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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 #16 - Going to Work
For most people planning a visit to Ireland, the following words and phrases may not be of value. That said, what if you intend to settle there? Or perhaps, are thinking of a summer job?

Word: Work
Irish: Obair

Word: Office
Irish: Oifig

Word: Salary
Irish: Tuarastal

Word: Job
Irish: Post

Word: Interview
Irish: Agallamh

Word: Director / Supervisor
Irish: Stiúirthóir

Phrase: New technology
Irish: teichneóilíocht nua
teck-noh-lee ochth noo-ah

Phrase: I start my new job on Monday
Irish: Tosnóidh mé sa phost nua Dé Luain
thus-no-ee may sa fusth noo-ah djay loo-in

Phrase: He failed to get that job
Irish: Theip air an phost sin a fháil
hep err on fusth shin a aw-il

Phrase: I'd like a job working in the open air
Irish: Ba mhaith liom bheith ag obair amuigh faoin aeir
Bah wye li-um veh egg ub-ir a-mwee fween ayr

Phrase: Will there be opportunity for promotion?
Irish: An mbeidh seans dul chun chinn?
on my shans dhul khun khin?

Phrase: My interview is fixed for Friday
Irish: Tá m'agallamh socraithe le haghaidh Dé hAoine
thaw mog-oll-ay suck-ree-heh leh high djay hee-neh

Phrase: I gave in my notice (to quit) last week
Irish: Chuir mé isteach m'fhógra an tseachtain seo chaite
khwir may is-cheoch moh-gra on teoch-than shuh kha-cheh

Lesson #17 - It's All Relative
This week, our words and phrases are all about family.

Word: Family
Irish: Clann

Word: Father
Irish: Athair

Word: Mother
Irish: Máthair

Word: Parents
Irish: Tuismitheoirí

Word: Sister
Irish: Deirfiúr

Word: Brother
Irish: Deartháir

Word: Uncle
Irish: Uncail

Word: Aunt
Irish: Aintín

Word: Cousin
Irish: Coilceathair

Word: Grandmother
Irish: Seanmháthair

Word: Grandfather
Irish: Seanathair
shan ah-ir

Phrase: I am going to my Aunt's house tonight
Irish: Táim ag dul ag teach mAintín anocht
thaw-im egg dhull egg choc mah-cheen ah-nuchth

Phrase: Three of my cousins will be there
Irish: Beidh triúir dem choilcheathair ann
bye throo-ir djem khul-ca-hir on

Phrase: I have two sisters and one brother
Irish: Tá beirt deirfiúir agus deartháir amháin agam
thaw beh-irth drih-foo-ir ah-gus dreh-haw-ir- ah-gum

Phrase: My parents live in Galway
Irish: Tá conaí ar mo thuismitheoirí i nGaillimh
thaw con-nee er muh hish-mih-hoh-ir-ee i ngall-iv

Phrase: My grandfather died two years ago
Irish: Fuair mo sheanathair bás dhá bhliain ó shoin
foo-ir muh han-ah-ir baws gaw vleen oh him

Phrase: In the name of the Father, the(His) Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen
Irish: In ainm an Athair, a Mhic agus an Spiorad Naomh, Amen
in an-im on ah-hir, a vic ah-gus on spir-odh neeve, amen

Lesson #18 - Medical Matters
Our resident Irish speaker and translator is enjoying a heatwave in Greece - but, in her words, the brain is a bit fried! She has promised to add more to the following:

Category: Health Matters
Irish: Cúrsái Sláinte
coor-see slawn-cheh

Word: Doctor
Irish: doctúir

Word: Hospital
Irish: oispidéal

Word: Nurse
Irish: banaltra

Word: Pharmacy
Irish: siopa poiticéar
shupa puth-ih-kayr

Term: Blood-group
Irish; Grupa-fuileach

Phrase: I've got a headache
Irish: tá tinneas cinn orm
thaw chin-es keen urm

Phrase: I need an operation
Irish: Is gá dom dul faoi scian
is gaw dhum dhul fwee shkeen

Phrase: He has a broken foot
Irish: tá cois briste aige
thaw cush brish-the egg-eh

Phrase: I am allergic to.....
Irish:Ta aileirge agam le....
thaw al-ayr-geh ah-gum le

Phrase: I need to rest
Irish: Ni mor dom sci a ligint
knee-more dhum shkee a lig-inich

Phrase: Her health is not very good at the moment
Irish: Níl sláinte ró-mhaith aici faoi láthair
kneel slawn-cheh ro -whye ec-ee fwee law-hir

Lesson 19 - Back to School.
It is that time of the year once more. When the parents are eager for school to begin and the children would rather not, thank you very much. This lesson focuses on words and phrases related to education and which now includes additions and modifications.

