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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 #28 - Saint Brigid & Spring

In Ireland long ago, the first day of Spring fell on February 1. Back then, it was called Imbolc - the feast of the Goddess Brigit (see our Article St. Brigid - the giveaway). When Christianity came to Ireland, the goddess was transformed into the saint. Today, Lá Fhéile Bríde - St. Brigit's Feast Day - is more commonly used than Imbolc. So, this lesson is in honor of the saint and the coming of spring.

Phrase: St. Bridget's Feast Day (1 February)
Irish: Lá Fhéile Bríde (Lá Feabhra)
law ay-leh bree-djeh (law feow-rah)

Word: Spring
Irish: An t-Earrach
on thah-rahkh

Phrase: St. Bridget's Cross
Irish: Crois Bhríde
crush vree-djeh

Word: Rushes
Irish: luachra
: loo-khrah

Word: Garden (yard)
Irish: gáirdín

Word: Spring Flowers
Irish: bláthanna an earraigh
blaw-nah on arr-ee

Word: Vegetables
Irish: glasraí

Word: Farm
Irish: feirm

Word: Farmer
Irish: feirmeoir

Word: Snowdrop
Irish: plúirín sneachta
ploo-reen shnokh-thah

Word: Daffodil
Irish: croimchinn

Phrase: The cross is made from plaited rushes
Irish: Tá an crois déanta as luachra thrilseánaithe
thaw an crush djayn-thah oss loo-khrah thrill-shawn-ih-heh

Phrase: The St Bridget's cross is placed in the eaves on February 1 to ward off fire and storms from affecting the house
Irish: Cuirtear Crois Bhríde sa mbunsileán Lá Feabhra chun chosc a chur ar thinte agus stoirm teacht i bhfeidhm ar an dteach
kwir-thahr crush vree-djeh sah mun-shil-awn law feow-rah khun khusk ah khur err thin-cheh ah-gus stherm chokth ih vyem err on djeokh

Phrase: Together with St Patrick and St Colmcille, St Bridget is the Patron Saint of Ireland
Irish: In éineacht le Naomh Pádraig agus Naomh Colmcille, is í Naomh Bríde Naomh Éarlamh na hÉireann
in ay-nahkhth leh neeve paw-dhrig ah-gus neeve culm-kill-eh, she neeve Bríde Neeve ayr-lahv nah hay-runn

Phrase: The coming of the first snowdrop heralds the ending of the winter weather and, when I see the first daffodil, I'm certain it is over
Irish: Le teacht an chéad phlúirín sneachta is fógra é go bfhuil aimsear an gheimhridh ag dul ar gcúl ach, nuair a chím an chéad chroimchinn, táim cinnte go bfhuil sé thart.
leh chokhth on khay-dh floo-reen shnokh-thah iss foh-gra ay guh will eyem-sherr on yeeve-reh egg dhull err gool okh, noo-ir ah kheem on khay-dh khrum-khinn, thaw-im kinn-cheh guh will shay hahrth

Phrase: It's now time for us to tidy up the garden (yard) to be ready to plant (sow) flowers
Irish: tá sé in am anois slacht a chur ar an ngáirdín chun é a dhéanamh réidh le h-aghaidh na bláthanna a chur
thaw shay in om ah-nish slakh-th ah khur err on ngawr-djeen khun ay ah yay- nahv ray leh heye nah blaw-nah ah khur

Phrase: It's at the beginning of Spring that the farmer tills the soil so that we may have crops and vegetable in abundance later
Irish: Is ag tús an Earraigh go saothraíonn an feirmeoir an talamh chun a ullmhú go mbeidh raidhse toradh an talúin agus glasraí againn ar ball
iss egg thoos on ah-ree guh seeh-ree-unn an firm-eeor on thah-lahv khun guh meye rye-sheh thur-ah on thah-loon ah-gus gloss-ree ah-ginn err bawll

Lesson #29 - Music
Music is so much a part of Irish life, we thought it would be fun to devote a lesson to that topic.

Word: Music
Irish: ceoil

Phrase: Traditional Music
Irish: ceoil traidisiúnta
keohl thradh-ish oon-thah

Phrase: Irish music
Irish: ceoil na hÉireann
keohl nah hay-run

Phrase: Music of the country/land
Irish: ceoil na tíre
keohl nah chee-reh

Word: Musician
Irish: ceoilteoir (plural: ceoilteoirí)
keohl-thoh-ir (plural:kee-ohl-thoh-ree)

Word: Song
Irish: amhrán (plural: amhráin)
ow-rawn (plural: ow-raw-in)

Phrase: Soldiers' Song (National Anthem of the Irish Republic)
Irish: Amhrán na bhFiann
ow-rawn bah vee-un

Word: Tune/air
Irish: fonn
Pronunciation: fun

Bodhrán (no translation, the Irish word is always used)

Phrase: Uilleann Pipes
Irish: píopaí na n-uilleann
pee-uh-pee nah nill -inn
(uillinn is elbow)

Word: Fiddle (violin)
Irish: fidil

Phrase: Penny whistle
Irish: feadóg phingin
fa-dhohg fin-yin

Word: Harp
Irish cláirseach or cruit
klawr-shiukh or kritch

Word: Voice
Irish: guth

Word: Concertina/Accordion
Irish: cáirdín or bosca cheoil
kawr-djeen or bus-kah kheoh-il

Phrase: Music Festival
Irish: Fleadh Cheoil
flah kheoh-il

Phrase: My favorite Irish song is.....
Irish: Is an t-amhrán is breá liom
iss on thow-rawn iss brah li-um

Phrase: She has a sweet, musical voice
Irish: Tá guth binn, ceolmhar aicí
thaw guh binn keohl-wur ek-hee

Phrase: I find it difficult to sing in tune
Irish: bíonn deacair orm cur leis an bhfonn
bee-un djack-ur urm jkr lesh ahn vunn

Phrase: Be quiet! Listen to the music!
Irish: Bí (plural: Bíogai) ciúin! Éist an cheoil!
bee (plural: bee-uhgee) kewn! Ayshth on kheohl!

Phrase: He is the best fiddler in the county
Irish: is é an fidléir is fearr sa chontae
shay ('is é as one word) on fidlayr iss fahrr sah khun dhay

Phrase: They are very musical people
Irish: Is daoine iad go bhfuil tuiscint maith acú don cheoil
iss dheen-ee eedh guh will thish-kintch my ahkoo dhun kheohl

Phrase: There will be a big concert in the theatre next week
Irish: beidh ceolchoirm mór san amharchlann an tseachtain seo chugainn
bye keohl-khwirm more sahn owr-khlahnn on tcheock-thunn shuh hug-inn

Phrase: Both of them play in an orchestra
Irish: seinneann an bheirt acú i gceolfhoireann
shenn-ahn an veh-irch ahkoo ih geohl-irnn

Phrase: I like to sing in the church choir
Irish: is maith liom chanadh i gcór na h-eaglaise
iss my li-um khahn-ah ih gohr nah hahg-lesh-eh

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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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.
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(We want this, you may see a few on these pages - watch out).
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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.

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