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

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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

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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

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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