Tag Archives: nonsense

Hurley’s Stick

I noticed recently that I have been defamed by one of Cassidy’s lickspittle ‘friends’ in California, Maureen Hurley. This is in relation to a comment made on this blog by someone called Robo and my reply to Robo:

“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.”

From https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/tag/bata-scoir/

PS The person (unnamed) responsible for the blog where I got this info, at cassidyslangscam, who continues to slander my friend Danny Cassidy, after his death, is a vindictive scourge. He maligns Robo’s comment, yet my Bantry grandmother, FFS, told me the same story. So it certainly was true in the middle to late 19th c., in the West of Ireland. STET!

While I’m not really bothered (being attacked by someone as stupid as Maureen Hurley is like being savaged by a dead sheep), it is a little irritating when somebody lies so casually about you.  As readers of this blog will know, I have not slandered Cassidy, nor even libelled him. (You would think someone claiming to be a poet would know the difference!) The fact is, of course, that expressing your disdain for someone only becomes any kind of defamation if the bad things you are saying are untrue. Because my criticisms of Cassidy are entirely justified, all I am guilty of is not agreeing with Maureen Hurley and I can certainly live with that!

However, before discussing Hurley’s failings in greater detail, let’s just get one thing straight. Anyone reading her comment above would assume that I am arguing that the bata scóir didn’t exist. If you go to my blog and read it you will find the following line: The bata scóir in the National Schools is certainly a fact.

Could I have expressed it any more clearly or unambiguously? The bata scóir was a fact. It existed and I have never denied the fact. Presumably, Hurley failed to actually read my blog post before commenting on it. Either that, or, if she is a total liar like the rest of Cassidy’s friends, she is providing a ‘straw man’ argument, where you set up a nice easy fake target, ascribe it to your opponent, and knock that down instead of actually engaging with your opponent’s real arguments.

As I said in a previous post on Hurley, she actually realises that at least some of Cassidy’s work was nonsense, saying that he played it a little too fast and loose with linguistics, that he didn’t speak Irish and didn’t know the grammatical rules of Irish. Fair play to her for recognising that much. Unfortunately, she does not take it to its conclusion and makes a lot of half-baked and moronic excuses for Cassidy. Here is Hurley sneering at real academics who criticised her friend:

Some pedagogues groused that Danny was an amateur etymologist, and ever-so-eloquently stated that his linguistic claims were “a big heaping load of hooey”; that maybe the award should have been given for fiction instead. I’m sure that was the response Danny was expecting from that crowd. He was a great one to challenge the halls of academe.

In other words, she is giving us the typical unintelligent guff that we have come to expect from the Cassidy apologists. The academics hated Cassidy because they’re a stuck-up crowd of snobs sitting in their ivory towers, not because it was incompetent rubbish. According to Hurley, Cassidy was sometimes wrong but got it right a lot of the time.

As you will discover if you read my blog rather than Hurley’s ramblings, Cassidy was almost never right about anything. It isn’t that there is a solid core of genuine research in Cassidy’s book and that the academic linguists are just carping about a few marginal cases. The truth is that Cassidy’s book is a monumental waste of time, a collection of childish lies and distortions. There are no words of genuine Irish origin in his book apart from the ones that were already acknowledged as such in the dictionaries. Everything original to Cassidy is infantile garbage. And while an Anglo dilettante like Maureen Hurley wouldn’t really care about the Irish language, those of us who speak Irish and use it on a daily basis find Cassidy’s work deeply insulting.

Hurley tries to demonstrate that there is value in Cassidy’s work but because she can’t be bothered reading what anybody else writes, she makes a total mess of it. She quotes what she thinks is a comment given by Daniel Cassidy. In fact, it’s from Terence Dolan, one of Cassidy’s critics, and it’s clearly denying Cassidy’s core thesis:

In an interview, Danny said: “The English language does not often absorb other languages, especially the Celtic languages. Irish has the longest association with English of any language on the planet, yet in England all we’ve got are a handful of words such as whiskey.”

I mean, obviously, if there are only a handful of Celtic words such as whiskey in English, then Cassidy must have been wrong!

After that, things get really surreal.

For example, Danny said the word buckaroo came from the Irish bocaí rua, “wild playboys” or “bloody bucks.” But bó is cow, buachaill is a cowherder (or cowboy, if you will), and ruadh, is, well, red (or red-haired)—so the meaning is close enough. Even if he came at it all wrong.

I have no idea what she is talking about here. This is a total non-sequitur. Bocaí rua means a red-haired playboy – if if means anything. (Bocaí is a singular word meaning playboy, not the plural of boc, which would be boic.) And another word, buachaill means boy and etymologically is linked to the Irish word for cow. But are the two facts connected? No. And where does buckaroo really come from? It comes from vaquero, the Spanish for cowboy. How is the meaning ‘close enough’? Close enough to what, FFS?

Anyway, unbelievably, it gets worse:

When Danny began to point out words “of uncertain origin” is often code for Irish, it struck a chord with me. I knew there were many more Irish words buried within the English language, despite what the Oxford English Dictionary claimed—aside from the usual suspects: smithereens, hoolighan (a surname), and shanty. 
There’s also shebeen, shebang, shindig, Sheila, slew, slogan, lollapalooza, colleen, clan, keen, kabosh, banshee, brogue, brogan, bar, ben, glamour, gombeen, leprechaun, whiskey, etc., to name a few.

