Our Fada, who art in Éireann
Irish culture and politics always find a way to surprise me. Often, I commend our little island for being so progressive and inviting. We have changed so much even in recent years and it makes me proud. I spend a lot of my time trying to educate myself and be at the forefront of a positive and progressive Ireland
Unfortunately, there are still occasions where laziness and ineptitude in Irish society rear their ugly heads. Most recently I have become aware the Our Fada movement.
I came across an article in The Irish Times, in which an Irish man, Ciarán Ó Cofaigh alleged that the HSE failed to meet EU rules when told during radiotherapy that the system in place in the hospital could not accommodate a fada. After complaining to the Data Protection Commission, it was ruled that an Irish person had no absolute right to the fada in their name. Whilst the HSE recognised the Irish language as an official language and necessary to spell Irish names correctly, there is an extreme fallacy present in the fact that the HSE does not act on this recognition!
Personally, I have experienced this very same issue with the HSE and Irish Rail. I have contacted Irish rail multiple times about the issue, and they claim their system is not capable of presenting fadas. However, as anyone who takes the train may notice, notices are displayed in both English and Irish, with the fadas present in words like Iarnród Éireann. This hypocrisy and absolute laziness is a parasite in Irish society which we must work to eradicate
Why is this important? Why should anyone care at all?
Irish history is a terrible tale. We spent years oppressed by our English neighbours. We hid our language and way of life for centuries. Irish fluency fell drastically and today looks to be slowly recovering thanks to things like the Gaeltacht. Since breaking free, we made a conscious choice to make Irish one of our primary languages. With this we should strive to protect the language and use it correctly. That means spelling words correctly.
On top of this, the UN recognises the right to a name for children. This is important for all. Everyone has the right to an identity and that identity should be fully honoured. If the HSE or other Irish organisations fail to spell a name correctly, I believe they are in violation of the UN convention. A name is the first thing given to a child and can never be taken away. No one possesses that power or right.
If you were to be German, or French or Hungarian, you could be sure that your name would be spelled correctly at all times. There would be no questions asked. Bank documents, train tickets, e.t.c would all have your name spelled correctly. Everyone in these countries understands the importance of their versions of the fada (such as the German umlaut). Without the fada, words have significantly different meanings. For example:
- Cáca – cake, caca – faeces
- Mám – handful, mam – mother
- Éire – Ireland, Eire – burden
- Criodán – Me, Criodan – not me
Whilst this might seem like a petty issue to some, it’s important to me and those who are directly affected – those who care about Irish, Ireland and the values it represents. If we don’t take our own language seriously, why should anyone else? Why should any other country recognise the hardships we endured to become independent and protect our own language if we’re willing to just throw it away?
If you care, spread the word, challenge misspellings where you can and hopefully we can lobby a change in Irish society and thinking about the importance of our national language.