An exceedingly strange BBC News story: Spike Milligan wanted his gravestone to read “I told you I was ill,” there was a long struggle with the Chichester Diocese, and they finally approved it… but only if it was written in Gaelic (Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite)! Can anyone explain this? (Thanks to Jeremy of READIN for the link.)


  1. An earlier story implies that the debate was within the family:
    “Mr Milligan famously quipped that he wanted his gravestone to say: ‘I told you I was ill.’
    But his widow Shelagh told the BBC on Tuesday that the line was only a joke and it was not an epitaph he would have wanted.
    She said she and other relatives were still to decide what the stone should say.”

  2. “Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite”, is how it should read.
    The diacritic isn’t optional in Irish any more than in French,
    you know! (Please don’t tell me that the other was what they
    actually put on the gravestone…)

  3. He said this in many interview I believe, and I it was the title of a tribute concert.
    He was, by admission, prone to strong mood swings so if there were such a thing as an afterlife he’d be alternately delighted and annoyed for eternity. The comic would love it, the melancholy poet detest it.

  4. I was going to say that the fadas were missing but the Shamrockshire Eagle person beat me to it.
    ‘Breoite’ is a newish one for me though; at school we used to say ‘tinn’. Of course, I could never really speak “as Gaeilge”: my French is better than my Irish, and my French is pretty bad.

  5. Thanks for the fadas — I knew they should be in there but was too lazy to look them up. Now I’ve fixed the quote, so the entry will no longer insult Irish eyes!

  6. Irish isn’t French, though, so upper case letters _do_ get accents 🙂 . But, eh, this is getting silly.

  7. Fixed! Accents are not considered silly here at LH.

  8. Gearóid Ó Laoi says

    it should be
    Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite.
    Duirt is meaningless.
    go raibh mé tinn would mean the same thing.
    In Munster Irish it would normally be said..
    Dúrt leat go rabhas tinn.
    It would be more usual in Irish, and probably English to say you (plural) or ye as we say in Cork.
    Then it would be
    Dúirt mé libh go raibh mé breoite…or
    Dúrt libh go rabhas tinn.

  9. Fixed — go raibh maith agat!

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