Dingle: Our Town - Our Name - Our Heritage



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Tackling the myths of An Daingean
The Irish Times  (The Dingle Letters)
Irish Times, Irish Independent and Irish Examiner
Monday and Tuesday 17th and 18th April 2006

I really must take issue with the myths repeated yet again in the letter 'Dingle's identity' (April 12).
Firstly, I did consult extensively before making the Placenames (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) Order 2004. The order was made on December 21, 2004, and contains 2,319 placenames from all the Gaeltacht areas in the country.
I arranged for a draft of this order to be published and a press release issued on the matter to all media before the summer of 2004, so that the views of the people of the Gaeltacht could be taken into account before it was made.
A copy was also made available to the relevant county councils. Raidio na Gaeltachta facilitated a lively consultation process on its airwaves over the summer months and 24 submissions in writing were received relating to the draft order.
The submissions were presented to the Placenames Commission and some amendments were made to the order based on these. The order was then revised and presented for my signature reflecting the revised advice of An Coimisiun Logainmneacha.
Secondly, signposts within the Gaeltacht area, of which An Daingean/Dingle is a part, have shown the Irish placename only since 1970. In practical terms all the order does is to bring signposts outside the Gaeltacht into line with this standard.
No credible explanation has been put forward to show how tourists were not confused by the previous system which had An Daingean on signposts in the town and surrounding area, but bilingual versions on signposts outside that area, with maps in English only. Neither is there a reasonable explanation for how they will supposedly be confused now, with An Daingean only on all signposts and tourist maps in both languages.
Thirdly, I have not rejected the authentic pre-Norman name Dingle. The argument that the pre-Norman Irish-speaking inhabitants of the area named it in English is a novel one. Irish was the language there then and it is still spoken in the area today. Neither have I rejected Daingean Ui Chuis. The Placenames Commission recommended 'An Daingean' as the authentic name of the area in Irish as far back as 1960.
The Placenames Order follows that long-accepted advice. Had I done otherwise, I would have been open to fair criticism. An Daingean has been used by the county council on road signage since then with no objections from anyone living in the area, as far as I am aware, over the past 35 or so years: that is, until now.
Fourthly, it is equally untrue to say that Dingle is removed from all official national maps. In fact, the outcome of the order for tourist maps is the exact opposite.
Ordnance Survey Ireland have assured my department that all new tourist maps published by them show both the placename and the English translation of the placename in Gaeltacht areas. These maps are widely available.
The main private companies in the map publishing business - Collins and the AA - have indicated to my department that they will ensure that new tourist maps and other literature to be published by them will also show both language versions henceforth.
Fifthly, this order will not harm the local tourism industry. The order has no implications whatsoever for the use of Dingle as a brand name, or for tourism marketing purposes, or on signs other than local authority road and street signs. That said, there is a serious point to be made about the future of tourism in a Gaeltacht area such as West Kerry.
The public use of and pride in our language does not detract from the tourist's enjoyment of a holiday there. Quite the opposite, in fact. A sense of history and culture adds to the enjoyment of a holiday in any country.
Eamon O Cuiv TD
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

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