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!
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!