Tag Archives: Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

The Accidental Racist

A few weeks back, there was a big to-do over a letter by Mike McCormack, National Historian of the AOH (hopefully ex-Historian of the AOH by now, if that organisation has any respect for its good name at all!) in the magazine History Ireland. McCormack made a gratuitous, childish and entirely unwarranted attack on Liam Hogan, the Limerick historian who has done such excellent work in challenging the racist Irish Slavery Meme.

Bizarrely, McCormack characterised some of Hogan’s work as ‘Paddy-bashing’. Why? Well, Liam Hogan has been criticising the spread of the Irish Slavery meme among Irish Americans, and the way that racists and people who are ignorant of their own heritage have used this fake revisionist version of history to belittle the terrible injustices suffered by the African American community by saying that the Irish were slaves too and that they suffered worse than African Americans but they aren’t ‘bitching and moaning’. That this kind of racist nonsense has been spread far and wide, shared by hundreds of thousands of people of Irish descent, is undeniable. Go on line looking for Irish Slaves on social media and you will find plenty of hateful, nasty comments directed at groups like Black Lives Matter. Mike McCormack, in his absurd letter, claimed that Hogan is distorting the truth and exaggerating this racist presence on the internet in order to depict Irish Americans as racists. Apparently, because Mike McCormack doesn’t know any racists in the Irish American community, there aren’t any, and people like Hogan are being racist against Irish Americans by pointing out the spread of this racist poison in that community.

Liam Hogan isn’t a racist. Neither is Mike McCormack, judging by some of the articles he has written. The problem is that McCormack is refusing to look at the implications of the Irish Slavery meme honestly. There were no Irish slaves. There were Irish indentured servants, some of whom were involuntary (prisoners of war or effectively poor people kidnapped from Ireland). Their servitude was time-limited (even the prisoners, who were characteristically given servitude contracts of ten years). It was totally different from the slavery that African Americans were subjected to.

The problem with revisionist theories like the Irish Slavery Meme is that there are many people who don’t share the racist views of many of the people who spread them. They aren’t racists but the ideas they are spreading are clearly giving support to those who do hold racist views. To give just one example, one of the most popular Irish Slavery books is Rhetta Akamatsu’s book The Irish Slaves: Slavery, Indentured Servitude, and Contract Labor Among Irish Immigrants. Rhetta Akamatsu is presumably not a white supremacist, as her husband is of Japanese descent. But her book is badly researched and full of mistakes (for example, the Amazon Irish slaves of 1612, who didn’t exist), which is unsurprising in that she is not a proper historian but a writer specialising in books about the paranormal. One revealing article says that she often sits down to watch her favourite programmes, including Ancient Aliens! I’ll say nothing …

There are lots of these accidental racists. Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin ended up in hot water in 2016 with a badly-considered tweet about how three hundred thousand Irish were sold as slaves. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of Sinn Féin is part of a media consortium which owns IrishCentral, which carried an appalling article peddling nonsense originating in the claims of a Holocaust-denier called Hoffmann. (I notice that the article is now no longer available on IrishCentral. Perhaps if they’re removing lies from that site, they could ditch the rubbish by Brendan Patrick Keane as well!) Neither Adams nor Ó Muilleoir are racists, and the policies of their party are clearly and unambiguously opposed to all forms of racism. The fact that they have found themselves on the wrong side in these debates is down to stupidity, not malice.

And it’s very interesting that, though Barry Fell was not a racist, the ideas that he spread about Europeans coming to the New World fit in well with a whole tradition about the spread of civilisation from the drowned continent of Atlantis, ideas which suggest that civilisation came from white people and wasn’t developed independently by Amerindians. (Norman Totten, a friend of Barry Fell’s, set up a straw man in his posthumous defence of Fell, which you can read here: http://www.equinox-project.com/esop81.htm In reality, none of the three comments quoted accuses Fell of being racist – they state, quite rightly, that Fell’s theories can have racist implications.)

