Dingle Name change.  Dingle Daingean uí chúis

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Dingle: Our Town - Our Name - Our Heritage


Map of Dingle, Circa 1650.
Click For Detail

Main Street, Dingle

Strand Street, Dingle

The Fishing Fleet, Dingle Harbour
©Jeannine Masset & Rudi Schamhart
Fungie, Dingle Harbour


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Background To Dingle Name Change

Placenames Order Bypasses Local Government Protections
Dingle Was Not Granted Proper Consultation And Debate Prior To Name Change
Dingle Needs Clear Signposts
Public Meeting 2005
The Plebiscite
Authors’ Acknowledgements

On Easter Monday 2005 the Irish Government officially abolished the name Dingle.   The 2005 Placenames Order (backed up by the legislation of the 2002 Official Languages Act), decreed that henceforth Dingle shall no longer have any legal force or effect, it must not appear in Acts of the Oireachtas, Statutory Declarations,  Ordinance Survey Maps, Land Registry Maps or on any Local Authority road or street signposts.  The town is now officially known as “An Daingean”.  The same Order granted equal status to the Irish and English Placename of all other towns in Ireland, – outside the Gaeltacht.

Seven Hundred years of history, a multi million euro tourist based industry and the wishes and rights of the local community were ignored at the behest of civil servants in The Department of the Gaeltacht and their Minister.

This website is dedicated to Dingle and her people, past and present, everywhere.
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During the late sixties, a small number of Irish Language Activists began blackening out the English names on signposts within some Gaeltachts, with tar.   Against this backround, Bobby Molloy, the Minister for the Environment, made an Order in 1970, to remove all English signposts from the Gaeltacht.   However, the Order was more or less ignored by Local Authorities, and the old black and white bilingual signs generally remained throughout the Gaeltacht.  

In March 2005, Minister Eamon O’ Cuiv brought in The Placenames Order, which has the powers of the 2002 Official Languages Act behind it, and is more far reaching than Mr. Molloy’s Order.   The 2005 Order decreed that the English language version of a placename is no longer permissible in Acts of the Oireachtas, Statutory Instruments, Land Registry and Ordinance Survey maps and Local Authority signposts both within and without the Gaeltacht.  

The same Order granted equal status to the Irish and English placename of all other towns in the Country, - outside the Gaeltacht.

The effect of the Order was that Dingle, which is the largest Gaeltacht town in the Country, and totally dependant on tourism, was officially abolished and must henceforth be officially referred to, and signposted solely as “An Daingean.”
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The Official Languages Act, and The Placenames Order gave the Minister extra powers which allowed him to bypass the natural democratic protections that have been put in place over the years by local Government Acts.   These being that a town name cannot be changed unless more than 50% of the county council agree to the change, public notices are published, submissions received, and a plebiscite of the local community affected is held.   The name can only then be changed if over 50% of the people of that area vote for the name change.   Under the current Local Government legislation, this must then be presented to Government and they decide if the town can change its name. 

Dingle was not allowed the democratic protections of Local Government Acts. 

No other town in the Country, outside of the Gaeltacht, could have had its name taken away from them in the same way as Dingle was removed by the Placenames Order. 
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The minister and his Department knew in 2002 when they were drafting up the Official Languages Act, that they intended to officially abolish the name Dingle under the placenames Order.   At the very least, one could expect that the largest town in the Gaeltacht, which is almost totally dependant on tourism, would have been properly consulted with, well in advance, on any proposed name change.  

If the Department had entered discussions with the people of Dingle, they might have understood that Dingle is proud of all it’s heritage, both as the Gaeltacht capital of Corkaguiney, and as the historical town of Dingle. 

The Minister and his department have said that Dingle is a corrupted placename, and that it doesn’t mean anything.  Dingle has been known as Dingle for the past 750years.  How long must a town have its name before it has meaning?

Today, Dingle is almost totally reliant on Tourism, and is an internationally recognised brand name that has taken the people of this peninsula over thirty years to develop and promote.  

No other town in Ireland would be expected to accept overnight, the loss of their town name.
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The function of a signpost is to give clear direction.

Dingle is the Capital of West Kerry.  As a regional town it is more affected by the new legislation than any other area within the Gaeltacht.  We live in a remote location that is fifty and sixty kilometres from the other regional towns in Kerry.  We need to be clearly signposted.  Ballyristeen is a small townland in Dingle; it does not need to be signposted outside of the Gaeltacht.

The Minister and his Department say that Dingle is not prohibited from putting up our own signposts.  This is nonsense.  Dingle cannot put up competing directional signs for Dingle at every roundabout and crossroads in every other regional town in the County.

