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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Do you know the way to An Daingean?
An Daingean/Dingle town sign (image from www.achgohairithe.com)
Sign of the times... the Irish language is officially promoted
Residents of one of Ireland's most famous towns have voted in favour of changing its name back to the one which has given it worldwide recognition.

People living in Dingle have voted to reverse its name from An Daingean, as it is now officially known after the Placenames Act of 2004, back to its better known English form.

The town's name was officially changed last year.

However, public outcry to the change reached such levels that Kerry County Council decided to hold a referendum on the issue.

Voters had the choice between An Daingean on the one hand, or Dingle-Daingean ui Chuis.

Friday's poll showed that the vast majority of the town's population want the town's official name to be reversed back to Dingle - with 1,005 out of an electorate of 1,222 voting in favour of Dingle-Daingean ui Chuis.

The decision to change Dingle's name to An Daingean was part of the Irish government's efforts to protect and promote the ancient Irish language by decreeing that all official place names within Gaeltacht areas had to be in Irish.

The Irish language is widely spoken and officially encouraged in south-western Ireland, and Dingle/An Daingean lies in the Kerry Gaeltacht.

'Dingle brand'

Not everyone, however, was pleased about the change.

Dingle sign (image from www.dinglename.com)
There is no precedent for an Irish town to have a bilingual name

In fact, some people living in and around the town, think ditching Dingle, a catchy, memorable sort of a name, was a big mistake.

They argue that the internationally-known "Dingle brand", familiar to people in the US, the UK and beyond, is in danger of being lost.

There have been anecdotes about tourists taking wrong turns as they try to follow signs to the town along Kerry's roads.

A greater concern is that if fewer tourists make their way - or find their way - to An Daingean, then local businesses will pay the price.

The Irish government has pointed out that anyone can call the town Dingle if they like - it's just the official name that's changed.

They say there is no precedent for a town to have a bilingual name.

So, despite the referendum result, the debate over how to refer to An Daingean/Dingle/Daingean ui Chuis/that beautiful place by the sea, looks unlikely to die down any time soon.

Irish language law takes effect
28 Mar 05 |  Europe
Timeline: Ireland
06 Oct 05 |  Country profiles

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