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.