Saturday 20 January 2018

A bit Irish

• What seems to have gone unnoticed in Ireland is that the removal of Bertie Ahern from his bunker in north Dublin represents a great loss to the Irish language. During his time there, Drumcondra became almost 100pc Irish-speaking as a result of his unrelenting enthusiasm for the language he loves. While other politicians were feathering their own nests, Bertie was selflessly creating the first true suburban Gaeltacht.

As the local seanachai, Bertie used his native tongue to great effect in spinning yarns about the heroism of Fianna Fail, and how, singlehandedly, he slayed the monstrous Celtic Tiger.

Bertie was never at ease in English but was a confident and fluent Irish speaker. He would reach for the idiomatic use of the language at the slightest provocation. He would regularly declare, "nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein" (there is no place like home), not worrying about the relevance of the utterance to the circumstances, but he loved the sound of it.

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