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Bunús na Gaeilge - Basic Irish Language

There is no other way to revive Irish than for a crowd of people to spread it.
- Douglas Hyde

On these pages, we will make a valiant effort to provide you with useful words and phrases. One of our subscribers, Aideen, grew up speaking Irish at her mother's knee. She has generously agreed to help us with our lessons. We have put her comments and pronunciations in green.

Note: The spellings and pronunciations used by Aideen are based in her own natural use of Connemara Irish but they have been kept simple, so as to be readily understood in any part of Ireland where there are differences in the language.
For example, the word 'feicfidh' is used only in Connemara Irish; in Leinster, Ulster and Munster the word is 'cífidh'. There are two pronunciations; Leinster/Munster - kee-fee; Ulster - chee-fee.

The biggest problem for people whose native language is English is that the soft 't' and 'd' are in the Irish language, but not in the English language; it's difficult to 'reproduce' them in writing in English. Where I use 'th' and 'dh' here, they are best achieved by putting your tongue gently behind your front upper teeth."

Click here for our words & phrases Index.

Father's Day and Graduation
The month of June heralds Father’s Day and Graduations; so, this lesson is in honour of all the dad’s and grads. By the by, according to our native speaker and translator, the Irish don’t say “pop” as a slang term for Dad; they might say something like “the ould fella”, but apart from formal occasions, written and spoken, they would use the word Daddy (Deadaí).’ Our teacher has given us both wherever they would be appropriate.

Father's Day and Graduation
Irish: Lá na nAthar agus Bronnadh na Céime
law nah nah-hahr ah-gus brun-ah nah kay-meh

Word: Father
Irish: Athair

Phrase: Father-in-law
Irish: Athair céile
ah-hirr kay-leh

Word: (to) Graduate
Irish: Céim a bhaint amach
kaym ah wahnch ahm-akh

Word: Degree
Irish: Céim

Word: Congratulations
Irish: Comhgáirdeas

Phrase: Primary School/National School
Irish: Bunscoil/Scoil Náisiúnta
bun-skwell/skwell nawsh-oon-thah

Phrase: Secondary School
Irish: Meánscoil

Word: Convent(school)
Irish: Clochar

Word: College/University
Irish: Coláiste/Ollscoil

Phrase: High School
Irish: Árd Scoil
awrdh skwell

Word: Professor
Irish: Ollamh

Word: Teacher
Irish: Múinteoir

Word: Lecturer
Irish: Léachtóir

Word: Lecture
Irish: Léacht

Word: Student/Scholar
Irish: dalta/scoláire
dhahl-thah skull-aw-ir-eh

Word: Class
Irish: rang

Word: Diploma/Certificate
Irish: Teastas

Phrase: Happy Father's Day
Irish: Lá na nAthar faoi shona dhuit
law nah nah-hahr fwee hun-ah gwitch

Phrase: We love, you Dad
Irish: Táimid i ngrá leat a Dheadaí.
thaw-muidj ih ngraw li-ath ah yadd-ee

Phrase: Dearest, Dad, hope you gave a grand day!
Irish: A Dheadaí, mo chroí, tá súil agam go mbeidh lá thar chinn agat!
ah yadd-ee, mo khree, thaw soo-il ah-gum guh my law hahr khinn ah-guth

Phrase: It's your special day, Dad - hope you enjoy it!
Irish: Is do lá speisialta, a Dheadaí. Bain taithneamh as!
iss dhuh law spesh-eel-thah ah yadd-ee. Bahn thah-nuv ahs

Phrase: Your loving son (as a sign off on a card)
Irish: Do mhac dhílis
dhuh wahk yee-lish

Phrase: Your loving daughter (as a sign off on a card)
Irish: D'iníon dílis
dhin-yeen djeel-ish

Phrase: Dad, what would you like for Father's Day?
Irish: A Dheadaí, céard ba mhaith leat le haghaidh Lá na nAthar?
ah yadd-ee, kayrdh bah whye li-ath leh heye law na nah-ahr?

