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.
12 thoughts on “7 deep insights from a single Kerry road sign in Ireland”
Go raibh mile maith agat!
Sounds like everybody is not on the same page over there as to the importance,
and the impressions that incorrect signage leaves with outsiders, or does it
Yes it matters! The language is sacred and should be treated with due respect. I recently went to Wales and there you are left in no doubt as to what country you are in and the importance they place on their language. I believe that we need to honor the language more and promote its use on a daily basis all over Ireland. I also believe that the Gaeltacht EVERYTHING should be done to strengthen and encourage its use and to allow the language to be taught more easily.
Thankyou Eoin for all the wonderful ways you are doing just that!
Can you please advise as to which Gaeltacht I should go to for a week or two long course? I’m studying with Bitesize but somehow get the feeling that Donegal is the more ‘Irish’ experience? I don’t want to be confused at this early stage about different pronunciations? I hope I will eventually end up living in the Gaeltacht just not sure North or South. I’m from Dublin originally.
Any help you can be would be very much appreciated:)
Thank you for your kind words.
Let me find that out for you and we will post the answer here.
If you have the resources to visit the intensive courses at Oideas Gael, by all means do it! People travel from all over the world to there. The teachers come from different places. You’ll hear lots of different accents and levels, and that’s a fantastic thing.
bought the “learn Irish with Eoin” so far so good, oh more podcasts please, really enjoying them.
So can anyone with a bit of tape change signs whenever they feel like it? Surely there is some one in charge to care for them. Or perhaps they just don’t pass that way very often. If not for our GPS we would probably still be wandering about the Gaeltacht. (That actually sounds pretty good!)
It does sound good 😉
Haha this is crazy! I feel like even if I spoke Irish Gaelic fluently id have no idea what this sign was trying to tell me
Yup, I think we’re all confused 🙂
Who else to blame only our so called ‘government’. These signs are in IRELAND and should be written in IRISH GAELIC IN BLOCK CAPITALS FIRST,after that,the English version should be displayed in smaller letters with only the first letter in capital and the rest in lower case.It is the same when going into the likes of any English based store,all the price labels have the STG. price displayed first and THE EURO PRICE BARELY VISIBLE. WHO PAYS THESE PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT? IRELAND !! SOMEONE NEEDS TO TELL THEM.
Well, good point about the signs! Although I think there can be a better compromise, and recent suggested layouts seem to be much better.