Category Archives: The Cassidy Scandal

This is an item about Cassidy or his friends or the scandal of how a book full of pseudoscientific nonsense has come to be treated like a genuine work of scholarship by people, many of whom are probably smart enough to know better.

The Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture

On the 9th of November, in San Francisco, as part of a festival called Hinterland, the Irish broadcaster and historian Myles Dungan will give the inaugural Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture. The Hinterland festival has two independent parts, one in County Meath and the other (HinterlandWest) in California. The Irish festival is also linked to the Hay Festival on the border between England and Wales.

Anyone who has read this blog carefully will realise that there is something very strange about the idea of commemorating Daniel Cassidy or celebrating his life.

The HinterlandWest Festival describes Cassidy thus:

Daniel Cassidy was a much-loved musician, and academic who ran the Irish Studies programme at New College, San Francisco up to the time of his death in 2008.

The comma is interesting. Did they originally have a comment about his skills as a writer and linguist but decided to remove it because they realise that the boat sailed on that one a long time ago? Or do they simply have problems with punctuation?

The facts in relation to Daniel Cassidy are clear. He was certainly a musician, though an indifferent one.

With regard to his status as an academic, there is no doubt that Cassidy worked as a lecturer at New College of California for around twelve years. Cassidy himself claimed (under a rather obvious sock puppet identity) that he had worked before that at San Francisco State but I have no confirmation of this claim.

What is very clear is that he was not entitled to be a lecturer in any university because he had no qualifications. Some sources, such as Wikipedia, claimed for a long time that he graduated from Cornell. Cassidy himself claimed to have been educated at or studied at Cornell and then at Columbia. The SF Irish American Crossroads Festival website says that Cassidy studied first at Columbia and then at Cornell, but this is contradicted by accounts of his life given by Cassidy in interviews.

The fact is that Cassidy attended Cornell for about four years on a scholarship, but left the university in 1965 without receiving a degree. He never attended Columbia University and he never got a primary degree or a postgraduate degree.

In other words, the reality is that Cassidy was just some unqualified guy who had wandered in off the street with an attitude and the gift of the gab and had no right to even apply for a job as a teacher. This is confirmed again and again in his book and in the numerous articles that appeared in newspapers around the time of its publication. In his book, Cassidy demonstrates time and time again that he didn’t care about facts or telling the truth. He knew nothing about the methods used by genuine academics. The book is weak and badly argued, with its fake phonetics, ludicrously bad referencing, a tendency to dishonestly miss out anything that conflicted with his theories and an even more disturbing tendency to simply invent phrases in ‘Irish’ that never existed and in many cases could never exist, phrases like fo-luach and sách úr and béal ónna and teas ioma and uath-anchor. The book really is a complete mess and anyone who thinks that How The Irish Invented Slang is going to make a genuine contribution to the world of etymology is delusional.

It has also been suggested that Cassidy used his unearned status as a lecturer to sexually harass young women who were unlucky enough to be studying under his guidance. This claim came from a person who left a message here and who studied at New College. I have no idea whether it’s true or not but knowing Cassidy’s arrogance and self-obsession and lack of boundaries, I don’t consider it at all unlikely.

Myles Dungan, who is delivering this inaugural Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture (let’s hope it’s also the last), interviewed Cassidy just after his book was published. I have already dealt with this elsewhere on this blog. It was a fairly feeble interview and a poor piece of journalism, which gave Cassidy an easy ride and failed to ask any difficult (and obvious) questions. It is strange to find Myles Dungan, who gave this toxic fraud a platform to sell his garbage to unsuspecting people back then, once again stepping up to support this liar more than a decade later. It’s doubly strange in that Myles Dungan is well-known for a blog that debunks fake news stories from history.

I don’t know who was responsible for establishing this Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture and damaging the reputation of the HinterlandWest Festival by associating it with a man who is universally despised by all right-thinking people. I suspect that Elizabeth Creely, one of the most vociferous Cassidy loyalists, had a hand in this bizarre decision. Whoever is responsible, the fact is that Cassidy was not a person deserving of commemoration or celebration. He was a criminal, a liar, a narcissist, a hypocrite and a total waste of space. No decent human being would knowingly associate themselves with this man and his deceptions.