It’s also interesting to note that while I’m sure Fell wasn’t a Maori-hater, he spent a long time in New Zealand and his ideas about white settlers in ancient times in the Pacific fits in with the ideas of 19th century writers like Tregear, whose beliefs were nonsense but were pro-Maori (author of The Aryan Maori: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Tregear). Fell’s ideas and Tregear’s theories have given rise to a looney-tune far-right movement in New Zealand which has completely reversed Tregear’s respect for the Maori and claims that Celts went to Aotearoa in ancient times and that the Maori are therefore just blow-ins who have no prior claim to the land. This is probably the closest correspondence you could find to the use of the White Slavery Meme as a means of attacking African Americans.

In other words, you don’t have to be a racist to be an accessory to racist ideas. You should always check the accuracy of the ideas you are claiming. I don’t really care if Mike McCormack is a racist or not. But he should be as worried as I am about the spread of racist memes about Irish history. He should be doing everything in his power to stop such ideas in their tracks but because of his ignorance and lack of historical knowledge, he has helped to propagate the most vile pieces of nonsense and propaganda about the forced breeding of young Irish girls with ‘Mandingo warriors’, not because he is a white supremacist who hates black people, but because his sense of ancestral victimhood is more important to him than the truth.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

In the past I have criticised Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, a Sinn Féin politico in Belfast. As I have said in the past, I vote for the party he represents, and I think there are some admirable things about the politics he supports. I approve of gay rights and I approve of welcoming refugees from the wars our political elites created by their interference. However, there are also problems. Ó Muilleoir supported Cassidy, and he has never apologised for that or defended our language against the lying morons who have continued to promote Cassidy’s garbage. Well, he wouldn’t. Many of these unrepentant garbage-merchants are obviously friends of his, people like Michael Patrick MacDonald and Peter Quinn and Niall O’Dowd. And even worse than that, he is part of a consortium which bought Niall O’Dowd’s appalling IrishCentral. In my opinion, nobody with any decency or self-respect would support IrishCentral, with its obscenely stupid articles and its nonsense about white slavery.

And for years, Ó Muilleoir had an example of one of the most basic grammatical mistakes (Tá sé fear) in the Irish language in a prominent position on his Twitter feed. Now he has replaced it with the English version of that bad Irish (Be the change you wish to see in the world) but in place of the bad Irish translation, he has put up an Irish proverb: Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. (People live in each other’s shelter or shade.) Except he’s written it as Ar scáth a chéile a mahaireann na daoine. A mahaireann? Funny these stupid and elementary mistakes only occur in the Irish version, never in the English.

A cynic might say that’s because it’s just empty tokenism on Máirtín’s part, and that he doesn’t really give a toss about the Irish language and that’s the reason he seems to be incapable of writing a decent sentence in our language.

A Brief Update

This is just a quick update on a few issues we have touched on over the past few months. Firstly, Belfast politician Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who once described Cassidy as a friend and who over the last year or two has had a motto prominently displayed on his Twitter feed in very poor Irish (Bí thusa an t-athrú a ba mhaith leat a fheiceáil ar an domhan.) Perhaps he or one of his team has spotted my criticism, because the offending piece of bad Irish is gone.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen fit to apologise for supporting Daniel Cassidy’s fake etymology and crony friends. As we have also learned recently, Ó Muilleoir, as part of a consortium of Irish businessmen, bought the egregious IrishCentral from Niall O’Dowd last year. Not only that, his daughter Caoimhe Ní Mhuilleoir is apparently employed as a Digital Media Sales Executive at IrishCentral. There’s a coincidence, mar dhea! If anyone was expecting the involvement of the Muilleoirigh to make a difference to the quality of the journalism on IrishCentral, they will be disappointed. The rubbish in support of Daniel Cassidy and against fluoridation, the crap about 4000 year old Celtic invasions of America (I know, it’s insane!), and even the articles which support a white supremacist myth of Irish slavery are still there. The only difference is that the comments which often provide a welcome counterweight to the moronic content of the articles themselves are now missing. Business as usual at IrishCentral, then, in spite of the change of management.

However, Ó Muilleoir isn’t alone in refusing to say sorry or explain himself for supporting this imbecilic revisionist crap. We are still waiting for Hugh Curran to apologise for supporting Cassidy (and implying that he is a native speaker of Irish when he can’t speak the language at all!)

We have also heard nothing back from Columbia University. What do you have to do to get an answer from these people? My advice to any prospective students – go to Cornell instead!

