Have a look at this Kerry road sign I passed a couple of weeks ago. It can tell us so much about Kerry, Ireland, and attitudes to the Irish language:
Insight 1: You can never trust a Kerry road sign
Is it really 29km to Dingle? I don’t know.
Is it really 69km to An Clochán? Who knows.
Insight 2: Distances are in kilometers
The standard distance on an Irish road sign is in kilometers. They were in miles, but the country has switch to KM.
Many people still talk in miles, though.
Insight 3: The Irish language (Irish Gaelic) is treated as inferior in Ireland
As with most road signs in Ireland, the Irish language version of place names is shown in italic letters with small capitalization. This is in contrast to the English place name being in big upper-cased letters.
Newer versions of road signs have been proposed, which would give more importance to the Irish language place names.
Insight 4: Kerry County Council should better maintain road signs
For how long has this road sign been sitting like this? Funds are in short supply, but touristic areas, at least, need proper road signs.
Insight 5: There’s much controversy about Irish place names
Look closely at the “DINGLE” part of the road sign.
That word on the sign is unofficial!
In fact, that sign once had “DINGLE” on it officially. That was then covered over by law with white tape. You can see the same change has been applied for “An Clochán”.
Locals came along and stuck “DINGLE” back on.
This comes from the law that says that all places within the Gaeltacht regions of Ireland should only be referred to by their Irish language names, even for signs outside of the Gaeltacht.
Dingle happens to be within the official Gaeltacht (although the town itself has much of its business done in English).
Insight 6: Irish place names are simplified by local councils
Dingle in the Irish language is known as Daingean Uí Chúis.
A shortened version of that name is simply “An Daingean” (which means “The Fort”, by the way).
Rather than show the correct name, the local authority has used the shortened name, presumably to simply save on signage.
Insight 7: Kerry people have a sense of humor
“Conor Pass” has magically become “Conor ass” on the sign.
Hope you enjoyed these insights! Please share this page with your friends. You might also be interested in our past photo tour of Dingle.