Sunday 21 January 2018

Kevin Myers: We all know St Patrick's Day parades are from US -- but far less palatable is origin of the word 'craic'

The cover of today's St Patrick's Festival programme is emblazoned with the categories, COMEDY, FILM, MUSIC, SPECTACLE, FAMILY, and foremost of all, CULTÚR & CRAIC. So once again, we declare our supposed devotion to the Irish language as the centre-piece of St Patrick's festival. Now I already know what I'm in for here: the usual tearful squeals that I hate the Irish language, and how nasty I am to say such horrible things about it. Et cetera.

Look. I don't hate very much, and I certainly don't hate the Irish language. But the very week that the Irish language commissioner points out that just 1.5pc of public servants can provide a service in Irish, it's just a little rich for the St Patrick's Day Committee to put "cultúr agus craic" in pride of place on its programme, especially when there'll be almost no Irish language component today for most of the patrician revels.

We all know that the St Patrick's Day parades are largely an importation from the US. That doesn't make them bad. It's just the truth. Perhaps less palatable is the other truth that this pseudo-Gaelic word "craic" is a relatively recent confection within the English language.

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