Fs and Gs

So, I have now completed another two letters in the glossary in Daniel Cassidy’s absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, and as with A and B and C, D and E, I have prepared a short account of my conclusions in relation to Cassidy’s efforts.

There are 72 words in the F and G categories. As in the previous letters, none of Cassidy’s explanations could be regarded as a ‘smoking gun’. None of them provides any clear evidence that Cassidy is correct or that the other explanations are invalid.

There is only one possible candidate in the 219 entries given by Cassidy for these seven letters, the supposed link between the expression ‘big bug’ in English and the Irish boc mór. However, in this case, Cassidy failed to conduct any real research. He didn’t check to see if the phrase big bug ever occurs as big buck, or to see if there is any evidence for the existence of big bug in Hiberno-English.

The rest of Cassidy’s ‘research’ is the usual mixture of plagiarised, badly-researched accounts of words of Gaelic origin like galore and gob that were already known to be words of Gaelic origin, and utterly stupid made-up nonsense that breaks the grammatical rules of Irish and stretches credibility to anyone who actually understands any of the language (which Cassidy didn’t).

Let’s make that clear. Out of 219 items, only one of them is even slightly credible and not already known and acknowledged to be a word of Gaelic origin. The overwhelming majority of the claims made by Cassidy in relation to these words are pompous, ignorant garbage.

The people who support this man and the nonsense he invented and promoted are a mixed bag. Nutcases, fools, people who make a decision based on nothing and then are too arrogant and up themselves to make a u-turn, people who knew and loved Cassidy and refuse to listen to the truth, people who are simply too stupid and selfish to do the most elementary fact-checking before supporting a worthless hoax like Cassidy’s book. Personally, my attitude to these people is the same as my attitude to those who support Ancient Aliens or weird cults or White Supremacist groups or any other poisonous crap that pollutes the internet. They’re obviously, demonstrably wrong and they deserve to be treated with utter contempt because they’re morons. End of story.

C, D and E

Over the last few months, I have been working on a Cassidese Glossary, taking the words in the dictionary section of Cassidy’s book one by one, with less of the invective I have heaped on Cassidy and his cronies in the past.  

A few weeks ago, I completed the As and Bs and then wrote an analysis of the lessons arising from my examination of Cassidy’s claims for words beginning with those two letters, in which I returned to the invective and once again pointed out how dishonest, twisted and incompetent Daniel Cassidy was. I have now completed the Cs, Ds and Es and I will write a short post of the same kind to analyse what I have found in this part of the glossary.

The sections for these three letters contain 72 entries (counting words like Croak, Croaked and Croaker as separate entries, as they were given by Cassidy). As with the 75 entries for the As and Bs, a handful of these are genuine Irish (words like cross and dornick). A number of others are probably not genuine Irish, but the claim for an Irish origin predates Cassidy, for example, dig for understand or cock-eyed coming from caoch.

As with the As and Bs, the vast majority of the words dealt with here are complete nonsense. There is no chance of them being correct. Most of the candidate phrases were invented by Cassidy, and even when they are to be found in Irish dictionaries, the entries given in those dictionaries are not given accurately, but rewritten by Cassidy to make them closer to whatever term he was trying to promote. Most of them, like de áit as the origin of ditch or ciúta as the origin of cute or coillteoireacht as the origin of cold turkey are so puerile and silly that there is little point in trying to take them seriously.  Unlike the As and Bs, where there were several that were not entirely ridiculous (like big bug from boc mór) with the Cs, Ds and Es, there are no entries that are even slightly interesting and worthy of further examination.

The amount covered so far probably constitutes a quarter of the material in Cassidy’s glossary, as several letters either contain no entries, like Z and X, or very few, like N and Y. If the pattern found with the letters dealt with so far is repeated with the rest of the letters, it is unlikely that there will even be one new credible word of Irish origin out of the hundreds given by Cassidy in his book.  

