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Anyone Can Learn To Speak Irish At Home

This is a guest post by Donovan. He grew up in Australia. Watch the video, he’ll tell you for how long he has been learning (hint: not long).


Dia daoibh a chairde!

G’day from Australia 🙂

My name’s Donovan (spelled Donnabháin in Irish) and I own a language learning blog called The Mezzofanti Guild where I offer tips and advice from my own experience learning several languages along with occasional reviews of books, products and websites that I believe will benefit learners.

I recently wrote one such review that you may have read here for Bitesize Irish Gaelic which I consider to be an outstanding resource for new learners.

Six months ago I decided to teach myself the Irish language with the aim of eventually becoming completely fluent using (mostly free) online resources. I outlined my reasons for wanting to do this here.

I initially became interested in Irish a few years ago when I spent a year living in Cork and witnessed the unfortunate neglect of the language by so many Irish people (mostly due to a problem with the way its taught in schools in Ireland I think). Although there have been some fantastic efforts made to get young people interested in their native language there’s still a lot of work to be done and there’s no reason why the Irish diaspora and descendents like us can’t help as well! 🙂

Helping preserve indigenous languages is something that I’m very passionate about so I’ve wanted to do my part by learning and promoting Irish myself, both on my blog and when I’m with my Irish friends who don’t speak the language.

Rather than write a lengthy post today I decided to put a quick video together (above) demonstrating my level in Irish after only 6 months of study at home using internet resources like Bitesize Irish Gaelic. I’ve only had a few short opportunities to practice with native speakers so far (as is pretty clear in the video).

You can compare it to my 3 month progress video here.

I’d love to hear from you whether you’re a brand new learner or fluent speaker and feel free to offer some constructive criticism of any mistakes I made in this video. Feedback is really appreciated as it all helps me improve 🙂

If you’d like to get in touch with me for some Irish practice, advice or just to be friends you can contact me through my blog or my Facebook page.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh a chairde! 🙂

Impressed? Leave Donovan a comment below. Feel free to ask questions.

16 thoughts on “Anyone Can Learn To Speak Irish At Home”

  1. Hi ! I would really appreciate it if you could help me with translating something. How would you say ‘pursue my dreams’ in Irish? Thank you in advance. Also it’s really amazing how you set your mind to learning the language and did it, my admirations.

    1. Hi Scott, sorry we don’t do translations, but do a Google for Irish Language Forum, you can ask the kind members there.

  2. Luis Miguel Diaque

    Go hiontach! Ta morán Gaeilge ag Donn Dhubhain! agus a bhi sé ag foghlaim é a sé mhí amháin! Is maith é dhuit, a Dhonn Dhubain. Dia Dhuit, a hEoin… Conas atá tu?… Hey, does my writing show the Sinead Fada correctly in everyone else’s computer? because I am writing with a Spanish computer and use the “accent” key for it… I just hope it shows correctly on other people’s computers.

    1. A Luis, a chara, tá mé ar fheabhas, go raibh maith agat. Agus tú féin?

      Yup, your síneadh fada is displaying correctly, nice one. Feicim iad. I see them.

      The Spanish keyboard layout is a good one, since it has the same accent marks as Irish.

      1. Luis Miguel Diaque

        Ta me go han-mhaith inniú, ach D´ól me an iomarca beora inné, mar sin de ta tinneas cinn orm fós. (Bhi an ceathru lá de mhí Iúil inné). I have a possibly difficult question, hope it won’t be a bother. Do you recall that I once mentioned my Spanish heritage? I should have been more specific… My family hails from the Basque country (at all familiar?). Do you know if there is an Irish Gaelic word for the Basque people and language? Or do you guys just lump us into the general definition of “Spáinnigh”? Just curious.

          1. Go deas, go raibh maith agat as é sin a roinnt linn. Nice, thanks for sharing that with us.

            Sorry I didn’t help quicker.

    1. Go raibh maith agatsa, Donovan. With the native speakers that you got to meet, were they people you were able to meet face-to-face?

    2. Hi I’m just starting to learn Gaeilge I live in Virginia USA and I’ve been doing duolingo I’m 14 years old and want to connect more to my Irish roots I have not done bitesize Irish Gaelic I think I will try it thought I have Rosetta Stone for Gaeilge, should I use it? Go raibh míle maith agat Slán

      1. Hi Ethan,
        Thanks so much for getting in touch 🙂
        It’s amazing to hear you’ve decided to learn Irish! When did you start?
        I don’t know much about Rosetta Stone, I’m sorry. You can try the Bitesize Irish course for free for three weeks if you’d like to compare them?
        You can sign up here: bitesize.irish/try
        It doesn’t take credit card details or anything like that and once the trial is over it expires unless you sign up for a subscription.
        If you have any more questions, send them through to me at info@bitesize.irish, I’d be happy to help.
        Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat, best of luck!
        Gabrielle (Bitesize Irish Community Manager)

        1. I started to gain interest in Gaeilge about 5 years ago after hearing Níl S’én Lá by Celtic Woman and it really sparked a Gaelic fire that burst throughout my whole body. I always new my family was Irish but I had never been so close to my heritage until then, so I started to listen to more Gaelic music and picked up the bodhrán and started Irish dancing lessons. Music helps me to learn our native language and understand it better. Ever since I have been able to read in Irish I have been singing Sean Nós songs such as shadhbh ní bhruinneallaigh and Chasadh an tSúgainn. My family speaks Irish sometimes in little bits and pieces in sentences such as put your bógans on or itheann na cáca or ólainn tú uisce but that is the only stuff I knew so I decided to learn more of it. Now I can speak Irish intermediatly and feel much more connected to my heritage. When I have children Irish will be be their first language ( no exemptions) it is amazing to think that I can create a new generation of Irish speakers. Go raibh míle maith agat. Go- nierí leat. Sláinte agus slán

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