Saturday, September 7, 2019

Our literature? What are we missing?


I recently visited the incredible Charlie Byrne treasure trove on Middle Street in Galway. It is truly a remarkable place and there as yet many undiscovered treasures hidden in a Labyrinth of passages, rooms and annexes.

(People say there is no need to look of cases or forms of English - I found that I had to search for the plural form of "Annex!" But I'm drifting away from what I initially wanted to say! In one section I found a selection of books in Irish and it set me thinking.)

Irish literature in Charlie Byrnes Bookshop 6 September 2019

While there browsing I came across a section with books written in Irish and this started me thinking. What IS Irish literature? Surely this collection should be regarded as Irish Literature in the true sense.

Is literature regarded as the nationality of the writer or that of the language? I remember the great German writer and Nobel Laureate, Heinrich Böll was interviewed on British television. He was asked why he did not write in English and his reply was interesting. "If I wrote in English I would be more English than the Prime Minister!" He appeared therefore to regard writing in English as an English thing.

Perhaps we might say that writings on Irish subjects or topics are Irish Literature. If that is the criteria then perhaps the famous book of the same German author, Irisches Tagesbuch, could be classed as Irish Literature? Or conversly one of the most entertaining books I have read in recent times, "An Tionscadal" by Tomás Mac Síomóin (Coiscéim) could be classed as Catalan Literature? I understand the French regard Samuel Becket's work as French literature.


Irish, Dutch or Brazilian?
Can the short story collection "Gonta" written by Netherlands native, Alex Hijmans (Cois Life) about people in Bahia be Dutch or Brazilain literature? Recognised  as the best collection of short stories since 2000 by the critical journal Comhair in 2013. Can literature be multinational then?

Recently Iris Murdoch has been called an Irish writer and like Elizabeth Bowen she may be described as such by birth. But can their work be described as Irish Literature? Their topics can hardly be described as Irish.

Looking at the literature publications in Ireland few acknowledge, except in a passing reference, to the literature in the National Language. Full of references to Yeats, Joyce, O'Casey, Wilde or more recent authors. Yes, these and the more modern authors in English are worth reading. Study of them can be enriching. They do display a certain aspect of life in Ireland in the last two hundred years but they build almost exclusively on the giants of English literature. But if you look book reviews in the English language media in Ireland, these are almost exclusively what they regard as "Irish Literature." (An honourable exception is Children's Book Ireland who place both Irish and English publications together on their own merit as literature rather than place them in a linguistic ghetto!)

So what am I saying.

There is a hidden treasure in our country. It is a thriving rich literary tradition in Ireland in our National Language. Rich not materially, as Máirtín Ó Cadhain adverred but in tradition going back not 200 years but nearly two thousand years (if not more). It is in fact the oldest written language in Europe which is still a spoken language too. It has perhaps been enriched with its contact with European literature especially pre 1700 and by English literature since that time. But drop into any book shop  - I exclude specialist shops here* - and you would be hard pressed to find any of this uniquely and indisputably Irish literature.

I remember seeing another author, Alan Titley, address a meeting in the Oireachtas (The parliament not the festival) on the lack of true understanding that ignorance of literature written in Irish hinders. How many histories of the period, the centenery of which we are celebrating in these days, have been written with out reference or even knowledge of the works published in Irish? How many of our historians have read the three volume autobiography of Ernest Blyth or the works of Pádraic Ó Conaire?

Does not this ignorance render our nation so much the poorer? There is a real lacuna in how the literary establishment treat Irish authors. Awards, when they acknowledge works in Irish ghettoise it - "The Irish Language award!" They appear never to judge it on equal terms with the works in English as the "Best poetry Award, " or best work in fiction.

Surely we should commemorate and support it for what it is - true Irish literature.

* Such as An Siopa Leabhair on Harcourt Street in Dublin or Cló Iarchonnacht's Shop behind the Ceardlann in An Spidéal.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Good news for Irish education welcomed.

‘Announcement by the Minister for Education of new criteria for the founding of Gaelscoileanna is a positive development’

An Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, T.D., that 5 of the 13 primary schools to be established between now and 2022 have been predesignated as Irish – medium schools.

In an investigation conducted by An Coimisinéir Teanga in 2017 he ruled that the Department of Education and Skills breached language provisions of the Education Act, 1998, when a patronage application for a new Irish-medium primary school in the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 school planning area was rejected. An Coimisinéir Teanga ruled that the language objectives of the Education Act were not adequately addressed in the evaluation process for deciding school patrons.

