The CATTUVVIRR Project consists of a time-map (a diagram/text/map combination) which depicts certain instances in which world military history overlaps with the history of the Irish language. When completed, it will cover the period 1332AD to the present day.

Each entry on the time-map counts, as one might expect, as a single event. Most of the events consist of biographical details from the lives of individual people. This shall be illustrated in a "date-of-birth to date-of-death" format. However, in some cases, certain allowances will have to be made:

Irish identity as it relates to CATTUVVIRR

In almost all cases, the individuals shall be Irish, or of Irish descent. However, there is certain cases in which this rule does not apply, or could at least reasonably be called into question:

  1. Sir John Sebright was an English-born officer who commanded an Irish regiment, thus connecting him with the Irish military diaspora.
  2. Maurice Cadell was a Scotsman who claimed kinship with the Blake family (one of the Tribes of Galway).

Compare Cadell's case with that of Seán Mac Stíofáin. Mac Stíofáin served in the Royal Air Force as part of his national service. Sympathy for the Irish nationalist cause led him to learn Irish and join the IRA. However, the precise nature of his claims of Irish ancestry was never clear, and often subject to skepticism. Unless new data comes to light, his case must be disregarded.

Both Cadell and Mac Stíofáin were extremely high-profile figures in their respective lifetimes. The claims of both men to Irish ancestry could, conceivably, be no more than fanciful notions rooted in the individual conversions they both underwent whilst embracing Irish nationalism, and that such notions had no basis in reality. Such claims could conceivably have been disproven. Indeed, Mac Stíofáin's claims do not appear to have been substantiated. Because of his role as a prominent IRA activist his claims, and the doubts surrounding them, never left the spotlight. Cadell was equally visible in public life, yet his claims were never the subject of serious doubt. As such, unless new data comes to light, he shall have an entry, but Mac Stíofáin shall not.

CATTUVVIRR then shall not include military figures who have contributed to the language, but never claimed to have Irish connections in any event. Thus we must exclude both Charles Vallancey and Thomas Larcom (officers in the Royal Engineers who held key commands in Ireland at different respective periods). Ernst Lewy, whose First World War-related actions prove quite fascinating, must also be excluded because, as a German Jew, he had no known Irish connection other than having lived in the country.

Language activities

The event or individual must have succeeded in doing one, or several, of the following:

Certain factors here must be taken into account:

Military activities

Even though a nationalist-related event such as the Easter Rising was an act of war, neither it nor its most prominent participant (Pádraig Pearse) will be the focus of this project. The reasons for this are:

As such, if a figure involved in a domestic conflict is afforded a unique entry in the time-map, it shall be because he or she has a connection to the Irish military diaspora. Let's take an example from another period. Thomas Russell and Henry O'Kane (entries to follow) supported the separatist/Irish nationalist/Irish republican United Irishmen during the 1798 Rebellion. Russell had a distinguished career as a British army officer BEFORE that period and upon resigning his post and changing his political outlook, took an interest in Irish before being killed in the Rebellion. O'Kane acquitted himself equally well in the French army, both in Ireland (during efforts to aid the aforementioned rebellion) and on the Continent. So, the former is a case of participation in the military diaspora FOLLOWED by participation in a domestic conflict, and the latter is an example of being engaged in both such conflicts at the same time.

On the pro-British/unionist/loyalist side, we have both Henry Sirr and Power Trench. Sirr was in the British army before resigning, and then rejoining again to fight the United Irishmen - Trench was a yeomanry captain who did the same. They both played a key subsequent role in Irish language proselytizing for the Anglican Church. In other periods, we have other subtleties and nuances to watch for. If, during the Middle Ages, a particular Gaelic chieftain or Norman lord based in Ireland supported the Irish language and had a tendency to side consistently with the English Crown rather than against it, he will be included.

Thus, when we consider entries such as the above, or those concerning Liam O'Flaherty and Bríd Uí Dhíreáin (entry not yet added), due attention shall be paid to the domestic conflict ONLY if it is necessary to do so in order to give context to the subject's language- or military-related activities.

Furthermore, during instances in which the throne of England and Ireland was in dispute between rival claimants (e.g. the war between William of Orange and James II, and the subsequent intrigues between Europe and Great Britain in which their respective successors engaged), both monarchs are considered foreign for the purpose of this project, and any supporters they may have had who engaged in language activities shall be included.