In other words, far from being a scholar or a political radical or a supporter of the Irish language, Cassidy was an arrogant, narcissistic flake who was constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. For twelve years, this worthless creep drew a university salary as a professor, in spite of the fact that he flunked his degree and had no qualifications. Cassidy has been dead for years. He is now beyond shame, though he is still not beyond disgrace. Scum like Peter Quinn, Terence Winch, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Joe Lee, Peter Linebaugh, Eamonn McCann, Corinne Marrinan, the board of the San Francisco Irish Crossroads Festival and the rest of the dim-witted pseudo-intellectual cronies of Daniel Cassidy are still with us.

They disgust me, not because of their stupidity in letting themselves be deceived by this con-artist in the first place, but because of their unwillingness to admit they were conned and apologise. These are people who are so up themselves that they won’t admit to making a mistake, even if that means that ordinary, decent people continue to be conned by the flagrant rubbish they recommended. They deserve to be mocked and treated with utter contempt by all right-thinking people.

Minding your As and Bs

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on a Cassidese Glossary, taking the words in the dictionary section of Cassidy’s book one by one, with less of the invective I have heaped on Cassidy and his cronies in the past.

I have now completed the As and Bs and I will continue to work on this over the next year or two until I have finished the alphabet. However, there are already lessons to be learned from the words and phrases beginning with A and B, so I will return to a little of the invective for one post and analyse what we know from these two sections.

Firstly, the A and B sections of Cassidy’s dictionary contain 75 entries. A handful of these are genuine Irish but before any of Cassidy’s supporters gets too excited, there was never any doubt that these words and phrases were Irish. There are eight of these: acushla, agrah, alanna, An Gorta Mór (which is purely Irish and was never borrowed into English), aroon, Arrah na Pogue (a play title), astore, avourneen. There are also words that have been claimed for Irish in the past, such as ballyhoo and bard and buddy, though it is highly unlikely that these really do come from Irish. 

There is a small number of phrases and words that are genuine Irish but there is no evidence that they are the origin of the terms claimed by Cassidy. In many cases, Cassidy altered the meaning and provided faked definitions for these words. For example, ainfheoil doesn’t mean a sexually transmitted disease. Aonóg doesn’t mean rough-house play. Ball doesn’t mean a dance or party in Irish. Beachtaí does not ‘figuratively’ mean a judge. Báinín does not mean ‘any type of overcoat’.

A great many of the words mentioned have such ancient roots in English that there is no chance they could ever derive from the Irish roots that Cassidy claims for them. For example, bicker, blow and booze have well-attested histories that leave no room for a supposed Irish origin.

Another major category is the set of made-up phrases or compound words, phrases that do not (and in most cases could not) exist in the Irish language. For example, báille vicus, béal ónna, baothán nathánach, b’aifirt, béas núíosach, béalú h-ard, búbaí háit, bogadh luath, buan-díchiall, boc aniar, bocaí rua, bodaire an aicme áin, beart t-aon, buanchumadh, beathuis. These often violate basic rules of grammar and sound ridiculously clunky and contrived to anyone who has actually learned some Irish – something that Cassidy couldn’t be bothered to do.

In short, Cassidy’s work is simply fraudulent, incompetent nonsense. Out of 75 entries under A and B, the only slightly possible claim is that boc mór is the origin of big bug. However, even with this claim, there are problems. For one thing, big bug makes perfect sense in English. Also, big bug is not found in Ireland and you would expect the phrase big buck to be found at least as commonly as big bug if boc mór were the origin. In other words, it is a possible influence but no more than that.

If the pattern found with the As and Bs is repeated with the rest of the letters, it is unlikely that there will even be one new credible word of Irish origin out of the hundreds given by Cassidy in his book. In other words, if there is anything of value in Cassidy’s book (if), it will pale into insignificance in comparison with the fakery and nonsense that this worthless lying creep and his dim-witted cronies have spread among the Irish-American community.

 

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.

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.