The implementation of the report’s recommendations are a matter of continuing discussion with the Department of Education and Skills. Today’s announcement that the evaluation criteria for the patronage process are being changed is a positive development that will benefit Irish-medium education. It means that the option of an Irish-medium education should be available in the future in areas where a new school is being built but where that option is not available at present.

It should also be ensured that the measures introduced by the Department of Education and Skills meet the extra demand for Irish-medium education and that is a matter that is still being discussed with the Department.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

What's that in English?

You can sit on a mountain but you can't sit on a pin!

Not again!
Imagine if you can Silvio Berlusconi entering the European Parliament to which he has just been elected.

"Who are you?"

"Silvio Berlusconi, newly elected representative from the Republic of Italy."

"What would that be in English?"

This is something that happens regularly in Ireland to people who use the (more correct) form of their surname. It has happend to me as recently as last week.

I had to go into a local hospital in the Gaeltacht serving city of Galway for a medical procedure. For safety reasons the very efficient and friendly staff of these establishments must check your name date of birth etc. to ensure that your are the correct person for this procedure.

Checking my name one of those checking queried my surname, "And whats that in English, Eoin?" I just said that's my surname, "It's a old Wexford name!" I went on to talk about other surnames from Wexford in my family background including my great-grandmother who was a Hore - one of the Hores of the Moyne as my grandfather used to smilingly refer to her in the days when I had no idea that there could be any other word with the same sound, a different spelling and a completely different meaning!

On other occasions I have been told directly "That's Ryan isn't it?" Now as I appriach my dotage I no longer acquiesce and say no it isn't it's "Ó Riain." Prior to this i might have agreed for a quiet life!

I have also been told that I should not have not to use that form of my name. I decided to use it and only that form when I came to voting age. I feel that after over fifty years this decision should not be queried. Perhaps I am naive?

Recently the film director, Ciarán Ó Cofaigh drew our attention to the apparant inability of may of our public (and private) institutions to cope with the accent or long sign over vowels. "It's the esence of who I am!"  (RTÉ, 9/4/2019) This is I suppose part of the same problem. Try booking a seat on IarnRód Éireann or on an Aer Lingus plane if your name has an accent!

Respect: My name tag from a conference
in the Netherlands. 
It is a problem I have only come across here in Ireland. In my somewhat limited experience abroad - including Mother England believe it or believe it not - the fada on my surname is nearly always respected. In Ireland it is invariable either left out (acceptable) or replaced with a following (and meaningless) apostrophy. Nobody outside of Ireland asks me the fatal question, "What's that in English?"

I agree it is in one way a small irritant. But as the saying goes, "You can sit on a mountain but you can't sit on a pin!" The Comisinéir Teanga has said, "Our name and surname is an integral part of our identity and no person or organisation should take it upon itself to anglicise this." (Annual Report 2015, Page 7)

The ruling of a judge reported in yesterday's Irish Times (12/7/2019) has perhaps some relevance. The Judge refers to “a historically lukewarm State commitment to the giving of practical support and resources to support the language in the administration of justice”, or in any of its services I would add.

If the state is so lukewarm is it any surprise that those in the service of the public show a similar disregard?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The first monitoring report published by An Coimisinéir Teanga.


"These results do not engender any confidence that government departments are displaying the necessary leadership in ensuring that sufficient numbers of staff with Irish are employed by them. The low level of employees with Irish means that there cannot be an expectation of a comprehensive range of services of equal standard being provided in both official languages." The Coimisinéir Teanga

This monitoring report, just published gives the results of the various audits completed by the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga in 2018. The following are the main results of the audits: 
  • Only 84 positions of the 20,000 employed by government departments are recognised as positions with an Irish language requirement. 67 of those positions are in the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht. 
  • Only two local authorities of the ten examined were complying for the most part with the statutory language commitments relating to their websites. 
  • Almost 60% of signs examined at heritage sites under the auspices of the Office of Public Works were in compliance with the regulations. 
Staff with Irish in government departments 
At the time of the audit 7 government departments had not identified any positions as ones with an Irish language requirement. Other than the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with 10%, the number of positions identified as ones with an Irish language requirement was below 1%. 
In total only 551 staff out of the 21,060 (2.62%) employed by government departments were identified as staff having competence in the Irish language. Only two government departments in the country – the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills – have more than 5% of employees with competence in Irish. 

An Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, stated that “These figures are a further indication of the lack of capacity of the State to deliver an acceptable level of service in the Irish language. These results do not engender any confidence that government departments are displaying the necessary leadership in ensuring that sufficient numbers of staff with Irish are employed by them. The low level of employees with Irish means that there cannot be an expectation of a comprehensive range of services of equal standard being provided in both official languages. This must be addressed by amending the Act and the recruitment policies of the State.” 

Reports/Comments
• Irish language shortcomings must be addressed (RTÉ 11/7/2019)

• A crisis in the number of competent Irish language speakers in the State system shown clearly in the Coimisinéir Teanga’s report (CnaG 11/7/2019)
Local authorities’ websites 
As part of the 2018 audit programme a number of local authorities’ websites were examined to assess if they were in compliance with the relevant commitments provided in their language schemes. Of the ten local authorities’ websites examined four were non-complying for the most part with the commitments provided. These were Clare County Council, Wicklow County Council, Louth County Council and Kerry County Council. Two local authorities – Galway County Council and Dublin City Council – were in compliance with their obligations for the most part. 

Signs at heritage sites 
The use of the official languages on signs at various heritage sites managed by the Office of Public Works was also examined. Ten separate heritage sites in Dublin were audited during 2018. Five of the ten sites examined achieved an acceptable level of compliance. The highest level of compliance was achieved by the Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham at 89% and the lowest level of compliance by the National Botanic Gardens where only one out of ten signs examined were in line with regulations. 

This is the first year that the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga has published a separate report on the Office’s monitoring work, which is limited to monitoring the provisions of the Official Languages Act only. An Coimisinéir Teanga decided to change the Office’s monitoring process, which focused mainly on language schemes, in light of the shortcomings that were identified in the Commentary published on the language scheme system. As part of the new monitoring model An Coimisinéir Teanga identifies annual monitoring priorities encompassing various elements of the Act. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

2018: A productive and important year!

Irish language provisions of the Broadcasting Act; the inability of computer systems to use the síneadh fada; and a formal investigation, for the first time, into the use of Twitter for official purposes amongst the matters highlighted in the 2018 Annual Report of An Coimisinéir Teanga.

This year was a productive and important one for the Office of the Official Languages Commissioner. Some very significant investigations relating to difficulties accessing services through Irish, both nationally and in the Gaeltacht, were initiated and concluded.

RTÉ is not fulfilling a statutory requirement outlined in the Broadcasting Act 2009.
An investigation by the State’s Official Languages Commissioner has found the amount of programming broadcast in Irish by RTÉ to be seriously deficient, at odds with the will of the Oireachtas and in breach of the language provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009. The investigation found that less than 1% of programmes broadcast on RTÉ television are classified as Irish language programmes, despite a statutory obligation to broadcast a comprehensive range of programmes in the language.

An Coimisinéir Teanga Rónán Ó Domhnaill said…
    “This is one of the most significant investigations conducted by my Office since its foundation. This is the first time compliance with the Broadcasting Act, insofar as it relates to Irish language broadcasting, has been formally investigated. The results of the investigation reveal that only 0.7% of programmes broadcast on RTÉ television are classified as Irish language programmes. Or, in other words, approximately 99% of programmes are in English only.”
The investigation also found that some of the genres RTÉ is obliged to cover in Irish by the Broadcasting Act were either not catered for at all by RTÉ or only catered for in a very limited fashion. The report finds that while RTÉ has a clear definition of what constitutes ‘comprehensive coverage’ in the English language that there appears to be a drastically different understanding of what this means in relation to its Irish language coverage.

An Coimisinéir Teanga has recommended that RTÉ provides his Office with an implementation plan setting out the measures to be taken by the national broadcaster to ensure it meets its statutory language obligations.
    “It is clear that the amount of Irish-language programming needs to be increased in a systematic and comprehensive manner, in many programme areas, to meet the obligations of the Broadcasting Act.”
Other investigations
The details of this investigation, as well as the other seven investigations carried out by An Coimisinéir Teanga, are outlined in the Annual Report of the Language Commissioner for 2018.

