Return to   Signs Gaeilge

The Irish language versions of many of Dublin's street names are in a hell of a mess. Surely there cannot be any other country in the world whose streetname signs in the first official language are in such an awful state. There is no standard practice regarding Irish language versions of the same English language name. The spelling is all over the place. The walls are peppered with silly and unnecessary translations of names that are properly English and should be left alone.

I noticed some of these over the years and decided to photograph them. You can see below some of the photos I took in the the last year or so. I'm seriously thinking of not adding any more. I didn't go out of my way to get these. I stumbled across them but had a camera with me. If I keep this up I'll have a bookfull in no time.

Material on the correct versions of these names can be accessed at Séamas Ó Brógáin's excellent website.

To assist the reader, Séamas's versions are reproduced in the table below and also appear in the tooltips when the cursor is hovered over the pictures.

Don't know what idiot is responsible for this street nameplate near where I live. It is a clumsy transliteration from the English which completely misunderstands how place, movement and direction are handled in Irish. Thoir is the appropriate adjective to use here. The term oirthear is a noun. You would say san Oirthear meaning in the East. When dealing with movement you would say ag dul soir meaning going Eastwards, or ag teacht anoir meaning coming from the East.

Lord preserve us!

Funny thing is the west road is correct. Well, one of the versions anyway. Look at the complete mess in the second one from the other end of the same road.

And what about St. Assam's Avenue, the poor man has been desanctified in Irish. It's not all that's been done to him by this lot.

And I won't even mention the missing apostrophes.

Update: the one on top now corrected (almost).

It took at least two headers to bring us this one. We could start by blaming the person who did the original translation. It reads like "Dublin Irish" if even that.

Then there is the second header who didn't bother to check and simply reproduced what went before.

A blasht from the pasht!
If you were retranslating this back from the Irish it would surely have to be Grief Avenue. It's not clear whether header one or header two was responsible for this one.

Arthur Guinness, maybe.
This has all the signs of a German wordbuilder.

Irish would be a cinch to learn if we dispensed with all the grammar stuff, but it would be all the poorer for that.
We have a poet manqué here. Shading in resonances of the Irish sea instead of leaving well enough alone. I suppose we can hardly blame him for the corruption asca ll . This may have to be laid at the door of a subsequent graffiti artist.
This version makes it sound more like something to do with the clergy than with Lord Clare himself.

Maybe it is meant to commemorate some famous buskers of the area, one of whom one, a foulmouthed mouthorganist, actually attacked me at this very site. [cliarach = pertaining to eg band of musicians].

This is a nice one. Molesworth in English and Teach Laighean [Leinster House, currently the seat of the Irish Parliament] in Irish. Teach Laighean is still used to denote the Houses of Parliament [Tithe an Oireachtais] and it runs better than Molesworth in Irish.

But behold, header two has returned with Teach Laibhean ? Is this meant to commemorate some notable lay (in the Dublin sense of the word)? Or is it a clever/obscure reference to Theach na Lobhar The House of the Lepers?

At any rate, it is definitely odd.
These two nameplates are directly opposite one another at the junction of Nassau St. and Kildare St.
"Tóin" is the standard version of the Irish word for "arse" , although "Tón" would pass muster as a second choice. However, there isn't even a fada [acute accent] on this one.

"Póg mo thóin" is the correct version of the well known insult.
I understood Bettyglen House was named after "Betty" in the first place. The house never had an Irish language name. The Irish language version is a load of cobblers. It is not a glen nor is there any profusion of beech trees [crann beithe] in it.
This appears to be a tricky one. The nameplates have the two versions "Coill Mhuire" and "Bealtaine". The official version leaves "Maywood" untranslated. I was inclining towards "Coill Mhuire" as May is often a substitute for Mary in English. At the same time, there are many Maywoods which come from the family name "May", particularly in the USA. Séamas had "Coill na Sceiche Gile" on the basis that may, whitethorn and hawthorn are all the same plant in English, and, given the juxtaposition of the wood, I thought it likely that the estate was named after the plant. You would wonder, however, if the builder gave even a moments thought to these erudite matters.

