Madam, - I was surprised that Mr Séamas de Barra (Oct. 30th) accuses me of "having a go" (to use his words) at the efforts of Luas to provide information in Irish on their public address facility. I never "had a go" at Luas over any such thing.
I am very happy that Luas provides information in Irish to the travelling public.
My only quibble was, and still remains, the choice of some of their translations.
I was very grateful to Mr Frank Allen, chief executive of RPA for his letter of the previous week and found his explanations for their sources for Irish versions of place names very interesting.
Mr de Barra, with obvious erudition, adds his own research, but still I am left none the wiser as to the actual reasons why we need to use inelegant transliterations or borrowings from the Romance languages instead of proper Irish words for saint or museum.
Frankly, I've never heard or seen "San" being used publicly for saintly dedications in Irish, and neologism or not, I definitely prefer "Iarsmalann" to "Músaem"!
On one subject, however, I remain obdurate: Harcourt Street should be "Sráid Harcourt".
Harcourt Street is named after an English title in aristocracy, namely the Earl of Harcourt, whose title dates from 1749. Construction of Harcourt Street itself was begun around 1791 and named in his honour.
To use "Sráid Fhearchair" for Harcourt Street is wrong on two counts. Firstly, it implies that "Fearchar" may be a translation to Irish of Harcourt, which it is not, and secondly, it implies that "Harcourt" is a transliteration of the Irish word "Fearchar" (a meaningless word anyway) in much the same way that "Bally" is a transliteration of "baile" (or dare I say it, as "músaem" is of "museum"). It is not.
The fact that such an august body as Conradh na Gaeilge should sanction and perpetuate this usage shocks me and the suggestion that somehow "Sráid Fhearchair" may exist on an authoritative Irish language street names list frankly makes me laugh. - Yours, etc.,
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