First the city, next the county…

The controversy over the name of Derry/Londonderry is off again. For nationalists it’s a case of getting rid of a politically charged placename, but for the minority unionist commuity, it’s about acknowledging their history. And SDLP councillor Thomas Conway has widened the conflict by suggesting that the case for changing the county name also be considered.

Update: See Dave Wood’s interview with Billy Baygely of St.Columb’s Cathedral.

  • smcgiff

    Willowfield.

  • Davros

    “My first post to you covers this. Nationalist are expected to accept a celebration of their usurping. Get real! “

    Should we cancel Christmas and Easter celebrations so as not to annoy Wiccans, Satanists and other tree-ghuggers ? 😉

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Ringo,

    I agree with all you say – to me it’ll always probably be Derry as well. Incidentally, are ye a big endian or little endian?

    Hi Maca,

    “Fair point. But don’t you see the reasons WHY?”
    In my view to airbrush out of history anything that goes against the Gaelic Ireland agenda.

    “the obvious difference that we make the distinction bet. 1st & 2nd official langs”
    That being a major difference, so my point still stands.

    “There ARE benefits from having two languages”
    As a point of interest I agree. However, even 1000s of years ago people recognised that separate languages were a curse – Babel and all that. More recently, the biggest ever aircraft disaster in aviation history, when 2 passengers jets crashed into each other over India killing all passengers was blamed on the Ukranian navigator not having a good enough grasp of English…

    Hi Smcgiff,

    “no one would ever be excused from learning English”
    But then they’d need it to converse with everyone else – so it has value. Compulsory teaching of Irish would is as needless as the compulsory teaching of Ulster Scots…

  • smcgiff

    ‘Should we cancel Christmas and Easter celebrations so as not to annoy Wiccans, Satanists and other tree-ghuggers ? ;)’

    Davros, I wouldn’t normally include Settler apologists (I’m on a role today!) with Satanists, but I can see where you’re coming from!! ;o)

  • smcgiff

    Congal,

    ‘But then they’d need it to converse with everyone else – so it has value. Compulsory teaching of Irish would is as needless as the compulsory teaching of Ulster Scots…’

    I feel no real compulsion to argue with you!! ;o)

  • willowfield

    smcgiff

    At the risk of being declared a self-hating settler (I

  • smcgiff

    ‘The majority rules regardless of the offence and hurt caused to the minority.’

    What about the hurt to the majority?

    ‘It’s not reasonable to find a name “unacceptable” on the grounds of ethnic hatred.’

    But it is reasonable to keep it there because of it’s an ethnic marker?

    The argument that Londonderry is the name for the last four hundred years is an honourable and reasonable argument. This I understand. But with that said, it wouldn’t be the first time the name was changed. *queue. It was a new settlement argument* I’ve difficulty with that one.

  • Davros

    LOL smcgiff.

    “I wouldn’t normally include Settler apologists (I’m on a role today!) with Satanists,”

    Adams is a guid Settler name , isn’t it 😉

  • willowfield

    What about the hurt to the majority?

    The onus is on those who want to change it to make the case. I don’t believe they are hurt by a name that has existed for 400 years, and claiming such hurt is not a sufficiently strong case to change it.

    But it is reasonable to keep it there because of it’s an ethnic marker?

    Again, the onus is on those wanting to change it to make a case. You may claim it is an “ethnic marker”, others will say otherwise: it’s simply a reflection of the city’s connection with London, which is interesting and perfectly reasonable. No reason to change it.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Adams is a guid Settler name , isn’t it ;)’

    Obviously a self-hating settler!! ;o)

  • Davros

    If we accept that anglophobia drives the attempts to change the name of Londonderry to Derry, will Randalstown not need to be renamed ?

  • smcgiff

    ‘The onus is on those who want to change it to make the case.’

    It would appear they have for not an inconsiderable number of years.

    ‘and claiming such hurt is not a sufficiently strong case to change it.’

    Perhaps nationalists are the more sensitive of the island dwellers?

    I can’t argue with your belief that it is not good enough reason to change. I can however disagree.

  • smcgiff

    ‘If we accept that anglophobia drives the attempts to change the name of Londonderry to Derry, will Randalstown not need to be renamed?’

    Lucky we don’t accept it then! See previous remarks re: Derry being a true compromise.

    Apologies. I’m not familiar with the Randalstown reference.

  • Davros

    Randalstown is named after the Anglo-Irish Earl of Antrim. If the “London” part of Londonderry (even if
    it refers to PFI which SF supported in office) is unacceptable then obviously Randal will have to go!

