What is truth?

Posts tagged ‘Irish’

Celtic Values

English: Vector version of a design from the B...

English: Vector version of a design from the Book of Kells, fol. 29r. Traced outlines in black and white representing three intertwined dogs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a collection of short posts from the IMBAS mailing list dealing with the values that were important in Pagan Celtic cultures. These posts were written by scholar Alexei Kondratiev and explore the values using comparative linguistics. This page will be added to on a weekly basis.


Honor Loyalty Hospitality Honesty Justice Courage




The traditional Irish word that is usually translated as “honor” is ‘oineach’ which (by way of ‘ainech’) goes back to Old Irish ‘enech’ which originally means “face” (from Old Celtic ‘eniequos’) — cognates in Welsh ‘wyneb’, Cornish and Breton ‘enep’ (same meaning). Thus the idea of honor is primarily related to one’s “face” which must be saved in the eyes of the community. A closely related concept, often mentioned in the same contexts, is that of ‘clú’ (“reputation” or “fame”), which comes from an Indo-European root meaning “to hear” and thus refers to what is being said about someone. To be honorable, then, is to maintain one’s “face” before the community and to be “heard of” in a good way. Dishonor comes from losing “face” and being “heard of” in a bad way. The term ‘enech’ also expresses the idea of personal power, since as long as one has “face” in the community one is able to influence others: thus people or things that are your responsibility or otherwise under your protection are described as being “on” or “under” your “face”. When you lose “face”, of course, you’re no longer able to extend the protection.

What emerges from this is a sense of honor and dishonor being very much defined by the community, rather than the individually chosen codes of honor that are more characteristic of our modern way of thinking.


The Irish word that best translates “loyalty” is ‘tairise’ (from Old Irish ‘tairisiu’), which literally means “steadfastness”. Originally it had both passive and active meanings: i.e. it implied a state of trust in the other as well as consistent involvement for the other’s benefit. The key notion here is consistency, sticking to one’s chosen position in relation to other people.

The other word often used for “loyal” is ‘dílis’ (Old Irish ‘díles’), which comes from Old Celtic ‘dílestos’ and also appears as Welsh ‘dilys’. This is the secondary meaning of a term widely used in Brehon Law to mean “inalienable property”: the idea is something that is unquestionably the attribute of something else. Thus it also comes to refer to consistency and permanence: certain (desirable) traits and sentiments are so deeply imbedded in the person that they are unchangeable and can be depended upon. In modern Welsh usage ‘dilys’ often means “authentic”.


The general term for “hospitality” in early Irish is ‘oígidecht’ (modern ‘aíocht’), derived from ‘oígi’ “stranger, newcomer”, from a root that may have implied “travelling, being out of one’s home territory”. Thus the term means “dealing with strangers” – i.e. people who don’t belong to one’s household. Needless to say, rules for helping people who were not your kin were of paramount importance in ancient times, and were the one thing that made travel and trade possible.

Although the mythology suggests that unlimited hospitality was the original ideal, by the early Middle Ages the legal system clearly defined obligations and limited what those with little material means (e.g. the ‘fir midbotha’ or men who didn’t have title to their homes) had to provide. And there were professional hospitallers (‘briugu’, modern ‘brughaidh’) who took the pressure off ordinary people.


The basic term for “honesty” in Old Irish is ‘indracus’ (modern ‘ionracas’) from ‘indraic’ (modern ‘ionraic’) “honest”. This generally meant someone or something that showed integrity, that was not flawed. There is a folk etymology (accepted by some early linguists) that derives it from ‘in+reic-‘ (“sellable”, as of an undamaged item — this is actually one of the contexts in which it was used). It’s more likely that the second element is the root ‘reg-‘ “to put in order” (whence the English “right”). The original meaning would thus have been “right/correct inside”.

In later Irish the words ‘cneasta’ (from Old Irish ‘cnesta’ “healed, returned to its proper form”) and ‘macánta’ (“filial, behaving like one’s son or child”) are often used to convey the meaning “honest”. The idea expressed is guilelessness, openness and friendliness in dealing with others.

In the same vein, Welsh uses ‘didwyll’ (“without deceit”) and Breton uses ‘reizh’ (“right”) to mean “honest”, although both have borrowed ‘onest’ from Norman French (as has English).