These include investigations into:
  • Galway County Council regarding the issuing of tweets relating to the Gaeltacht which were issued in English only. This was in breach of its own statutory language scheme. It is also the first time a formal investigation by this Office dealt with the use of Twitter.
  • The Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government that breached language legislation by not publishing part of the Project Ireland 2040 plan in Irish when it was launched
  • Iarnród Éireann over its inability to use the síneadh fada on its on-board reservations system, as well as breaches of legislation in relation to signage
  • Cork County Council over its use of Google Translate on its website and
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine for advertising jobs in Gaeltacht areas without any Irish language requirement being attached to those positions
In addition to these investigations Mr Ó Domhnaill stated that the level of cooperation his Office received from the Abbey Theatre was not commensurate with the standard he would expect from the country’s national theatre and was a matter of some disappointment. An Coimisinéir Teanga found in an investigation that some of the signage used in the theatre was in contravention of statutory obligations concerning the official languages.

Complaints
In total the Office received 634 complaints from members of the public last year, a slight decrease (0.63%) from 2017. Most of the complaints related to the lack of Irish on websites, application forms, signage and stationery. The vast majority were resolved through the informal resolution mechanism operated by the Office.

Mr Ó Domhnaill highlighted the fact that almost half the complaints his Office received last year related to areas not covered by the Official Languages Act. He remarked:
    “This shows, once again, the urgent need for the Official Languages Act to be revised to ensure it is fit for purpose and meeting the needs of people who wish to avail of services through Irish from the State. At present there is an obvious disconnect between what people seeking services through Irish want and what they receive. This needs to be addressed through a stronger and more effective Language Act as soon as possible.”
Other Activities
The report also contains details of the activities of the Coimisinéir throughout the year including participating in meetings, seminars and celebrations directly or indirectly connected with language related topics.

The Coimisinéir's status is enhanced by the recognition he and his office receives both at home and abroad. The first Coimisinéir Seán Ó Cuirreáin was instrumental in forming the International Association of Language Commissioners and Rónán Ó Domhnail is currently the Chair of this body with members from different continents.

He is also a member of the Ombudsman Association. This is an association of all the Ombudsman Offices in Ireland and Great Britain.

He was appointed Chairperson of the Irish Ombudsman Forum in 2017. The Ombudsman Forum, comprises seven members and meets once every quarter. The other members of the Forum are the Ombudsman, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, the Ombudsman for Children, the Press Ombudsman, the Defence Forces Ombudsman and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Fóram na Gaeilge is a forum for leaders of Irish language state organisations to update each other and share feedback on the most important aspects of our organisations' agendas. They are individual organisations acting independently of each other, but having much in common. The other members of the Fóram are Foras na Gaeilge, Údarás na Gaeltachta, An Foras Pátrúnachta and An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta.

Finance
I am always interested in the cost of state services and in view of the many and varied accounts on the amount of money that is spent on Irish. As has been the case over the years I have been more than impressed at the amount of work accomplished by this office for such a small amount of money. A budget of €753,000 was provided for the Office for 2018 and €746,623 of that money was drawn down.

As the report states: "This year was a productive and important one for the Office. Some very significant investigations relating to difficulties accessing services through Irish, both nationally and in the Gaeltacht, were initiated and concluded."

The bilingual report may be downloaded from the website here.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Recovering your essential fada!

Why risk a fine of €10 million?


This is good news: if your name is Ciarán, Oisín, Sinéad or Siobhán or Seán; or if your Surname has the prefix Ó, Ní or Uí; or if you have a combination of these.  This is a problem you have come across not once but many times. You try to book a ticket and this happens:
Ó Riain is my Passport Family Name so, strictly speaking I am unable to complete this registration.
The Coimisinéir Teanga, Rónán Ó Domhnaill,  has said "One’s name and surname is integral to one’s identity. There is no excuse for any person, company or organisation, not to mention an agency of the State, to anglicise that identity by registering people’s details in English when that is neither their wish nor their choice." (Report on Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources - 31 Dec 2015)

This report of an investigation into allocation of so-called postal codes, found that the Department had indeed breached legislation in using English versions of place names in the Gaeltacht but because "there is no language legislation at present that ensures the State has an obligation to accept the choice of the citizen regarding his/ her name ... it wasn’t included as a statutory question for which findings had to be made as part of the investigation."

He later observed in an address to an Oireachtas Committee that he was disappointed to note that there is no protection, either in the Official Language Acts (2003) nár any other act that protects the use of the use of the name, surname or address in whichever official language the citizen chooses. (Address to Oireachtas Committee on Irish, Gaeltacht and Islands [Irish] -  4 Oct 2016).

