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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 37: Books and Reading

If you like to read, you'll enjoy this week's offering. The words are good, practical vocabulary builders; and, while you may not actually use the phrases, their value lies in observing how sentences are structured in Irish. They're also very useful for practising your pronunciation.

Word: books
Irish: Leabhair

Word: and
Irish: agus

Word: Reading
Irish: Léitheoireacht

Word: Literature
Irish: litríocht

Word: Poetry
Irish: filíocht

Word: Play
Irish: dráma

Word: Book
Irish: leabhar

Word: Magazine
Irish: iris

Word: Booklet
Irish: leabhrán

Word: Library
Irish: leabharlann

Word: Bookstore
Irish: siopa leabhair
shup-ah liaw-err

Word: Bookcase
Irish: leabhragán

Word: Bookshelf
Irish: seilf leabhar
shelf liaw-err

Word: Chapter
Irish: caibidil

Word: Verse
Irish: véarsa* or ceathrú
vayr-sah or kih-ahth-roo
*This is one of the very rare occasions where the letter 'v' is permissible to use in the Irish language. Strictly speaking, the letter 'v' is not in the Irish alphabet and its sound is usually achieved by using the letters 'bh'.

Phrase: Line of poetry
Irish: líne filíochta
leen-eh fill-ee-ukth-thah

Word: Writer
Irish: scríobhnóir

Word: Author
Irish: údar

Word: Poet
Irish: file

Word: Dramatist
Irish: drámadóir

Word: Bookworm
Irish: cruimh leabhar
kriv liaw-err

Word: Internet
Irish: idirlíne

Phrase: I'm a bookworm. I prefer to spend more time reading books than watching television
Irish: Is cruimh leabhar mé. Is fearr-de liom níos mó ama a chaiteamh ar leitheoireacht leabhair ná breathnú ar an dtelefís
Iss kriv liaw-err may. Iss fahr-djeh li-um nees moh ah-mah ah khah-uv err lay-hih-eeoh-ir-ukhth leabhar naw brah-noo err on dell-eh-feesh

Phrase: I like to read a review of a book first
Irish: Is maith liom léirmheas ar leabhar a léamh ar dtús
Iss mye li-um layr-vas err liaw-err ah lay-uv err dhoos

Phrase: Now it is so easy to buy books on the Internet
Irish: Anois tá sé an-éasca leabhair a cheannach ar an Idirlíne
Ah-nish thaw shay on-ay-skah liaw-err ah khiann-ukh err on ih-djirr-leen-eh

Phrase: Have you ever written poetry?
Irish: Ar scríobh tú filíocht riamh?
Err schreeve thoo fill-ee-ukth reeve?

Phrase: You should go to see the Book of Kells in Trinity College, Dublin
Irish: Ba chóir duit dul chun Leabhar Cheannanas Mór i gColáiste na Trionóide, Baile Átha Cliath, a fheiscint
Bah khoh-ir dhitch dhull khun liaw-err khi-ahn-ahn-ahs more ih gull-aw-ish-cheh nah thrin-oh-ih-dje, bahl-yeh aw-hah khlee-ah ah esh-kinch

Phrase: I know it was made into a movie but I much prefer the book
Irish: Tá fhios agam gur chuireadh in oiriúint do scannán é ach is túisce dom an leabhar
Thaw iss ah-gum gur khwirr-eh in err-oo-inch dhuh scon-awn ay okh iss thoo-ish-keh dhum on liaw-err

Phrase: I use our school/university reference library very often
Irish: Is fíor-mhinic a bhainim úsáid as leabharlann na scoile/h-ollscoile
Iss feer-vin-ik ah wahn-im oos-aw-idj oss liaw-err-lahnn na skwell-eh/hull-skwell-eh

Phrase: Who is your favourite author?
Irish: Cé an t-údar is ceanán leat?
kay on thoo-dhahr iss kih-ahn loh-ahth?