Update: I'm told that, in this specific case, the name is derived from May Catherwood. So there is only one answer here - leave the English as it is. And this is what Maywood Lawn has done on the official sign and Séamas has taken it on board in his list.
This is an interesting one. The estate appears to have been christened Cill Éanna from the beginning. There is no English for this and no effort has been made to produce an artificial translation (eg Killaynee?). It's a pity the same logic is not applied to English language names from time to time. The official version gives Cill Eanna as the English equivalent, leaving out the fada (acute). Pathetic!
Another interesting one. There is no linguistic relationship between Charlemont and Achadh, which essential means a field. I wonder what history lies behind this one.
There are many types of well (tobar) and they can contain material other than springwater. The word for a freshwater spring is fuarán in Irish.
All that was needed here was to read the sign before erecting it.
This is another odd one. According to the map the name of the road is Claremont Road.

In any event, all that was needed to spot the typo was to read the sign before it was put up.

The main sign here is right.

Ironically it's the one recently erected by the residents themselves which is wrong, both in content and grammar.

This is an interesting one. The version is correct but there is a problem with the presentation.

When we were operating exclusively with the Gaelic script the first sign would have been acceptable,but only just. However, since adopting the Roman script the "th" is the equivalent of a lenition of the "t". So, what should be done. Put the word "Dartmouth", at least, in Roman script and in a different font.

Certainly, there is no way the second version is acceptable.

Here is header one back again with the séimiú left out.

But this time the new sign is correct.! Wherever did header two go?

Ah, here he is with the séimhiú left out in the Drive. But he kept the Gaelic script, bedad.

These two nameplates are directly opposite one another at the junction of Cecil Avenue and Charlemont Road.

At the junction with Charlemont Road. As Séamas says of Victoria Street "Another false Irish name, ' Sráid na Buaidhe ' is on the nameplates."
A fada too far?

Even though it is not strictly correct, I like this one. It is an exception to the rule that English titles should not be translated. it attempts to get behind the title to the Welsh root of the placename, Ynys Môn, even at the expense of having a smell of Irish turf about it.

I really will have to give this up. Every time I leave the house I come home with more rubbishy photographs.

Séamas's Table

This is an extract from Séamas's Table showing
  • the original English language version,
  • the Irish version recommended by Séamas, and
  • his notes as appropriate .
English Irish Notes
Brian Road Bóthar Bhriain After Brian Bórú.
Hollybrook Road Bóthar Shruthán an Chuilinn There is a townland in Co. Wicklow named Hollybrook (Muileann Réamainn is the name in Irish), and another one in Co. Fermanagh.
Marino Avenue Ascaill Marino
Griffith Avenue Ascaill Uí Ghríofa After Arthur Griffith.
Collins Avenue Ascaill Uí Choileáin From Michael Collins.
Clare Street Sráid Clare From an English title (John Fitzgibbon, "Earl of Clare," Lord Chancellor of Ireland and the prosecutor of Wolfe Tone), based on a village in Suffolk, England. (Fitzgibbon Street was named after the same person.) The official list has "Sráid an Chláraigh".
St Assam’s Road, East Bóthar San Assam Thoir
St Assam's Road, West Bóthar San Assam Thiar
St Assam's Avenue Ascaill San Assam
Molesworth Street Sráid Theach Laighean The public are accostomed to the Irish name. The English version is a family name.
Kildare Street Sráid Chill Dara The name is based on an English title (James Fitzgerald, "Earl of Kildare").
Tonlegee Road Bóthar Thóin le Gaoith
Bettyglen Bettyglen
Maywood Avenue Ascaill Choill na Sceiche Gile
Cill Éanna Cill Éanna
Charlemont Road Bóthar Charlemont
Springdale Road Bóthar Ghleanntán an Fhuaráin
Ashcroft Croit na Fuinseoige
Claremont Road Bóthar Claremont
Avondale Park Páirc Avondale From a house near Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, in honour of Charles Stewart Parnell. ...
Dartmouth Road Bóthar Dartmouth
Ennafort Park Páirc Dhún Éanna
Ennafort Drive Céide Dhún Éanna
Cecil Avenue Ascaill Cecil From the family name, perhaps, or one of the builder's family. "Ascaill Shisil" is on the official list.
Victoria Villas [Clontarf] Bailtíní Victoria
Denzille Lane Lána Denzille From Denzille Holles.
Devlin's Place Plás Uí Dhoibhilin
Anglesey Street Sráid Inis Món From an English title (Arthur Annesley, "Earl of Anglesey," a landlord in the area), based on a Welsh placename. "Sráid Mhón" is on the nameplate; the misspelling "Anglesea," and "Sráid Anglesea," are in the official listing.
Fenian Street Sráid na bhFíníní
Table source.

See here also.
Return to   Signs Gaeilge