  • smcgiff

  • smcgiff

    ‘obviously Randal will have to go!’

    Besides, simply calling the place, Town, would just be silly! ;o)

  • Davros

    Londonderry has an equally nice ring to it 🙂

    How about “Londondoire” as a final offer ?

  • Davros

    I wonder what it was called before it was re-named ?

  • davidbrew

    and don’t forget to get rid of Cookstown Draperstown, Portaferry, Hillsborough, Craigavon (obviously-and strange how little controversy attaches to that name)-and presumably Maguiresbridge, if it was built by the hated oppressors of the DoE Roads Service. Yup there’s a whole lot of ethnic cleansing still to do before all traces of the evil Prods are eliminated, but SF are up for it.

    As for those stupid Prods, what a missed opportunity Stormont was. They could have renamed Newry Sandringham, or Omagh Balmoral. Call themselves bigots? They haven’t a clue how to oppress a minority identity!

  • davidbrew

    and don’t forget to get rid of Cookstown Draperstown, Portaferry, Hillsborough, Craigavon (obviously-and strange how little controversy attaches to that name)-and presumably Maguiresbridge, if it was built by the hated oppressors of the DoE Roads Service. Yup there’s a whole lot of ethnic cleansing still to do before all traces of the evil Prods are eliminated, but SF are up for it.

    As for those stupid Prods, what a missed opportunity Stormont was. They could have renamed Newry Sandringham, or Omagh Balmoral. Call themselves bigots? They haven’t a clue how to oppress a minority identity!

  • davidbrew

    …and Newtowncrommelin (bloody Huguenots), Srangford(damn those Vikings), Waringstown, Poyntzpass, Jerretspass, Eglinton, Greyabbey(blasted Normans),Saintfield(oh hang on- Prods don’t have saints-it can stay).

    …hey let’s not forget the attempt to rename Donegal (Fort of the foreigners) to Tryconnell in the early years of the Free state. There shouldn’t even be a reference in Irish to those pesky settlers….ok so most of the above have substantial Nationalist/RC populations who seem happy enough….

    but the WORST of all is the settlor oppression requiring those of us nipping out the the back way from Aldergrove to use the “British Road” to Crumlin. Outrageous!!

  • smcgiff

    Davidbrew,

    Quick question. Is Derry an anglo construct?

    I think the answer is yes

  • smcgiff

    Davidbrew,

    Re futher post. Two panadols and a good night’s rest would be advised.

  • davidbrew

    “Quick question. Is Derry an anglo construct?”

    if it is , so what? How do the facts that everyone speaks English and some call it “Derry” mean anything? If I call “Munchen” “Munich” amI somehow asserting my identity or diminishing a Bavarian’s? If Kingstown is Dunleary or Dun Laoighaire can I say that either is as British as the old name?. Should I celebrate a glorious victory if someone spells Cobh- Cove? Can I regard the spelling of Cuil Rathain as Coleraine some form of cultural imperialism on my part-or just the bleeding obvious?

    If you can’t see that the motivation of the name change brigade is to remove the British aspect of their city’s identity then you don’t yet understand Sinn Fein/IRA.

    The fact that nationalists haven’t (yet) objected to all the names I have quoted is simply that they don’t have the power to do so in those areas, because Londonderry has a uniquely politicised community with a few sad old prods to kick around or patronise when the mood suits.

    It is almost a semi-independent statelet which government has largely allowed to run itself,and it is perceives itself as the nationalist utopia of local administration ( I know how bizarre that looks but they really do think it). We Unionists are entitled to look for the generosity we ahve been promised is there. The fact that we haven’t found it yet is probably that we keep getting kicked in the teeth

  • Colm

    davidbrew

    Paranoia by it’s very nature involves exaggeration. You take it to new lengths. ‘semi-independent statelet’ indeed. Just because it isn’t a gerrymandered unionist fiefdom anymore. ‘Unionist keep getting kicked in the teeth’ Oh please . Just because of the age old controversy over the name of the maiden city. Get over yourself.

    By the way , it isn’t the case that ‘some’ call it Derry. Virtually everyone calls it Derry. It is no big deal. Let the official name remain Londonderry and most people , unionist and nationalist can continue calling it Derry

    A rose by any other any and all that….

  • Davros

    David, Londondoire may get bad press in the Blanket, but arguably it has a long way to go before it could be considered thr nationalist version of Lisburn ?