The oldest word for “just” and “justice” in Irish is probably ‘cóir’ (oldest form ‘coair’), which comes from Old Celtic ‘ko-uéro-‘ “in accordance with the truth” (cf. the more transparent Welsh cognate ‘cywir’, which in modern usage means “correct’). As usual, we have the basic Celtic concept of Truth (‘uéron’) which refers to a cosmic, indisputable rightness which human behaviour must seek to imitate. Other Celtic words for justice are related to the same idea: Welsh ‘cyfiawnder’ from ‘cyfiawn’ “just” (literally “in conformity with rightness”), Breton ‘reizh’ (from Old Celtic ‘rextion’ “that which is [properly] ruled”, and cognate with English “right”).

The later Irish word for “justice” is ‘cert’ (modern ‘ceart’), which appears to be a borrowing from Latin ‘certus’ “certain, sure”.


‘Meisnech’ (modern ‘misneach’) means “courage” in the sense of being able to keep one’s head (it comes from the root ‘med-‘ “to measure, to reckon”). It generally implies that one can maintain control over one’s mood. ‘Calmacht’ (derived from the adjective ‘calma’) comes from a root that means “hard” (the same as in Welsh ‘caled’ “hard”) and implies strength in endurance. The same is true of ‘cródacht’ (modern ‘crógacht’), derived from ‘cródae’ (modern ‘cróga’), which originally meant something like “bloodthirsty”, the hardness that prevents one from being swayed by pity in battle; eventually this came to mean simply “bravery” in all senses. ‘Uchtach’ comes from ‘ucht’ “breast, bosom” and originally meant a breastplate, and then acquired an abstract meaning of moral defense; it was also understood as “spirit, mettle”.

All the Brythonic languages use ‘calon’ (‘kalon’/’kolonn’) “heart” to mean “courage” (notice that it’s also formed from the root that means “hard”). Welsh also uses ‘gwroldeb’ derived from ‘gwrol’ which means “male-like, typifying masculine virtues”, as well as ‘dewrder’ derived from ‘dewr’, which had similar connotations. Older Welsh also used the word ‘glew’ which basically means “bold, daring” — as in the name of King Arthur’s doorkeeper, Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr “The Bold Grey One of the Mighty Grasp”.

source :http://www.imbas.org/articles/celtic_values.html


The eyes that mock me sign the way Whereto I pass at eve of day.
Grey way whose violet signals are The trysting and the twining star.
Ah star of evil! star of pain! Highhearted youth comes not again
Nor old heart’s wisdom yet to know The signs that mock me as I go.

James Joyce

A small step for our Irish Language

In view of what is happening in the Ireland of today. As our Independence has been sold off to faceless German bondholders, I was thinking what could individuals could do, particularly businesses owners ( shop owners) and the thought occurred to me ,why don’t we ask all our shops to display their business names in Irish. With this is mind I took a stroll down the town to see how many of our shop fronts actually had their name in Irish and the sad fact it just one.

Yep that is correct just one business has gone to the bother to put its name in Irish! I call upon all the followers of this blog in Wicklow town to ask the various shops in the town to consider in putting their names in Irish .Lets have something different and something to show the tourists when they come visiting .lets reminded them they are in a  Proud Irish town. This action could be done in every Irish town!

What do you think this small step would do for our Irish language?

As a thank you to this business owner I intend to pay a visit and spend some money there! If you are in Wicklow Town do call in to this business and spend a few bob as a thank you for his support of the Irish language .

Thomás O Cléirigh

Where now for Sinn Fein?


I’ve just read this excellent article on the course opened to Sinn Fein in Irish politics. However I would not agree that Sinn Fein should or would now turn into a copy of what we already have in the established political party’s .These “Parties have in my opinion lost their way and have turned into self serving institutions for selfish, corrupt, and self-serving individuals, who are only too eager to dump any promises to the people as long as they themselves are “looked after” with pensions, perks and whatever your having yourself! .No I do not hope Sinn Fein will strive or seek to be like these “assimilated” toxic corrupt gangster parties who have been running our country as if it was their private fiefdom. Hopefully Sinn Fein will have the intelligence not to look to the established corrupt political system for inspiration. My advice to them would be to listen to the people and serve the people.


I am not a member of Sinn Fein nor do I agree with most of what they stand for! However they have been consistent with my views on the Debt crises and the last two referendums.

The Cedar Lounge Revolution

Tom McGurk had some interesting points to play around with recently. In a column on how ‘SF will be sharply tested by a period of transition’ he makes some very thoughtful points, and a few that I’d take issue with. The latter can be dealt with immediately.

Of course is worth contextualising his ideas in reference to the Quinn issue and the way that has developed in the last week or so which points up problematical issues for SF in how it campaigns North and South and on an all island basis.

