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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 68: Advent and Christmas

'Tis the season for Nativity Plays, hence the inspiration for this month's lesson. For other seasonal words and phrases, please see our Irish language index.

Phrase: Advent and the Nativity
Irish: An Aidbhint agus Breith Chríost
on adh-vinth ah-gus breh-khreesth

Phrase: Advent wreath
Irish: bláthfhleasc Aidbhint
blaw-lahsk adh-vinth

Phrase: Four candles
Irish: ceathair choinnle
kah-hirr kwin-leh

Word: Purple
Irish: corcairdhearg

Word: Green
Irish: glas

Word: Baby
Irish: leanbh

Phrase: Baby Jesus
Irish: Leanbh Íosa
lee-ahnv ee-sah

Word: Mary
Irish: Muire
Note: in standard Irish, Máire is the Irish for Mary but Muire is always and only used for Our Lady

Phrase: Mother of God
Irish: Máthair Dé
maw-hirr djay

Word: Joseph
Irish: Ioseph
Note: in standard Irish, Seosamh is the Irish for Joseph but in the Nativity story it is always Ioseph

Word: Carpenter
Irish: saor

Word: Donkey
Irish: asal

Word: Inn
Irish: ósta

Word: Stable
Irish: stábla

Word: Manger/crib
Irish: máinséar

Word/Phrase: Birth/One is born
Irish: breith/beirtear duine
breh/ber-ther ghwinn-eh

Phrase: The Holy Family
Irish: An Clann Naofa
on klahn nee-fah

Phrase: Swaddling Clothes
Irish: bindealáin

Word: Straw
Irish: cochán

Word: Oxen
Irish: daimh

Word: Shepherd
Irish: aoire

Word: Sheep
Irish: caora

Word: Lamb
Irish: uain

Word: Star
Irish: réalt

Phrase: Star in the East
Irish: réalt san Oirthir
raylth sahn err-hir

Phrase: The Three Kings of the East
Irish: Na Trí Ríthe ón Oirthir
nah three ree-heh ohn err-hir

Word: Camels
Irish: camail

Word: Gifts
Irish: bronntanais

Word: Gold
Irish: ór

Word: Frankincense
Irish: túis

Word: Myrrh
Irish: miorr

Phrase: We light a candle on each Sunday in Advent
Irish: Lasamuid coinnle chuile Dhómhnach i rith an Aidbhint.
lahs-ah-mwidj kwinn-leh kwill-eh goh-nukh ih rih on adh-vinth

Phrase: We will have a Nativity play at our school
Irish: Beidh dráma Bhreith Chríost ag an scoil s'againne
bye dhraw-mah vreh-khreesth egg on skwell shah-gin (hard g) nyeh

Phrase: There was no room at the inn
Irish: Bhí an ósta gan áit
vee on ohsth-ah gon aw-itch

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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