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IRISH LANGUAGE Q&A

Q&A Le Niall Agus Emma – Thursday January 20TH 2022

Watch back January’s Live Q&A with Niall 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 and in particular the Ulster Irish dialect. The questions quoted below are abridged summaries of the original questions.

How do you say good luck in Ulster Irish?

Conor Lynn, Derry

  • ádh mór ort / ádh mór

Is there a difference in tone and/or meaning between; “Is múinteoir mé.”, “Múinteoir atá ionam.” and “Múinteoir is ea mé”?


James Mulligan, Orlando, Florida USA
  • No they are quite interchangable. Starting your sentence with ‘múinteoir’ would suggest a little more emphasis on the word but overall they are the same.

How different is Ulster Irish from the Irish spoken in Cork?

Frank, San Diego, USA
  • It’s quite different, to be honest, but then again, even in English people sound quite different in Donegal and Cork! People often struggle with dialects when they are starting out, because you learn to say something one way and then hear people saying it a different way, but ultimately the more you learn the less of an issue the dialect is. As learners, it’s important for us to be aware of and understand the different dialects.

What form of Irish am I going to learn at Bitesize? Gaelic? Scottish? Irish?

Eddie Sanders, Bozeman Montana
  • Irish is one of the three Gaelic languages, the others being Scottish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic. People outside Ireland often just say Gaelic, especially in Scotland, where they also have the Scots language (which is more similar to English).
  • In Bitesize you will learn Irish.

I would love to find a good resource for listening to Ulster Irish on a regular basis.


Janine Magidman, Seattle, WA USA
  • Logainm.ie
  • placenamesni.org
  • ‘Beoigh’ has a shop on Etsy with some lovely maps of Derry city, Derry county and Donegal in Irish. He also did a “Map of the Islands” that shows Ireland, Britain and Brittany in the various Celtic languages.

Is there a list of Irish words and English translations that are only used in Uladh?


Adrian, Armagh

I’m a new learner of Gaeilge Uladh. I want to ask, why don’t we see our dialect represented more?


Kate Large, Co Down, Ireland
  • Ulster Irish is a bit under-represented and over the years I’ve heard a few snippy comments about it from people from other parts of the country (including my Galway-born mother!), but that’s mostly from people who struggled with Donegal Irish in their school exams.
  • There are a few linguistic features which make Munster and Connacht Irish quite similar at times, and along with the political situation, this has probably marginalised Ulster Irish.
  • ROI school systems would follow a “standard” Irish which is not quite the same as any dialect, but closer to Munster and Connaught. That said, an Caighdéan Oifigiúil, the Official Standard which is used for official purposes, does not relate to dialect or pronunciation at all.

What advice would you give to novices wanting to do their first Gaeltacht stay? What should we expect and what are the do’s and don’ts?

Kate Large, Co. Down, Ireland
  • A great thing to do would be to take a course with Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholmcille, or one of the other places that offer courses for adults. With lots of learners and teachers around, it’s a “safe space” where you can practise at your level.
  • If you’re just visiting the Gaeltacht and not studying, you can use your Irish in shops, pubs and restaurants. Start out with simple phrases that you are confident with, and later you push it a bit further.
  • Be willing and ready to use your Irish and to make mistakes! A lot of people are afraid to slip up but it is completely normal and it will help you learn. Get involved in activities and dive in.

What part of the Irish language do you feel is the most critical to learn?

Edward, Evergreen Park IL USA
  • It all depends on where you are in your language level.
  • If you’re starting out, making sure you understand the spelling and the pronunciation is a key foundation.
  • Grammar is a big thing in any language, not just Irish. Irish is a VSO or verb-subject-object language which means the verb comes first so sentence structure is something that catches people by surprise if they are unfamiliar with the language.
  • There are only 11 irregular verbs in Irish so you are in luck there!
  • Build your vocabulary as you go and start out with learning how to talk about yourself and what is relevant to you.  

How would I say ‘Can I have a pint or a mug of tea or coffee’ in the Ulster Irish dialect and also the phrase ‘the rest is history’


Paul Gallagher living in Galway but from Donegal
  • Ba mhaith liom pionta/cupán tae/cupán caife.
  • “The rest is history” – ”Tá a fhios ag madaidh an bhaile cén chríoch a bhí ar an scéal” – “The dogs of the town know what happened in the end”.

The different dialects of Gaeilge have some quite diverse pronunciations of certain words. eg duit. Which is the most universal/useful one to go for that you will understand and be understood wherever you go?

Roz, Leamington Spa, England
  • That’s a common question – no standard ‘spoken’ dialect of Irish.
  • Understanding all of the dialects is something that comes with practice and experience so if you have a particular interest in a certain part of the country, maybe even family or friends there. Try learning that dialect as you might have more of a chance to visit there more often!
  • If you have no link to any place or dialect in particular then try listening to all three and see what sounds nicest to you.
  • No matter where you go you will be understood by others regardless of the dialect.

I have been enjoying a lot of traditional Irish music recently; I like ‘Bean Phaidin’ and ‘An bfhaca tú mo Sheamuisín’. Do you have any recommendations or favourites for music like this?

Some song suggestions :

  • Gleanntáin Ghlas’ Ghaoth Dobhair
  • Níl sé ina lá
  • Péigín Litir Mór
  • Báidín Fheilimí
  • Casadh an tSúgáin – we have a ‘How to Say’ blog post and video on this.
  • Cailleach an Airgid
  • We have a singing course included in what is available to our Explore and Grow members here at Bitesize.
  • Anam an Amhráin on TG4 have a DVD with many songs and beautiful visuals done by the Cartoon Saloon animation studio. Many are available on YouTube if you search it.

I’m thinking about learning the basics (I’m Polish) and I’d love to take a week or two course in Gaeltacht, together with my 12year old daughter. What Irish is taught in Derry high schools?

Jola, Derry
  •  Derry is next door to County Donegal, so it’s definitely Ulster Irish that’s taught there.

I heard recently that the word “bord” in the phrase “ar an mbord” is lenited rather than eclipsed in the Ulster dialect, in which “ar an bhord” would be the more common pronunciation. What accounts for this difference in mutation between the Ulster and Connaught/Munster dialects? Are there many other cases of this kind of difference of mutation between the Ulster and other dialects?

Daniel, Sasana
  • In Ulster we’d actually say “ar an tábla” instead of the word ‘bord’. I think the difference between using urú or séimhiú stems from the old accusative and dative cases.
  • When you have the preposition and the definite article such as ‘ar an’ (on the), ‘ag an’ (at the), ‘chuig an’ (to the) etc. it is eclipsed (urú) in Munster and Connaught.
  • Consonants following a preposition and definite article that would otherwise be eclipsed in Connaught and Munster are lenited in Ulster

 

We want to help you achieve Gaeilge Gach Lá – Irish Every Day. We’ve a whole set of resources collected for you in our Gaeilge Gach Lá email series. It starts with an ebook for 10 secrets for Gaeilge Gach Lá. You’ll also get our weekly newsletter with upcoming live Q&As. Get the Gaeilge Gach Lá emails from Bitesize Irish.

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