Anyhow McGurk argues that:

Sinn Féin is now facing perhaps the most difficult transition yet of the many it has faced: how to turn a party of radical protest into one of a realistic political alternative.

Problem is – for SF – that the orthodoxy is already splitting at the seams in terms of parties who have cleaved…

View original post 1,566 more words

Good morning Ireland

Good Morning all out there in Webland.The News from Ireland is
not great and is bordering on grim!

After the company Aviva called all its workers to a “Meeting” and after a heated presentation the workers were in effect left in limbo according to Kevin
Hough of the Galway advertiser
.This is just the start as I believe we are about to see a massive rationalization of the financial industry.AIB Bank of Ireland and Irish life and Permanent not to forget the up to two thousand staff in Anglo Irish Bank still pushing papers from one end of their desks to the other all day for nothing .In case you have
forgotten all these are in fact quasi civil servants and I  believe the taxpayers of the country are going to pay a heavy price to offload these now surplice to requirement staff. I
reckon we could see up to 12,500 staff layoff in the coming year from the
financial sector. Watch this space, I hear rumblings and there are getting louder!

Last week I approached the local friendly Bank manager with a prepossession
to buy a commercial building in Dublin a proposition that was self
financing .I was in a position to raise 35% of the required capital and the
rental income was netting a 12.5% return on the latest agreed lease
arrangements with the current tenant. After a promise to get back to me I
called the said manager at home last evening only to be told that the manager
could not secure the loan facility as the bank could not supply the funds .I
called to the local car dealership looking for a seven seater we are getting
rid of two cars and downsizing to one family car. Having asked how business was
going the sales person told me customers are not able to get any funds from the
banks, one well established business man was refused an 8,000 euro loan for a commercial second hand car.This is just one of many such stories I am hearing from around the town .The main roads are empty there is noticeable very little traffic on the roads and the shops are empty. Apart from the shops that have closed down there is one
good news story a new deli shop is about to open (Brave investor! see photos)I
called into a few shops and got the same story costs (rates, water charges etc)
are up and punters are as scarce as the proverbial abominable snowman ..On the
Marlton road the works are continuing at a snail’s pace but still going forward
we should have a joined up footpath by Christmas!

Well the really good news is the lottery wasn’t won and I am off to get me ticket

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Cuts to fuel and lighting allowances

sent in to us

By Donal Buckley

from the excellent new blog dandahan please do visit

A Reduction from 2,400 free units to 1,800 free units is presented by the Department as an act of kindness. The existing economic situation demands that the Troika be obeyed.

No acknowledgement of the 2,000 excess deaths from lack of heat in pensioners homes last year,2010.

Unfortunately the Troika must be obeyed in 2011 at the cost of increasing the number from  2,000 deaths to a new high this winter, due to  lack of heat in the poorest pensioners homes.

What is striking in this response from Minister Burton’s desk is the total lack of any sense of humanity. There is no concern for Irish people dying from the cold. That avoidable tragedy is brushed over and only the economic imperative is acknowledged by the Irish citizen advisers and the Minister cosseted by that bulging purse of Euro 4,000 per week and perks and pensions which ensures a warm glow to their nether regions as others die from the winter cold.

There is no Troika pressure to return any of that Euro 4,000 which the good Minister and her excellent , moral, ethical and humane fellow Ministers each place into their bank accounts every week.

The means tested pensioner shivering in their homes are paid Euro 200 per week.

And the Government pour Euro billions into bailing out developers , banks and cronies.

Such exploitative behaviours must reap the whirlwind of retribution.

Donal Buckley

Free lance Journalist /writer


1916: We need an Easer Rising today

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The Sunday Independent today has practically vindicated every stance I have taken on the banking crises, the overpaid golden circle of top civil servants and the current Irish laws which protect the rich and well connected and punishes the poor. We do not have a just society in Ireland and there cannot be any justice as long as the current political class maintain their grip on the country’s wealth and the livers of power. We have only the notion of democracy in this country, we go through the motions of voting in a new government only to find out that nothing has changed .The promises made only six weeks ago are long forgotten and we are now beginning to see we have replaced one lot of gangsters with a bunch of stooges The crooks from the last government still have their cronies and lackeys in their positions and nothing is going to change.

The poor and the outsiders (85% of the Irish people) have now been made debt slaves and we don’t have one decent patriot in the Dail that will stand up and demand justice for the people of Ireland

No Sir we will have to do this ourselves just like in 1916 .Not one member of the Dail today is worthy to untie the shoe laces of those men of 1916.They must be wondering what did we die for ?

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