  • smcgiff

    ‘David, Londondoire may get bad press in the Blanket, but arguably it has a long way to go before it could be considered thr nationalist version of Lisburn?’

    Ah, Davros, I was just warming up to a rant, but it’s very hard to argue with reasonableness in the air! 🙂

  • maca

    CG

    “In my view to airbrush out of history anything that goes against the Gaelic Ireland agenda.”

    There I don’t agree, and I think it demonstrates a
    lack of understanding of the Irish (ROI) physche.

    I can ‘maybe’ understand why you might think this way though perhaps you over-estimate the importance of the “anglo-culture” (for want of a better term, just finished a 3-hour meeting so my head is ‘fuzzy’), not everything we do is to get back at the anglo-culture. There ARE other reasons.

    “That being a major difference, so my point still stands.”

    There being a difference does not invalidate my point. Swedish IS an official language yet is only spoken by a small percentage of the population. It’s also a language in which TV, radio, newspapers and official documentation must be translated into.

    “However, even 1000s of years ago people recognised that separate languages were a curse – Babel and all that.”

    Oh c’mon!

    “More recently, the biggest ever aircraft disaster in aviation history, when 2 passengers jets crashed into each other over India killing all passengers was blamed on the Ukranian navigator not having a good enough grasp of English…”

    Oh c’mon again!!
    Are you making a case for 1 language for all (sorta contradicts ‘As a point of interest I agree’)? You SURE you want to go there CG??

  • Davros

    smcgiff, i’m being vilified on ATW for being unreasonable 😉

  • maca

    take it as a compliment Davros 😉

  • Davros

    Problem is Maca, i’m being vilified by the good guys who think I have goneover to the dark (McCann) side!

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Maca,

    “Swedish IS an official language yet is only spoken by a small percentage of the population. It’s also a language in which TV, radio, newspapers and official documentation must be translated into.”

    True. But it doesn’t take precedence over Finnish. Whereas, Irish does take precedence over English even though less than 5% speak it on a regular basis.

    “Are you making a case for 1 language for all”

    Actually yes. In my opinion it won’t be that long before the world speaks a common language and we’ll be much better off for it. Remember, we’re reaping the rewards of standardisation in many other areas. It was one of the best things that arose because of the industrial revolution. Which language it is, is another question…

    The benefits of a common language far and away outweigh the drawbacks.

  • maca

    “In my opinion it won’t be that long before the world speaks a common language and we’ll be much better off for it. Remember, we’re reaping the rewards of standardisation in many other areas. It was one of the best things that arose because of the industrial revolution. Which language it is, is another question… The benefits of a common language far and away outweigh the drawbacks.”

    I don’t think we’ll ever speak a common language. And I don’t see why we need to, people manage just fine the way it is. There would be serious drawbacks to losing all of these languages, I can’t think of a single benefit which would outweigh the drawbacks.

  • Davros

    Gaelic is safe Maca …as reported in the Irish Independent and the Belfast Telegraph it has the blessing of “Bonny Prince Charlie” !

  • maca

    (it’s “Irish” wink wink) Safe for a few hundred years anyway, with or w/o his blessing 😉
    Is it online?

  • Davros

    I’ll send you copy of the Irish Independent Article 🙂

  • maca

    Groovy. Thanks.

  • willowfield

    it’s “Irish” wink wink

    What was the motivation behind the recent trend to call the language “Irish” rather than “Gaelic”?

    I’m assuming it’s to imply that “Gaelic” and “Irish” are the same thing (i.e. anything truly Irish must be Gaelic), and that use of the English language isn’t properly Irish.

  • davidbrew

    “David, Londondoire may get bad press in the Blanket, but arguably it has a long way to go before it could be considered thr nationalist version of Lisburn ?”-Davros

    too right my leathery wheelchair bound meglomaniacal chum-
    in Lisburn they don’t try to deny their own history on grounds of bigotry, although I grant you all of the nationalists of Lagmore or whereever suffer grievously when one Shinner doesn’t get to be Mayor-aw diddums, while orange lilies spontaneously burst into bloom and happy protestant children dance and sing for joy every third year the nationalists of Londonderry salve their smug misplaced sense of superiority by appointing one of the otherwise irrelevant and ignored Unionist councillors to a post with no power and no responsibility-other than a key for the civic drinks cabinet.

    A mathematical conundrum for you-Nationalist population of Lisburn growing-Unionist population of Londonderry declining-which minority feels more comfortable in its environment?

  • Davros

    “my leathery wheelchair bound meglomaniacal chum”

    wheelchair bound ? Is that a threat ?

