If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Here’s the road sign of the street where I live now:
The Irish version has an error: it says “Ascaill Bhaile Shealin” instead of “Ascaill Bhaile Sheáin” (or even better, “Ascaill Bhaile Eoin”).
Here’s the street sign of the road where I grew up:
This one says “Bóthar Bhaile Bhrice” instead of “Bóthar Bhaile Bhríde”.
This kind of mistake, which is extremely common in this area, suggests to me that the people commissioning the signs just don’t care whether they are right or wrong.
These are not “typos” or slips; it’s obvious that the people actually making the signs don’t know any Irish, and are just blindly (and incompetently) copying a meaningless string of letters.
(Though that in itself is hardly an excuse; if it was your job to copy down three words in an unfamiliar language, if that was how you earned your living, would you not double-check to make sure you got it right?)
But the customer, in this case Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council, clearly doesn’t see the need for any quality control. They just order the signs, and then whatever random words come back, put them on permanent public display.
It’s not just the Irish version, by the way. Directly across the road from the “Ballybride Road” sign is this road sign, which in a case of equal opportunity illiteracy manages to misspell both the Irish and the English versions of the name.
“Rathmicheal Road” instead of “Rathmichael Road” and “Bóthar Ráth Michíl” instead of “Bóthar Ráth Mhichíl”.
The errors are not entirely random. A pattern I’ve noticed is the phantom “l”. Somewhere along the process of ordering and producing a sign, an “í” gets misinterpreted as an “l” (as in the Johnstown Avenue example above, and the two examples below). This makes me wonder if the wording is sent in the form of a handwritten scrawl rather than typed.
“Bóther Dúnta” instead of “Bóthar Dúnta”; “Deislú Droichid” instead of “Deisiú Droichid”.
“Gairdin Ul Mhaoileon” instead of “Gairdín Uí Mhaoileoin”.
This last one is just bizarre; I am at a loss for how it could have happened. After puzzling it over for a while, I guess the intended translation was “Clár na Duimhche”. But how that got transmuted into “Devche” is mystifying.
This kind of haphazard approach makes a mockery of the policy of official bilingualism. If even the people tasked with maintaining a token presence of the Irish language on street signs can’t be bothered to get it right, is it worth continuing at all?
To me, it is. I love to be reminded of the poetry and history embodied in the local Irish place names as I go about my daily life; Cill Iníon Léinín, Gleann na gCaorach, Baile na Manach alongside Killiney, Glenageary and Monkstown.
But I wish the local authorities would make the small extra effort to get it right. Déan é i gceart nó ná déan é!