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Row over Irish language road signs erupts… in the Republic

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Independent councillor Jim Cuddy

Independent councillor Jim Cuddy

Independent councillor Jim Cuddy

Two councils have become embroiled in rows over the Irish language — but they’re in the Republic, not Northern Ireland.

One of the authorities has protested over the use of “confusing” exclusively Irish road signs while another has demanded the re-instatement of the English title of its leader.

Councillors in Claregalway, 10 miles north of Galway city, have claimed that businesses in the area have been losing out on customers for several years because many potential visitors don’t understand Irish.

And the politicians said that as a result, motorists don’t realise that the Baile Chlair signs on the Gort to Tuam motorway are actually Irish for Claregalway which is in a Gaeltacht area, an Irish-speaking community.

Independent councillor Jim Cuddy said: “It’s no disrespect to the Irish language but a lot of people haven’t a clue where they’re going.

“I know there is particular legislation for the Gaeltacht but there is no logic not to have bilingual signs.”

Another councillor, Liam Carroll of Fine Gael, said the confusion over Claregalway had been compounded by the fact that Baile Chlair wasn’t the correct title for the village whose full Irish name, he added, was Baile Chlair na Gaillimhe.

Officials in Galway County Council’s road section have said they have no power to change the signage, a responsibility which they insisted lay in the hands of Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Meanwhile, councillors in Tuam, County Galway, are pressing for the re-introduction of the English title of mayor for their leader instead of the Irish name Cathaoirleach which translates as chairman.

The title was switched seven years ago but at a meeting of Tuam Municipal District council, one member, councillor Joe Sheridan, proposed that their chairman should be known as mayor and given a chain of office.

Current local government guidelines have been cited as the reason for the name changes because council areas now need populations of more than 20,000 to qualify for the title of mayor and a number of them including Tuam and its hinterland don’t meet the requirements.


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