  • willowfield

    That should be leathery wheelchair-using megalomaniacal chum.

  • maca

    “What was the motivation behind the recent trend to call the language “Irish” rather than “Gaelic”?
    I’m assuming it’s to imply that “Gaelic” and “Irish” are the same thing (i.e. anything truly Irish must be Gaelic), and that use of the English language isn’t properly Irish.”

    Define recent.

    “Gaelic” is a generic term and applies to Scots Gaelic, Manx Gaelic and Irish Gaelic. As well as being the name of the branch of Celtic languages, “Gaelic” is most often used to refer to “Scots Gaelic”. “Irish” is our official name for the language (or Gaeilge) as well as the official linguistic term (AFAIK). These are reasons enough to call our language “Irish”.
    Of course you knew all this…

  • Davros

    To whom is he referring WF ?

  • Davros

    Maca … “sing if you’re glad to be gall ” as our new anthem ? 😉

  • maca

    A quick re-check of your post had me confused Willowfield:

    “I’m assuming it’s to imply that “Gaelic” and “Irish” are the same thing”

    How so? It’s not us who use the word Gaelic? It’s you. Irish is broader than Gaelic, so i’d assume you’d be complaining if we were using just “Gaelic” as that would be seen as exclusionist?

    “and that use of the English language isn’t properly Irish.”

    Then why do we use an English name “Irish” rather than the Irish name “Gaeilge”. Also, as far as I know “Gaelic” is not English, it’s Welsh.

  • maca

    “sing if you’re glad to be gall ” as our new anthem?”

    how does it go? Start us off there Davros 😉

  • Davros

    Sing if you

  • maca

    …well I was out of nappies but still struggling with the speech thing back then 😉

  • davidbrew

    my leathery wheelchair bound meglomaniacal chum”

    wheelchair bound ? Is that a threat ?

    you mean… you’re not the creator of the Daleks??

  • smcgiff

    Cheers, Davros,

    I’m delighted my internet history will show I visited that site! 😉

  • Davros

    apologies David… it was the wheelchair bound bit that threw me.

  • Davros

    LOL smcgiff.

  • willowfield

    maca

    Define recent.

    It’s only in the last 10 or so years that I’ve noticed more people saying “Irish” rather than “Gaelic”. But when the Gaelic Revival began, I understand the language was always called Gaelic (cf. Gaelic League). I’m guessing it’s a post-independence thing to call it “Irish”?

    “Irish” is our official name for the language (or Gaeilge)

    Yes, I know. That’s what I’m querying.

    A quick re-check of your post had me confused Willowfield: “I’m assuming it’s to imply that “Gaelic” and “Irish” are the same thing”. How so?

    Because the name of the language is Gaeilge, which means “Gaelic”, yet it is now more common to call it “Irish” which has a different etymology. The implication, surely, must be that Gaelic=Irish: the two words are indistinguishable. By extension, then, it further implies that non-Gaelic Irishness is not proper Irishness.

    Then why do we use an English name “Irish” rather than the Irish name “Gaeilge”.

    Because you speak English and want to communicate in that language the fact that Irish=Gaelic?

  • smcgiff

    I think I see where you’re coming from Willowfield, but if we accept what I, as an Irish person, am writing here is English.

    and

    If Gailge doesn’t mean Irish, would that mean no one speaks/writes Irish?

  • maca

    WF

    “It’s only in the last 10 or so years that I’ve noticed more people saying “Irish” rather than “Gaelic”.”

    Believe me it has been in use a LOT longer than 10 years. I started learning Irish about 25 years ago and called it Irish then. I could check with my dad who started teaching Irish 30+ years ago to see how long he has used the term.

    “I’m guessing it’s a post-independence thing to call it “Irish”?

    Could be. Not so recent though.

    “Yes, I know. That’s what I’m querying.”

    Well didn’t I answer that? “Gaelic” is the name of the branch and also the common term for Scots Gaelic so how can it be used for Irish too?
    Irish is the best term, it’s specific and unambiguous.

    “Because the name of the language is Gaeilge, which means “Gaelic””

    Gaeilge means Irish.

    “the two words are indistinguishable. By extension, then, it further implies that non-Gaelic Irishness is not proper Irishness.”

    Why do you want to argue this point? If I ever claimed non-Gaelic is not proper Irishness i’m sure you’d be the first to take issue with me.

    Just accept the simple fact that we call the language Irish, it’s not so difficult.

  • willowfield

    Yes. They either speak/write English or Gaelic (Irish Gaelic if you prefer).

