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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.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling.
It’s common knowledge that Irish people, in general, are emotional. So we were surprised to see that we had done very little to cover “heart-scalded”
occasions. While we’ve seen this phrase in a good many Maeve Binchy novels, according to our native Irish speaker, “it’s a real' Dubbelin' English expression that you'd hear down with the barrow-women in Moore Street and it doesn't easily translate!” (But she gave it a go).

Word: Emotions
Irish: Tochta

Word: Smile
Irish: meangadh

Word: Grin
Irish: dradgháire

Word: Beaming
Irish: lonrach

Word: Giggle
Irish: scige

Word: Laugh
Irish: gáire

Word: Frown/Grimace
Irish: gráine

Word: Glare
Irish: féachaint fhearghach
fay-khay-khintch ahr-ghukh

Word: Scowl
Irish: scamh

Word: Glance
Irish: súilfhéachaint

Word: Smirk/Sneer
Irish: slotgháire

Word: Cry
Irish: gol

Word: Sob
Irish: smeach

Word: Mourn
Irish: mairgneach
mahrg(hard g)-nyukh

Word: Keen
Irish: caoineadh

Word: Complain
Irish: gearén

Word: Tear (s)
Irish: deoir (deora)
djohr (djohr-ah)

Word: Emotion/Feeling
Irish: tocht

Word: Expression (facial)
Irish: fáscadh aghaidh
faws-kah eye

Word: Sympathy/Compassion
comhghoilliúnach or comhbrón
koh-gwell-oon-ukh or koh-vrohn

Word: Joy/Joyfulness
Irish: gliondar

Word: Hope/expectation
Irish: dóchas

Word: Happiness
Irish: áthas

Word: Happy
Irish: áthasach

Word: Sad
Irish: brónach

Word: Sadness
Irish: brónas

Word: Moody
Irish: gruama

Word: Contented
Irish: sásta

Word: Content
Irish: sásamh

Word: Discontented
Irish: mí-shásta

Word: Discontent
Irish: mí-shásamh

Word: Jolly
Irish: aerach

Word: Cheerful
Irish: croíúil (literally: full-hearted)

Phrase: Heart-scorched/heart-sick
Irish: éadóchasach

Phrase: Heart-broken
Irish: croi briste
kree brish-theh

Word: Keep cheerful (your strength).
Irish: Coinnigh do mhisneach.
kwinn-ee dhuh vish-nukh

Phrase: Full of fun/High-spirited
Irish: lán de spraoi
lawn dheh spree

Phrase: We wish you joy for/from it
Irish: Go dté sé ár biseach duit
guh jay shay awr bish-ukh dhitch

Phrase: The film was so sad, it made me cry
Irish: Bhí an scannán chomh brónach sinn gur tháining na deora leis.
vee on skahn-awn khoh brohn-ukh shin gur hawn-ig nah djoh-rah lesh

Phrase: Slicing onions brings tears to my eyes
Irish: Tagann deora im shúile nuair a bhíonn iniúin á shliosáil agam
thah-gun djohr-ah im hoo-il-eh noo-irr ah vee-un in-yoon aw hlish-aw-il ah-gum

Phrase: I'm always in a bad mood on Monday.
Irish: Bíonn fonn ghruama orm chuile Luain
bee-un fun groom-ah urm kwill-eh loo-in

Phrase: He smiled away all my fears
Irish: Bhain sé aoibh a bhí ar an eagla díom
wahn shay eev ah vee err on ahg-lah djeem

Phrase: She always comes up smiling
Irish: Ní chuireann an saol drochmhisneach uirthi
nee kwirr-un on seel dhrukh-vish-nukh irr-hee

Phrase: His voice was full of emotion
Irish: Bhí tocht mór sa ghlór
vee thukth mohr sah ghlohr

Phrase: Is there any glimmer of hope?
Itrish: Bhfuil aon ghealán dóchais ann?
will ayn yahl-awn dhoh-khish on

Phrase: She glanced angrily at them
Irish: Thug sé súil fheara dóibh
huh she soo-il ah-rah dhoh-iv

Phrase: He was grinning like a Cheshire cat (literally: a car was driving his grinning)
Irish: Bhi cár go ghluais ar a gháire
vee cawr gug ghloo-ish err ah ghaw-ir-eh

Phrase: They came to sympathise with us on our loss (troubles)
Irish: Tháinig siad le casú ár dtrioblóide linn
hawn-ig sheedh le kahs-oo awr dhtrib-loh-djeh lin
Phrase: He appealed to the emotions (heart) of the crowd
Irish: Tharraing sé croí an tslua
hah-ring shay kree on thloo-ah

Image: Theatrical Masks edited and adapted from bronze masks available for sale at the Burt Reynolds Museum (we are not joking!). Please click: Burt Reynolds Museum

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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Why Learn Irish with Bitesize Irish Gaelic?
Eoin is a native Irish speaker who you can listen to in the online lessons.
Sasa has helped develop the lessons from the perspective of a complete beginner.
Audrey has created conversation lessons to get you speaking Irish.
And last but certainly not least, they are proud of the Irish language and want more people to speak it.
Affordable, fun and effective - To learn more, Click Bitesize Irish

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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