Phrase: I must clear out my bookcase. I have collected too many magazines there
Irish: Ní mór dom mo leabhragán a ghlanú. Ta an iomairce irisí ansin agam
Knee more dhum muh liawr-ah-gawn ah glon-oo. Thaw on um-ir-keh ir-ish-ee on-shin ah-gum

Lesson 38: Golf - Part One

Ever played golf in Ireland? It's no idle boast that the Emerald Isle has some of the most picturesque courses in the world. And they're challenging as well. Which is why movie stars like Mike Douglas fly in from the states just to play a round. In this week's lesson, Aideen offers words and phrases related to what one wag described as the greatest excuse for a walk. We especially like the phrase for Golf Club - as in the one you might belong to - sounds suspiciously close to Come and Golf!

Word: Golf
Irish: Galf

Phrase: Playing golf
Irish: ag imirt gailf
egg im-irtch golf

Phrase: Golf Club ('implement')
Irish: maide gailf
mah-djeh golf

Phrase: Golf Club ('society')
Irish: cumann gailf
kum-ahn golf

Phrase: Golf course
Irish: machaire gailf
mahkh-err-eh gailf

Phrase: Putting Green
Irish: plásóg amais
plaw-sohg om-ish

Word: Golfer
Irish: galfaire

Word: Member
Irish: ball

Word: Ball
Irish: liathróid

Word: Bag
Irish: mála

Word: Hole
Irish: poll

Word: Flag
Irish: brat

Word: Caddie
Irish: giolla

Word: Score
Irish: scór

Word: Card
Irish: cárta

Word: Practise/Practice
Irish: cleachtadh
Note: Same word for noun and verb

Phrase: Round of golf
Irish: dreas gailf
dhr-ahs golf

Word: Competition/Tournament
Irish: comórtas

Phrase: Will you be free to caddie for me tomorrow?
Irish: An mbeidh tú saor giollaíocht a dhéanamh dom amárach?
on my thoo seer gih-ull-ee-ukth ah yay-nuv dhum ah-mawr-ahkh

Phrase: I like to go to watch a big tournament
Irish: is breá liom dul ag breathnú ar ilchomórtas mór
iss brah li-um dhul egg brah-noo err ill-khum-ohr-thahs more

Phrase: You are a very good golfer
Irish: tá údarás maith agat ar an ngalf**
thaw oo-dhah-raws my ah-guth err on ngolf.
** (literally: you have 'authority' over the golf)

Phrase: Have you ever thought of turning professional?
Irish: ar smaoinigh tú riamh ar é a ghlacadh mar ghairm?
err smwee-nee thoo reev err ay ah ghlokh-ah mahr ghah-rim?

Phrase: He lost the game on the (putting) green
Irish: chaill sé an chluiche ar an bplásóg (amais)
khah-ill shay on khlikh-eh err on blaw-sohg (om-ish)

Phrase: She has a handicap of 14
Irish: tá buntáiste de cheatheir-déag aicí
thaw bun-thaw-ish-the dheh khiah-hir-djayg ek-ee
Note: The Irish word for a golf 'handicap' - 'buntáiste' - is the same word for 'advantage' when used in other contexts!

Phrase: How many members does that Club have?
Irish: an mó baill atá sa Chlub sin?
ah moh bweel ah-thaw sah khlub shin?

Phrase: We (will) have to get up early in the morning to go out to practise
Irish: ní mór dúinn éirí go luath ar maidin chun chleachtadh
knee mohr dhoo-inn eye-ree guh loo-ah err mah-djin khun khlihah-kh-thah

Phrase: I was really surprised to take (win) that round from him
Irish: Bhí sár-íonadh orm an dreas sin a chur air
vee sawr-een-ah urm on dhr-ahs shin ah khur err

Phrase: I'll have to buy a new cabinet in which to keep all my trophies*
Irish: beidh orm almóir nua a cheannach lem chomhraimh go léir a choinneáil
bye urm ahl-more noo-ah a khih-ahn-ahkh lem khoh-riv guh lay-ir ah khuin-oil

*Aideen couldn't resist putting in this last phrase. And we concur. May all your shots be straight and accurate - in Ireland, or anywhere else.

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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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).
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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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