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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 36 - Irish Dancing

Ever since the premiere of Riverdance in 1995, the surge in the popularity of Irish dance (and "things Irish," in general), has been phenomenal. So, for this lesson, we focus on words and phrases associated with studying Irish step-dancing. Our translator/teacher cautions that knowing them won't turn you into a Michael Flatley - or Jean Butler!

Phrase: Irish Dancing
Irish: Rince Ghaelach
ring-keh gway-lahkh

Word: Dance (social event)
Irish: Céilí

Word: Dancer
Irish: Rinceoir

Phrase: Step-dancing
Irish: Rince céime
ring-keh kay-meh

Word: Class
Irish: Rang

Word: Teacher
Irish: Múinteoir

Word: School
Irish: Scoil

Word: Competition*
Irish: Comórtas

Word: Prize
Irish: Duais

Word: Trophy
Irish: Cómhramh

Word: Medal
Irish: Bonn

Word: Judge/Adjudicator
Irish: Moltóir

Word: Standard
Irish: Caighdeáin

Word: Championship
Irish: Craobh

Word: Grade
Irish: Grád

Word: Costume
Irish: Culaith

Word: Shoes
Irish: Bróga

Word: Reel
Irish: Ríl

Word: Jig
Irish: Port

Word: Hornpipe
Irish: Cornphíopa

*Note: Most Irish dancing competitions take place at a Feis (fesh) but these are not always confined to dancing competitions and may also include music, literature etc. competitions. The plural is Feiseanna (

Phrase: I go to my dancing class ever Saturday
Irish: Freastalaím ar mo rang rince gach Satharn
frass-thahl-eem err muh wrong ring-keh gah-kh sah-hahrn

Phrase: My teacher plans to enter me at the next Feis
Irish: Tá se in aigne ag mo mhúinteoir mé a chur isteach ag an bhFeis seo chugainn
thaw shay inn ahg-neh egg muh woo-in-choh-ir may ah khur ist-chee-ach egg an vesh she-uh hug-inn

Phrase: There was a very high standard in that competition
Irish: Bhí caighdeáin an-árd sa chomórthas sin
Vee kye-djaw-inn on-awrdh sah khum-ohr-thahs shin

Phrase: There will be a big Céilí when the competitions have finished
Irish: Beidh Céilí mór nuair a bhéas na comórthais thart
bye kay-lee more noo-ir ah vays nah kum-ohr-thish hah-rth

Phrase: Our school wins many trophies and medals each year
Irish: Gnóthaíonn an scoil s'againne mórán chómhraimh agus boinn chuile bhliain
gnoh-hee-unn on skull sh'ahg-inn-neh mohr-awn khoh-riv ah-gus bwinn khwill-leh vleen

Phrase: My parents think it is very expensive to buy a new costume for me every year
Irish: Ceapann mo thuismitheoirí go bhfuil se ana-chostasach culaith nua a cheannch dom gach bhliain
kee-ap-ahnn muh hish-mih-hoh-ree guh will shay on-ah khusthahs-ukh kull-ah noo-ah ah khee-ahn-ukh dhum gahkh vleen

Phrase: I would like to achieve a Senior Championship
Irish: Ba maith lion Craobh Sinsear a aimsiú
nah wye li-um kreev shin-shir ah eyem-shoo

Phrase: It is very important to take very good care of your feet and shoes. Irish: Tá sé fíor-thábhachthach aire an-mhaith a thabhairt dod' bhróga agus cois
thaw shay feer hawv-ukh-thikh ah-reh on-wye ah hoh-ir-tch dudh vroh-gah ah-gus cush

Phrase: It is my ambition, one day, to get a job in an Irish dance show
Irish: Is é mo mhian agam post a fháil, lé éigin, i dtaispeantás rince Ghaelach
shay muh veen pusth ah aw-il ih dthas-pawn-thas ring-keh gway-lahkh

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


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.

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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