Arnold Fitzpatrick

Arnold Fitzpatrick

Arnold Fitzpatrick is a very interesting man. He is the former Head Master at one of the local schools, an authority of the Irish Language (Gaelic) and a speaker at many Irish colleges on that subject.

The O'Brien's had told us about him and, one night when we had our supper at Clarke's Hotel, we met him there. We had gotten re-acquainted with Sean Clarke and told him that we were still looking to find Terry's ancestors. He introduced us to Arnold and we had quite a visit with him.

Terry and I felt like we had gone back to school and we were hanging on his every word. He asked us what our Irish Surnames (Family Names) are. The first lesson was in the Gaelic spelling and pronunciation of the Irish names. He told us that, after all of the invasions of Ireland by different countries, especially the last being England, the anglicized versions of the names were mostly incorrect. Prohibited by the Queen from using Gaelic, Arnold said that since the Irish alphabet is different than English, the names were written phonetically, approximate to the sound of the Irish words and names. However, many of them were a total fabrication.

A few years ago, I actually tried to teach myself Gaelic when I purchased a Gaelic schoolbook. It is soooooo hard. First, they don't have as many letters and some of the letters are very strange looking...more like symbols. Many of the sounds of the letters are very throaty sounding and differ, depending what vowel is next to which consonant, and what tense and gender is being spoken. They have many more tenses than we do. When I told Arnold this, he was impressed at what I had tried to do.

He told us that he had some genealogical information he had gathered about the Reynolds of Co. Leitrim and he wanted us to meet him at Clarke's in a couple of days. When we met him, he read us a poem he had written. I don't recall the name of it but it was all about the Native Americans who had helped the Irish in America. He said that the Native Americans suffered the same type of fate as the Irish. They were both the first settlers in their countries but they were pushed out by the invaders. Also, that their language was very similar to the Irish language; not in the words themselves but that every word has a meaning. For example: Tatanka Iyotake means Sitting Bull, or Waubeshiek means White Cloud. The Gaelic for Dublin is Baile Atha Cliath which, in English, means (approximately) by the ford (bridge or crossing) in the sea by the black pool. Not coincidentally, Black Poole, England is across the Irish Sea from Dublin.

Vintage Style Irish Flat Caps

We learned a lot from Arnold Fitzpatrick. It was a pleasure to meet him and to have a private tutoring lesson in Gaelic from a master of the language.

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