A well-intentioned YouTube attempt to take part in the St Patrick’s Day festivities fell flat on its face yesterday after the website wrongly translated President Michael D Higgins’ joyous as Gaeilge message into a garbled rant about iPhones, Tina Fey, blackjack, and a bizarre ban on gift cards.
Officials at Áras an Uachtaráin had recorded a video message from the President asking the “global family” to “celebrate and share our rich culture and heritage”.
Mr Higgins added that the story of St Patrick, who left his homeland to become a revered figure abroad, was one that should give Irish emigrants hope. Only, for anyone dependent on the English subtitles, that wasn’t quite what they were told.
In a series of bizarre translations, YouTube’s automated translation service took artistic licence with the words of warmth.
When the head of state sent St Patrick’s Day greetings to viewers, the video sharing site said US comedian Tina Fey was being “particular with me head”.
As President Higgins spoke of his admiration for Irish emigrants starting new communities abroad, YouTube said the President referenced blackjack and how he “just couldn’t put the new iPhone” down.
And, in perhaps the most unusual moment, as he talked of people whose hearts have sympathy, the President “explained” he was once on a show “that will bar a gift card”.
An Áras an Uachtaráin spokesperson said the office issued President Higgins’ statement “in both languages” on Monday night.
The situation occurred days after Enda Kenny told Independent TD Mick Wallace to use headphones if he wanted to understand a Dáil answer given in Irish.
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