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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.

Lesson 52: Wrapping up the Holidays

We hope you are enjoying a safe and happy holiday season. This week's offering features words and phrases which should have been included in previous lessons.

Phrase: Celebration of Christmas
Irish: Ceiliúradh na Nollaig
kell-oor-ah nah null-ig

Phrase: Little Christmas/Epiphany
Irish: Lá Chinn (an Dá Lá Déag)
lay khinn (on ghaw law djayg)
{literally: the final day (the twelfth day) }

Word/Phrase: Wren/Wren Boys
Irish: Dreoilín/Buachaillíní an Dreoilín
dhroh-leen/boo-khahl-een-ee on dhroh-leen
(literally: little boys of the wren)

Word: Pantomime
Irish: Geamaire

Phrase: Christmas Bonus
Irish: Bónas na Nollaig
bonus nah null-ig

Phrase: Happy Hannukah (to you/you plural)
Irish: Hannukah faoi mhaise leat/libh
Hannukah fwee wash-eh lih-ath/liv

Phrase: Boxing Day/St. Stephen's Day
Irish: Lá le Stiophán
law leh sthiff-awn

Word/Phrase: Sleigh/Sleigh Ride
Irish: carr sleamhnáin/turas sleamhnáin
cawr shlow-naw-in/thruss shlow-naw-in

Word/Phrase: Advent/Advent candles
Irish: Aidbhint/coinnle Aidbhint
ahdh-vinth/quin-leh ahdh-vinth

Phrase: (The) Baby Jesus
Irish: An Leanbh Íosa
on lih-an-uv eesah

Phrase: Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Irish: Íosa, Muire agus Iosaph
eesah, mwuir-eh ah-gus yo-seph

Word: Camel
Irish: camall

Phrase: Three Wise Men/Three Kings
Irish: Na Trí Ríthe ón Oirthir
nah three ree-heh ohn err-hir
(literally: the three kings from the east)

Phrase: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Irish: Ór, Túis agus Miorr
ohr, thoosh ah-gus myrrh

Word: Toys
Irish: bréagain

Phrase: Mince Pie
Irish: Píog Mhionra
pee-ohg mih-un-rah

Phrase: Apple Pie
Irish: Píog Úlla
pee-ohg ool-ah

Phrase: Christmas Crackers
Irish: Pléascóig Nollaig
playss-koh-ig null-ig

Phrase: The Twelve days of Christmas
Irish: Dá Lá Déag na Nollaig
ghaw law djayg nah null-ig

Phrase: Family Gathering
Irish: Baillú Chlainne
bahl-you khlin-eh

Phrase: Holiday Feast
Irish: Féasta na Saoire
fay-sthah nah seer-eh

Phrase: Lump of coal
Irish: Cloch ghuail
khlukh goo-il

Word: Host/Hostess (for the holiday party)
Irish: Fear/Bean a' Tí
fahr/ban ah tchee
(literally: man/woman of the house - 'house' would also mean the venue for any occasion)

Phrase: Office Party
Irish: Cóisir Oifige
koh-shirr iff-ih-geh

Phrase: I'm/we're going home for the holidays
Irish: Táim/táimid ag dul abhaile le haghaidh na saoire
thaw-im/thaw-midj egg dhull ah-wahl-yeh leh heye nah seer-eh

What did Santa/Father Christmas bring you?
Irish: Céard a chur Deadaí na Nollaig ar fáil dhuit?
kay-rdh ah khur daddy na null-ig err faw-il gwitch?

Phrase: All the very best in the new year (to you/you plural)
Irish: Athbhlian faoi mhaise dhuit/dhíbh
ah-vleen fwee wash-eh gwich/yeev

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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Bitesize Irish Gaelic

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Eoin is a native Irish speaker who you can listen to in the online lessons.
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And last but certainly not least, they are proud of the Irish language and want more people to speak it.
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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.

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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