And of course, we’ve never heard a word of apology from the Boston writer Michael Patrick MacDonald for helping to spread these lies about the Irish language. MacDonald is also a crony of Cassidy, as well as a crony of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. (These people all know each other – they’re like some kind of cult.) Having helped to smear the internet with hundreds of fake Irish derivations on behalf of a charlatan who worked as a ‘professor’ in spite of the fact that he had no qualifications at all, these people think they can just walk away whistling with their hands in their pockets and pretend nothing happened. Personally I am dearg le fearg (red with anger) about this abuse of the Irish language. The least we have a right to expect is a heartfelt apology from these high-profile members of the CCC (Cassidy Crony Club).

I was also looking at the AK Press website the other day. Strangely, there is no mention of Cassidy or his book on the website of the company that published it. That suggests to me that this rubbish is finally out of print and that AK Press are kicking over their traces and that they now realise that Cassidy was a fake – a self-obsessed, ignorant, sexist fraud who lied about his qualifications and whose book was a pompous, dishonest piece of cultural appropriation. Why aren’t they doing the right thing, then? Why are they just ignoring the fact that they bestowed this dross on the world, rather than fessing up and asking for forgiveness? Well, business is business. I suppose they have to think about their reputation and their brand identity, just like all the other capitalists … Some radicals!

Finally, I wanted to mention the excellent series of articles by Liam Hogan on the Irish Slavery meme. His articles on the subject are laid out here:


I recommend that anyone who respects the truth checks it out. And while you’re at it, compare it to the shite on the same subject that’s still there on IrishCentral, courtesy of Niall O’Dowd and his crony friends.

Mayday Your Nipples With Google Translate

One of the stupidest things I have seen in the press recently was an article by Newton Emerson about the Irish language. Newton (who normally talks a fair amount of sense) obviously knows nothing about languages. He claimed in the article that with automatic translation, nobody needs translators any more.

Hmm. This is, to say the least, a pile of horse feathers. Irish is a difficult language. If Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, arguably the most prominent champion of the Irish language in Stormont, can make a complete hames of the language in a prominent position on his Twitter feed – the phrase ‘Bí thusa an t-athrú’ is equivalent to saying ‘Tá mé polaiteoir’ or ‘An bhfuil tú an múinteoir?’ and he also misspells the word for opinions – then someone with no knowledge of the language using Google Translate is bound to come up with something ludicrous.

I’ve just seen this Google Translate gem on Twitter: Bealtaine an ádh ar an Shine na hÉireann ar tú an lá seo Fhéile Pádraig. It’s supposed to mean ‘May the luck of the Irish shine upon you this Saint Patrick’s day.’ It really means something like ‘Mayday the luck on the nipple of Ireland on you this day Festival of Patrick.’

Ó, m’aintín mheadhránach! (That’s a crap translation of Oh, my giddy aunt …)

Tuilleadh ar Mháirtín Ó Muilleoir/More on Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Dátheangach/Bilingual)

Bhí toghchán againn sna Sé Chontae Déardaoin. Níor tháinig deireadh na dtorthaí amach go dtí maidin inniu agus bhí áthas an domhain orm nuair a chuala mé iad. Bhí Arlene Foster, ceannaire an DUP, i ndiaidh olc a chur ar gach aon duine sa phobal náisiúnach anseo lena dímheas ar an teanga agus leis an dóigh ar mhaslaigh sí daoine a bhí ag iarraidh ar an DUP Acht na Gaeilge a thabhairt isteach. Ní bheadh ann ach “géilleadh chun síthe” (appeasement), dar léi. Má thugann tú a bhfuil uaidh don chrogall, beidh sé ar ais arís le tuilleadh a iarraidh gan mhoill. Chuir na vótóirí pionós uirthi as a biogóideacht arú inné!

