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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.

Weights and measures

An email from a 60 year old from Dallas, Texas, said: "We still sell berries by the pint in this country, but potatoes are sold by the pound. Potatoes used to be sold by the peck. If my parents were alive they would be 100 and 101. Since I haven't bought nails in years, I don't know how they are sold in bulk rates today. When I was a child, my father would send me to the hardware store by 10 penny nails by the pound. Today they are sold in plastic bubble packages."

In Britain, they still sometimes buy prawns and shrimps by the pint, but you won't hear of fruit being sold that way. Strawberries are often sold by the punnet (a small cardboard basket), but most berries are sold by weight. Potatoes were sold by the pound, or stone if you bought enough. Now it's all kilos, of course.

Confusing? Yes. Especially when you see the price of petrol - which used to be sold by the Imperial gallon, but now it's litres. Fortunately, there's invariably a pub a stone's throw away where you can order up a pint or two and forget about estimating miles per gallon (or litre) and or worrying about your weight. Whose idea was this topic anyway?!

Phrase: Weights and Measurements
Irish: Meáchain agus Tomhais
Pronunciation: mah-khun ah-gus thoh-ish

Word: Imperial*
Irish: impiriúil
Pronunciation: im-pir-oo-il

Word: Inch
Irish: órlach
Pronunciation: ohr-lahkh

Word: Foot
Irish: troigh
Pronunciation: threh

Word: Yard
Irish: slat
Pronunciation: slahth

Word: Mile
Irish: míle
Pronunciation: mee-leh

Word: ounce
Irish: únsa
Pronunciation: oon-sah

Word: Pound
Irish: punt
Pronunciation: punth

Word: Stone**
Irish: cloch
Pronunciation: klukh

Word: Ton
Irish: tonna
Pronunciation: thun-ah

Word: Cup
Irish: cupán
Pronunciation: kup-awn

Word: Pint
Irish: pionta
Pronunciation: pih-un-thah

Word: Quart
Irish: cárt
Pronunciation: kawrth

Word: Gallon
Irish: galún
Pronunciation: galh-oon

Word: Metric
Irish: méadrach
Pronunciation: may-dhrukh

Word: Meter
Irish: méadar
Pronunciation: may-dhahr

Word: Centimeter
Irish: ceintiléadar
Pronunciation: cent-ih-may-dhahr

Word: Kilometer
Irish: ciliméadar
Pronunciation: kil-ih-may-dhahr

Word: Gram
Irish: gram
Pronunciation: grahm

Word: Kilo
Irish: tornóg
Pronunciation: thur-nohg

Word: Kilolitre
Irish: cililiotar
Pronunciation: kil-ih-lih-thar

Word: Litre
Irish: liotar
Pronunciation: lih-thahr

Word: Mililitre
Irish: mililiotar
Irish: mill-ih-lih-thar

Phrase He weighs twelve stone
Irish: Tá sé dhá chloch déag
Pronunciation: thaw shay gaw khlukh djayg

Phrase: It's eight inches from head to foot
Irish: Tá sé ocht órlaigh ó sháil go rinn
Pronunciation: thaw shay ukth ohr-lee og haw-il guh rinn

Phrase: It should be measured by........
Irish: Ba chomhair é a thomhais de réir..............
Pronunciation: bah khoh-ir ay ah hosh dheh ray-ir

Phrase: Thirteen ounces of flour will be needed for that cake
Irish: Beidh trí únsa déag den phlúr ag taisteáil le haghaidh an chiste sin
Pronunciation: bye three oon-sah djayg dhen flure shin egg tahs-thaw-il leh heye on kheesh-the shin

Phrase: You'll need as many (xxxx) again to finish that work
Irish: Beidh an oiread sin arís de (xxxx) an obair sin a chríochnú
Pronunciation: bye on err-adh shin ah-reesh dheh (xxxx) on ub-ir shin ah khreekh-noo

Phrase: What height is she?
Irish: Cén airde atá aici?
Pronunciation: kayn eer-djeh ah-thaw ek-ee?

Phrase: He got great satisfaction out of winning the one thousand metre race
Irish: Bhain sé fíor-shásamh as an mbua a ghlacadh sa rás míle méadair
Pronunciation: wahn shay feer-haws-uv oss on moo-ah ah ghlahkh-ah sah raws mee-leh may-dhir

Phrase: Do you have a weighing-machine?
Irish: Bhfuil meá-inneall agat?
Pronunciation: will mah-inn-ull ah-guth

Phrase: How much does the package weigh?
Irish: Cad é an meáachan atá ar an mbeartán?
Pronunciation: kahdh ay on mah-khun ah-thaw err an mahr-thawn

Phrase: Give me a glass of water, please
Irish: Tabhair dom gloine uisce led' thoil
Pronunciation: thurr-um glinn-eh ish-keh ledh hell
NOTE: "tabhair dom" is always compacted in common speech)

Phrase: I should lose some weight soon
Irish: Ba chóir dom roinnt meáchain a chailliúint go luath
Pronunciation: bah khoh-ir dhum ryentch mah-khun ah khahl-oo-intch go loo-ah

Phrase: We'll have a three hour journey
Irish: Beidh turas de thrí uaire againn
Pronunciation: bye thruss dheh hree oo-ir-eh ah-ginn

*Imperial: About 20 percent more than a US gallon.
**A stone is an English measurement of weight equivalent to 14 lbs

If you're interested in learning more about British weights, please click
English weights & measures.

Or here: Weights

Image: Life-size sign and pole from Irish Shop. For more details or to purchase please click Irish Shop.

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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