Irish? Sure, there’s an app for that!
Whether you’re one of the lucky people who got a new smart phone, tablet, or mp3 player for Christmas or you just want to learn how to get the most out of your portable devices, you’ll be happy to learn that there is a growing number of applications for Irish.
Some of these apps are geared specifically toward learning, some are for reference, and some are just for fun, but all of them can help enrich your study of this beautiful language.
Here are a few of my favorites (prices, where given, are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise indicated). Feel free to share your own!
Dictionaries and vocabulary
As far as Irish dictionary apps go, as of this writing, the gold standard is definitely the Collins Irish Dictionary. This fully featured searchable English-Irish/Irish-English dictionary is a bargain at $9.99, and available for both iPhone and Android.
Dictionary entries include gender (if applicable), word type (noun, verb, etc.), plural and genitive forms, and examples of usage.
The program also has several games, such as “Hangman,” as well as flashcards and a “Word of the Day” feature. You can even bookmark favorite/most useful entries.
There are other dictionaries out there, but I haven’t found any that are as useful and intuitive as this one.
By the way, be wary of apps that refer to themselves as “translators” rather than dictionaries, or that offer “translations” as one of their features.
They may or may not be good dictionaries, but machine translation is an iffy business, and their output needs to be taken with a huge fistful of salt. If you want to know why, see our article on machine translation here.
This may be the fastest growing segment of the Irish language app market. One I particularly like is Enjoy Irish, which is available for both the iPhone and for Android-based phones. It’s also quite a bargain at $1.99.
Based on the book and CD course of the same name, this app is geared toward the adult beginner, and features conversations on a variety of topics (recorded by native speakers of the Ulster dialect), accompanied by amusing illustrations.
Another very good learning/teaching program that is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod (but not, as of this writing, for Android) is Buntús Cainte. This mp3-based program is based on the best-selling Buntús Cainte course, and feature the Connacht dialect.
Buntús Cainte offers both a beginner and intermediate course, and interested parties can try the first lesson of each for free. As of this writing, each full course costs €9.99 (around $14 U.S.)
There are several study aids for Irish available. One free app that’s especially useful for beginners is Gaelic (Irish) Study Buddy. This free app for the iPhone has two modes: “Study” (which is a flashcard system) and “Test” (multiple-choice vocabulary tests).
Another of which I’ve recently become enamored is Greann Gaeilge, which is an extremely useful “in-your-pocket” cheat sheet for verbs and prepositional pronouns. The basic app is free, but you can purchase upgrades for about $0.99.
Under the prepositional pronoun listings, Greann Gaeilge not only shows you the conjugations, it tells you what, if any, initial mutations are caused by that pronoun and offers many examples of usage. The verb listings are similarly useful…you can change tenses simply by spinning a dial!
Another good app if you want to learn Irish and test yourself is LingoBrain – Irish (available on Android devices). This app allows you to test your vocabulary using multiple choice questions. If you know there are certain areas where you have problems and want to focus there, download the app (it’s free to test but you’ll have to buy it to have access to all features) and use the tests to get a better understanding of the Irish language.
The app uses the Pota Focal, one of the most popular Irish language references and contains an Irish-English dictionary with over 7500 words.
Ever wished you could hear a Lady Gaga song in Irish? If so, TG Lurgan is for you! This app offers all kinds of popular music videos in Irish, including original works as well as covers. Many also include the lyrics, so you can sing along!
If you have an Irish-speaking (or learning) child to amuse, there are some great game apps available geared specifically toward kids.
Olly an Veain Bheag Bhán (Olly the Little White Van) is based on the TG4 animated children’s show of the same name. Kids can help Olly pick up and deliver packages or put Olly and his friends together with the encouragement of an Irish-speaking narrator.
Another great app for kids is Babóg Baby, which features Irish-, Scottish Gaelic-, and Welsh-speaking teddy bears that teach children their numbers, colors, and shapes.
There’s more…lots more!
This post just begins to scratch the surface! A quick search of your phone’s app store (or the internet) will reveal lots of apps for the Irish language. If you have a favorite, or if you have questions about a particular app, please share it with us below!