Columbus was Irish

Following up yesterday’s Galway post, and anticipating yet more “Columbus was Catalan/lesbian/a figure of speech” lunacy on Hispanidad Day tomorrow, here’s the chain of events that led Appeals Court judge William Hughes Mulligan to plump for the Galway connection, as put in a 1972 after-dinner speech to the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick in New York on parade day (Mulligan’s Law: The Wit and Wisdom of William Hughes Mulligan):

  1. A Galway man tells him that Columbus stopped in Galway to pick up an Irish navigator.
  2. The head of the Irish Supreme Court subsequently agrees, saying the man’s name was Lynch. Mulligan finds this difficult to believe, there being no record of Columbus having been to Galway. (Yesterday’s post suggests otherwise.)
  3. He formulates the hypothesis of Lynch having led the expedition; unfortunately Lynch’s name does not appear on the crew lists for the boats.
  4. The clear inference is that Lynch was Columbus, which notion is supported by contemporary descriptions of the admiral as blue-eyed, red-faced, red-haired and religious, none of which to Mulligan suggests Italian nationality.
  5. His case is clinched by the well-known fact that Columbus could not write Italian. Neither could Lynch, writes Mulligan. Furthermore, Columbus is said to have spoken Spanish with a Portuguese accent. He was, of course, speaking Irish, “and isn’t it a mark of Lynch’s great leadership and seamanship that he could make that Mediterranean crew understand his orders even though they were given in Gaelic.”

Margaret Dixon McDougall suggests in her Letters of “Norah” on her tour through Ireland that Mayor Lynch felt his life was in danger from a mob consisting of his in-laws, the Blake clan (hence probably erroneous etymologies of “lynch”). Sailing to Cathay might have seemed like an easy way out.

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