Don’t write Londonderry, or “some glipe is sure to come out and deface it…”

Malachi, with typical verve comes out celebrating (ie, fighting) the beautiful but purposely underused name of Londonderry

And there are many who will insist on the name of the city being Derry. They include serious thoughtful people and people with strong commercial heads on their Londonderry shoulders. So flights having been arriving at City of Derry Airport to do business in Londonderry.

Not that anyone local would be confused about where they were, but it must cause foreign visitors some hesitation, enticing them to check their maps again to find Londonderry, the city beside the City of Derry airport.

And now the fretting extends to Limavady, where Sinn Fein councillors resent people being welcomed to the town with a notice recalling that it is the home of a tune called The Londonderry Air. This is the tune to which the lyrics of Danny Boy have been attached.

The signage helpfully guides the visitor to that understanding with a graphic of a clip of the musical score and the words of Danny Boy.

So you’d think there wouldn’t be a problem.

But some Sinn Fein councillors think that the sign should claim that Limavady is the home of the song, Danny Boy, which would be a lie. Limavady has no claim to the lyrics, only to the tune. The song was written by an Englishman, Frederic Weatherly. The real problem is that the sign will bear the offensive word Londonderry.

And some glipe is sure to come out and deface it.

I’ll finish by replicating Alex Kanes – non-rhetorical – question to our Republican leaders.

  • Karl

    How will agreed change take place if one side doesnt want change?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    If genuine then it would have a Great impact, when false it causes paranoia and heels to be dug in.

    What I will say though was that the remembrance day silence by nationalist politicians was great and should have been reciprocated by unionists instead of following the example of thon clampett from the TUV.

  • Barneyt

    Is maith sin. Interesting how that sound and meaning is preserved even in oxbridge, England. I gleefully tell my English chums they are in fact saying, “it is good” in Irish. Or smashing 🙂 absolutely smashing

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Surely both sides don’t want to change.

    Or, conversely given that most pre-troubles unionists said Derry instead of Londonderry then it’s surely fair to say they have already changed, just not in the way you want, whereas nationalists have been consistent in their stance?

  • Barneyt

    Wee dafty and windy licker are terms for down syndrome I believe. Floor sucker? Vacuum cleaner I tell you

  • Barneyt

    The old dard site was great. Disease prevention: stappin heedin doon seekness… or there abouts

  • Barneyt

    Aften…not often. Luckily I’m bilingual

  • Barneyt

    I’m not sure that works but worth a try

  • Skibo

    What I find consistently annoying is when a story makes the news and the person being interviewed is from the Nationalist/ Republican community and the reporter insists on using the title Londonderry as if they have to enforce the the correcting of the name.

  • William Kinmont

    Derry or Londonderry both correct
    Correcting some one or taking offence at either incorrect

  • Skibo

    AG that was the simplest example of a lack of reciprocation. Had the other Unionist politicians not sang along with him, he would have been isolated and shown for what he was.
    Can you really see Unionist politicians accept anything SF does as outreach when they say all their actions are a continuation of the war by a different policy.

  • William Kinmont

    I like the yuletide one as it reflects that the season has been festive long before the Christians latched on it.

  • Andrew Wood

    The journalist has a right to use Londonderry or Derry. They don’t have a right to correct a person if they use one or the other. On the flip side the Nationalist or Republican should be firm enough in their beliefs to accept someone using “Londonderry”. Society needs to be more accepting if it’s done in the right manner and tone. I find its mostly those that don’t live here have the issues with the name of my home city

  • Gary Da;ze;;

    Almost as good as Iarnrod Eireann. Obviously had been watching too many cowboy films, white man building iron road across Apache land for iron horse.

  • Reader

    Easóg: You know what the Scots Irish is approx …… Yuletide tae ye. I thought that was a pre Christian greeting. You know Druids and all that?
    So, are you OK with the pre-Christian, Old English origins of “Easter”?