Ar ndóigh, nuair a vótáil an chuid ba mhó de na daoine san oileán seo ar son Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta beagnach scór bliain ó shin, bhí Acht na Gaeilge mar chuid den chomhaontú. Vótáil daoine ar son an Chomhaontaithe ar fad, ní ar son na ngiotaí sin de a chuirfeadh gáire ar bhéal Arlene Foster. Is cuma cá mhéad a bheadh air (agus creid uaim é, níor mhaith liom féin airgead á chur amú ar rudaí gan tábhacht – ba mhaith liom príomhchosaintí na teanga a choinneáil, rudaí ar nós cláir theilifíse agus raidió, áiseanna leabharlainne, an ceart freagraí a fháil i nGaeilge ar litreacha a chuirtear chuig eagraíochtaí an stáit i nGaeilge). Agus i gcead don Bhean ‘Uasal’ Foster, ba mhaith liom cearta a bheith ag lucht labhartha na Polainnise fosta, ach níl an Pholainnis i gcontúirt agus níl stair na mílte bliain ag an Pholainnis sa tír seo.

Toghadh Máirtín Ó Muilleoir i ndeisceart Bhéal Feirste agus tá mé thar a bheith sásta. Cuireann sin teachtaireacht láidir chuig Arlene Foster agus a cairde biogóideacha. Agus sin ráite, tá mise in éadan Arlene Foster mar gheall ar an easpa measa atá léirithe aici ar an Ghaeilge (agus ar chúiseanna eile fosta, ar ndóigh.) Mar atá ráite agam roimhe ar an bhlag seo, thug Máirtín Ó Muilleoir tacaíocht do Daniel Cassidy, duine a raibh dímheas de chineál eile aige ar an teanga agus ar an chultúr s’againne. Is ionann bréaga Cassidy agus ‘aghaidh dhubh’ i gcúrsaí siamsaíochta, leithghabháil chultúrtha gan náire. Ba chóir dó a rá go soiléir neamhbhalbh nach raibh an ceart ag Cassidy agus nach raibh ann ach caimiléir, in áit bheith ag sodar i ndiaidh uaisle Mheiriceá agus ag tacú le teoiricí bómánta Cassidy le Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn agus an chuid eile de chlub móidíní Cassidy a shásamh.

Tá rogha shimplí romhat, a Mháirtín. Más breá leat an teanga, bí á cosaint. Mar a dúirt duine críonna éigin, gura thusa an t-athrú ba mhaith leat a fheiceáil ar an domhan! Mura dtig leat bheith gaibhte sin a dhéanamh, beidh a fhios againn nach bhfuil sa ghrá sin atá agat don teanga, dar leat féin, ach béalghrá le vótaí a fháil.



We had an election in the Six Counties on Thursday. The last of the results only came out this morning and I was delighted when I heard them. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, had offended everyone in the nationalist community with her contempt for the Irish language and with the way she insulted people who were demanding that an Irish Language Act be brought in. It would only be appeasement, she said. If you give a crocodile what it wants, it will be back looking for more in no time. The voters punished her for her bigotry the day before yesterday!

Of course, when most of the population of this island voted for the Good Friday Agreement nearly twenty years ago, the Irish Language Act was part of the agreement. People voted for the whole Agreement, not for those bits of it which would put a smile on Arlene Foster’s face. It doesn’t matter how much it would cost (and believe me, I don’t want money to be wasted on trivial things – I want the principal defences of the language to be maintained, things like television and radio programmes, library resources, the Irish medium schools etc.) And with respect to Mrs Foster, I want Polish speakers to have their rights too, but Polish is not endangered yet and Polish does not have thousands of years of history in this country.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was elected in South Belfast and I am very pleased about that. It sends a strong message to Arlene Foster and her bigoted friends. Having said that, I am against Arlene Foster because of her lack of respect for our language (and for other reasons, of course). As I have said before on this blog, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir supported Daniel Cassidy, a man who showed another kind of disrespect for our language and our culture. Cassidy’s lies are the equivalent of ‘blackface’ in the world of entertainment, a shameless piece of cultural appropriation. Ó Muilleoir should say clearly and unambiguously that Cassidy was wrong and that he was nothing but a charlatan, instead of chasing after a bunch of American big wigs and supporting Cassidy’s moronic theories in order to suck up to Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn and the rest of Cassidy’s fan club.

You have a simple choice, Máirtín. If you love the language, defend it! As some wise person said, be the change you want to see in the world! If you can’t be arsed to do that, we will know that that love you claim to have for the language is nothing but lip service to garner votes.