This is also nonsense. Shanty, of course, is from French, not Irish, whether it refers to a cabin or a song. Shebeen is from Irish and all dictionaries say so. They are also quite happy to admit that slew, colleen, keen, banshee, brogue, gombeen, leprechaun, gob and whiskey are Irish. (Hurley also treats us to some rubbish about how the e of whiskey is related to Irish uisce – the convention of the spelling of whiskey and whisky by country is a recent convention in English and has nothing whatever to do with different varieties of Gaelic.) Kabosh probably isn’t Irish, lollapalooza certainly isn’t and it isn’t mentioned in Cassidy’s book, and neither is glamour, which certainly isn’t Irish. Shindig doesn’t come from Cassidy’s seinnt-theach, because it doesn’t exist. (It doesn’t come from Loretto Todd’s sínteach either, which does exist but has no appropriate meanings.) Bar doesn’t come from Irish and I’m not aware of anyone ever claiming it did. She says that boycott is an Irish word. Obviously, it isn’t because it’s an English surname, though it did originate in Ireland and like most languages, we have a version of the verb derived from it in Irish (baghcatáil, to boycott).

She also repeats the claim that the OED and Webster’s were rabidly anti-Irish and therefore lied about the Irish origins of words but without any evidence or any reason for claiming this other than her own bigotry and misplaced loyalty to Cassidy. She complains about these dictionaries saying that words were Scottish Gaelic rather than Irish and uses the idiotic argument that somehow Scottish Gaelic IS Irish.

Where did the British think Scots Gaelic came from? Donegal Irish in another lexicon.

Hurley is showing here once again that for a so-called poet, she has a very poor grasp of the English language.  What does ‘in another lexicon’ mean? The fact is, of course, that the Irish and Scottish versions of Gaelic are mutually incomprehensible, though similar. Does ‘in another lexicon’ mean that they are similar but have different words? And if so, could you say that Dutch is English in another lexicon? Or that Portuguese is Spanish in another lexicon? Similar but totally different? What the fuck are you wittering about, Hurley?

And of course, some words come from Scottish Gaelic while others come from Irish. Smithereens and shebeen are from Irish. Pibroch and claymore are from Scottish Gaelic. Bog and whisk(e)y could be from either, or indeed both.

Hurley also claims that glom isn’t in the dictionary. In reality, glom is recognised as deriving from Scots glaum, on record since the 18th century, which in turn came from Scottish Gaelic glàm.

Anyway, I already hated Cassidy’s guts when I first started this blog seven years ago, because of the lying nonsense he had made up about the Irish language. However, writing works of crap research is not illegal. Using false qualifications to get a job you are not entitled to is illegal, as well as being immoral and deeply hypocritical in someone who spent much of his time blathering about social justice. This is the big pile of elephant dung in the room that people like Hurley refuse to talk about.

Cassidy’s sister tipped me off that her brother had no qualifications about five years ago. I contacted the Registrar of Cornell University, Cassie Dembosky, who confirmed that Cassidy was removed from Cornell after four years of study without a degree. And this was later confirmed by one of Cassidy’s supporters, his brother Michael, who says that he used to needle his brother about not having a degree.

In theory, of course, it is quite possible to become a professor without having a degree. If you are a poet of international standing, or a brilliant novelist, or a film director with a dozen highly-regarded movies under your belt, that will be regarded as equivalent to or better than a doctorate. However, Cassidy did not have any such staggering achievements. In fact, he didn’t have any achievements, staggering or not. He was a nobody with no degrees and the only reasonable explanation for his having the status of a university professor without even a BA is that he lied about his qualifications to get that job.

Hurley and people like Hurley might consider that there is nothing wrong with doing that. However, there are rules in relation to fair employment, protocols that protect us from the worst kinds of discrimination. Rules that make it hard for someone to give a job to an Orangeman with no qualifications rather than to a Catholic with an MA on the grounds that the Catholic’s face wouldn’t fit. Rules that guarantee that a gay woman of West African heritage will not be passed over in a recruitment process in favour of a straight, chalk-white Christian dude like the late Daniel Cassidy because he’s a friend of the Dean. I think that Daniel Cassidy essentially ignored these rules and was allowed to do so and I think I am entirely justified in saying that he was a worthless, hypocritical prick for doing that.

Finally, before I finish, I just want to make an observation about the silly little internet picture of a bata scóir which Hurley posted along with her criticism of this blog. As I have said, I know that the bata scóir existed. However, I don’t believe that 19th century schoolteachers had that much time to whittle elaborate notches on pieces of wood, so it seemed to me unlikely that this was a genuine Irish bata scóir. I therefore acted on my hunch and put the words tally stick into Google image and within a few seconds, I found out where the picture came from. It’s of a tally stick that was used to guarantee a debt. It dates from the 16th century and was discovered in 2011 in an excavation in Wittenberg, Germany, so it is not an Irish bata scóir and has nothing to do with the English or Irish languages.

You can find out more here: https://archive.archaeology.org/1111/artifact/wittenberg_germany_tally_stick.html

There are also other pictures of bataí scóir on line which are tally sticks from Baffin Island in Canada. To the best of my knowledge, there are no genuine bataí scóir from the Irish National Schools in existence and we don’t really know what they would have looked like. If I get time, I will post on the whole question of the bata scóir and the available evidence about it, as it is an interesting subject.


