Legal Translation and Terminology in the Irish Free State, 1922-1937

  • Orla McGrory

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores the role and impact of Rannóg an Aistriúcháin - the Oireachtas Government Translation section - on English-Irish legal translation and terminology, with particular focus on the period 1922-1937; a period bookended by the establishment of the Irish Free State and the enactment of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Constitution of Ireland) in 1937. It aims to assess the efficacy and consistency of the translation strategies and Irish legal terms employed by Rannóg an Aistriúcháin, and to investigate how modern translation theory – specifically equivalence theory – may be applied to English-Irish legal translation as a whole.

While a semantic study of the English and Irish versions of the amended 1937 Constitution has previously been carried out (Ó Cearúil, 1999), there has yet to be any specific study of other translated English-Irish legislative material within the Irish Free State or, indeed, of any laws translated within the Rannóg. This is an area which holds great research potential as regards assessing the efficacy of a particular body of translations, as the position of the Irish language in the Republic of Ireland is a unique one. Not only is Irish an official language of the European Union, but it enjoys constitutional status as the National and First Official language of the Republic of Ireland, with Article 25.4.6º of the Irish Constitution 1937 providing that:

‘In case of conflict between the texts of a law enrolled under this section in both the official languages, the text in the national language shall prevail’.

In other words, should the Irish translation deviate in any way from its English legislative counterpart, it is the Gaelic translated legislation - along with all its construed connotations and associations - which has the upper hand. With this reasoning in mind, this thesis takes a corpus of EN-GA legislative material translated by Rannóg an Aistriúcháin during the period 1922-1937, from which legal terms are chosen for analysis and qualitatively and semantically assessed in the context of Equivalence translation theory and legal translation.

Ultimately, this thesis provides a new critical assessment of the reliability of Irish language legal terminology in primary legislation from this period; an analysis of how Equivalence theory may be applied to EN-GA legal translation as a whole; and provides some guidelines for future endeavours in English-Irish legal translation and terminology.
Date of Award09 Mar 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorGreg Toner (Supervisor)


  • Legal Translation
  • Legal Terminology
  • Irish language
  • Gaeilge
  • Law
  • Aistriúchán
  • Translation
  • Terminology
  • Téarmaíocht

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