Niall O’Dowd Has Sold Out!

On this blog, I have frequently criticised an awful tabloid website called IrishCentral. This website has repeatedly republished a lying and badly-written article by Brendan Patrick Keane, purporting to be an opinion piece. In reality, all it does is regurgitate a number of Daniel Cassidy’s insane theories about the Irish origins of slang. As has often been said, people are entitled to their own opinions, not to their own facts. Almost nothing in this article is factually correct. I have also criticised IrishCentral’s founder, Niall O’Dowd, who is closely associated with many of Cassidy’s cronies.

However, over the last couple of days, I have discovered that Niall O’Dowd has sold IrishCentral for €2.7 million to a consortium of Irish media investors. Surprise, surprise, one of this consortium is a figure I have also mentioned on this blog – Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Sinn Féin minister for finance in Stormont.

This is a perfect opportunity for Ó Muilleoir to act according to his principles. He can put a word in with the editors of IrishCentral and tell them to stop republishing these lies about the Irish language. Even better, perhaps he could ask them to write an article which actually tells the truth about Daniel Cassidy and his dishonesty and fraud. Surely IrishCentral and Ó Muilleoir and the other Cassidy Cronies have done enough damage to our language and culture. It’s time to set the record straight and tell it like it is. It’s time for Ó Muilleoir to stop supporting these scumbags and start defending the Irish language from this nonsense.

It’s a simple choice. I know he’s a busy man, but If he has the time to tweet pictures of cows on the Lagan towpath and follow the activities of other Cassidy Cronies like Michael Patrick MacDonald, he has time to do this.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

As I have pointed out time after time in this blog, Daniel Cassidy, author of the book How The Irish Invented Slang, was a total fraud. Even before it came to light that he had no qualifications and that he wasn’t a real professor, it was obvious from the claims made in his book and in various articles published by groups like Counterpunch that he was simply a madman. Nearly all the Irish phrases in his book were made-up and anyone with any knowledge of the subject would immediately recognise this. Cassidy did everything to demonstrate his insanity but don a tinfoil hat and a sandwich board saying “CERTIFIED 100% NUTTER” and march around San Francisco with a megaphone shouting “Yep, I’m crazy, even by Californian standards!!” at regular intervals. There is no excuse for those people who supported this maniac. Anyone who was taken in by him and his fake etymology needs to take a good hard look at themselves and ask themselves why they were so gullible.

We recently had an election here in the statelet and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, a Sinn Féin politician who was previously editor of the Irish language newspaper Lá has just been appointed as Minister of Finance at Stormont. Now, there are many good things about Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. He works very hard and he has supported many causes which I believe to be morally right. For example, he has done a lot to help the Roma community and to welcome refugees from the Middle East (neither policy is an automatic vote-catcher, by any means). He has made it plain that he is in favour of gay rights. He consistently supports the rights of Irish speakers. In an Assembly where some of the Members are actually proud to admit that they are Young Earth Creationists, his principles are to be applauded. At least they are 21st century, not 17th century!

However, he also endorsed Daniel Cassidy, describing him as ‘our friend’. There could be many reasons for this unwise and foolish decision. Cassidy pretended to be a supporter of Irish Republicanism, though How The Irish Invented Slang is verging on racism in its ignorance of and casual contempt for our language and culture. One of Lá’s journalists got a trip (presumably free) to Cassidy’s Golden Gates Irish Festival (later the Irish Crossroads Festival) in San Francisco in 2002. Or perhaps Ó Muilleoir just listened to some of the many pompous liúdramáin in the Irish-American community who thought Cassidy was the best thing since sliced bread.

Who knows? Hopefully Ó Muilleoir is a bit more careful and less gullible now. He has a difficult road ahead of him and I wish him well. We all stand to gain or lose from his success or failure. However, it does nobody any harm to be reminded of their fallibility from time to time, and in lending his support to a worthless jerk like Cassidy, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir really let himself down a bucketful.

An Bhfuil Gaeilge Agat?

One of the most startling aspects of the Cassidy Scandal is the number of people who have argued in favour of Cassidy while pretending to a knowledge of the Irish language. As we have said, a few Irish speakers who genuinely do speak Irish have supported Cassidy. In the majority of cases (Joe Lee, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir) there seems to be a social link between these people and Cassidy, so they cannot be regarded as impartial.

