Donegal county council finds itself faced with an unusual problem.

Following complaints that there is no authorisation to display a ‘Stop’ sign in the Gaeltacht using the Irish word ‘Stad’, the council must replace the signs with standard English language ‘Stop’ signs.

The council points out that ‘Stop’ is also an Irish word, to assuage Irish language enthusiasts put out by the complaints, reportedly from a holiday home owner in west Donegal.

Irish Stop Sign
Irish Stop Sign

The man who made the complaints, said there was no mandatory sign in the Department of the Environment traffic signs manual with ‘Stad’ on it, the Irish Independent reported.

So I called the department of the Environment, who in turn referred me to Transport.

‘Directions in relation to the use of Irish and English regarding traffic signs are contained in the Traffic Signs Manual,’ a spokesperson told me. ‘The Minister is satisfied with these directions and he does not intend to make any amendment.’

But I have to wonder, in a week when union leaders are apparently being threatened with the IMF, how much would it cost for a minister to sign a regulation or order making ‘Stad’ legal.

Certainly less than replacing all those signs, I imagine.

By Gerard Cunningham

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


  1. The STAD controversy in Cill Charthaigh is interesting on a number of levels. The choice of STAD is tokenism in its worst form and makes the most important road sign unenforcable in law: the traffic signs regulations specifies STOP.
    STAD and STOP are both Irish wordsa with the same meaning.
    They excel themselves in one instance with a fada, STÁD!
    STOP is used in countries that speak neither English or Gaeilge; it is universal.
    STOP is used in countries where the local alphabet does not have the letter S, as in Greece, Russia or Bulgaria
    STOP is used in countries that have different scripts such as Arabic, Armenian or Georgian.

    STAD is being used to show the dedication to the Irish language. Just to show this they put up a sign 20 m before the STAD that reads, as Béarla, PREPARE TO STOP, where they had a real chance to use Irish.

    On a technical level, the signs are meaningless and the mostt important road sign cannot be enforced in law as it does no comply with the regulations.
    The sign is even misplaced as it is much too far advanced of the stop-line in contravention of the NRA traffic Signs Manual.

    These guys only make a skit out of Irish language promotion.

    sad, isn’t it. As Des would say, in the name of the fada

  2. Just another thought. Has anyone seen the GARDA ONLY/Gardaí Amháin signs on the motorway lay-byes? This is another example of the tokenism; they actually have decided that Gardaí is the plural of Garda. It’s the same nonsense.

  3. Er… Gardaí is the plural of Garda. At least in Irish. English appears to be somewhat ambiguous. As I recall, the Irish Times style guide uses ‘Garda’ to mean the entire force.

    From http://www.csis.ul.ie/

    garda [ainmfhocal firinscneach den cheathrú díochlaonadh]
    duine nó rud a thugann cosaint; aire, faire (dul ar garda, garda a sheasamh); gotha cosanta (dul ar do gharda); duine nó buíon ar diúité cosanta (garda saighdiúirí, garda síochána); fearas cosanta (garda tine).

    garda – ainmfhocal

    garda [ainmneach uatha]
    garda [ginideach uatha]
    gardaí [ainmneach iolra]
    gardaí [ginideach iolra]

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