WHAT'S IN A NAME?

 

Sir, - In "An Irishman's Diary" of August 23rd, Kevin Myers contends that many people find the use of the word "Eire" offensive when used to describe this State. I would suggest that its misuse, rather than its use, is what some people find irritating rather than offensive.

It is a well established fact that Eire is the name of the entire island in the Irish language, and was in use to so describe the island many centuries before the word "Ireland" came into use as the English language descriptive of our country. I do not think that these two words are mutually interchangeable, but they should be confined to the language from which they each derive. The use the Irish language version of the country's name on our stamps and coins has nothing to do with its use in the English language, as Mr Myers seems to suggest it does.

Many countries have names on their stamps and coinage different to that used in the English language. Helvetia (Switzerland), Norge (Norway), Sverige (Sweden), Belgique Belgie (Belgium), are a few examples. In none of these cases is the native language name used to describe these countries in English. The only conclusion to be drawn from the use of the description "Eire" by UK or unionist interests, except where it is used in ignorance, is that its use is intended as derisory or confrontational.

Mr Myers is wrong when he states that the name Ireland exists in the Constitution only in italics. If he had read past Article 4, he would have found that Article 5 reads: "Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state" ("Ireland" printed in Roman typescript). The world also appears in Roman typescript in articles 9 and 12, whilst its appearance in italics is only that instance mentioned by Mr Myers.

I do not believe that any one can quibble with the use of the term "Ulster" by Northern Ireland people because they are Ulster people. I do agree that the use of the term "Connacht Ulster" for one of our European Union constituencies is incorrect. It should be "Connacht Ulster (part)".

Yours, etc.,

Rockfield Avenue,

Dublin 12.