The decision by the Dublin Town business group to coin a new moniker – the ‘Grafton Quarter’ – for Grafton Street and its environs attracted some controversy recently. 

However, most reporting missed what is, to me, the bigger story: the decision to ditch the much-loved Nollaig Shona Duit signage as part of the Grafton Street Christmas lights.

At a time when the Irish language is, as Peadar Tóibín noted, being increasingly pushed to the margins, the sign was not just part of the tradition but a nod to our beautiful heritage, which, like many other valuable things, is being crushed underfoot in the scramble for commerce and profit.

Deputy Tóibín said it was “extremely disappointing” to see the Nollaig Shona Duit sign being replaced with a “completely hollow and commercialist sign”. I agree.

Most people in Ireland can’t speak Irish fluently but they retain a strong sense of affection and respect for Gaeilge. They like to see it being used, especially in the simple greetings or phrases that make up our everyday lives, such as slán, dia dhuit, lá breithe shona and, as in this instance, Nollaig Shona.

So its a shame to see one of the few instance where our Christmas decor uses our native language, being ditched for another commercial (and to be frank rather cringy) piece of signage.

Not only did the original lights acknowledge the Irish language, they was visually and aesthetically much more pleasing than the much-derided ‘Grafton Quarter’ signage that replaced them.

Dublin Town can do us all – and themselves – a favour by ditching the notions, scrapping the Grafton Quarter and bringing back ‘Nollaig Shona Dhuit’.

Bheadh gach éinne sásta ansin.



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