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Ar do bhicycle a Aire Ð Minister î Cu’vÕs new dictionary



Date Published: {J}

In the past week a press release popped up on my laptop from Minister Eamon O Cuiv in relation to the Irish language – it appears that a major review is going to be carried out on the Irish language, with a view to the fact that it has been changing, and that certain terminology may need to be developed.

I would have thought as much – for, when the Christian Brothers were in charge of hammering a love of the language into the boys of my generation, if you used a word like ‘bicycle,’ or worse still put down a sentence which included something like ‘bhí me air mo bhicycle,’ you could expect the ‘leather’ to fly when the cóipleabhar was handed in for correction.

Yet, now in the evenings when I turn on Teilifís na Gaeilge (otherwise known as TG4), I can hear words like (and this is my attempt at spelling) ‘clouthaí’. In my day the word for a cloud was scamall, and you were likely to send a Christian Brother into a twirling dervish if you simply put down what was thought to be a bastard version of the English equivalent.

I have to be careful here, for there is the issue of any language developing and changing. The evolution of a language was a point eloquently made, for instance, by Brian Ó Cuív, the minister’s father, in a series of lectures delivered under the auspices of the School of Celtic Studies of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, in 1950. He argued that if a language was not evolving, it might be dead.

However, in my school days, the word for a bicycle was rothar. I agree that a language must evolve, but it can hardly be argued that the bicycle was such a late invention that we had to adapt to the English language version.

We were unlikely to have an Irish term for nuclear fusion, but I still find it hard to believe that a term like ‘anatomy’ is so new that in the case of directional signs in the grounds of the National University of Ireland, Galway they have to put together a word that reads – anatomaíocht.

Bang on time for St Patrick’s Day, however, Minister Eamon Ó Cuív announced that “a review of the Official Standard for Irish (An Caighdeín Oifigiúil) is being undertaken by the Central Translation Unit (An Lar-Aonad Aistriuchain) in his Department.”

Unfortunately, I am not sure that I am qualified to sit on this new super quango (cad is Gaeilge ar sin?), but it sounds like there could be a repeat version of that Blackadder episode where lexicographer Dr Johnson came to visit with his new dictionary and manservant Baldrick eventually burnt it. That was because of the omission of the word ‘sausage’. Cad is Gaeilge ar sausage?

The Minister in his press release goes on to give a further insight into the work of this grouping. He says: “The Official Standard was compiled and first published in 1958 and has been published periodically ever since. Its publication in 1958 was a significant milestone in the development of Irish as a modern literary and administrative language. However, in light of the rapid and ongoing developments in the texture of the living language, it is timely to undertake a review now.

“The Minister will appoint a Steering Committee to oversee the Review, whose membership will cover the fields of lexicography, education, law, translation, terminology, media and scholarship.

The review will take a phased approach and each Chapter, or part of a Chapter of what will ultimately become the revised Official Standard, will be examined and agreement reached,

before the Review Group will move on to the next item on its work programme.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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