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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

Note: The spellings and pronunciations used are based on Aideen's own natural use of Connemara Irish but they have been kept simple, so as to be understood 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 Irish, but not in English; it's difficult to 'reproduce' them in writing. 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.

Happy Birthday
A subscriber to our newsletter asked us if there were any special customs or traditions for an Irish birthday party. We did a bit of research and basically, birthday’s are celebrated in much the same way as other special occasions: families get together for good food, drink, story-telling and dancing. We did suggest that perhaps the guests might sing the birthday song in irish. That’s what led us to this lesson.

Phrase: Happy Birthday to you
Irish: Lá breithe shona duit
law bre-heh hunn-ah dwitch
Word: Present/Gift
Irish: bronntanas 
Word: Card 
Irish: cárta 
Word: Party 
Irish: cóisir 
Word: Guest 
Irish: aoí 

Word: Cake 
Irish: ciste
Word: Candles 
Irish: coinnlí 
Word: Drink 
Irish: deoch 
Word: Food 
Irish: bia 
Word: Invitation 
Irish: cuireadh 
Word: Reply 
Irish: freagra 
Word: Age 
Irish: aois 
Phrase: What age will he be this year? 
Irish: Cén aois a bhéas aige i mbliana? 
kayh eesh a vays egg-eh ih mbleen-ah
Phrase: We should have a party
Irish: Ba chóir dúinn cóisir a bheith againn
bah khoh-ir dhoo-inn koh-shir ah veh ah-ginn
Phrase: We must have a cake with candles
Irish: Ní mór dúinn ciste le coinnlí a bheith againn
nee mohr dhoo-inn kish-the le kwinn-lee ah veh ah-ginn
Phrase: As she will be 21 this year, we should order some Champagne
Irish: Toisc go mbeidh sí fíche-haon mbliana, ba chóir dúinn Seampéin a chur faoi ordú
thushk go mye she fih-ehhayn mbleen-ah, bah khohr doo-inn cham-payn ah khurr fwee ur-dhoo
Phrase: Any idea what sort of a present I should buy?
Irish: Cén chineál de bhronntanas a beith réitiúl a cheannach? 
kayn khin-awl dheh vrunn-thann-as a veh ray-choo-il a khi-ahn-ach
Phrase: How about a  card as well?
Irish: Céard faoi cárta chomh maith?
kayrdh fwee kawr-thah khoh mye
Birthday song:

Lá Breithe Shona dhuit
Lá Breithe Shona dhuit
Lá Breithe Shona. a [person's name],
Lá Breithe Shona dhuit

law bre-heh hunn-ah dwitch
law bre-heh hunn-ah dwitch
law bre-heh hunn-ah a (person’s name)
law bre-heh hunn-ah dwitch

Photo Credit: Mother Mousse Desserts for all occasions


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.

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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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