  • Skibo

    That is the very attitude I find a problem with. depending on company, I can use Derry or Londonderry so why can reporters/ radio presenters do the same?
    I come from County Derry.

  • Andrew Wood

    Probably because of their own beliefs. People are not so tolerant. The exact problem this country has suffered from, from its inception.

  • Granni Trixie

    I have observed in practice that beep people use Derry and Londonderry alternatively which I believe is its policy ( with the exception of Gerry Anderson who invented his own term for the Maiden City).

  • Smithborough

    On your 2 syllable rule remember that Limavady was once “Newtownlimavady”……

  • Oggins

    Clampett. A word that needs to be used more often

  • Skibo

    Having listened to Radio Ulster for too many years, I notice a difference now. Most open with Londonderry and then use either intermittently. One broadcaster in particular only uses Londonderry. I would be of the idea that you would use the title that suits the story or the person the story is about.

  • Mike the First

    Urban myth, Barney.

  • Oggins

    Will do,there at the end of the month!

    I love Donegal!

  • Mike the First

    Anyone any idea what’s behind Blackskull/Blackscull? (Both seen on roadsign within a few miles)

  • Granni Trixie

    Would that people could do what comes ‘naturally’ to them. I’d
    hate to be in a BBC job where you had to watch your L adm D s all the time, exhausting I imagine.

  • Georgie Best

    No doubt the version on the signs in Tyrone are different from those in Donegal. But, we don’t know do we?

  • murdockp

    I know this is about the city, but in terms of the County, I like the quote from Professor James Stevens Curl in his paper, ‘The City of London and the Plantation of Ulster’

    It should be noted that at no time, before or since, was there ever an Irish county called ‘Derry’, and it is historical nonsense to refer to ‘County Derry’. The Diocese was always ‘Derry’, however, but the new, planned, walled city erected by the City of London was re-named ‘Londonderry’.

    link below.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/plantation/companies/londoncompanies_full.rtf

    But the question I have is many British feel a sense of shame post Empire about how the colonised and invaded countries round the world. With Ireland there is a pride in stealing peoples lands and driving people from their homes, why?

  • babyface finlayson

    Indeed the town is home to a great Glamrock tribute band, Limavaddywaddy.

  • Angry Mob

    Official name is still Londonderry: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6297907.stm

    The council is Derry City & Strabane.

  • Neil

    Almost equates to the word spide then, usually undernourished, ill mannered and on the foolish side.

  • Doctor M

    I read once that the BBC policy was Londonderry on first mention and Derry subsequently.

    Meanwhile the Western Trust’s policy a few years ago was to use whichever the patient said they were from (Londonderry and Co. Londonderry were the defaults).

  • babyface finlayson

    Very similar I would say, though while glipe has its origin in the fishy world the spide as far as I know comes from the prevalence of spider tattoos on the necks of young men a while back.

  • Firbolg

    Making stuff up? I think quite a lot of what passes for Ulster Scots is made up and not part of the dialect I knew growing up. The word for telephone in most languages in Europe and beyond is a phonetic variation of the Greek root. Not good enough for the compilers of modern Ulster Scots, who made up the term the ‘lange blather’. I am fairly sure “daft weens” is not an urban myth.
    My personal favourite is “gargle hoose meaning “.where meet friends for a pint”

  • Thomas Girvan

    I’ll tell you what.
    This has been a revelation to me reading your contribution.
    To sum it up, I’m daft, because I can’t think for myself.
    Sinn Fein are daft because they are actually doing the Unionists a favour, and The DUP are so thick that they don’t realise that Sinn Fein have actually shot themselves in the foot (not knee) and are so stupid they don’t realise it.
    I’ll run it past the boys in the Kneebreakers when I’m down, mind you I wouldn’t be optimistic ‘cos they are a bunch of thickos.
    As I often say to them ” Yousons just don’t comprehend the nuances of current political dialogue! ”
    I might as well talk to the wall!
    Slainte!

  • Socaire

    Is cuma liom

  • Socaire

    chemin de fer?

