An article (via MetaFilter) on the Irish government’s plans to finally do something about the country’s notoriously poor signage ends thus:

“Never mind the countryside. I still get lost in Dublin,” said Irish Times columnist Kevin Myers, a road-sign crusader who argues that the Irish have never understood the functional point of signs.
“You’ve got extraordinarily misleading signs and signs that tell outright lies, and most of these are new,” he said. “Dublin Corporation is putting up signs at the moment that are designed to baffle anyone from outside Ireland.”
“They refer to Dublin as ‘an Lar,’ which is Gaelic for the city centre — and it’s a term that nobody uses because we all speak English here,” Mr. Myers said. “Everybody in Europe would understand the word ‘centre,’ so naturally we can’t use that. The powers that be are intent on putting up signs in a dead language for pseudo-cultural purposes and doing nothing to help visitors.”

Incidentally, if anyone is as curious about the word lár ‘center’ as I was (I would have expected *cédar if they had borrowed Latin centrum), it originally meant ‘floor,’ and is in fact cognate with the English word; the transitional meaning is ‘middle (of a hall).’


  1. Hi. Interesting theme for a site.
    Kevin Myers is an idiot. I have constant cause to complain about his arrogant declamations. ‘An Lar’ is never used on signs for ‘Dublin’, rather for the city centre proper. And since all our signs are bilingual anyway, what’s his problem?

  2. Yeah, I got the impression looking Myers up to get a link that he’s not well regarded. You have to admit it’s a funny quote though. So do “An Lár” signs also say “City Centre”? If so, he’s really being an idiot. By the way, I checked out your site and was intrigued by this: “Dublin Corporation was responsible for what was almost certainly Europe’s biggest act of archaeological vandalism in the last fifty years.” So what was it? I want to join in the outrage!

  3. Oh, about twenty years ago they needed new offices and decided they’d put them on a spare patch of land by the Liffey, blocking the view of Christchurch Cathedral. Digging the foundations they predictably found the original Viking site of Dublin, probably the biggest Viking site in Europe, at least outside of Scandinavia proper.
    So, after giving the archaeologists a brief run at the site, they ploughed it up and had it carted away as landfill.
    If you want to see what the offices looked like, click on my brother Liam’s site and go to murals. They’re in one of the blue pictures.

  4. Jesus. Don’t they have any landmark / heritage / preservation laws? That’s appalling.

  5. Well, they had to fight to be allowed do it, but the courts upheld their right to mash. I don’t think they could do anything on that scale now, though the current Carrickmines Castle farce indicates that the law isn’t as tight as it should be. National laws, thankfully, are overridden by EU laws on this matter, which is right, as our common heritage is our common property. We’re just the custodians of things like Wood Quay (the name of the Civic Offices’ site) and the Acropolis.

  6. Myers has a problem with the Irish language. He suffers from some sort of personality disorder that causes him to write polemical articles praising the British Establishment and rubbishing contemporary Ireland and anything that reminds him we’re independent (like Irish language signs). He wears a tweed jacket and writes for the Daily Telegraph as well as the Irish Times.

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