However, in many other cases, there is a tendency for Cassidy’s supporters to exaggerate the amount of Irish that they or others speak in order to further their ridiculous claims.

We have already looked at Cassidy himself. Cassidy, on his own admission, had absolutely no Irish at all until he was in his late fifties, when he inherited a pocket Irish dictionary and started leafing through it. Over the next few years, he plainly failed to acquire even the most basic knowledge of Irish grammar and pronunciation. His attempts to produce Irish phrases are embarrassingly bad.

Then we have others whom Cassidy claimed as fluent Irish speakers. For example, using his sockpuppet of Medbh, he claimed that Alexander Cockburn was a fluent Irish speaker. Cockburn was raised in the Cork town of Youghal, and no doubt some of his education would have had an Irish component. But he then went to an English public school and spent most of his adult life in America. If he was fluent in Irish, none of the obituaries mention the fact.

But the main group of people claiming a knowledge of Irish are those in reviews who claim that they speak the language and can therefore judge the merits of Cassidy’s ‘research’. Let’s take one example. On Goodreads, for example, we find comments like this:

I know Irish. I speak Irish. It’s always bothered me how so many Irish words sound like English words that are similar in sound. AND those English words have NOTHING to do with a similar English word like “Raspberries.” Now I can sleep at night. (The book makes so much more sense if you can speak “as Gaeilge.”

This is very badly written, (well, they would sound like English words that are similar in sound, wouldn’t they?) and is plainly nonsense as there is no Irish phrase which sounds like raspberries. Cassidy’s claim is pure invention and I don’t believe that this individual invented Cassidy’s absurd candidate (roiseadh búirthí) independently before reading the book. This also comes from someone who gives a list of their other books on Goodreads, which include things like Buntús Cainte, Book 1 (an elementary text for someone learning the language). Of course, this person may be a genius who acquired a fantastic knowledge of the language in the year and a half between reviewing Buntús Cainte and reviewing Cassidy’s book, though the fact that he seems to take Cassidy’s ideas seriously suggests to me that his knowledge of Irish is much more limited than he claims.

Others say in their reviews that they have been learning Irish for a year, or that they are students of the Irish language, and so are in a position to confirm Cassidy’s claims. The fact is, Irish is a very difficult language. It takes people years of study to become properly fluent in the language. After a year, and possessing a few dictionaries, people might be in a position to confirm that, for example, uath exists and dubh exists and roiseadh exists and búirtheach exists. It’s a long way from that to being able to make a reasoned judgement about whether phrases like uath dubh or roiseadh búirthí are likely to make sense to a genuine Irish speaker.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Irish is wonderful and I like the fact that people are keen to learn it. However, having studied a bit of Buntús Cainte really doesn’t qualify anybody as an expert in Gaelic linguistics. This addresses one of the fundamental problems of the whole Cassidy Scandal, the idea that there is no special skill involved in linguistics and that amateurs like Cassidy who don’t speak Irish or know the grammar or know how to pronounce the language have an equal right to pronounce on word origins with genuine experts who have genuine qualifications. Just occasionally, people who are amateurs manage to make major contributions to scholarship (people like Susan Hendrickson or Grote Reber). It’s not unheard of. The difference is that these people work with and through the consensus developed in their field to make a new contribution and they work very hard to do it. The other big difference is that these people are generally respected by established experts in their field.

That’s because genuinely gifted amateur scholars like this engage in discourse with experts and provide genuine evidence of their talents, unlike Cassidy who couldn’t even be bothered learning the basics of the Irish language before rushing into print with this ridiculous travesty of a book.

Irish Speakers Who Supported Cassidy

I find it very hard to understand why any Irish speaker would compromise their integrity by supporting this nonsense. I can only assume that Joseph Lee, of UCC and New York University, must have been a friend of Cassidy’s. Either that, or he must have taken leave of his senses.  