  • PeterOHanrahahanrahan

    Arbitrary renaming is rife – the road to Toome from somewhere outside Castledawson (possibly from the roundabout) is/was known all round as the “Toome Line”.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Complete. Cobblers.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Not everybody believes everything SF say…

  • file

    The two syllable rule went out the window almost before it was out of my mouth. Whatever about Newtownlimavaday, it was never Baile Nua Léim an Mhadaidh.

  • file

    Line = ‘road to’ all over culchiedom.

  • Reader

    murdockp: But the question I have is many British feel a sense of shame post Empire about how the colonised and invaded countries round the world. With Ireland there is a pride in stealing peoples lands and driving people from their homes, why?
    That’s the “Book of Invasions”, isn’t it?
    Is there anywhere in the world outside Africa that is still occupied by the first wave of new arrivals? Maybe Mongolia?

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Let the people of Doire/Derry/Londonderry have a vote to settle this name issue once and for all. It’s their county, they should decide.

  • Easóg

    It’s bad enough going back to the authenticated land theft 400 years ago without going back thousands of years into the mists of time to score points.

  • Georgie Best

    It isn’t the new arrivals that is the problem, but their refusal to identify with where they live rather than where they came from.

    As for places still occupied by the original lot, try North Sentinel Island

  • Starviking

    It’s bad enough going back 400 years.

  • LordSummerisle

    I look forward to that publication.

  • Jeff

    As previously stated there is no place a county Derrry its County Londonderry and Derry/Londonderry as personal preference.

    I find if you say to a nationalist Londonderry they will correct you to Derry, whereas a unionist with not correct you visa versa.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you your grace! The current state of play is that my agent continues to pump possible publishers! But the long waiting when selling film projects has inured me to this sort of slowness.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s actually County Coleraine, when first designated in the Tudor period, but was renamed “Londonderry” as a marketing ploy for the London Livery Companies in the early years of the Plantation. The naming has always had a political flavour.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Making stuff up” is what creativity is all about reader. It’s what stops a language from fossilising!!!! And just two words ….. “Finnegan’s Wake”!!!!

    Where do you imagine all the words in the dictionary came from on the first place?

    The only problem with the Ulster Scots ” making up” phenomena is that it shows so very little imagination.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And as she points out, the local common speech retains an Irish syntax alongside English usages! “Bidden or Unbidden……..”

  • Jeff

    I stand corrected thank you.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Information, not correction Jeff! As you quite correctly say, there is no place called “County Derry”, never has been, and the usage shows a most ahistorical approach!

    The town is a different matter of course, but still has ambivalence historically, as I’ve pointed out in an earlier post.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The town of Derry in Maine in the Stephen King novels is based on the real town of …………..Bangor.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Or Lloyds Bank in Baker St.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Do you think the minority vote would stop using their preference at the behest of the majority?

  • Oggins

    Nope

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Me neither….

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    No but at least the town/county would have an official name that was decided through the will of the people.

  • Colm Ó Broin

    Malachy also slags the Irish language because it has words he assumes come from English. This is a common misconception – that Irish is comical, embarrassing, inferiour etc because it borrows words from other languages, when all languages do it, none more so than English itself.

    https://youtu.be/CpekwKpSQ8A

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m rather leary of majoritarianism myself after a century of it being used to exclude a sizeable portion of our community from any say in what could or could not be done in our society. I’ve watched how any formal demand for conformity can be undercut by private resistance employing hidden transcripts which those in power cannot read.

    I have no truck with the use of names to enforce some opinion on others, and believe that any official name will only have authority if it can carry a broadly based consensus of support. While I know that Unionism has with its intransigence created a situation where reunification will now inevitably be a 50% + 1, it is the very worst way we should be doing this, and I’d see the enforcement of a majoritarian name as a qually undatisfactory.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Unfortunately not but little acts like this assure them that they are correct in their stance.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Opinion is divided on the matter; SF seemingly now say its nationalist but the Red Hand Commando utilise it (to a small degree).

