Irish on the Moon

Adelaide’s Marc Conaill’s promotional poster for that city’s August’s Pop-Up Gaeltacht has an astronaut asking ‘Houston’ if it has any Irish. The answer is ‘yes’. The  online Irish language newsletter Tuairisc provides an account of Irish on the moon in 1969. Below is a translation of the article at from Wednesday 17 July 20, 2019.

The Irish Language Message that was on the Moon Fifty years Ago

Among the items that were left on the moon by Apollo 11 fifty years ago was a message from the President of Ireland. The Irish language message that was sent to the moon is now being dispersed around cyberspace. During this celebratory week of the moon landing historical documents entitled, ‘Documents on Irish Foreign Policy’ that provide a wonderful insight into the small connection between the Irish language and Neil Armstrong’s giant step have been released via Twitter. The first document is a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from the Secretary to the Taoiseach about a telegram from the Irish ambassador in Washington, William Fay who was seeking a special message from the Irish President, Éamon de Valera, to be sent to the moon. The Americans were seeking such messages from leaders around the world, such messages to be left on the moon. The letter that was sent to the Department of the Taoiseach on 25 June 1969 included a recommendation by the Tánaiste and Minister for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Frank Aiken, for the text of the message to be sent to the moon on Apollo 11. The text was in English: ‘May God grant the skill and courage which enabled man to reach the moon may assist in the establishment of a peaceful and happier world.’, but it was emphasised that the Tánaiste’s wish was for the actual message to be in Irish. June 30 was the point in time the Irish message was to be among those on a microfilm taken on this historical journey.

The second document, a press statement from Áras an Uachtaráin, states that Aiken’s text was accepted but with a small addition in reference to the danger involved. 

The Tuairisc newsletter includes a copy of the July press release and the June 25 letter


It’s not clear whether ‘Houston’ kept a copy of the microfilm or a hard copy of the text in the original languages, so it may be the Houston does not have Irish, but the moon certainly does.

( All of the goodwill the messages can be read at in their English language translations)


Dymphna Lonergan

Dymphna is one of Tinteán‘s editors and an Irish language enthusiast. Adelaide’s next pop-up Gaeltacht will be on Saturday August 24 at 10am in the Café on the Square, Whitmore Square.