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'Poor town' Ballybough wants its name changed


Nial Ring

Nial Ring

Nial Ring

A CAMPAIGN is under way to have the Irish translation of Dublin's Ballybough changed as it means 'poor town'.

The official translation – Bailebocht – is not only offensive but also incorrect, Independent councillor Nial Ring has said.

He contends the proper Irish language version is 'Bailebog', meaning 'mud island'.

"You might as well put up a big sign saying 'poor'," added Mr Ring, whose family has lived in the Dublin 3 community for generations.

When this was originally translated into English, it was spelt 'Bailiboght' and subsequently became Ballybough.

"While the original Irish name was translated to Ballybough, somehow the English translation was retranslated back into Irish incorrectly.

"The Irish version, translating to English as 'poor town', is considered offensive by many native Ballyboughers given that the area is, in fact, rich in history, culture and heritage," Mr Ring said.

He told the Herald: "Anyone I have spoken to, when you make them aware of it, they say this is wrong."

Mr Ring is trying to get a consensus among his fellow central area councillors on Dublin City Council to write to the place names branch of Ordnance Survey Ireland to have the translation reviewed.

He said the correct Irish version "originates from the ancient name of the area, namely mud island".



Mr Ring said this is supported by Ballybough's location on part of the lands of St Mary's Abbey, which was founded 1139, called Crinan, meaning a dry or decaying wood or a bog area.

"The area would have been soft mudlands and thus Bailebog would have been a correct Irish name and this would have been the origin of the anglicised name of Ballybough," he stated in a motion to be voted on by councillors.

He added that a further indication of the name is found in a 1488 publication Riding Of The Franchises where the English spelling is Bailiboght, rather than 'bocht'.

Mr Ring told the Herald he wants the official version reviewed before a new sign is erected.

"I'm trying to get it done now because I had a motion accepted about a year ago to have a 'Welcome to' sign in Ballybough. I don't want it translated on that as Bailebocht," he said.

Mr Ring, who was taught Irish in O'Connell's CBS by RTE commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh, added that his grand uncle was the chief translator in Dail Eireann.

He said it always amazed him that his grand uncle never had the mistake corrected.