Is cearta daonna iad cearta teanga.

Éanna Ó Caollaí reports for the Irish Times:

In what is believed to be a first in modern British political discourse, a Welsh member of parliament addressed the House of Commons in Irish on Wednesday. During a debate on decision-making powers of civil-servants at Stormont, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts called on the British government to introduce legislation protecting the rights of Irish speakers.

Parliamentarians heard the Member of Parliament for Dwyfor Meirionnydd say in Irish that language rights are human rights and that the Irish-speaking community is entitled to equality of treatment: “Is cearta daonna iad cearta teanga agus tá cothrom na féinne tuilte ag lucht labhartha na Gaeilge,” she said.

Continuing in English, she pressed Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley to uphold the British government’s commitment to introduce language legislation as outlined under the St Andrew’s Agreement struck between the Irish and British governments and Northern Ireland’s political parties in 2006.

You can see a video of her speech at the link; a tweet from the Department of Welsh & Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth University (@CelticAber) says:

You can do anything with a degree in #CelticStudies! @LSRPlaid is a graduate of @CelticAber, and we are very proud to see her use Irish in @HouseofCommons

I know too little about the legislation to have an opinion on it, but I’m all for speaking Irish whenever possible. A note to the story says:

A headline on an earlier version of this story stated that Wednesday was the first time Irish was spoken during a debate in the House of Commons in 100 years. The SDLP press office has informed The Irish Times that Mr Mark Durkan, then MP for Foyle, spoke in Irish during a 2015 debate.

And if you’re wondering about the name Éanna, it’s said to be from the Middle Irish Éan dála, meaning ‘similar to a bird, resembling a bird.’ (Thanks, JC!)


  1. Éanna [is] said to be from the Middle Irish Éan dála, meaning ‘similar to a bird, resembling a bird.’

    Might that be behind the name of Birdy Edwards, the Pinkerton agent in the Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear?

  2. Éanna is a male name, anglicised Enda. When Enda Kenny became Taoiseach in 2011, The New York Times referred to “Ms Kenny”, although not AFAIK calling him Edna.

    A quick Google finds that Irish was spoken in the Lords in 1920, Scottish Gaelic in the Commons in 1936 and 1981.

  3. The first rule of Sherlock Holmes Club is, you don’t talk about The Valley of Fear.

  4. Why? Is it considered a bad novel? Or you don’t want to give anything away to those who haven’t read it?

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    Iwerddon am byth!

  6. David Eddyshaw says

    Is it considered a bad novel?

    It is the Titus Andronicus of the Holmes saga.

  7. I don’t think it’s that bad. A bit overwrought, plus Doyle shouldn’t have permitted himself to ever write about Americans, but as plots go, it’s fine.

    I’ve never read Titus Andronicus, except the part with the recipe. At the time that was all I needed, for a deeper understanding of Vincent Price’s Theatre of Blood.

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    This is the wiki bio of the colorful peer who put a bit of Irish into his speech in the Lords in 1920 (not the first time he’d done it, apparently), which includes the detail that when conversing with people who did not understand Irish he preferred to speak with them in French rather than English when feasible.,_2nd_Baron_Ashbourne

  9. Not at all. It is not giving away much to say that the book is about a fictional analogue of the Irish and American secret society the Molly Maguires. The particular branch inhabiting the Valley of Fear have gone from anti-landlordism to anticolonialism to industrial unionism to preying on their own people, in the manner of the ‘Ndrangheta and other Mafia-style groups the world over. The code of silence is an essential part of that.

  10. Did Doyle write too much about Americans in his Sherlock Holmes books? If so, then one contributing factor is that Americans formed part of his readership; these stories were published in the USA as well as in Britain.

    The Valley of Fear parallels A Study in Scarlet in being in two parts: the first being a detective story where Holmes investigates a murder, and the second telling the back story which explains the murderer’s motivation. In each case the second part is set in the USA, and the first part is self-contained and can be enjoyed as a Holmes story in its own right.

  11. I don’t think he wrote too much about Americans. There are these two, plus The Three Garridebs, and I can’t think of any others. It’s just that when he did write about Americans, the stereotyping was laid on thick almost to the point of cartoonishness. But then, Jules Verne was far worse, and I like him.

  12. +The Adventure of the Dancing Men

  13. @rosie: By The Valley of Fear, Doyle certainly knew that what he wrote would have an American readership, but he couldn’t have known that when he created Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet. The fact that both of those short novels feature long backstory sections in America, of a kind not found in the other Holmes tales (I was surprised, after having read A Study in Scarlet and The Valley of Fear, that the villain’s backstory in India in The Sign of Four was so much shorter) certainly gives the sense that Doyle wrote quite a bit about America, and, in particular, about exotic-sounding groups of Americans that he really didn’t understand.

  14. David Eddyshaw says

    exotic-sounding groups of Americans that he really didn’t understand

    Hey, we’ve all been there …

  15. @David Eddyshaw: There is a monograph waiting to be written about Niger–Congo influences among the culture of Minnesota Vikings fans.

  16. David Eddyshaw says

    I knew it!

  17. There’s also “The Five Orange Pips”, which is where I first encountered the Ku Klux Klan at a very young age.

  18. Me too! One more in the list of dark and inescapable evil organizations.

  19. David Eddyshaw says

    Hey! Not all dark inescapable organisations are evil. This is just hurtful stereotyping.

  20. The KKK is dark and evil all right, but no longer inescapable.

  21. And the Mormons are so much more blase than they were in Doyle’s day.

  22. J.W. Brewer says

    The latest breaking news in the Celtic-utterances-in-Parliament genre:

  23. David Eddyshaw says

    Sadly, cwtsh is a mere Middle English loanword. A dreadfully tinny word, if you ask me, too, suitable only for Conservative sycophants like Ms Jones. “May I commend the prime minister for his bold decisions”, quotha …

    The English, one gathers from the BBC, have no word for “cwtsh” …
    A cold, emotionless race, it seems. Intellects vast, and cool and unsympathetic … well, maybe not. Anyhow, they are doomed because they have no inherited resistance to our Welsh viruses (like cofyd.)

  24. J.W. Brewer says

    The prior semi-upbeat Jan. 2021 news story somehow led me to this more downer (although grimly hilarious) story from 2016:

  25. David Eddyshaw says

    Personally, I’ve never liked Ysgrabl anyway. And without influencers like me recommending it , it will naturally struggle …

    The bit about the letter scores reminds me of why there is no “k” in modern Welsh orthography: the printers of Bishop Morgan’s Bible found that they had “not so many [k’s] as the Welsh requireth” and decided to use “c” instead throughout as a makeshift solution.

  26. David Marjanović says

    An eternalized provisorium! Downright Austrian.

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