In his new book, John Creedon writes on the rich Irish tapestry showing through the Hiberno-English overlay, a feature which intrigues the ebullient Corkonian, a keen interest which is infectious.
Place names are the clues left by our ancestors - signposts that point us towards who our predecessors were, how they lived and how they made sense of this very same world that we now inhabit. I have criss-crossed Ireland a thousand times, and every time I do, I feel our ancestors are speaking to us through the place names written on the signposts of Ireland. It's like they are trying to tell us something.
Thus John Creedon writing on the rich Irish tapestry showing through the Hiberno-English overlay, a feature which intrigues not just the ebullient Corkonian but most of us who are not shy about expressing a little, or indeed a profound curiosity about the origins of Irish place names.
For it is of course possible to be ensconced in company nowadays where such a curiosity might be deemed arcane or eccentric - our history with Irish is a long and complicated one, typified occasionally by a certain unease which endures to this day among the more senior amongst us.
It's not just about compulsory Irish and the difficulty many experienced trying to get through exams, it's about more than that. There are those better placed than your humble reviewer who have documented the fraught history of Irish and its progress since the foundation of the state.
Happily, just as many individuals perhaps - and most of those among the younger cohort, in their twenties, perhaps - are proud to practice and talk away as Gaeilge, in Dublin pubs, on long Inter-rail journeys to show the bond of ethnic identity. They will speak it too in foreign places where they may not want others eavesdropping on what they would normally say in English.
Creedon points out that far from being a leisurely pursuit, the study of logainmeacha or place names ranked high in ancient Ireland and was considered a subject worthy of study in itself. Dindsenchas or 'the lore of places,' was passed on by word of mouth, encompassing the origins, traditions, beliefs and myths about place.
Many of us of a certain age will remember stories told around fireplaces, which was perhaps the last gasp of dindsenchas, although it may well continue in storytelling evenings in certain parishes to this day. However, that is an organised endeavour, advertised and ordered, what we recall - and master Creedon too, no doubt - are impromptu stories and tales told between fills of tobacco. Netflix now does the story-telling and it's hard to argue.
The genial TV presenter and author investigates Viking grave connections, names associated with the Munster Plantation and the meaning of place names associated with Saint Patrick. He also looks into the origins of the place-name Tara, a name which may derive from the title Princess Tea (pronounced Tia). Her name, joined with the noun mor, from the Latin word murus, signifying 'wall' led to Teamhair, the name given to the burial site.
Creedon is particularly interested in Youghal, where long before broadcasting glory, he served his time in Youghal Carpets, if memory serves correctly. Youghal is eochaill in Irish, which is a yew wood. He is in tune, not just with the spirit of place names and their peculiar magic but sees too ther vital function for navigation.
Remember when you were a small child and there was always the danger that if you went rambling you might get lost,? queries the TV and radio presenter. Or if a place was crowded and you lost sight of your parents, you might never ever find your way home? Well, for our ancestors, landmarks and place names formed the map of the mind. Without them, even a adult could get lost. These names were verbally handed down through the generations.
A hugely accessible book, John Creedon's 246-page opus features some fifteen almost blank pages at the close of the book which are intended for the reader to make thereon his or her lists of place-names, with spaces for 'place name', 'location' and 'notes' for each entry. A useful ten-page glossary sifts out the common words that root or anchor many place names, words like aill (cliff), cluain (meadow), ráth (fort or ring fort), tuar-paddock or field, and many more. Get cracking now and fill in those pages at the back of Creedon's marvellous book and be the respected scholar of your own acre.