Word: Education
Irish: Oideachas
Pronunciation: Eh-djeh-khuss

Word: School
Irish: Scoil
Pronunciation: Skull

Phrase: Primary school
Irish: Bunscoil
Pronunciation: Bun-skull

Phrase: National School
Irish: Scoil Náisiúnta
Pronunciation: Skull naw-ish-oon-tha

Word: College
Irish: coláiste
Pronunciation: kull-aw-ish-theh

Word: University
Irish: ollscoil
Pronunciation: ull-skwell

Word: Professor
Irish: ollamh
Pronunciation: ull-av

Word: Lecturer 
Irish: léachtóir 
Pronunciation: lay-akh-thoh-ir

Word: Degree
Irish: céim 
Pronunciation: kaym

Phrase: School Principal/Head Teacher
Irish: Príomh Oide
Pronunciation: Preeve eh-djeh

Word: Teacher
Irish: Múinteoir
Pronunciation: Moo-in-choh-ir

Word: Student
Irish: scoláire
Pronunciation: skull-aw-ih-reh

Word:: Uniform 
Irish: culaith scoile 
Pronunciation: kull-eh skwell-eh

Phrase: School bag (satchel)
Irish: Mála scoile
Pronunciation: Mawla skull-eh

Word: Classroom
Irish: rang
Pronunciation: wrong

Word: desk
Irish: deisc
Pronunciation: desk

Word: Lesson
Irish: cleachtadh
Pronunciation: clock-thah

Word: Book
Irish: Leabhar
Pronunciation: Low-(as in cow)-er

Word: Notebook
Irish: Leabhar nóta
Pronunciation: Low-(as in cow)-er noh-tha

Word: Pen
Irish: Peann
Pronunciation: Pee-an

Word: Pencil
Irish: Peannluaidh
Pronunciation: Pee-an loo-ee

Word: Subject/Course
Irish: cúrsa
Pronunciation: koor-sah

Word: Homework
Irish: obair baile
Pronunciation: ub-err bah-lih-eh

Word: Exam/Test
Irish: scrúdú 
Pronunciation: scroo-dhoo

Phrase: Junior Certificate
Irish: Teastas Sóisearach
Pronunciation: tchahs-thas soh-ish-er-ukh

Phrase: Leaving Certificate 
Irish: Teastas Cruinnithe 
Pronunciation: tchas-thas krinn-ithe

Word: Gym
Irish: géimheal
Pronunciation: gayv-ell

Word: Playground
Irish: clós na scoile
Pronunciation: klohs nah skwell-eh

Phrase: School Bus:
Irish: bus scoile
Pronunciation: bus skwell-le

Phrase: School Bell
Irish: cliogeain  scoil
Pronunciation: klig-ehn skwell-eh

Word: Detention 
Irish: coimeád (or coinneál) isteach 
Pronunciation: kwem-adh (or kwin-aw-ihl) iss-tih-okh

Phrase: I (really) like my teacher
Irish: Is breá liom mo mhúinteoir
Pronunciation: Iss brah li-um muh woo-in-choh-ir

Phrase: I am in first/second class/grade
Irish: Táim i rang a haon/a dó
Pronunciation: Thaw-im i wrong a hayn/a dhoh

Phrase: I am able to write my name now
Irish: Is féidir liom m'ainm a scríobh anois
Pronunciation: Iss fay-jir li-um m-ahn-m a schree-uv ah-nish

Phrase: May I go out (leave the class?*)
Irish: Bhfuil cead agam dul amach?
Pronunciation: Will kee-sdh ah-gum dhull ah-mockh
(*expression used when asking permission to leave the class to go to the bathroom)

Phrase: I like reading/writing
Irish: Is maith liom scríbhneoireacht/léitheoireacht
Pronunciation: Iss my li-um schree-noh-ir-uchth/lay-ih-oh-ir-uchth

Phrase: We had a music* class today
Irish: Bhí rang cheoil* againn inniu
Pronunciation: Vee wrong khee-oh-il ah-ginn inn-you
*See below for other subjects

Phrase: I passed my exams
Irish: D'Éirí liom sna scrúdúí
Pronunciation: dheye-ree lih-um sah skroo-dhee

Phrase: I hope I don’t fail the maths* test
Irish: Tá súil agam nach mbeid teip agam sa scrúdú mhatamaitice*
Pronunciation: thaw soo-il ah-gum knock my tep ah-gum sah skroo-dhoo wath-ah-math-ikah
*See below for other subjects

Phrase: Report card
Irish: cárta fiosra  
Pronunciation: kawr-thah fiss-rah

Word: Marks/Grade
Irish: marcanna/gráda
Pronunciation: mark-ah-nah/graw-dhah

* Other subjects - this is not meant to be a complete list. A good Irish dictionary should provide the Irish word for the majority of subjects taught in schoolS today.

Subject: History 
Pronunciation: sthahr
Subject: Geography 
Irish: tíreolas 
Pronunciation: cheer-oh-las
Subject: French
Irish: Fraincís 
Pronunciation: rahn-keesh
Subject: German 
Irish: Gearmánais 
Pronunciation: giahr-mawn-ish
Subject: English 
Irish: Béarla 
Pronunciation: bayr-lah

Photo Credit: John Battelle’s Search Blog

1. In Ireland, the word 'school' is used for first and second level education (primary and secondary schools). although the word 'college' may sometimes be used to denote a secondary school building. Third level education is generally described as 'college' or 'university' education. However, certain specialised third level educational establishments might use the word 'school', as in 'hotel management school' or 'computer school'. That generally refers to the building or the name of the 'provider' of that education and not to the level of that education.

2. Many years ago, some schools (mine included) called the first two grades of primary education 'Babies' (Naoineáin) and 'High (Senior) Infants' (Naoineáin Sinsear) This terminology has mostly died out now!

For More Irish words & phrases please click here: Irish Index

Image: Gaeilge Beo from All Posters and Prints.


Thu, Jul 9, 2015
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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.

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We would need both (and some other help) if found wandering in a Gaeltacht late at night.
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