I cannot remember why I understood it as that. It has just always been so. I never even had a hint of an excuse to question this – until recently.
Stopped at traffic lights, I read the translation of the sign.
The light went on in my head and a blog entry was being mentally drafted as to another glitch of translation. In my mind, there was no doubt that it should be Sr Liam Mhór Uí Bhriain and not the Great Street of William O’Brien.
I did stop for a while to confirm my understanding on the internet but even Wikipedia had no title of Great with
the patriot, William O’Brien.
‘Cork nationalist politics were exciting and turbulent in the faction-ridden years following the death of Charles Stewart Parnell who was MP for the city, 1880 - 91. The most colourful and volatile figure at the turn of the century was William O'Brien who was commemorated in a corporation name change in Blackpool - from Great Britain Street to Great William O'Brien Street!’
John A. Murphy
‘Mallow Lane through Blackpool village had become Great Britain St in the early years of the Union, but in 1905 the north end of it became known as the unwieldy monicker ‘Great William O’Brien Street’, after Parnell’s great
rival, author and organiser. The signs were duly cast in Merrick’s foundry with the name rendered in Irish as ‘Sráid ‘Liam Oirdeirc Uíbhriain’ (sic). This is intended to emphasise the illustriousness of the man rather than the
significance of the street. It is said that when the signs were erected ‘one of the councillors asked “would you mind telling us what is ‘great’ about Willie O’Brien?” and got a smart answer: “wasn’t he as great a man as Queen Victoria anyway”’'
Tom Spalding – Layers: The Design, History and Meaning of Public Street Signage in Cork and other Irish Cities