    That would imply that no one has ownership of it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Pause for thought:

    You see the way we all love to get excited about this nonsense and forget about the important stuff, are we in a way responsible for creating an environment that leads to this:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-41498443

    NI is a constant vortex of head-wrecking, some of us love it, some of us don’t, maybe we should concentrate on other stuff?

    (and yes, I know there’s many, many factors involved before the faux-outrage brigade come bearing pitchforks and cats)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course the whole import of the Cruthain theory so regularly misused by Loyalists at one time was a ” we were here first” all of their own.

    Ignoring of course the reality that the ancient Picts of what is now NI spoke a Celtic language rather than some prototype of “Scotch-Airaich”………

    The real problem is the implicit idea of progress implying displacement which is encoded in the invader triumphalism of certain strands of Unionism, which convey the ” simian Oirish” trope on to another generation where it may ensnare the uncritical and offer them a mendacious theme of racial superiority.

  • murdockp

    You are right the Irish language bill won’t promote nationalism. Why? Most republicans dont understand it

  • murdockp

    Personally I don’t loose sleep over this one. But when people are properly educated over placenanes origin when they realise the origins is the name they can change their views. In Bristol slave connotations are being removed.

    If people knew the role of the London livery companies in lets call it using modern parlance ‘ethnic cleansing’ they would not be so quick to defend the name.

  • murdockp

    Shoud derry gaa rebrand to reflect historic accuracy?

  • murdockp

    But the ownership remains. The freeform grant land ownership model still means lords still own many lands the current owner thinks they own. In Newry lands are still owned by the kilmorey estate for example. Having read the lease for my offices, as long as I don’t mill corn on the premisis i will be ok.

  • Thomas Girvan

    I was not referring to the language.
    That is open for anyone who chooses to learn it.
    What I was referring to is the “stand alone” Irish Language act.
    That is one of the main red lines,(is it four?) that Sinn Fein say must be conceeded prior th their reetry into the Executive.

  • William Saunderson

    That did occur to me as an afterthought. ‘O’Kane’s?’ ‘McCloskey’s’? The historical status of the GAA heartland of South Derry is interesting in its own right – before ‘County Londonderry’ was drawn up, everywhere south of around Dungiven was in the Barony of Loughinsholin (then part of Tyrone). Given that Celtic Park is in Derry, though, there’s a clear connection with the city, so Derry probably makes most sense…

    All that said, the main historical justification for Co. Derry – even though it never existed as a temporal administrative entity – is its existence as an ecclesiastical entity: the diocese of Derry, which predates the Plantation by 400 years, and includes Inishowen and the former Co. Coleraine. In fact, it was drawn up along most of its present boundaries in the late 12th century to reflect the dominance of the O’Kanes all the way to Toome, and at one point even had its seat in Maghera.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Good points. There’s always the option of remaining with the status quo and allowing time to sort it all out in a more gentle way.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I myself value the ability to use either depending on whom I would wish to offend on any given occasion.

  • Skibo

    I thought all that changed in 1905. The deeds for my land start at that time.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Murdoch, if you think there is a sense of pride regarding the theft of (nobles’) lands then such a mindset is a relatively recent affair.

    As far as I can tell three of the 9 counties were private enterprises and the other 6 were akin to penal colonies and desperate Gaels doing the bidding of their Argyll landlords.

    To suggest that there is pride in the wholesale theft of land of the Irish is like suggesting that the Irish owned any land (most didn’t).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Barneyt, you have’t mixed much with Irish speakers, have you?

  • Croiteir

    Take bigger steps then

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    *sometimes Argyll, not exclusively.

  • Barneyt

    Seems youre not even going to try to understand the point. There are many scholarly articles out there talking about the relationship between language and culture and how it contributes, but it no a culture in itself.

    You make a lazy and tabloidesque assertion posed as a question.

    The Irish Language has been sold and pushed as a culture, and that argument has no place here and will only attract resistance.

