Sunday 17 June 2018

Forget about the old Leo Varadkar - cuirigí fáilte roimh 'Leo de Varad'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Steve Humphreys
John Downing

John Downing

Meet the new Taoiseach: "An tUasal Leo de Varad."

After successfully completing a certificate of competence course in Irish, the Taoiseach opted for his own Gaelic version of his Indian surname.

The advice of course co-ordinator Éamonn Ó Dónaill, of Gaelchultúr, was quite simple. "You're the country's Taoiseach, you can do anything you like here," he said.

But there is a certain linguistic logic to 'de Varad'. It equates to 'from Varad', the name of the small town in India from which his father Ashok's family originated.

Mr Ó Dónaill was full of praise for the Taoiseach's commitment to the Irish language course, which he attended each Wednesday for several weeks earlier this year and which yielded him an intermediate level certificate of competence. The teacher said Mr Varadkar had applied himself diligently and performed very well in the exams.

Irish Language Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill presented the certificate to 'Leo de Varad' and the other course participants. He also praised the Taoiseach for the example he has shown in relearning Irish and also hoped he would follow through with meaningful Irish language legislation.

Leo de Varad is only the second holder of that office to use the so-called "nobiliary particle" in his name, linking land and family, and sometimes signalling aristocratic origins.

The other Taoiseach to employ 'de' was Éamon de Valera, founding father of Fianna Fáil. What odds on Fine Gael stalwarts adopting his old sobriquet, 'Dev'?

Irish Independent

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