Daniel Cassidy, in his atrocious book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that ‘jack’, a slang term for ‘money’ and the probable origin of ‘jackpot’, comes from the Irish tiach. Cassidy defines tiach as ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget fig. money’. Now, there are two common words for a wallet in Irish: sparán (equivalent to the sporran of Highland dress) and vallait. Tiach is not a bag used for money, as far as I know. Furthermore, even if it did mean wallet rather than satchel, why would it figuratively mean money? Do people ask if someone has lots of wallet? They certainly don’t ask if they can borrow some sparán in Irish, never mind tiach!

Then there is the issue of pronunciation. Tiach is not pronounced like jack or jah. It is pronounced (roughly) chee-ah, with the ch of English cheese, or tee-ah in the south, so why would it become jack? (Cassidy didn’t understand Irish pronunciation at all.)

And then there is the fact that jack was a term for a coin in English by the 16th century. It is not completely impossible that an Irish term might have come into English this far back, but it is pretty unlikely.

All in all, Cassidy’s claim is as stupid and as worthless as the vast majority of the claims made in this book.

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, ina leabhar uafásach How The Irish Invented Slang, gur ón fhocal Gaeilge tiach a tháinig an téarma ‘jack’, focal béarlagair ar ‘airgead’ i mBéarla, agus an bunús is dóchúla leis an téarma ‘jackpot’ fosta. De réir Cassidy, ciallaíonn tiach ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget fig. money’. Anois, mar is eol do dhuine ar bith a bhfuil a c(h)uid Gaeilge maith go leor leis an leagan Gaeilge den alt seo a léamh, tá dhá fhocal choitianta sa Ghaeilge ar ‘wallet’ i nGaeilge: sparán (mar an gcéanna le sporran an Albanaigh) agus vallait. Ní úsáidtear an focal tiach ar mhála airgid, chomh fada le m’eolas. Is seanfhocal é a chiallaíonn tiachóg nó ‘satchel’ an Bhéarla. Ní hamháin sin, ach dá mbeadh an bhrí sparán ar an tiach in áit mála mór, an mbeadh an bhrí fháthchiallach airgead air? Ar chuala tú duine ar bith ag rá ‘Tábhair dom giota beag sparáin ar iasacht’ riamh?

Agus ansin, tá fadhb na foghraíochta ann. Níl tiach cosúil le jack ar chor ar bith. (Ar ndóigh, ní raibh tuiscint ar bith ag Cassidy ar fhuaimeanna na Gaeilge.)

Agus caithfear a chuimhneamh gur baineadh úsáid as an fhocal jack mar fhocal ar bhonn airgid cheana féin faoin 16ú haois. B’fhéidir go dtiocfadh le focal Gaeilge teacht isteach sa Bhéarla chomh fada sin siar, ach ní dócha é.

Lena rá ar bheagán focal, tá teoiricí Cassidy faoin fhocal sin chomh bómánta leis an chuid eile de na teoiricí sa leabhar seo.


(This is another piece which I have republished, edited and translated into Irish because of The Year of the Irish Language 2018. Seo píosa eile atá athfhoilsithe agam anseo, maraon le roinnt athruithe agus aistriúchán i nGaeilge, in ómós do Bhliain na Gaeilge 2018.)


Daniel Cassidy, in his crazy book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word goon, meaning an idiot (and later, a muscle-bound henchman) derives from the Irish word guan, meaning ‘a fool’. There are several problems with this. Firstly, Cassidy states that the English word is ‘origin unknown’, while most dictionaries (including the OED) regard it as a contraction of an earlier word goonie or gooney, which is known since the 16th century and means a fool or a large bird like an albatross. This seems perfectly reasonable and I can see no reason to prefer an Irish derivation to this English origin.

Secondly, guan is not a common word in Irish. It is not given at all in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, and in Dinneen’s dictionary it is ascribed to Ó Neachtain’s manuscript dictionary of 1730. It is not found in the 7 million word Corpas na Gaeilge. The word guanach for silly or fanciful is certainly common and is given in all dictionaries but guan itself isn’t.

In other words, this is as stupid and unlikely as the rest of Cassidy’s nonsense.

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, ina leabhar craiceáilte How The Irish Invented Slang, go bhfuair an Béarla an focal goon, a raibh an chiall ‘amadán’ leis fadó (agus a fuair an chiall cúlaistín matánach ina dhiaidh sin), ón fhocal Gaeilge ‘guan’, a chiallaíonn amadán. Tá roinnt fadhbanna leis an mhíniú seo. Sa chéad áit, deir Cassidy go ndeir foclóirí an Bhéarla gur focal ‘origin unknown’ atá ann. Is bréag lom é sin. An chuid is mó de na foclóirí Béarla (an OED san áireamh), tá siad ar aon intinn gur giorrúchán é ar an tseanfhocal gooniegooney, atá ar taifead ón 16ú haois agus a chiallaíonn amadán nó éan mór cosúil leis an albatras. Tá an míniú seo iomlán réasúnta, dar liom féin, agus ní thuigim cén fáth a roghnódh duine ar bith an tsanasaíocht Ghaeilge in áit an chinn seo ón Bhéarla.

Ar an dara dul síos, ní focal coitianta guan sa Ghaeilge. Ní luaitear i bhfoclóir Uí Dhónaill é agus i bhfoclóir an Duinnínigh, deir sé go bhfuil sé i lámhscríbhinn fhoclóir Uí Neachtain a scríobhadh in 1730. Níl sé luaite i gCorpas na Gaeilge, corpas 7 milliún focal. Tá an focal guanach (amaideach) coitianta go leor, cinnte, ach níl an focal guan coitianta ar chor ar bith.

Lena rá i mbeagán focal, tá an ceann seo chomh bómánta neamhdhóchúil leis an chuid eile de raiméis Cassidy.