As for some of the other Irish speakers like Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Pól Ó Muirí, whom Cassidy described as Celtic scholars, both have made valuable contributions to the Irish language, but neither of them is really a Celtic scholar. I don’t know why they supported this book. Ó Muilleoir described Cassidy as ‘our friend’ in his own blog, so he presumably knew him. Cassidy was instrumental in establishing the Irish Crossroads Festival in San Francisco and Ó Muilleoir’s colleague Ciarán Ó Pronntaigh was a guest speaker at that festival. It seems inconceivable that Ó Muilleoir and Ó Muirí couldn’t spot the bullshit in Cassidy’s arguments. I can only assume that they thought that Cassidy’s book would be good for the Irish language and that the debate would help to awaken interest in the language throughout the Irish diaspora. If so, I think this was a bad mistake. It was a mistake because it is wrong to spread false information and journalists shouldn’t have to be reminded of that. It is a mistake because as a result of it, a substantial proportion of the ‘facts’ that are given in cyberspace relating to the Irish language were made up by Cassidy and have no basis in reality.

It is a mistake because people who have read Cassidy’s book, when they hear that someone is an Irish speaker, will start asking them if they know anything about the uath dubh or what a sách úr is, and the poor Irish speaker will wonder what the Hell they are talking about, while the Cassidy dupe will wonder if they speak Irish at all. If you think I’m making this scenario up, check out this exchange from a GAA forum: http://hoganstand.com/Antrim/MessagePage.aspx?PageNumber=0&TopicID=49420

And it is a mistake even in tactical terms, because far from encouraging people to learn Irish, it allows people to regard themselves as plugged into their Gaelic roots simply because they happened to hear words like nincompoop, hippy, shindig, hick and baloney bandied around when they were growing up, words which are part of every English speaker’s patrimony and have nothing to do with Irish at all.

The case of Ciarán Ó Pronntaigh is a little different. Cassidy posted Ó Pronntaigh’s review proudly on several websites, so we have access to it, and it is clear that Ó Pronntaigh was between a rock and a hard place because, as we have said, he knew Cassidy. While the overall tone of the review is positive and laudatory, Ó Pronntaigh simply can’t avoid the fact that there is a huge pile of elephant dung in the room – Cassidy’s theories. So while his review is diplomatic and kind, you can see that, reading between the lines, he realised what a load of nonsense the book is. He classifies the words and phrases in the book into four categories, only one of which is really positive. Of the others, two are saying that he should be praised for his attempts to prove his case and the fourth is negative. He says that the first category consists of those which are almost certain (is scéal cinnte, chóir a bheith, gur ón Ghaeilge a tháinig siad), such as spraoi and gab. (I don’t accept either of these as Irish). He also mentions words like acushla and aroon, which are obviously Irish and therefore leave the paradigms untouched. Then his second category is words which he thinks have the look of truth and which it is possible to make a good case for, words like squeal and longshoreman. Again, it is clear from these examples that Ó Pronntaigh is no linguist, as neither of these words is likely to be correct. Then there is a third category, the list of words which Ó Pronntaigh finds doubtful but feels that Cassidy makes a good case for, such as slum and scam (both ridiculous in my opinion).  And then there is the fourth category, where Ó Pronntaigh says that Cassidy is completely wrong and where he twists the language to achieve the result he wants. 

In other words, the review is a bit ‘weasel wordy’. It is far too kind to Cassidy but it still manages to tell the truth in a subtle way. I include it in full below for those who understand Irish. Be warned, it was transcribed by Cassidy so it is full of mistakes!


How the Irish Invented Slang by Daniel Cassidy,

by Ciaran O Prontaigh, La Nua, Jan. 17, 2008

Buille Tabhachacht i gcogadh teanga (A Significant Blow in the Language War)

Glacann sé fear cróga an dúshlán a thabhairt do choimeádaithe Bhéarla na Stát Aontaithe, agus leis an leabhar nua ó Daniel Cassidy, How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (Counterpunch), tá seans maith go bhfuil a leithéid de dhuine inár láthair.

Agus mar a bheifeá ag dúil leis i leabhar a thugann a mhalairt de léamh ar bhunús mór bhéarlagair an ghnáthdhuine (nó is dócha gur cruinne ‘caint na ndaoine’ a thabhairt air) ba mhór an chonspóid a tháinig mar gheall air.