The Minister and his Department say that all tourists coming to the Gaeltacht should now carry with them a bilingual map to help them negotiate the area.  They have also told us that we should develop Gaeltacht Tourism.  They say that UK surveys showed that Ireland is not Irish enough.  We, in Dingle have yet to meet a tourist that came to the area to admire the Ministers new signposts.
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On the 28th November 2005 a public meeting was called in support of Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis.  Senator Joe O’Toole was the guest speaker on the night and he spoke to a packed hall about the democratic deficit in Minister O Cuiv’s Placenames Order.  He stated “If someone tried to change the name of a townland or a village in County Dublin there would be outright war.  The people of the Gaeltacht are the only people in this country who are being deprived of that democratic right… This is how the political establishment deals with small groups of people and they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.  They make them feel on the wrong side of the argument.  They …do everything except address the issues.  This issue is not about language but about people’s rights and I want people to be angry and passionate about that”

Fergus O’Flaherty then spoke about meeting Minister O’Cuiv to ask him to reinstate the town’s bilingual names.  He said “When we met Minister O’Cuiv lately, he told us to get it into our heads that there’s no such place as Dingle or Daingean Uí Chúis by law.  I don’t agree with that, and I will never agree with that, and I want the support of the people to get the names reinstated.  I want to thank the County Councillors for voting in favour of a plebiscite.  But the Minister said that he will not accept the result of that plebiscite so now it becomes a question of democracy versus dictatorship.”

Dingle Peninsula Tourism Chairwoman, Sile Gorman said “twenty years ago our children had to emigrate because there was no employment in the area, but now, because of tourism, our children have a real choice and can remain on the peninsula… the Government have spent millions promoting the Dingle Peninsula brand and now they want to throw it away”.

A committee was agreed by the townspeople at the meeting, to promote the re-establishment of the town’s traditional names Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis.

The Committee is made up of the following people, President, Canon Jack Mc Kenna; members; Fergus O’Flaherty, Kate O Connor, Michael Granville, Peter Callery, Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald, Frank O’Sullivan, Thomas Kavanagh, Jimmy Bambury, John Moriarty, Elaine Sheehy, Sean O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney.
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In October 2005, West Kerry Councillor, Seamus Mc. Gearailt put forward a Motion to hold a plebiscite for Dingle under the Guidelines of the 1946 Local Government Act. The Council's legal advice at that time was that only the townland of Dingle, at the heart of Dingle town would be entitled to vote as it was the townland that Minister O'Cuiv had changed when his Placenames Order came into force. The Councillors voted to allow the townland hold a plebiscite in the view that some form of democratic vote was better than none, and they asked the County Manager to seek further independent legal advice on the matter. The County Manager agreed to revert back with independent legal advice.

The Dingle plebiscite came on the Council agenda again in May 2006. The County Manager informed the Council that his independent legal advice stated that the whole town of Dingle ; that is the Non Municipal Town of Dingle was entitled to hold a plebiscite. However, Mr. Riordan cautioned that the Government might not recognise the plebiscite as the advice he had received from the Department of the Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs was that the plebiscite would be in contravention of the Official Languages Act. The Council then voted 20 to 1 in favour of granting the Non Municipal town of Dingle the democratic right to vote to reinstate the bilingual names of Dingle and Daingean Ui Chuis.

The Coiste does not accept that the Dingle Plebiscite might not be recognised. The Right to Plebiscite has been enshrined in Irish Law for the past 60years and the People of Dingle are as entitled to the protections and benefits of Irish law as any other small town is. In order for the plebiscite to be successful, we need 612 unspoiled YES votes. The plebiscite will then be presented to Government. We do not believe that the Government will ignore the democratic voice of the people of Dingle. We would also like to point out that Minister O'Cuiv has the power to amend the Placenames Order. Therefore, we are asking all the 12hundred and 22 people that are due to receive their ballot papers over the next few days, to please vote YES for the reinstatement of their town's historical bilingual names, Dingle and Daingean Ui Chuis. 

The Results of the Plebiscite: 20/10/06

1224 people were entitled to vote.

1095 people voted. (90% of the electorate).

1005 voted YES to reinstate our traditional bilingual names; Dingle Daingean Uí

Chúis 70 voted No

Gormley moves to resolve Dingle placename dispute (read more)

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Authors’ Acknowledgements:
We wish to thank everyone that has contributed to this chapter in Dingle’s story. The 18 Kerry County Councillors that voted to allow us the plebiscite, Seamus Cosai Mc. Gearailt for proposing the motion, the County Manager and County Solicitor who will oversee the plebiscite, Senator Joe O’Toole for taking the time to travel to Dingle to speak to the townspeople, the journalists that have kept the story alive for us on the National newspapers and on radio and television.  A special thank you to all the people that have written to the newspapers about Dingle throughout the past year.  We would also like to thank Canon Jackie Mc. Kenna for the use of his book “Dingle”, Tom Fox for the use of his book, "Dingle Down The Years", and finally, to the many local people that helped us to create this site; -

Míle buíochas as do chabhair agus do thacaíocht.

Fergus O’Flaithbheartaigh:  Údar as Gaeilge

Cathaoirleach Choiste Dhaingean Uí Chúis; Dingle

Kate O Connor: Údar as Bearla

Rúnaí Choiste Dhaingean Uí Chúis; Dingle
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Your comments and enquiries are always welcome.
If you have any questions about anything you have seen on this web site, or if you would like more information about Dingle/Daingean Uí Chúis, please email them to us at info@dinglename.com
Dingle Name Campaign Website.