Phrase: We're giving my dad a bottle of (Irish) whiskey
Irish: Tá buideal uisce á thatbairt againn d'ár Dheadaí
Thaw bwid-jail ish-keh aw hoh-irt ah-ginn dhawr nah-hir

Phrase: I'm taking my dad out to dinner.
Irish: Táim chun mo Dheadaí a thógaint amach le haghaidh dinnéar
thaw-im khun muh yadd-ee ah hoh-ginch ah-mahkh leh heye djin-ayr

Phrase: We're taking dad for a game of golf
Irish: Táimid chun ár nAthair a thabairt amach le haghaidh cluiche galf
thaw-muidj khnun awr nah-hirr a hoh-irtch ah-mahkh le heye cliff-eh golf

Phrase: Congratulations on your graduation from High School/College Irish: Comhgairdeas leat as chéim a bhaint amach san Árd Scoil/sa Choláiste
koh-gawr-djahs li-ath oss kaym ah wanch ah-mahkh sahn awrdh skwell/sah khull-awsh-theh

Phrase: Best of luck in all your future endeavors
Irish: Go n-éirí an bóthar leat id iarrachtaí uilig a bhéas romhat
guh neye-ree on boh-hahr li-ath idh eer-ukh-thee ill-ig ah vays rohth

Well done! Keep up the good work at university.
Irish:Maith tú! Coinnigh leis an obair mhaith ag an Ollscoil
my hoo! kwinn-ee lesh on ub-irr whye egg on ull-skwell

Phrase: Where are you going to college/university?
Irish: Cé acu choláiste/ollscoil a mbeidh freastal ort?
Pronunciation: kay ock-oo khull-awsh-theh a my frahs-thahl urth

Phrase: My son has been accepted (has got a place) at Trinity College
Irish: Tá glachaithe lem mhac ag Coláiste na Trionóide
thaw glahkh-heh lem wahk egg kull-awsh-theh nah thrin-oh-idjeh

Phrase: My daughter wants to go to college in America (United States)
Irish: Ba maith lem iníon freastal ar choláiste sna Stáit Aontaithe
bah whye lem in-yeen frahs-thahl err khull-awsh-theh snah sthaw-ich ayn-theh-eh

Phrase: My son is going into an apprentice program
Irish: Tá mo mhac chun chúrsa phrintíseachta a ghlacadh
thaw muh wahk khun khoor-sak frin-theesh-ukh-thah ah glock-ah

Note: This caught our eye. Yes, we know it isn't gaeilge, but it is fascinating. If nothing else, it is certainly language (and Irish language as well.)
by Bernard Share
...for all 'decent skins', 'crawthumpers', horse-protestants', 'hard chaws' and 'strong farmers'...a dictionary of Irish slang that's as amusing as it is informative.
Click here for Slanguage

For More Basic Irish please click here: Irish Index

Image: Gaeilge Beo from
All Posters and Prints.


Thu, Jul 9, 2015
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Irish Grammar
by Noel Mogonagle

This book is excellent for beginners who are wanting a book that gives basic grammar without all the extra information that confuses beginners. The book is well laid out, with information very easy to find. Amazon Reviewer

Here is a good follow-on to our words and phrases.
Click for Irish Grammar.

Irish - English
English - Irish

Note: We have yet to see a dictionary with phonetic pronunciations for each word. We suspect this is partly due to the variations. Providing for all four 'green fields' (Connacht, Leinster, Ulster and Munster), would be cumbersome at best. Still, someone may do it some day. Until then, these are all very good and recommended. Serious students will have more than one; they are inexpensive.

These two (either or both) are the handy-references needed to go with a good grammar or 'teach yourself' course.
We would need both (and some other help) if found wandering in a Gaeltacht late at night.
Amazon has an offer of either one combined with a grammar for a reduced price.
Click for Collins Gem
Click for Oxford Pocket.

Children's Irish Dictionary
by Hippocrene Books

As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.

Wicked Irish
by Howard Tomb

While I wouldn't recommend you use many of these phrases, this is a terribly funny book. I picked it up after leafing through it at the store and finding phrases about sheep and inns and the hazards of driving in Ireland without insurance. Each little section starts out innocuously enough, then quickly degenerates into truly funny comments. If you like Monty Python or BlackAdder, this will really make you laugh. If you liked the Father Ted tv show, this little book will make you keel over giggling. Ah, go on, ya eejit, buy it already! Amazon Reviewer
(We want this, you may see a few on these pages - watch out).
Click for Wicked Irish

Teach Yourself Irish Complete Course
by Diarmuid O'She & Joseph Sheils

An easy-to-use program for learning on your own, or can be used as supplemental material for your classes. These new editions have been thoroughly revised and updated to include the engaging dialogues and helpful exercises you have come to expect from the Teach Yourself series.
Click for Teach Yourself

Learning Irish
by Micheal O'Siadhail

The Best Irish Course Available! Three years ago I decided to learn Irish, and in the next two years I bought three different courses. The first two were simply useless, (that's the obvious reason for my buying new courses) you could learn some phrases, but not construct sentences yourself. Learning Irish, on the other hand, is an excellent book, which gives you a thorough vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. It consists of 36 lessons, all containing vocabularies, grammar instructions, texts and excercises. Amazon Reviewer.

Click for Learning irish


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