    You can wholly identify as Irish with or without it. Accepting, learning and using the Irish langauge as a British protestant does not make you Irish or cause you to sympathise with republican causes. It would however illustrate what is already in you, if you make such a leap and that is someone who is perhaps more accepting than others. The use of the language may have an impact eventually and influence the culture that adopts or uses it. Culture to me is about beliefs and traits and not how we communicate. Irish developed as a communication tool and for that reason I would dearly support its resurgence, but not as something that turns into a irish cultural tidal wave that is used to drown or alienate our close neighbours.

    It relates to a culture as much as flour relates to a cake. Its an ingredient and can shape the final product, but not a cake in itself

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But you can’t make the cake without the flour, Banrnyt, can you? The Irish language gives access to texts which are closed to anyone not reading Irish. Translation is insufficient, because the Irish language offers a very different organisation of the dynamics of the world to the English language. It is empathic where English is objectivist and rather alienating through its heavy latinisations, a gift of Eighteenth century English literature. An example, You don’t put your coat on to go out, your coat goes with you in Irish. This significant difference inherent in sentence formulation is evident in the Irish language debate itself, where those at odds with the language show all the signs of alienation in their desire to marginalise and isolate the language while those speaking the language wish to share it.

    In this sense your belief that a culture can be entirely itself in English is very much that of someone who has not understood that the cake requires flour. The character of the cake will be different if one uses wheat flour, rye flour, rice flour or tries to employ a flour ground from maze, in which case it will fall apart! I repeat, you hammer mixed much with Irish speakers have you? Certainly you are pontificating about an Irish language and a culture you evidently have no understanding of.

  • Barneyt

    I dont have Irish myself. I left it behind at the age of 9 or 10 and what experience I had of learning was extra-curricular as the catholic south armagh primary system had little or no interest in the lanaguage in the 70s. I lost out again due to secondary state school selection and attendance in Northern Ireland, so any Irish I know has been learned as my children have gone through it. I am lucky to have quite a few fluent speakers around me and I absorb where I can.

    There are many who are blessed with the language who like you try to lessen those without or try to score points against them. This elitist attitude has no place in Ireland and in the recocovery of the lanaguage. You are clearly one of the selected fiew, the chosen people and I am mere dettrial culturally and linguistically. I soil your existence and I get that. There is a hierarchy out there for you to select from and my lack of Irish means I clearly do not register. I have no time for such snobbery.

    My point all the way through has been about strategy and how we made the mistake of pushing the lanaguage on a heavy cultural basis. This and this alone allows for inappropriate rebuke and as a result we see cultural irish thrown into the same bucket as cultural marching or cultural flag waving. That was my specific point and had the Irish effort focused more on language recovery, the senseless tit-for-tat could have been avoided.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Barneyt for your full unpacking of the background to your own thoughts from your experiences.

    I’m humbled. I am so used to the mechanical rejection of all things Irish even within my own family that the red mist descends when the symbiotic relationship of language and culture is denied, but from your posting I can recognise that you were saying something more personal with this. Your point about the misuse of culture is a most important issue, and one all too easily ignored.

    I should say too that I’m an appallingly bad Irish speaker, with my attempts to fix my own rather mongrel Irish into the Ulster dialects usually an example for others learning of what not to do. While my grandfather was a Protestant member of the Gaelic League in Belfast before 1914, I myself was taught Latin at School, and what Irish I have I have picked up, learnt in adult classes or pretty much taught myself. As an historian, I read Irish nowadays primarily for my researches, and I am aware this particular focus influences how I answered you. As for the “patrician hauteur” bit, that comes from how I was brought up and schooled, and when occasionally I don’t catch myself on, it comes out without my noticing it. Most of the time I have the wit to look at what I write and re-write it before letting a “put down” get through (although sometimes its still intentional). My sincere apologies for anything which you took personally, and thank you for taking the trouble after a month to remind me that I am talking to a real person.