Move Over Tiger, Meet The Celtic Lions

One of the handy things about Google is you can use it to get a first approximation on controversies.

Take the maiden city, for example, the one known in Irish as Doire Cholmcille. There are eight million google hits for Derry, and only five million for Londonderry. Clearly the nationalists are winning that particular propaganda battle.

We tend to get sensitive over names. It’s not that hard to spell or pronounce the word Taoiseach, for instance, so why do some British commentators refer to the Irish Prime Minister. As for Éire Premier, don’t even ask.

The sporting world is not immune. The national soccer teams are known as the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, by order of FIFA.

Then there are the Lions. An international rugby test team made up of players from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, the team was formerly known as the British Lions, and latterly as the British and Irish Lions.

With a quarter million google hits each, the jury is split down the middle.

Happily, the controversy may not last much longer, since with the announcement of today’s team, we can put to bed that particular naming bugbear.

Clearly, these are the Irish Lions.

Published by Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and tweeter, yet still finds himself underemployed. Go figure.

6 replies on “Move Over Tiger, Meet The Celtic Lions”

  1. >so why do some British commentators refer to the Irish Prime Minister.

    This might simply be because their viewers may not know what a Taoiseach is?

  2. I doubt that many don’t know, and its easy enough to educate them, there’s a standard formula.

    “The taoiseach, or Irish prime minister, said…”

    If they can figure out what a Dalai Lama and a German chancellor are, not to mention various emirs and sheiks, what makes taoiseach so difficult?

    But that misses the truly important question. Why didn’t Hayes and Stringer make the cut for the Lions?

  3. If you ask the Germans, of course, they don’t have a “chancellor”. If we go down that road, British newsreaders are going to have to start referring to Biffo as the Chieftain.

    I’m sure I’m getting this wrong in the details, and will have to check in a (surprisingly well-produced) promotional book that HSBC sponsored and I picked up somewhere, but your “It’s not London/Derry, it’s Doire” metaphor might be apter than you know. IIRC they’re technically neither the BL nor the B&IL, they are the British Isles Rugby Union Team. As I say, I may have the details slightly off there (maybe the official name itself has a B&I in it by now) and will check, but that’s the gist of it — “Lions” is but a nickname, albeit one used to the virtually total exclusion of the real name.

    You’re right about the important questions, though. Would have been nice in particular to see Stringer selected at last. Perhaps McGeechan thought that if he brought two more Irishmen, he couldn’t bring any Scots at all…

  4. If you ask the Germans, of course, they don’t have a “chancellor”

    True, at least not when they’re speaking German. But since he’s Taoiseach here in Irish and English, they could use the correct title.

    British newsreaders are going to have to start referring to Biffo as the Chieftain

    We’d probably settle for calling him Biffo, if only to watch their discomfort as they explain the meaning of the acronym.

    Reminds me of one of those odd moments when I got distracted from what the News was saying because of how it was said, when a Nuacht reporter began a story with the words “Duirt an taoiseach Butheleze…”

    Wiki, which is never 100% reliable on these things, suggests it was formerly the British Lions then the British Isles Lions, before becoming the British and Irish Lions.

    Their own website (lionsrugby.com) has the “British & Irish Lions” in its banner, but also refers to the “British Isles…” I’ve sent an email out of curiousity asking which is the current official designation. Perhaps they’ve borrowed an idea from the Republic of Ireland, with one a name and the other a description.

    You’re right about the important questions, though. Would have been nice in particular to see Stringer selected at last.

    And without Hayes, who is there who can lift O’Connell?

    Naturally, there’s the usual lack of humour about the whole thing from the northern quarter: See http://www.sluggerotoole.com/archives/2005/04/mccausland_take.php

  5. Ah, here we are: Bath, Richard, The British & Irish Lions Miscellany. No idea how reliable it is compared with Wiki, but anyway it tells me that the proper name is The British Isles Rugby Union Team. Howbeit:

    … they are often colloquially (and wrongly) referred to as the British Lions (or, latterly, by the full official title of The British & Irish Lions).

    Now, that’s some briliant writing. If their real name is TBIRUT, how is TB&IL “full and official”? Or, if full and official, why is the reference not merely colloquial but wrong to boot?

    McCausland, in any event, is a brainstunted gobshite, as is anybody who these days objects to TB&IL (and as is, for basically the same reasons, anybody who’d object to TBIRUT but, as I have never encountered a human being who actually calls them that, that’s more of a theoretical issue).

    Sheridan could lift O’Connell, I think. But without Hayes on the other side, I worry that O’Connell will tip over.

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