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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.

In the Irish calendar, there's always something special going on. In September, Oysters are back on the menu!
Of course, this is the first month after summer with an 'R' in it and an old rule (still a wise rule) insists 'never eat shellfish unless the month has an 'R' in it.' After avoiding oysters for months we have the Galway and Clarenbridge Festivals; both in September and celebrating the Galway Oysters with gusto. So, let us talk about it.

Word: Oyster/Oysters
Irish: oisre/oisrí
Pronunciation: ush-reh/ush-ree

Phrase: Fresh oysters
Irish: Oisrí nua
Pronunciation: ush-ree noo-ah

Phrase: Irish oysters
Irish: Oisrí Éireannach
Pronunciation: ush-ree ayr-un-ukh

Phrase: Native or natural oysters
Irish: oisrí dúchasacha
Pronunciation: ush-ree dhoo-khahs-ukh

Word: Lemon/lemons
Irish: liomóid (í)
Pronunciation: lim-oh-idj (ee)

Word: Shuck/shell (open)
Irish: oscail
Pronunciation: us-kill

Phrase: Oyster knife
Irish: scian oisre
Pronunciation: shkeen ush-reh

Word: Horseradish
Irish: raidis fhiain (literally: 'fiery' radish)
Pronunciation: rad-ish ee-un

Phrase: Hot sauce
Irish: anlann te
Pronunciation: ahn-lahn tcheh

Word: Festival
Irish: Féile
Pronunciation: fay-leh

Word: Shell/half-shell
Irish: blaosc/leath-bhlaosc
Pronunciation: blee-usk/lah-vlee-usk

Word: Baked
Irish: bácálthah
Pronunciation: bawk-awl-thah

Word: Steamed
Irish: galtha
Pronunciation: gahl-thah

Word: Chowder
Irish: anraith éisce (literally: fish soup)
Pronunciation: ahn-reh aysh-keh

Word: Raw
Irish: ámh
Pronunciation: awv

Word: Grilled
Irish: gríosctha
Pronunciation: greesk-thah

Word: Casserole
Irish: casaról
Pronunciation: casserole

Phrase: I'd like a dozen oysters on the half-shell.
Irish: Ba mhaith liom leath-dhosaen oisrí leath-bhlaosc.
Pronunciation: bah wye li-um lah-gus-ayn ush-rii blee-usk/lah-vlee-usk

Phrase: I'd like an order of raw oysters, brown bread and a pint of Guinness.
Irish: Is mian liom oisrí ámh, arán donn agus pointa Guinness a chuir in ordú.
Pronunciation: iss meen li-um ush-re awv, ah-rawn dhown ah-gus pih-un-thah Guinness ah khurr in ur-dhoo

Phrase: Galway international oyster festival
Irish: Féile Ghaillimh Idirnáisiúnta na nOisrí
Pronunciation: fay-leh ghah-lihv idjir-naw-shoon-thah na nush-ree

Phrase: Clarenbridge Oyster festival
Irish: Féile Dhroichead Chláirín na nOisrí
Pronunciation: fay-leh ghreh (hard 'g')-udh khlaw-reen nah nush-ree

Phrase: Thanks to refrigeration, it's safe to eat oysters year round.
Irish: Ní mór a bheith buíochach don chuisniú gur sábháilte é oisrí a itheadh i rith na mbliana uilig.
Pronunciation: nee mohr ah veh bwee-khuk dhun kwish-nioo gur saw-wawl-tcheh ay ush-ree ah ih-heh ih rih nah bleen-ah ill-ig

Phrase: The Irish oyster festivals are held in (the month of) September.
Irish: Is i mí Mean Fomhair a mbíonn Féiltí na nOisrí.
Pronunciation: iss ih mee mahn oh-wir ah mee-un fayl-tchee nah nush-ree

Phrase: If you like oysters, you should visit Galway in September.
Irish: Más mian leat oisrí a ghlachadh ní mór duit cuairt a thabhairt ar Ghaillimh i rith mí Mean Fomhair.
Pronunciation: maws meen li-ahth ush-ree ah ghlah (hard 'g')-kah nee mohe gwitch coo-irtch err ghah-lihv ih rih mee mahn oh-wir.

Phrase: Oyster opening/shucking championship
Irish: Féile Oscailt na nOisrí
fay-leh uss-kill-tcheh nah nush-ree

Phrase: Oyster shucking contest
Irish: Comórtas Oscailt na nOisrí
Pronunciation: kum-ohr-thahs uss-kill-tcheh nah nush-ree

Phrase: Oyster season
Irish: Séasúr na nOisrí
Pronunciation: say-soor nah nush-ree

Phrase: Bi-valve mollusc
Irish: sliogánach dhá-chomhla
Pronunciation: shlug-awn-ukh gaw-khoh-lah

Phrase: One oyster has only seven calories
Irish: Níl ach seacht calraí in aon oisre amháin
(Note: 'aon' and 'amháin' - meaning 'one' and 'only' are both used here for emphasis)
Pronunciation: neel ahkh shockth kahl-ree inn ayn ush-reh ah-waw-in

Phrase: Oysters are very nutritious
Irish: Is an-bheathúil iad na h-oisrí
Pronunciation: iss ahn-vah-hoo-il eedh nah hush-ree

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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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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