I, an honourary Irishman, so dubbed by the Right Honourable Mr. Kenneth Carl Peter Murphy, Esq. of County Tacoma, write this with great joy in my heart.
It’s not enough that the Irish are said to have saved civilization. Now they also lay claim to one of the most illustrious denizens of literature.
Comes now Dr. Lisa Collinson (of Aberdeen University, yet!) with a theory that Prince Hamlet of Denmark was actually O’Hamlet,or something like that. (Thanks and a tippo to The Guardian, via History News Network, for this gem.) Dr. Collinson traces the name of Hamlet to the ancient Gaelic tale The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel, thought to have been compiled in the 8th or 9th century. The tale recounts the story of a king who breaks social taboos and consequently meets a grisly end. It is this Gaelic tale in which the name Admlithi (Amlothi) occurs, which Dr. Collinson views as a good contender for the source of the name Hamlet. (The other etymological contenders are Norse, Jutish, Icelandic, and Latin.)
“At an early date,” Dr. Collinson says, “I think [the name] was used by superstitious sailors to refer to a dangerous sea-feature, such as a whirlpool.” Perfect indeed for a man whom the Bard of Avon called “as mad as the sea” and thought him beset by “a sea of troubles.”
All this only increases my respect for the Emerald Isle, and I am proud to have been dubbed an honourary member by one of its most illustrious sons.