Top Photo: Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at 100th Anniversary of sinking of Titanic at Addergoole Historic Society’s dedication of memorial park in Lahardane, Co. Mayo, April 15, 2012. Behind Kenny is Michael Coleman, former Pittsfiled, MA native, responsible for new stained glass Titanic themed window designs at St. Patrick’s Church in Lahardane.

Middle Photo: Travel expert Stephanie Abrams, left, with President of the Republic of Ireland at Saint Patrick’s Centre, County Down, Northern Ireland with Dr. Tim Campbell in the background.

Bottom Photo: (from left to right) Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams, Eamon O’Cuiv, grandson of historically important three-times Taioseach of Ireland Eamon De Velera, Dr. Tim Campblee, Director of the Saint Patrick Centre in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, and Mrs. Anne De Velera.

VIDEO ABOVE: This video, produced in Lahardane, Co. Mayo, Ireland, features Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and seventh (7th) President of Ireland and first woman to be president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, attending the April 15, 2012 100th Anniversary of the sinking of Titanic memorializing 14 people from Addergoole Parrish who sailed on Titanic from the local community and dedicating the new Addergoogle Historical Society Titanic Memorial Park. The documentary of the opening of Titanic Belfast and the events in Co. Mayo are impactful.


There’s an old joke that goes like this:

Q. What do you call a person who speaks many languages?

A. Polyglot.

Q. What you call a person who speaks only one language?

A. American.

None the less, there are words that we allow to enter common-day English but one of those words, which out of respect for the office, everyone should recognize, know the meaning of, and be able to pronounce, especially if they are in the news broadcast business. That word is TAOISEACH.

“TAOISEACH” is a challenging word, I will admit. If you try to pronounce it as it is spelled, you will fail abysmally. The word is the Irish word for chief, chieftain or leader and it is the word that describes the head of Irish government.  This link provides you with the pronunciation but until you click on it, here’s my pronunciation key: Tee-shock (accent on the first syllable). Clearly, you’d never get that out of trying to pronounce the letters you see in the spelling if you use Standard English pronunciation rules. But we’re talking about the Irish language, here. . .not English. And, using “English” standards to describe the Taoiseach as Prime Minister is, from my American point of view, remembering that I have no Irish bloodlines whatsoever, but as a student of Irish history, Irish culture, and the Irish psyche, I am offended by Americans, and even more offended by the Brits, who refer to the Taoiseach of Ireland as the Prime Minister because it smacks of, from my point of view, the Brits still imposing their culture and their claws in all-things-Irish. And while the Irish, the most welcoming people on the face of the earth, strive to have cordial relationships with their UK neighbors for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is economic, it seems to me that the prissy culture where ‘everything stops for tea,’ even in the heat of battle, an olive branch would be well received in hearing the proper use of the title of the highest office in Irish government by referring to that person as Taoiseach and not by the term used in Britain for a parallel office.

I have given US broadcasters a pass on getting this wrong and calling the Taoiseach “Prime Minister” because I’ve always thought that newscasters are afraid to mispronounce the word and look foolish but with Google Translate and their associated audio pronunciation tutorials which literally take only seconds to hear and imitate and learn to say it right, the time has come for even monoglot Americans to call the  head of Irish government Taoiseach and  get it right. 

But today, I heard an NPR (National Public Radio) broadcast of BBC World News with a British gentleman, in very proper tones, deliver a report about “ Micheál Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland” and it made my skin crawl! Happily, the Irish pronunciation for the name Michael was used so that is an extreme plus. But the recognition of Micheál Martin as an Irishman stopped there as his title was anglicized. One little step forward would have completed the recognition and respect for the office of head of government and recognition and respect for Ireland as a nation. It really wouldn’t take much for the world to get an education from news departments that the head of Irish government is the TAOISEACH.

 And, fascinatingly, among the things we can learn from the Irish is the way their governmental chores are divided: The TAOISEACH heads up the government tasks of overseeing items like health, education and welfare making sure the economy is on track and infrastructure is being improved and the like. The job of attending ribbon cuttings and parades and events where the government should be represented falls, would you believe, to the President of Ireland, a very social job! This is true in counties and big cities in of Ireland as well where the County or City Executive oversees the functioning of the county/city while the Mayor is the one who officiates at events, makes speeches, kisses babies and creates the important presence of the local party in power and the local governance. This system makes so much sense as it creates a way for the executive responsible for getting the work done not to have to leave the work of the country, city, or town to attend the grand opening of a business or the graduation of students and the like leaving the top executive undistracted from the social aspects of government engagement. Not a bad idea for others countries, provinces, states, counties, cities and towns to consider to increase the efficiency of growth and development of their locale.

May I deputize you into my campaign to have the Taoiseach of Ireland referred to as just that? The next time you hear a referral to the Prime Minister of Ireland, please feel free to give the speaker and those around you a lesson in the proper title for the holder of the top position in Irish government. . . or just refer them to this blog. I can’t wait to hear the first radio or TV news commentator or reporter in the US actually refer to the head of Irish government as the Taoiseach. . .Tee-shock. . .accent on the first syllable!

I feel so much better now.

Your personal travel expert,

Stephanie Abrams

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