Monday 5 December 2016

Peace means choosing our words very carefully

Published 29/12/2013 | 02:30

Illustration by Jim Cogan
Illustration by Jim Cogan

We live and die by words. Words that humour. Words that hurt. Words that heal. So we will miss the reflections of Diarmaid O Muirithe, the scholarly and witty lexicographer who wrote his last Words We Use column for the Irish Times just before Christmas.

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Let me pause briefly to tell a story about Diarmaid's sense of pluralism and fair play. In June 1969, the Feach team, with Diarmaid as reporter and myself as producer, covered a dispute about the Irish language in Ahascragh, Co Galway, between a branch of the Language Freedom Movement and the local school principal and famous sean nos singer, the late Sean ac Dhonnacha.

Filming the protagonists, we found a spokesperson for the LFM had a slight speech impediment. Normally this might not have mattered much. But Sean ac Dhonnacha, who spoke for the Irish language side, was liofa in both languages. So his side was going to come across a lot more clearly than the LFM side.

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