The Captain Returns/Filleann an Captaen

Some while back, I gave out to and about Captain Grammar Pants (a.k.a. Sean Williams of Evergreen State) for buying into Cassidy’s nonsense and helping to spread it far and wide through her grammar and ‘etymology’ site on FaceBook. After a while, she contacted me and admitted that she had made a mistake with Cassidy’s rubbish. Fine, I thought. At least one sinner has returned to the fold …

However, imagine my surprise when I came across this piece of crap on Captain Grammar Pants the other day. It was published about four months ago. (October 2017)

Dude! Slang can be fun and mystifying at the same time; its meaning also changes over time. Today we sort out DUDE (Irish, “incompetent fool”) …

Oh, for God’s sake! Didn’t you learn anything last time? There is a word dúid in Irish. It means 1. Stump 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull.

So where did the definition “incompetent fool” come from? Who invented that one? It’s not a direct quote from Cassidy but it’s close enough. And dude means a dandy or fop, which dúid doesn’t. The English dude almost certainly comes from Yankee DOODle DANDY, who stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni (which was also slang for a fop or dandy in the 18th century). There are several other possibilities but dúid isn’t as good a candidate as Yankee Doodle Dandy, as these sources agree:



So, Captain Grammar Pants, PLEASE wise up and stop misleading people about language!


Tamall beag ó shin, thug mé amach do Captain Grammar Pants (nó Sean Williams ó Evergreen State mar is fearr aithne uirthi) as glacadh le raiméis Cassidy agus as cuidiú lena scaipeadh i gcéin is i gcóngar tríd an suíomh gramadaí agus ‘sanasaíochta’ atá aici ar FaceBook. I ndiaidh tamaillín, chuaigh sí i dteagmháil liom agus d’admhaigh go raibh meancóg déanta aici le cacamas Cassidy. Go breá, arsa mise liom féin. Ar a laghad, tá peacach amháin i ndiaidh filleadh ar an tréad … Samhlaigh an t-iontas a bhí orm, áfach, nuair a chonaic mé an cacamas seo ar Captain Grammar Pants an lá faoi dheireadh. Tuairim is ceithre mhí ó shin a foilsíodh é (Deireadh Fómhair 2017):

Dude! Slang can be fun and mystifying at the same time; its meaning also changes over time. Today we sort out DUDE (Irish, “incompetent fool”) …

Ó, ar son Dé! Nár fhoghlaim tú a dhath an uair dheireanach? Tá an focal dúid sa Ghaeilge, ceart go leor, ach ní hé sin a chiall. Seo na sainmhínithe, de réir FGB (Ó Dónaill):

  1. Stump 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull.

Cá háit a bhfuarthas an sainmhíniú sin “incompetent fool” mar sin? Cé a chum an ceann sin? Ní sliocht díreach as saothar Cassidy atá ann ach tá sé cóngarach go leor. Agus ciallaíonn dude gaige nó scóitséir. Níl an chiall sin ag an fhocal dúid, ar ndóigh. Tá sé chóir a bheith cinnte gurbh ó Yankee DOODle DANDY a tháinig an focal dude, ‘who stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni (focal a raibh an chiall gaige nó ‘dandy’ leis i mBéarla an ochtú haois déag). Tá roinnt moltaí eile ann, ach níl dúid chomh maith mar bhunús an fhocail le Yankee Doodle Dandy, mar atá le feiceáil sna foinsí seo:



Mar sin de, a Chaptaein, LE DO THOIL, bíodh ciall agat agus stad de bheith ag cur dallamullóg ar dhaoine faoi chúrsaí teanga!


I have noticed that many of the early posts on this blog get relatively little traffic, so I have decided to start republishing some of them.

I have already said that Cassidy ignores perfectly good English explanations for words in favour of improbable or impossible made-up Irish derivations. This is a perfect example. Chicken means scared and a chicken is a coward. I think this comes from the English word chicken which is a nervous type of bird. In English, phrases like hen-hearted go back to the 14th century at least. As early as the 15th century, the churles chekyne was used as an expression for a coward. It is obvious, realistic, and it ticks all the boxes.

Cassidy and his supporters will have none of it. Chicken doesn’t come from chicken, apparently. It comes from teith ar cheann, which means – says Cassidy – to run away first. Does it? No, of course not. This is How The Irish Invented Slang we’re talking about here, not a serious work of scholarship! Teith ar cheann is unattested. If you look it up on Google, you will find a handful of references to Daniel Cassidy. In terms of Irish grammar, it doesn’t make sense, as it really means ‘flee at the head of’ rather than flee first. At the head of what? I hear you ask. Exactly. On its own, this phrase means nothing.

There are lots of expressions for a weakling or coward in Irish and any of them could have been used in slang, so it seems strange that people would use a grammatically meaningless and unfamiliar phrase in preference to these words. Of course, in reality, they didn’t. Chicken is English. A chicken is a chicken is a chicken. And Cassidy was a birdbrain.


Thug mé faoi deara nach bhfaigheann cuid de na postálacha is luaithe sa bhlag seo mórán cuairteanna agus mar sin de, ba mhaith liom iad a athfhoilsiú anseo.