Nature of service

Such activities can be of a military or civilian nature, but they must have been proven to have been carried out loyally in the service of (a) specified cause(s) and military power(s). Criteria for loyal service in the context of this project consists of the subject HAVING NOT ENGAGED in one or more of the following actions:

  • Desertion of one's post: Sean O'Neill (entry to be added) deserted the British army during the Boer War, but did so with a view to fighting for the Irish contingent of the Boer commandos. As such, I shall classify him as a South African operative rather than a British one. If he had deserted merely to escape the conflict itself, he would have been excluded.
  • Conducted covert intelligence-gathering activities for an enemy force: in this case, the subject will be considered as having been loyal to the enemy force. Charles Kearney (entry to be added) will fit this category.
  • Engaged in disloyal actions or encouraged others within the service to do so.
  • The following entries, which unquestionably bring mitigating circumstances to bear, may be considered as exceptions by the user, depending upon his or her point of view:

    It should also be noted that General Eoin O'Duffy and the Irish Brigade he raised to fight for General Franco shall be excluded from the time-map. Even though he was involved in Conradh na Gaeilge as a young man, the nature of his unit's service was such that it does, in my view, fit the criteria for loyal service as set down above. However, Aodh de Blacam (entry to be added) will be allocated an entry due to his pro-fascist propaganda activities in Ireland during the Spanish Civil War.

    The Irish who fought on the opposite side of that conflict in various units of the Spanish Republic's International Brigades will be quite well-represented in the finished product. However, de Blacam's inclusion should provide an interesting counterbalance. If there was no significant pro-fascist figure connected to the Irish language during the period, the time-map would be adjusted accordingly. As the digital artefact bares out, there are numerous examples of civilian contribution to conflicts.

    Personal stories such as those of Hugh Courtney, Tomás Ó Casaide and Seán Ó Cathail shall be excluded from the time-map because in the opinion of this project, they have more than a touch of exaggeration. Seon Ó hUaithnín must also be left out because there is not enough concrete information concerning his date of birth, or his time as an officer in the Spanish army (although it can fairly be assumed that accounts of his service are truthful and accurate). His brother Daniel O'Huony will, however, have an entry on the time-map.

    The Swedish Dilemma

    In an entry as yet to be added, I refer to an article published in An Cosantóir (the journal of the Irish Defence Forces) during the 1950s. The author describes having discovered a Thirty Years' War-era Swedish army company clerk's list of soldiers, with a number of Irishmen amongst their number. The list is signficant in this case for having been written partially in Irish, and when not done so, in the Gaelic script associated with the Irish language for much of its long history. Such an instance presents several complications for CATTUVVIRR, given its approach to both Irish identity and military service:

    1. Irish identity: the author appears to be convinced that the company clerk responsible for the list was not Irish, and was in all likelihood taught how to use both Irish and its font in order to correctly render the names of his unit's Irish personnel. I have two concerns here: (i) the writer does not demonstrate precisely in his article how he knows that the clerk was not Irish, and (ii) if the clerk wasn't of said ethnicity, why did he use the aforementioned Gaelic font in order to render the names of non-Irish soldiers as well?
    2. Military service: Irish soldiers who served in the Swedish army during that period had, for a variety of reasons, a well-earned reputation for desertion.

    One could justifiably argue that the company list is of limited linguistic value, and that it deals with a relatively unimportant aspect of Irish military history in the broader scheme of things. Nevertheless, it does count as an artefact of the language, or simply a mere curiousity. I respectfully (and tentatively) submit, based on the above arguments, that this individual has as much as chance of being Irish stock as not. If I am wrong and the clerk was not of Irish descent, the entry could be read as focusing upon his Irish-born "tutor". It has been stated that the Irish in Sweden's army had a strong tendency towards desertion. Needless to say, the author took this factor into consideration. However, he makes no comments about the desertion rates amongst Irish-born personnel in this particular case, and thus we are left to reserve our judgement concerning the clerk and/or the man who shared his knowledge of Irish. My decision to include this event on the timeline is, thus, in keeping with CATTUVVIRR's guidelines regarding Irish identity and military service, a decision which can be reviewed at a later date pending the revelation of any new data.

    The Israeli Dilemma

    Recent evidence (article to be cited soon) has come to light which confirms that, during the conflict in the Lebanon during the 1970s, the Israeli Defence Forces used Irish-speaking personnel in order to eavesdrop on communications amongst Irish army staff serving in the region with the United Nations. Two distinct theories have emerged:

    It could well have been a combination of both factors. When veterans of Irish UN missions made public statements concerning this, the Israeli embassy in Ireland maintained that it was unable to provide any further details. There are good reasons for this. When military personnel take the trouble to learn new languages as part of their duties, such an undertaking is often connected with either intelligence-gathering activities, or special operations. These actions are almost invariably carried out on a classified basis, i.e. regarded as being deniable by the government of the military power in question. As such, because of the lack of hard data, this occurrence cannot be afforded an entry on the timeline.


    Terminology List

    The purpose of this section is to explain certain specialized phrases (in Irish or English), abbreviations and short forms of certain lengthy phrases and titles. I found it necessary to use abbreviations and short forms in many of the time-map's entries due to space restrictions in the text segments.