  • willowfield

    Gaeilge means Irish.

    No

  • smcgiff

    I’ve no doubt, as a linguist, Maca, would be able to discuss this better than I.

    Irish is an English word and doesn’t exist As Gaeilge. Irish is the translation for Gaeilge. That doesn’t preclude Gaeilge having a connection with Gaeilic (does this word exist As Gaeilge, Maca?)

    Likewise, other words can have more than one meaning or connections.

    Also, I imagine if you asked most people what Irish meant, they’d know what is meant. Gaeilge.

    We’re far from a time when Irish is taken as meaning something similar to does in the US calling their language American (i.e. not English).

    PS. – God only knows how far this discussion has gone before I master typekey.

  • maca

    “No

  • smcgiff

    ‘No

  • smcgiff

    “of Ireland”

    Ah, well, if you’re going to be pernicity(sp)! Now you know why I never liked Irish! 😉

  • Davros

    Compromise chaps … we all learn Ulster-Scots and forget about English and Gaeilge ?
    If nothing else it’ll shut Lord Lurid up 🙂

  • willowfield

    maca

    Doesn’t work that way Willowfield, grammar!!

  • smcgiff

    Isn’t Ulster-Scots just English after a few too many pints? Yae noo wat aye mean? 🙂

  • smcgiff

    ‘using “Gaelic” would not result in any ambiguity.’

    I know I was wrong (not for the first time), but I used to associate Gaelic with the French only. Something to doe with Garlic or something.

  • Davros

    What’s wrong with a few pints ? 😉
    Mine’s a Magners, Ta.

  • maca

    “Whatever”

    Whatever Willowfield? If you aren’t interested then don’t continue with the discussion.
    As someone with more than 1 language surely you understand there are rules to grammar. And Irish in one context is NOT necessarily the same as Irish is another context.

    Example:
    Irish book = leabhar Gaeilge
    Irish man =

  • smcgiff

    ‘Mine’s a Magners, Ta.’

    Don’t know what that is but guess it’d be cheaper up north!

  • maca

    I’ll put it another way:
    Irish = Gaeilge in the context of the language
    Irish (of Ireland) =

  • willowfield

    maca

    Whatever Willowfield? If you aren’t interested then don’t continue with the discussion.

    I am interested. But whether “

  • Davros

    Not just the posh 🙂

    AFAIK It’s only marketed as Magners in the six, although as it’s a Clonmel company I would have thought it would be Magners in the 26 as well! 🙂

  • maca

    I see. You could have made your point a bit clearer 😉

    But personally I think the ambiguity only arises when discussing the languages. Gaelic is ambiguous. Irish, while describing both the language and things ‘of Ireland’ is not ambiguous in my opinion as it is clear from context what one is referring to. Are we getting closer?

    Davros: Bulmers is a strong name down South so no point changing it there. It’s Magners over here though.

    Hopefully no-one understands Finnish: VITUN HELVETIN TYPEKEY!!

  • Davros

    Babel Fish doesn’t do Finnish 🙂

  • maca

    Davros: you can probably guess what it means anyway. 😉

  • George

    How about Londaindoire, the Irish version of the name.
    Then we can all be angry together.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Then we can all be angry together.’

    An Irish solution to an Irish problem! ;o)

  • smcgiff

    ‘Mine’s a Magners, Ta.’

    Oh, that bilge! Might take you up on that if I ever manage to get up to Norn Iron.

  • maca

    Sorry to reopen this discussion but I promised Willowfield i’d ask a “higher authority” and even if he or no one else is interested I have to waste a bit of time this afternoon. 😉
    I thought that the responses I got (and am still getting) might shed some light on the subject re “Gaelic” vs “Irish”

    1. One American who went to school in 1940’s NYC said the “Gaelic” they became familiar with through other emigrants in their community was “Scottish Gaelic” and that the Irish people they knew only spoke English so they never knew until much later the Irish people had this ‘other Gaelic’

    2. A women in her 50’s said she started learning Irish when she was 4 and back then (50 odd years ago) it was only referred to as Irish, also by her parents.

    3. I was reminded that there were discussions at one stage (70’s ?) when many people were arguing that the Irish language should be let die altogether. During this argument ther terms “Irish” & “Gaelic” became politicised with the anti-Irish language folks using “Gaelic” and the pro-language folks using “Irish”.
    This is probably the reason why the term “Gaelic” is often used as a slur on the language. Also part of the reason why I am always arguing on Slugger about it. 😉

    …just something to think about.