However if there is no law in Irish domestic legislation to protect the integrity of one's name the GDPR legislation* passed by the European Union in 2016 (8 April 2016) and enacted earlier this year (25th May 2018) which does so provide. I learned about this from an article and video, Tá sé de cheart agat fada a bheith i d’ainm, faigh é!’ by the award winning Film producer Ciarán Ó Cofaigh (Cré na Cille, Murdair Mhám Trasna, Na Cloigne agus eile!) in the on-line news service tuairisc.ie.

The GDPR legislation "..lays down rules relating to the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and rules relating to the free movement of personal data..." (Article 1) but the regulation we are concerned with is Article 6 (Rectification) which baldly states:

"The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller without undue delay the rectification of inaccurate personal data concerning him or her. Taking into account the purposes of the processing, the data subject shall have the right to have incomplete personal data completed, including by means of providing a supplementary statement."

The real punch line in Ó Cofaigh's article comes near the end. Basically he says if more than one request of this nature is received by an entity - and this refers to all entities not just state owned companies or departments - fines of up to €10 million are allowed for.

He urges those who have this problem should make a request not on the basis of human rights (language rights) but under the the GDPR Legislation (Art 16).

He concludes, “Faigh do fhada ar ais, is libhse é agus tá sé de cheart agaibh é a bheith agaibh!” (Get your fada back, it is yours and you have a rigt to it!)

* The text of the GDPR regulations may be found here in English.  (It is also available in 24 other European Languages, including our own)

¨You may also like to consider just how important a fada can be.  Remember tha Sean means old whereas Seán ia a male name.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Recognising integral identity!

"....one’s name/surname is integral to one’s identity. There is no excuse for any person, company or organisation, not to mention an agency of the State, to anglicise that identity..." 
Investigation into Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources- Rollout of Postcode 31 Dec 2015.

A few days ago we parked our car in the car park adjacent to Galway Cathedral. This Carpark covers ground in which the bodies of those executed in the old Galway prison are buried. We parked beside a slab which commemorates those. Among those was Maolra Seoighe whose hanging was a travesty of justice written about in Seán Ó Cuirreáin's book "Éagóir". A small additional plaque commemorates him also but I thought it ironic that it is written in the language of his executors and which he  would have difficulty in understanding.

A number of coincidental happenings have highlighted the continuation of this lack of sensitivity amounting to disrespect suffered by those who choose to use our National Language (Bunracht na hÉireann/Constitution of Ireland Article 8.1) or who are born in the areas in which it is still the vernacular.

I recently had to renew my driving licence. Because of my age this is something I have to do every three years. The Government, in its wisdom, have handed this service over to a commercial entity and I had incredible difficulty in 2015 in renewing it and wrote about it at the time. This time after receiving the (bilingual) reminder I went to the internet site which is still designed for speakers of English only. It has improved somewhat in the intervening years.  The forms are clearly indicated as being in either Irish or English - if you have sufficient English to locate the forms page that is! Unfortunately in order to set up an appointment one cannot set up one in the national language and so I had to go through a long rigmarole of direct communications with the organisation and eventually I was given an appointment and had the ludicrous situation of an translator being provided so that I could renew with the English speaking person on duty. I am Irish, in my country, Ireland, not a Lithuanian in a foreign country!  See my adventure here - Four e-mails & a telephone call! (Irish).

I had a somewhat similar experience when applying for the Public Services Card. When the card eventually was issued my surname was incorrect omitting the fada (long sign) over the "O' in Ó Riain. I didn't have the energy to return it to them. Both my Driving License and my Passport do include it.

My daughter recently married a man with an Italian surname and while speaking I made the following remark: "...and with what is now her new surname, she will never be asked 'What is that in English!' ever again."

Within the past few days the prevalence of this practice was emphasised in my own case and also in several tweets. We went for our flu jabs in our local clinic. We gave our name and immediately came back the remark, "That's 'Ryan' isn't it," I repeated Ó Riain (inwardly fuming!) and nothing else was said as we proceeded with the business in hand.

The award-winning singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh tweeted (24/10/2018) as follows about her experience in the interview for her Public Services Card:
"What's your name?"
"Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh"
"What's that?"
"It's my name"
"No....What does it mean?"
"If you mean in the language of the
oppressor - McAuliffe"
"So would you be in as that in the system?"
"No"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes"
Good times."