Mar atá ráite agam go minic roimhe seo, bíonn Cassidy ag maíomh go dtig focail ó fhrásaí Gaeilge a chum sé féin, frásaí nach bhfuil ciall ar bith leo, cé go bhfuil an fhíorshanasaíocht Bhéarla soiléir sothuigthe i gcuid mhór cásanna. Seo sampla foirfe den amaidí sin. Ciallaíonn chicken go bhfuil duine scanraithe agus is ionann chicken agus cladhaire. Tagann sin ón fhocal Béarla chicken, dar liomsa, mar is éan cineál neirbhíseach í an chearc nó an sicín céanna. Sa Bhéarla, tá frásaí mar hen-hearted le fáil ón 14ú haois ar aghaidh. Chomh luath leis an 15ú haois, bhí an frása the churles chekyne in úsáid le tagairt do chladhaire nó meatachán. Tá an míniú sin soiléir, simplí agus tá sé ag teacht leis na fíricí.

Ach is cuma le lucht leanúna Cassidy faoi na fíricí. Ní hionann chicken (cladhaire) agus chicken (cearc), dar leosan. Is ón fhrása ‘Gaeilge’ ‘teith ar cheann’ a tháinig sé, de réir cosúlachta, frása a chiallaíonn, dar le Cassidy, ‘to run away first.’ Ní Gaeilge sin, ar ndóigh. Níl ann ach raiméis agus amaidí.

Tá a lán dóigheanna le bogachán nó meatachán nó cladhaire a rá i nGaeilge. Nach iontach an rud é gur roghnaigh na Gaeil i Meiriceá úsáid a bhaint as raiméis neamhghramadúil ar nós teith ar cheann in áit ceann de na focail sin? Ach, ar ndóigh, níor tháinig chicken ó ‘teith ar cheann’. Níl ciall ar bith leis sin. Is Béarla é an focal chicken, sa dá chiall, agus ní raibh sa Chasaideach ach bréagadóir gan náire.

Why Hugh Curran Is A Liar

A few days ago, I wrote a post in Irish. I had noticed that an individual called Hugh Curran had posted an ignorant and entirely indefensible comment in support of Cassidy’s ludicrous book on IrishCentral and in my post, I called him a liar and issued him with a challenge.

What was it that offended me so much? Well, Curran began his comment by telling readers that he was born in the Donegal Gaeltacht and teaches Irish. Let’s just examine this carefully. This gives the impression that Curran is a fluent Irish speaker. After all, if someone wrote “I was born in France and teach French,” wouldn’t you make the assumption that that person was fluent in French? I would.

So, why don’t I think Curran is fluent in Irish? Well, on 07/04/2011, he was asking Marion Gunn of Conradh na Gaeilge (https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A3=ind1104&L=IRTRAD-L&E=quoted-printable&P=51576&B=–&T=text%2Fplain;%20charset=utf-8&header=1) the following question:

A chara Marion, Are there any places that you are aware of in New Brunswick or Maine, or Massachussetts or New Hampshire that have Irish Gaeilge immersion weekends?

Now, Marion Gunn is an Irish speaker. If you were a learner with a good basic knowledge of Irish, wouldn’t you try out your Irish in circumstances like this? For some reason, he doesn’t bother trying. The only Irish in his communication is ‘A chara Marion.’ This is a bit of a smoking gun. To say Dear Marion, it would be ‘A Marion, a chara.’ (Most Irish speakers wouldn’t aspirate a foreign name like Marion, though it’s not wrong to do so.) It is quite plain from the way Curran translates it that he doesn’t know how to say this, which suggests that his knowledge of the language is patchy at most.

And if his knowledge of Irish is patchy, how can he make a valid judgement about the rightness or wrongness of the ‘Irish’ in Cassidy’s book? Where does his figure of 80% plausible and something over half of that 80% correct come from? Straight out of his arse! The figure of somewhere between 40 and 50% of the derivations in Cassidy’s book being correct is just nonsense. Of course, if I am wrong about his lack of Irish, he can defend himself by answering my challenge in the last post.

Furthermore, this arrogant and foolish man simply ignores all the evidence and all the critics, including critics on the same comments column where he wrote this nonsense – people who are smarter and better-informed than he is – and does a lot of vague and childish pontificating about how scholars don’t accept the amount of Irish influence on English out of bigotry and how the Irish themselves fail to recognise Cassidy’s genius because of some post-Famine Stockholm Syndrome and not because Cassidy was a nut with no degree and no knowledge of Irish. Whatever …

The fact is that myself and a number of other individuals have tried to inform people of the truth about this book. We don’t like people being fleeced by worthless rubbish which has no value and we definitely don’t like scum like Cassidy who don’t know any Irish exploiting our language to make money by conning naïve people. If Curran had any decency or integrity, he would go straight back to IrishCentral and delete his comment, or better still, write another one telling the truth about Cassidy and his lies.

The worst thing is that this man claims to be a Buddhist. We have seen a lot of frauds on this blog (Cassidy’s work attracts them) but it really is bizarre that a man who claims to be spiritually superior has such a huge ego and sense of self-importance. To me, it seems quite clear that far from being enlightened, this man’s head is so far up his arse that it would take a stout rope and a team of horses to extract it.

It’s Official: The Etruscans Were Irish!

[I would like to make it quite clear that THIS IS NOT A REAL THEORY. I AM TAKING THE PISS. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the Internet that people flit around reading little bits of things and then tweeting about them and republishing them in other ways, so it is no surprise that there is a thing called Poe’s Law, which states that unless the material is clearly labelled as ironic, somebody will always take your parodies and satires at face value. On this blog, I have already had people take seriously claims that the phrase Vichy Water is from Irish and that the Irish language has a word for the sound horses make when you pull their feathers out. Seriously! So, just to be clear, I’m being sarcastic – Etruscan is NOT an early form of Irish.]

