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Giving Directions in Ireland

I have a window sticker on my car that says Ná Lean Mé…Tá Mé Ar Strae (“Don’t Follow Me…I’m Lost”). It gets a lot of comments (mostly along the line of “what in the heck does that say?”)

I have another window sticker that says Gaeltacht Bheag an Carr Seo (“This Car is a Little Gaeltacht”). Ironically, even though I barely know my right from my left in English, I’m pretty good at giving directions in Irish. By the time you’ve finished reading this post, you’ll have a good start on it too!

Some basic terminology

If you’re already a Bitesize Irish Gaelic subscriber, you can learn about giving directions in depth — to one or more people, with audio and an opportunity to practice by role playing — by accessing Lesson: Giving Directions and Lesson: Conversation in a Shop.

If you’re not yet a Bitesize subscriber, here are some terms to help you with giving and understanding directions in Irish.

These terms all presume that you’re giving directions to one person only.

Téigh (chay): Go

Lean (lan): Follow or Continue

Cas (kass): Turn

Go díreach (guh JEER-ukh): Straight or directly

Ar aghaidh (air eye): Forward or ahead

Trasna (TRASS-nuh): Across

Tríd (treej): Through

Ar dheis (air yesh): Right

Ar chlé (air khlay): Left

Os comhair  (ahss kohr nuh): Across from (followed by the genitive case. If you’re not familiar with the genitive case, see our previous post on the subject.)

In aice le (in AK-eh leh): Near/next to

An taobh (un TEE-ew or un TEEV): The side

An céad (uh kayd): The first

An dara (un DAIR-uh): The second

An céad ____ eile (un kayd _____ EH-leh): The next _____

Landmarks and such

If you’re giving or receiving directions, knowing a few landmarks and physical features is a good thing as well. Here are some you might encounter:

An crosaire (un KROSS-ur-eh): The crossroads

An coirnéal (un KORN-yayl): The corner

Solas Trachta (SUL-uss TRAKH-tuh): Traffic light

An droichead (DRAH-khed): The bridge

An scoil (un skuhl): The school

An teach tábhairne (un chakh TAH-wur-nyeh): The pub

An leabharlann (un LOHR-lahn): The library

An bialann (un BEE-uh-lahn): The restaurant

Give it a Try!

Using the glossary I just gave you, with some concentration, you should be able to decipher the following directions. Give it a try, and let me know what you came up with in the “comments” section below!

One caveat:

If you’re new to Irish, you may not be aware that some words will change their spelling slightly, depending on how they’re used in a sentence. For example an scoil (the school) may become  na scoile (of the school). An droichead (the bridge) may become an droichid (of the bridge). Dheis may become deis after certain nouns.

Don’t let that worry you! A big part of learning Irish is learning to spot patterns. If you think the word you’re seeing MIGHT be an unfamiliar form of  “school,” “bridge,” “right,” etc.,  there’s a good chance you’re correct!

Try this one first

Cá bhfuil an leabharlann? (Where is the library?)

Téigh go díreach ar aghaidh. Ag an dára coirnéal, cas ar chlé. Tá sí ar an taobh deis, in aice leis an teach tábhairne.

Did you get it? Try another one!

Now try this one

Cá bhfuil an scoil? (Where is the school?)

Lean ar aghaidh tríd an crosaire agus trasna an droichid. Ag an céad solas trachta, cas ar dheis. Ag an céad coirnéal eile, cas ar chlé. Beidh sí ar an taobh clé, os comhair na bialainne.

How did you do?

Were you able to decipher the directions? Did you find this exercise useful? Let us know your thoughts below!

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1 thought on “Giving Directions in Ireland”

  1. patrick mc nally

    I understand this post alright Audrey, but find it a bit direct. Consider this approach. Asking for directions. Excuse me, please. I ‘am looking for the coffee shop, can you help me?. Then the directions given in Irish. There is a lot more in this I understand that. Cad é do bharúil air?. Pádraig