the case of Daniel Cassidy’s nonsense, the bottom line is that anyone with any sense wants to know what really happened in history, not a fairy tale specially concocted to pander to their collective sense of victimhood. After all, it’s not illegal to learn Irish now. Nobody has stopped me from speaking Irish. I speak it every day and I have no intention of stopping. My advice to the Cassidy-lovers is to stop bitching and whining about a fictionalised past, get up off their lazy, irresponsible arses and learn some genuine Irish.  Right this minute! (Follow the link below!) If you learn five words a day rather than wasting your time on Cassidy’s bullshit, you could have a solid basic knowledge of the language by this time next year.