The Irish Milesian Academy For Intellectual Arts (IrishMAFIA), founded five years ago to further the work of the late Daniel Cassidy, have come up with their biggest and boldest claim yet. According to Brendan Patrick Gurne, Head of Creative Etymology with IrishMAFIA:

“We were looking at Google and found a website about Etruscan, an ancient language of Italy, and its links to extra-terrestrials, the Illuminati and home-made anti-gravity machines. We then found a vocabulary of Etruscan and were amazed to find clear parallels between Irish and Etruscan. We are convinced that Etruscan is in fact an early form of Irish and that through the Etruscans, Irish was responsible for the Roman Empire and the whole history of Western Civilization.

Let’s look at some examples. For example, clan is Etruscan for son. This is just like clann in Irish, which means children. The Etruscan for jar is pruchum, which is like the Irish próca. Shuthi, meaning a vault or grave is very like the Irish or sidhe, meaning a fairy mound or grave mound. The Etruscan word for a state, tuθi (tuthi) is almost exactly the same as Irish tuath, meaning a petty kingdom. Cel, the word for earth, ground or soil, is very similar to cill, which means churchyard. The Etruscan for bull, thevru, is very like Irish tarbh. The Etruscan for I is mi, which is just like Irish . The Etruscan for a free person is zeri, which is just like the Irish word saor. And what about mech, meaning lady or queen? Surely this is the same word as Macha, the ancient goddess of war who gave her name to Armagh? There can be no doubt about it. The Etruscans were Irish.”

Reaction to the revelation from academic linguists has been universally skeptical and hostile, but it has been enthusiastically repeated by the Irish Times, the Irish News, IrishCentral , the Irish Echo, RTÉ, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Joseph Lee and Peter Linebaugh.

[WARNING: THIS IS SATIRE! The Etruscans were NOT Irish. The vast majority of Etruscan vocabulary bears no relation to any Celtic language. Próca isn’t originally an Irish word. Clann is an early Irish borrowing of Latin planta. Cill also comes from Latin and is related to English cell. The taurus/tarvos word for bull is found in many Indo-European languages and is probably Afro-Asiatic in origin. The others are just coincidental similarities, helped along by selective use of definitions. It just goes to show how easy it is to make random and completely worthless connections when you are dealing with a fairly large set of data.]


Another ludicrous claim of Cassidy’s is that the word bailiwick (meaning someone’s sphere of influence or control) is from the Irish baile aíoch. This is clearly rubbish for two reasons.

Firstly, the phrase baile aíoch is completely unattested in Irish outside of Cassidy’s fantasy version of the language, although the two elements which Cassidy put together to make this phrase, baile and aíoch, do exist. Baile means home or town, while aíoch means hospitable, and is related to the word aoi, meaning guest. So this phrase might just mean “hospitable home”, though the word aíoch is not very common.

So what’s wrong with this as the origin of bailiwick? Let’s imagine a group of Irish-speaking gangsters discussing their activities in New York in the 19th century. Are they really going to refer to their ceantar (area) or ríocht (kingdom) or fearann (domain) or talamh (ground, land) as mo bhaile aíoch? I can’t see it. It is an unlikely enough phrase anyway, but if I did hear it, I would think of a guest house, or their own house, or even the old home back in the Old Country, not an area which is under someone’s control in a city.

It is also highly unlikely that the word aíoch (pronounced ee-okh or ee-oh] would become wick in English.

And in any case, if Cassidy had done some basic research (something he was obviously too lazy or stupid to do) he would have realised that bailiwick has been in English for nearly six hundred years. It means the area of influence of a bailiff. The most famous bailiwick is probably the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands, which obviously has no connection with the hospitable homes of Irish wise-guys.

How Not To Think Like An Idiot

Thinking rationally is important. It is also something which can be taught. While some people are more logical and rational than others by nature, just as some people have a better ear for music or are more athletic than others, this doesn’t mean that people can’t learn to recognise duff arguments and illogical thinking. Over the centuries, philosophers have developed a host of terms for foolish and unreasonable arguments. It is interesting to look back over the arguments used by the supporters of the late Daniel Cassidy and identify some of the logical fallacies and crap thinking which motivate them.

Straw man arguments. Essentially, a straw man argument is an argument which purports to challenge the arguments of the other side but really misrepresents their position, giving a version which is much easier to knock down. For example, Cassidy’s sheeple tend to argue that the Irish speakers who challenge Cassidy are doing so because we don’t believe the Irish language would have been rich enough to give expressions to English. (This is also an example of another fallacy, the false dichotomy. Cassidy’s supporters pretend there are two choices: a) Irish was rich and expressive and gave many words to English, and b) Irish was a worthless language which English ignored because there was nothing worth having in it. In reality, of course, there are other choices, such as my position, that Irish is and was a beautiful and expressive language, but because of circumstances which have nothing to do with its intrinsic merit, it had little or no influence on English.) Another straw man argument, used by certain silly and ignorant people who support Cassidy, is that people like me don’t accept the Irish influence on English because we don’t believe there were Irish speakers in America. In reality, we know that generations of people have left Gaeltacht areas in the west of Ireland and settled in the States but this fact has nothing at all to do with the ridiculous phoney Irish given in Cassidy’s book.

