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.