Is é atá leagtha amach ag an Uasal Cassidy, ar as ceantar ‘Gaelach’ i Nua-Eabhrac é, sanas Gaeilge slám mór focal a tháinig isteach ‘ón bhonn aníos’ i mBéarla na Stát.

Ní mhaíonn Cassidy aon mhóreolas faoin Ghaeilge ach de thairbhe gur tógadh é le caint na ndaoine, an cineál teanga nach raibh sna nuachtáin, níl duine ar domhan níos fearr leis na ceangail a dhéanamh.

(Rud amháin a thagann amach as an leabhar seo cé chomh haineolach is atáimid faoin teanga faoi cheilt seo, is cuma cá mhéad scannán de chuid James Cagney a fheicimid).

Cuid de na focail a luann sé is scéal cinnte, chóir a bheith, gur ón Ghaeilge a tháinig siad; focail amhail ‘spree’ (spraoi) agus ‘to gab’ (gab/gab nó fiú gob).

Leis an fhírinne a dhéanamh is geall le liosta iad de na focail Ghaeilge a bhí in úsáid ag na Gael-Mheiriceánaigh, rudaí cosúil le ‘acushla’ agus ‘aroon’. 

Cuid eile tá an oiread sin de chraiceann na fírinne orthu go nglacfainn leis go bhfuil cás maith le déanamh ar a son. Orthu siúd d’áireoinn focail amhail ‘longshoreman’ (loingseoir) agus ‘squeal’ (scaoil an fhírinne), agus tá liosta le háireamh ann cinnte.

An tríú rang a dhéanfainn, agus an rangú is suimiúla díobh uile, sanas a mbeadh amhras orm faoi ach ag an am céanna a ndéanann an t-údar cás iontach maith ar a son.

Cuir i gcás ‘slum’ (is lom an áit é) nó ‘scam’ (is cam an cluiche é), baineann siad go mór le saol na nÉireannach i Meiriceá i ndiaidh an Drochsaoil.

Sin ráite tá cuid eile de na focail agus ní léir go bhfuil an ceart ag an údar ar chor ar bith. Cuid acu tá an chuma orthu go bhfuil an teanga á lúbadh ar mhaithe leis an mhíniú ba mhaith leis.

Ach maithim sin dó. Tá a thuilleadh oibre de dhíth ar an cheist seo agus leis an leabhar seo tá bunús againn a dtig linn tús ceart a chur léi.

Agus ardaítear ceist eile, chomh maith. Cad é faoi na focail a chonacthas i mBéarla na Stát roimh theacht na mórshluaithe Gael ach de thairbhe thionchar lucht na Gaeilge gur daingníodh iad nó gur thug an téarma ón Ghaeilge athbhrí dóibh, an bhrí atá againn faoi láthair?

Agus d’éireodh leis an chogadh smaointe beag a dhéanamh den tsibhialtacht Ghaelach murach daoine fearacht Daniel Cassidy, agus bí cinnte is cogadh é atá ar siúl go dtí an lá inniu. Fiú na leabhair fhónta (Five Points le Tyler Anbinder, mar shampla) ní mó ná go luann siad go raibh a dteanga féin ag na Gaeil.

Is furasta agus is rófhurasta an rud nach bhfuil i bprionta a fhágáil as an áireamh agus staidéar á dhéanamh ar an cheist seo, ach fiú Cassidy féin ní luann sé go raibh nuachtán dátheangach ag na Gaeil i Nua-Eabhrach, An Gaodhal.

Ar bhealach tá an leabhar seo mar chéim eile san obair atá déanta ag údair ar aon dul le Séamas de Napier (Lorg na nGael), Daniel Corkery (The Hidden Ireland) agus fiú Thomas Cahill (How the Irish Saved Civilization) ach go bhfuil an suíomh anois aistrithe trasna an Atlantaigh.

Tá scéal suimiúil le hinsint sa leabhar seo, ní amháin scéal na Gaeilge san Oileán Úr (agus an bhéarlagair a spreag sí) ach scéal sóisialta na nÉireannach nach raibh anró agus an sluma i ndán dóibh nuiar a chuaigh siad anonn.  Tá tús curtha Ciaran O Prontaigh is editor of La Nua .