Irish Dialects.
And why you don’t
need to worry about them.

A dialect is a regional variation of a language.

It can result in different ways of expression – not just accents.

The Irish language has three main dialects.

The Irish language has three dialects

The Irish dialects (also called Gaelic or Irish Gaelic) are:

  • Ulster Irish dialect – along the north of Ireland, including County Donegal.
  • Connacht Irish dialect – along the west of Ireland, including County Galway.
  • Munster Irish dialect – along the south of Ireland, including County Kerry.

Which Irish dialect should I learn?

If you want to learn Irish, you can learn without choosing a dialect.

Picking up the finer technical points of dialect differences is not something you should worry yourself with right now.

Your aim should be to read, understand and speak Irish Gaelic.

Once you become more proficient in speaking Irish, you then you have the choice of refining your language to one dialect. Doing this when starting to learn will only hamper your efforts.

What if I learn a dialect others won’t understand?

Generally, every Irish speaker will understand you, regardless of their and your dialect.

Unlike many other countries, a person speaking Irish on the radio will use their own dialect.

People do not switch to an “official” pronunciation when speaking on Irish language media.

The consequence of this is that all dialects are understood.

That’s great new for you, if you’re interested in learning to speak Irish!

If you’re worried that what you learn won’t be understood in different parts of Ireland, then you really need to read this section again. It’s not something to worry about.

What dialect does Bitesize Irish Gaelic use?

Bitesize Irish Gaelic is an online program with bite-sized Irish lessons.

We stick to the standardized Irish language where possible (called “An Caighdeán Oifigiúil” – “The Official Standard”).

Our recordings slant towards Munster pronunciation of words.

You might also be interested in:

Think you don’t know dialects?
A view of dialects in the English language.

Asking “Why?” in Irish.
An example of asking a question in different dialects. (“Why?”)

Want to learn to speak Irish?