The genetic fallacy. This is where you argue not on the basis of the merits of the case presented, but on the basis that people like that can’t be right. In other words, if the people at the Oxford English Dictionary make a claim about a word, that claim is intrinsically untrustworthy because Oxford is a bastion of Anglophile privilege. This is a version of the ad hominem fallacy, where the opinion that Mr X is a dick is used to argue that Mr X’s opinions must also be stupid. Incidentally, many of Cassidy’s supporters have misused the ad hominem label in criticising myself and other opponents of Cassidy. An ad hominem argument is one which uses criticism of the person instead of an argument. Saying that Cassidy was a liar because all his ‘research’ was made up and he didn’t speak any Irish is not an ad hominem argument.

Appeal to (Inappropriate) Authority. Cassidy loved nothing better than to reel off a list of American and Irish professors and writers who had endorsed his work. In most cases these people were not language specialists and knew as little as he did about slang and Irish. In most cases, they were also close personal friends of his, which means that their support is worth precisely nothing.

Subjectivism (Also known as the Fallacy of the Irrefutable Hypothesis.) Really stupid people rarely get much further than these kind of arguments. I want there to be lots of words of Irish origin in English, therefore there must be lots of words of Irish origin in English. Or I thought Daniel Cassidy was a genius, therefore Daniel Cassidy must have been a genius. Yeah right … And Donald Trump is going to solve all your problems too …

The non sequitur. This literally means “it does not follow” in Latin. Apparently, some of Cassidy’s followers believe that English must be full of Irish loan words because Irish people talk a lot. I don’t know whether this is really true or not. I’ve never seen any research into it. I can tell you for nothing that the Irish don’t respect people who blether a lot. Irish people respect those who can talk well, who are witty, who know what they are talking about. Bullshitters and loudmouths like Cassidy are no more respected in Irish culture than in any other. And even if it were true that the Irish are incredibly loquacious, it would not automatically mean that English must contain lots of borrowings from Irish. You can say it as often as you like, but it won’t make it any truer. (That’s another fallacy, argument from repetition.)

The Anecdotal Fallacy. This seems to be what is going on here, where Sean Sweeney (God love his wit, what a clown!) mentions the fact that his Irish-speaking father used some of the “unknown” words given by Cassidy.

Perhaps Cassidy overreached on some, but the fact remains most of the Anglophilic dictionaries list the etymology of words he addresses as “unknown”, an amazing deficit, despite their slew of researchers and experts to trace the origins. Talking about “shit”. I’ve seen these same dictionaries deem as “unknown” words that I heard my Irish-speaking father use when I was a child. Not saying it applies to you, but “No Irish Need Apply” is still alive and well in some modern linguistic circles.

Anyone with any capacity for rational thought would immediately realise that this is completely irrelevant. These words were presumably spoken by his father in English and I see no evidence that Sweeney ever learned Irish. So were all the words used by his father in English derived from Irish? Did he ever say words like pizza, toreador, blitzkrieg, karate, kummerbund, bagel? Are these all from Irish too? Or did he give some special sign to show that the word in question came from Irish? Perhaps he went all dreamy and gazed off into the middle distance. Ah, lollygag, Seany boy. Dat’s one from da ouuuuuuld language … Yeah, right! What a clown!

The ‘real criminals’ fallacy. I can’t find an established name for this so I’ve made one up. Picture the scene: it’s a couple of days before Christmas and a drunken businessman is standing beside his BMW being breathalysed by a policeman. “Why don’t choo go and cash shome real criminalsh?” says the drunk driver. In other words, according to these people, there is a hierarchy of things to be done in the world, but protecting the Irish language from a creep like Cassidy should be way down the list. “Yes, maybe our friend Danny was a liar and a cheat. But is this really so important? What about world poverty, radicalisation, global warming, the refugee crisis? Why don’t you blog about them?” The answer is, of course, that the Irish language matters to me. And as for the other subjects, I don’t know much about solving world poverty or the war in Syria. So, I choose to blog about a subject where I have a specialist knowledge. Cassidy may not have been the worst criminal in history but he was definitely a criminal and he and his scummy followers deserve to be challenged and shamed.




I found another utterly stupid piece of Cassidy nonsense recently. It was posted on Linguistlist on Friday, Jan 28 2005, and then the same thing was given more or less verbatim on the Daltaí Boards about a month later. Although these claims never made it into the book, they are a perfect example of Cassidy’s ‘research’. They clearly demonstrate his ignorance, his overconfidence and his lack of intelligence.

More notes on the Irish and Gaelic word Teas (pron. jass or chass) meaning Heat. . 

The Sanas of Fizz, Fizzle, and Sizzle.

When something fizzes or fizzles it loses its Teas (pron. jass or chass) or Heat, Highest  Temperature, Excitement, and High Spirit.  The Oxford Dictionary ’s Fizz is  imitative and its fizzle is literally a silent fart.

Fizz, fiz, make a hissing sound, as of effervescence; 17th century; imitative, compare fizzle. Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, p. 359.

Fizzle, break wind silently 16th C.; (orig. from US) come to a lame conclusion, 18th C.; from fizz (but this is recorded later) + LE, cf. fist. (ODEE, p.359) 

The Barnhart Etymological Dictionary also opts for the fizz of the silent fart, but  with a little Middle English imitation.

Fizz v. 1655, move with a hiss or a sputter; imitative of the sound, and perhaps related to fizzle.  –n.  1812, a hissing or sputtering sound, from the verb.  Barnhart, p. 386.


Barnhart’s fizzle is an old fart and an ancient fist.

Fizzle v. About 1532, to break wind without noise, probably an alteration of obsolete fist  (Middle Eng., break wind, 1440) + le, frequentative suffix.


