What Does ‘Oglach’ As In ‘Oglach Martin McGuinness’ Mean?

Martin McGuinness’ comrades unveil (if that is the right word) his headstone in the City cemetery, Derry at the weekend

The reference to ‘Oglach Martin McGuinness’ has got Unionists up in arms as it flies in the face of his own claim to have left the IRA – ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’ – in 1974. But it can hardly have been a surprise to them!

So what does ‘Oglach’ mean? In my experience IRA members use it, when they use Irish, to mean ‘Volunteer’, i.e. a rank and file member of the IRA.

But there are other meanings, as Focloir Gaelige-Bearia (O Donaill 1971) makes clear. Nonetheless the military essence dominates:

óglach, m. (gs. & npl. -aigh, gpl. ~). 1. Lit: (a) Young man. (b) (Young) warrior. 2. Lit: Attendant, servant; vassal. 3. Mil: Volunteer. Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Volunteers. (Var: óglách, óglaoch)

The English-Irish dictionary (de Bhaidraithe) defines ‘Volunteer’ thus:

New English–Irish Dictionary has an entry for volunteer »
volunteer1, s. a Mil: Óglach m (deonach). b Deonach m.
volunteer2 . 1 v.tr. Tairgim (seirbhís) de mo dheoin féin. Abs. Glacaim gnó, dualgas, orm féin. He volunteered information, thug eolas uaidh chonlán féin. 2 v.i. Mil: Liostálaim de mo dheoin féin.
And can we in the same spirit now all agree that if Martin McGuinness was being mendacious about his non-membership of the IRA, so also are all the others who do the same or worse, like those who insist they were never, ever in it?




4 responses to “What Does ‘Oglach’ As In ‘Oglach Martin McGuinness’ Mean?

  1. You fail to see that PIRA and NIRA use ordinary ranks. At one UFF/UVF incident they lost a Brigadier, General, two Colonels, a Major and a Sgt. Rather bad luck old chap.

  2. Pingback: What Does ‘Oglach’ As In ‘Oglach Martin McGuinness’ Mean? | seftonblog

  3. Cionn An Bhais

    its almost impossible to relate in english the meaning of it, as its multi faceted, foreign soldiers in irish ranks are gallowglass even in irish side of things, chieftains hired them,l because an oglach serves in diff capacity, to the people, as many things, cou;ld be as healer,medic, engineer, civil or mil spec, martyr , fighter, what ever part the community in which he is oglach for, shame people still dont want to effort (getting on) but has to be remebering then acknowledgment before healing can take place, and english or shud say windsors will never do that, i say Windsor’s, because they are not even of saxon blood, english people are as much duped as the irish, china, india were oppressed and many attemps at wiping us from earth,history has been tried, peace and blessings to all who attempted fellowship on this post, cionn an bhais

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