Two well respected journalists responded. Gormfhlaith Ní Thuairisg and Máirín Ní Gadhra recounted their experience in entering Leinster House for Budget Day earlier this month.
"What's that?"
"That's my name - Gormfhlaith"
"What's it in English?"
"There is no English for it. Like Niamh. Or
Ciara. Or Aoife."
"And what's that?"
"Ní Thuairisg"
Gáire mór.
"Nee hoorish? You wouldn't want to say that too often...."
and
"An lá céanna i dTeach Laighean b'éigin m'ainm scríobh ó mo chárta aitheantais- Máirín Uimhir Ceardchumainn"
(On the same day I had to write my name on my identity card Máirín Trade Union Number)
And this experience of a voter yesterday in Cnoc na Cathrach in Galway again emphasises the point. "Náireach nach raibh oiread is duine amháin sa mbothàn vótála i nGael Scoil Mhic Amhlaigh i nGaillimh in ann labhairt liom i nGaeilge.Curtha ó sheomra go seomra ag lorg mo vóta.
Náireach nach raibh oiread is duine amháin sa mbothàn vótála i nGael Scoil Mhic Amhlaigh i nGaillimh in ann labhairt liom i nGaeilge. Curtha ó sheomra go seomra ag lorg mo vòta. 'What your name again.x7.whats that in English.Whats that address in English..." 
(Shameful that there wasn't even a single person in Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh in Galway able to speak in Irish to me. Sent from room to room looking for my vote, 'What's you name again x 7; what's that in English; what's that address in English...")
So what does say about us? It is incredibly insulting in two ways.

The complaints my Office received concerned three main subjects:
• that letters with the new Eircode were being received by members of the public and that the Gaeltacht placenames in use on those letters were not in accordance with the Placenames (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) Order
• that letters with the new Eircode were being received by members of the public and that the version of their address which they usually used, that is the Irish version, was not used, and
• that letters with the new Eircode were being received by members of the public with their name and surname in English, when they only ever used their name and surname in Irish or when they did not normally use the name and surname in
English. 
Coimisinéir Teanga's Investigation into Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources 2015
Firstly is it not patronisingly ignorant of those on us who have chosen to use the ancient and more correct form of our surnames, forenames and address names, many of which are untranslatable? What people call the English form is usually an ill informed not to say mutilated spelling and/or pronunciation. It is something that irritates intensely and indeed the Coimisinéir Teanga has said that the unauthorised changing of Names & Addresses is the single most complained of topic received in his office in 2015/6 (address to Oireachtas Committee 4/10/2016  in Irish) following the distribution of postal codes throughout the country. They were also the most "angry" among the complaints his office receives. In his Investigative Report (pdf) of the debacle of the distribution of these post codes (Which his predececessor had engaged in and warned about as far back as 2008) he states "one’s name and surname is integral to one’s identity. There is no excuse for any person, company or organisation, not to mention an agency of the State, to anglicise that identity by registering people’s details in English when that is neither their wish nor their choice."

It also suggests a perceived view of our language as somehow incomplete. Nobody asks a French person with the name "de Gaulle" what is that in English. Nor did anybody ask what the Pope's surname "Bergoglio" is in English. Yet Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Eoin Ó Riain and the others who use the ancient and more correct versions of their names & addresses are subjected to this sort of truly unnecessary interrogation regularly.

An article, by Kevin Hickey, has appeared in Tuairisc.ie since this piece was published. It is apparantly part of a series examining  names and their importance. One paragraph caught my eye and (in my poor translation) I give it here: "Máire Mhac an tSaoi says there is 'a sense (iarracht) of schizophrenia in bilingualism', especially in the case of those who use two variations of their names; and Professor Liam Mac Mathúna speaks of the 'uneasy relationship" between the two variants from the point of view of selfidentity." 
(‘Cén t-ainm atá ortsa?’ - Kevin Hickey, Tuairisc.ie 29 October 2018)

Because we are used to this sort of behavior over the years does not render it in any way correct or acceptable. It is to be hoped that the long-promised Language Act revision - promised for publication before the year end - will address this issue. We've being holding our breadth for this since 2010.

• It is perhaps worthwhile to take a look at how the first President of Ireland viewed such things in an address many consider to be the spark which lit the fire that lead to Independence: "De-Anglicisation!" (1882)