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Dear Bitesize: The Origins of the Irish Gaelic Days of the Week

The Origins of the Irish Gaelic Days of the Week image

One of the most appreciated features of Bitesize Irish Gaelic is the member support we provide. A member is part of the Irish learning community, so not necessarily a paying member.

We receive a handful of questions about the Irish language on a daily basis and we’re more than happy to reply, so you can take the next step on your Irish learning journey.

This week we’re featuring a question about the days of the week in Irish.


What are the origins of the days of the week in Irish?

The days of the week as they are found in Irish Gaelic have both Latin and Christian origins.

Dé Luain (Monday) and Dé Máirt (Tuesday) are derived from Latin: dies Lunae and dies Martis.

Dé Céadaoin means First Fast and comes from the words céad (first) and aoine (fast). Déardaoin means Between the Two Fasts (idir + dhá + aoine). Dé hAoine simply means Fast Day. The fasts referred to are found in early Western Christianity and are still practised in Eastern Christianity.

Dé Sathairn (Saturday) is derived from Latin Saturnus and Dé Domhnaigh (Sunday) was also derived from Latin: dies Saturni and dies Dominica, respectively. Interestingly enough, domhnach was also once a word for a church, as you can find in a number of place names across the country, such as Domhnach Broc.

The pre-Christian days of the week are unknown but historians believe that a week was 11 days long. By the way, the current Irish word for week, seachtain, contains seacht which is the number seven.

You can hear the days of the week here:

You can learn even more about Irish pronunciation by participating in Eoin’s course Crack Irish Gaelic Pronunciation on Udemy. 

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That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading!

If you’ve ever got any grammar questions, don’t hesitate to email info@bitesize.irish.

Le gach dea-ghuí, (Kind regards)


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3 thoughts on “Dear Bitesize: The Origins of the Irish Gaelic Days of the Week”

  1. Sunday is De Domnaigh coming from the Latin De Dominica which means the Lord’s Day which is the name for Sunday in the New Testament because that is the day the Lord rose from the dead.