The meaning of make a hissing sound or sputtering is first recorded in 1859…in American  English….  Barnhart, p. 386. 

The Irish and Gaelic  Sanas of Fizz, Fizzle and Sizzle 

 Like a verbal star, fizz and fizzle  are perpetually losing their Teas (pron. chass or jass), or  heat,  excitement, ardor, and high spirit.




Fé theas, fa theas ( pron. fay has; the aspirated T is  silent)

Less than highest heat, warmth, passion, ardor, and excitement.

Fé, Fá, faoi : less than, under (in all senses), low.

Teas (aspirated to Theas, pron. has). heat, hotness, warmth, degree of hotness, high  temperature, passion, excitement, ardor, fever. Hottest, highest stage.

The Gaelic Phrase Fizzle Fizzes Forever..


Fé theas uile (fay has ila)

Less than all heat, vigor, passion, ardor, or excitement.


Fé, Fá, faoi : less than, under (in all senses), low

Teas, aspirated to Theas, still means heat, hotness, warmth, degree of hotness, high temperature, passion, excitement,  ardor, high spirits. Hottest, highest stage.

Uile: all, wholly.  

Fizzles’s hot jazzy cousin is Sizzle.

With sizzle the Barnhart again opts for “imitative.”  But of course it is a pure  English imitation. 

 Sizzle…to make a hissing sound as fat does when  frying. 1603, to burn or scorch so as to produce a hissing sound; perhaps a  frequentative verb form of Middle English sissen make a hissing sound, buzz  (before 1300), of imitative origin. The sense of making a hissing sound when  frying is first recorded. in English before 1825.  –n. 1823, in Edward  Moor’s Suffolk Words and Phrases; from the verb.      Barnhart p. 1913  

The Irish and Gaelic Sizzle holds at its core the perpetual heat, passion, excitement, and ardor of Teas (jazz or chass.)  


Sa theas uile (pron. sa has ila ; T is aspirated)

In a state of all heat, highest temperature, excitement, passion, ardour. 

Sa: In ( a state or condition of) 

Theas (pron. has): heat, vigor, passion, ardor, or excitement.   . 

Uile: all, whole.

The Sizzle of Teas (pron. chass, jass) holds the spirit of jazz (teas, heat) and gives off heat  even when it fizzles.  On the other hand when you easy fry chicken in New  Orleans you don’t sizzle it, you fricasee (friocadh samh) the boid  (bird.) 

Friocadh (pron fricah): frying

Sa/mh (pron saah), easy.

Friocadh sa/mh   (pron. Fricah saah)

Easy frying. . 


Where do I start? Firstly, the whole thing about heat and fizzing is a nonsense. Is fizzing or fizzling about losing heat? When you drop an Alka Seltzer into water, is this anything to do with a loss of heat? No. However, Cassidy desperately wants to link it to teas, because teas is one of the handful of Irish words he knows. So according to Cassidy, fizz is “Fizz: Fé  theas, fa theas ( pron. fay has; the aspirated T is silent) [sic] Less than highest heat, warmth, passion, ardor, and excitement.”

Anyone who speaks Irish will instantly realise that this is nonsense. Faoi ( in Munster) is used in lots of different ways: about; subject to; under. For example, in the phrase faoi bhrón, faoi means ‘subject to.’ A person who is faoi bhrón is sad, not ‘less than perfectly sad’.  His attempt to account for the –le at the end of fizzle is even sillier. The word uile is only used with definite phrases in Irish (nouns with my, your, proper nouns etc.) So an lá uile (or uilig as we say in the north) is fine – it means ‘the whole day’. But you cannot say chaith sé lá uile ag obair for ‘he spent a whole day working’. You would have to say something like Chaith sé lá iomlán ag obair. The phrase fé theas uile is just meaningless rubbish.

However, it’s not as bad as his cack-handed attempts to explain sizzle. Of course, sizzle is associated with heat. However, sa theas is simply wrong. You don’t aspirate t or d after sa. It’s sa teach (in the house), sa tír (in the land), and sa teas (in the heat). Furthermore, sizzle is plainly linked to the word sissen, meaning make a sizzling noise, found in English before 1300. Cassidy’s claim that it derives from a ridiculous ungrammatical ‘Irish’ phrase meaning ‘in all heat’ is just crazy. As crazy as Cassidy himself.

But if you’re looking for sheer and total jabbering lunacy, just try the bit at the end. Fricassee is a French word, of course. It is thought to come from frire (fry) and casser (to break up). It occurs in a French cookery book in 1490! Furthermore, the Irish for frying is not friocadh. It’s friochadh (pronounced frihoo). And sámh just doesn’t work here. It means relaxed, tranquil.

Cassidy’s apologists will no doubt say that I’m being unfair. After all, these particular bits of garbage didn’t make it into the book. However, plenty of equally stupid bits of garbage did. The vast majority of the so-called Irish phrases in Cassidy’s book are the same, the result of an idiot with a dictionary throwing words together without regard for the grammar and usage that he couldn’t be bothered learning. The whole thing is incredibly disrespectful. You could sum up Cassidy’s attitude with the words. Yeah, I’m sure it doesn’t make sense but who gives a shit? Nobody speaks that fucking peasant language nowadays anyway! 

The fact is, of course, that hundreds of thousands of people speak it. I’m one of them and I’m not about to forgive this shabby narcissistic little con-man, however many American idiots are as convinced as Cassidy himself that the sun shone out of his arse.