IOL: Irish names to be reinstated

Irish names to be reinstated
21/11/2003 - 10:41:02

Place names in English will no longer be recognised in Irish law as the Government has taken its first steps to legally recognise the original Irish versions, it emerged today.

More than 60 years after Irish was officially named the primary national language, Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv, has given legal standing to Irish place names in six counties.

He highlighted the inconsistent translations certain names were given after being changed into English during British rule.

Mr O Cuiv said it was “unacceptable” that although place names in Irish were treated as if official, they had no actual recognition in law.

“If the local community wishes to use ‘Gaoth Dobhair’, ‘Dun Chaoin,’ ‘Casla’, ‘Tir an Fhia’ or ‘Cor na Mona’, I see no reason for anybody else to say that these are not the place names of these places,” he said.

The minister has promised to designate place names in all Gaeltacht areas by the end of the year, but it would reportedly take up to 10 years to formally translate place names in the remaining 20 counties.

Historically, the definitive legal place names of the country are contained in Ordnance Survey Ireland maps which date back to between 1824 and 1874.

These were deemed to be the legal place names of the country and all names are in English – mostly anglicised spellings of the original Irish language name.

While the 1973 Act allowed definitive Irish language versions of place names to be made available for official use, in legal terms such names remain in the English language only.

Under new legislation which came into effect on October 30, in an area outside the Gaeltacht, Irish and the English versions of a place name have the same status.

But for Gaeltacht place names, the English version is no longer legally recognised and cannot be used in future parliamentary Acts, on any road and street signs or on Ordnance Survey Maps.

The development will mean that voters in the Gaeltacht will have their addresses printed in Irish on their polling cards for the first time.

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