Andrew Poole (Letters, 26 August) is of course correct that “crack” has a long history in Scots and north-eastern English. But it also existed in Ireland well before its late 20th-century emergence as “craic”. Growing up in south Ulster, it was in regular use by young and old – “Sure, he’s great crack”; “Was there any crack in town last night?”; “She’d go anywhere for a bit of crack”. We seldom had recourse to spelling it out, but wouldn’t have considered any spelling other than “crack”.
I agree that the adoption of the Gaelicised “craic” is of fairly recent origin. I have no recollection of its use among Gaelic speakers and I suspect that it’s a tourism marketing man’s invention, circa 1980. Gaelicising it suggests that there’s something unique about Irish fun and distances it from other meanings of the word. Otherwise, a slogan such as “Come to Ireland for the crack” might well attract the wrong sort of tourist.
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