• Alysa Salzberg

How a Gaelic tombstone inscription has created unexpected controversy

In so many cultures, past and present, creating some sort of funerary monument is a way for bereaved loved ones to commemorate the person they lost, and also find some closure.


But the epitaph of a woman named Margaret Keane has sparked an immense controversy that shows some troubling perceptions of the Irish Gaelic language in the UK.


After Keane’s passing in 2018, her family had her tombstone engraved with the Gaelic phrase In ar gcroithe go deo, which means “In our hearts forever.” But an ecclesiastical court has recently demanded that the family provide an English-language translation to the inscription, as well.


The reasoning is that the words could be seen as more than a message of enduring love: The Irish Gaelic language is politically charged in the UK and Northern Ireland. Still, many have spoken out against the ruling, including the Church of England.


Although this is a very specific situation, it speaks volumes about the power of language, both as a message of love, and a sign of dissention (intentional or not).


Read on to learn more about Margaret Keane’s controversial epitaph.


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