Sir John Pentland Mahaffy GBE CVO, the late 19th and early 20th century Anglo-Irish classicist, was one of the most despised figures in the Unionist intelligentsia of pre-revolutionary Dublin. That is hardly surprising given his contempt for those he described as the “…aborigines of this island“. As well as serving in Britain’s colonial administration in the country, first as a High Sheriff and later as a Justice of the Peace, Mahaffy was also one of the last provosts of Trinity College in the decade leading up to independence. At the time (and for many long years thereafter) Trinity lay at the centre of the cultural and social life of loyalist Dublin, the aristocratic heart of “West Britain”. Given his chauvinistic views of the Irish people (echoes of which continue to sound in the contemporary Neo-Unionist movement) few will be shocked to learn that his greatest hatred lay for that most distinctive definition of Irishness, the Irish language. Throughout his academic career the scholar battled any recognition of the “Celtic speech”, let alone its presence in the hallowed halls of his university. Though, in fairness, he did magnanimously admit that a few words were useful if one were forced to converse with the peasants when out shooting or fishing.
So it is interesting to see that the early 20th century spirit of Sir John Pentland Mahaffy is well and truly alive in early 21st century Trinity College. From the University Times:
“An Cumann Gaelach has voiced heavy criticism of the new Trinity logo presented to students for containing only the English Language in its default form, as opposed to the previously bilingual logo that has been used for many years.
A statement sent to all An Cumann Gaelach members and shared on Facebook explained that at an open forum for undergraduate students on April 2nd 2014, students were told that the default logo (crest and name) that would be considered and recognised as the predominant logo of Trinity College (The University of Dublin) would be in the English language only. They added: “A college, long been playfully made fun of as ‘An Coláiste Oráiste’ whose students have in recent years made unprecedented strides nationally at the forefront of the student Irish language movement is, seemingly, making moves to turn its back on those same students.”
An Cumann Gaelach has asked all those in favour of including the Irish language as part of the logo on all college materials, publications and communications to attend an open forum being held for staff and students tomorrow at 11am in the Stanley Quek Theatre in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street.”
So the predictions of quite a few observers have apparently come true (an Lorcánach and others, take note). Trinity College is once again to become a cold house for the “wrong type” of Irish…