Q&A Le Siobhán Agus Emma – Thursday December 16Th 2021


Watch back December’s Live Q&A with Siobhán and Emma above or find below a summary of what we covered. We answered questions from Irish learners on various topics related to the Irish language. The questions quoted below are abridged summaries of the original questions.

How to say and pronounce in Ulster dialect. “Mr/Madam Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen” when addressing a formal meeting

John, Ultach
  • ‘Mr/Madam Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen’ = ‘A Chathaoirligh agus a dhaoine uaisle
  • if you want a rough pronunciation in 3 dialects

How does one use the word for fiber, snáithín, as an adjective?

Cynthia, Iowa, USA
  • Snáithíneach means fibrous
  • fibre beehive hut = clochán déanta as snáithín

My family and I belong to one of several religions that do not celebrate Christmas. How can we explain this respectfully “as Gaeilge” when, for example, someone wishes us a Merry Christmas?

Stephen, England
  • A possible reply is Go raibh maith agat ach ní cheiliúraim an Nollaig. (Thank you but I don’t celebrate Christmas.)
  • You could flesh out your reply by saying what religion you are, for example: Go raibh maith agat ach ní cheiliúraim an Nollaig mar is ________ mé. (Thank you but I don’t celebrate Christmas as I’m a _______.)

I’m currently struggling to hear the difference between Cailín and Codlaíonn. To my ear, there are quite a few words that sound the same. Are there any resources I could use to train my ear?

Glenn, New York
  • The word codlaíonn on Forvo as referenced in the questions.
  • Mostly, the d in codlaíonn is pronounced though the d is not pronounced by some speakers and in some other forms of the verb codail, to sleep, such as codladh, sleep.
  • To train your ear, we recommend the following:
    • Nuacht mhall – the weekly news read slowly. A transcript and a glossary is in the episode description. 
    • Vifax – Practice your Irish with clips from the daily news on TG4 (Irish language TV) on There’s also a worksheet available for each clip, including a transcript of the audio on the last page of the pdf.
    • Bloc TG4 – subtitles in both English and Irish (some of the content is only suitable for 18+)
    • Crack Irish Pronunciation

I came across the phrase “Cérb ás thu.”  Another language learning program spelled it “Carb ás tu”. It seems to mean “Where are you from?” (similar to Cad as duit?).Would this be a dialect issue?

Ryan, California
  • Here are some examples of the many ways of asking ‘Where are you from? in Irish:

Do you have any plans in the website to mirror the Irish language oral? I ask because this is probably the basic level of Irish that people in Ireland have.

Brian, UK
  • The oral examination in Ireland is contains a conversation on topics which we definitely cover on Bitesize. Our cursaí have lessons on introducing yourself, talking about family, hobbies, work, food and a lot more.
  • The other parts of the oral exam are describing pictures and reciting poetry, something that doesn’t reflect real-life interactions in the language.
  • We are working on a new platform for Bitesize that will be launched some time in the new year but we wouldn’t be basing it off the school curriculum that is in place in schools. 

I recently came across a terrific cover rendition of Irish band U2’s song “With or Without You” as performed by TG Lurgan. Are there other examples of songs in English that sound better ‘as Gaeilge’? 

Maitíu, Manchain, Sasana
  • The Irish band ‘The Coronas’ have translated some of their own songs into Irish, such as Taibhsí nó Laochra.
  • The Star-Spangled Banner was translated to Irish in 1898 and is called An Bhratach Gheal-Réaltach.

The novel “Cré na Cille” by Máirtín Ó Cadhain appears to be regarded as the greatest novel in the Irish language/20th c. Is much known of the author or his life? What’s his reputation in Ireland?

Maitíu, Manchain, Sasana
  • Máirtín Ó Cadhain is a well-known writer, language activist, and social and political activist. Read more about his life here.
  • Ó Cadhain’s correspondance during his interment in the Curragh during the Emergency can be found in the book As an nGéibheann: litreacha chuig Tomás Bairéad (1973).

“You can be” is “is feidir leat a bheith”, and “you might be” is “d’fhéadfá a bheith”. Why is it “is” in one sentence and “d'” in the other? Are “feidir” and “fhéadfá” forms of the same word?

Is it proper Irish to begin a sentence with “anois”, even though it is not a verb? I was wondering how one might translate an English sentence like “Now, I know what you’re thinking!”

Daniel, Sasana
  • féidir (noun) = possible. It is only used with the copula (an chopail), for example, is féidir liom (I can).
  • d’fhéadfá is a form of the verb féad, to be able to. D’fhéadfá is in the conditional tense (modh coinníollach) and means ‘you would be able to‘ or ‘you could.’
  • They are not strictly speaking forms of the same word as one is a noun and the other is a verb but they are surely related as they not only sound and appear similar but are very similar in meaning also.
  • It sounds more natural to say Tuigim anois cad atá á rá agat! than Anois, tuigim cad atá á rá agat!

  • D’íosfainn bó dá mbeinn ábalta/in ann bó a ithe = I would eat a cow if I were able to eat a cow.
  • D’íosfainn bó dá bhféadfainn bó a ithe = I would eat a cow if I could eat a cow.
  • D’íosfainn means ‘I would eat’. It is the conditional tense/modh coinníollach form, first person, of the verb ith, to eat. Use the conditional tense/modh coinníollach in place of the English word ‘would’.
  • Dá bhféadfainn means ‘if I could’. means ‘if’. Bhféadfainn is the conditional tense/modh coinníollach form, first person, of the verb féad, to be able to.

P.S. What did you learn from this Q&A? Leave a comment below!

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