Some words on the use of cha(n)

As you should know, cha(n) is an Ulster variant of , i.e. “not”. It is also Scottish Gaelic. However, it is not entirely correct to say that you can or should use it everywhere instead of . Not that it would be quite wrong either.

I think there are people in the Six Counties who want to do their utmost to recreate the dialect once spoken there. While I am sympathetic to such attempts, I preferred myself, back when I still aspired to pure Ulster Irish, to get a thorough grounding in the native literature and folklore of the whole province – and only after that did I start to incorporate quintessentially East Ulster expressions. You see, the problem with zooming in on a very narrow dialect zone is that all the written material available in that dialect can be the language of terminal speakers, i.e. speakers who hadn’t used it as a community language for a long time and who were already contaminating it with unacceptable Anglicisms. If you want to use a good approximation of East Ulster Irish as it was spoken when still vigorous, you should first read all the literature and folklore of the whole of Ulster and then introduce East Ulster elements.

The most quintessentially East Ulster element is, obviously, chan for “not”. It is also Scots Gaelic.  If you want to incorporate East Ulster elements in your Irish, you are advised to use it. Basically, chan is like , but when used with present forms, it gives them the additional sense of future tense. This is why you should not combine chan with a future form.

Chan is the form used before vowels as well as the mute fh-. Thus: chan aithníonn, chan fhuil, chan fhulaingíonn, chan fhosclaíonn (note that oscail!/oscailt is foscail!/foscal in Ulster). And of course, this suggests that cha, chan lenites the following verb. However, there are certain important exceptions:

cha eclipses verb forms beginning with d or t;

cha does not affect a s- either waycha samhlóinn a leithéid “I couldn’t imagine anything like it” (or, if you want to sound more authentically Ulster Irish: cha samhlóchainn a leathbhreac).

cha frequently (but not exclusively) eclipses the b(h)- of the forms of the verb “to be”. Thus: cha mbíonn or cha bhíonncha mbeadh or cha bheadhcha mbíodh or cha bhíodh.

On the other hand, while ní irregularly eclipses fuair “found, got, acquired” (ní bhfuair), chan regularly lenites it: chan fhuair.

When there is an independent/dependent form opposition, cha is followed by the dependent form: cha raibh (although many in Ulster would prefer the spelling cha rabh). Or is it? The question is more complicated. In East Ulster folklore, you see forms such as chan gheobhann, which seems to be wildly wrong: to start with, it’s an absolute form, although dependent forms should be used after such particles as go, ní, nach, chan, and moreover, it is a combination of future (gheobhaidh) and present (faigheannor why not even gheibheann, although the historically correct absolute form is gheibh – faigheann is originally just the dependent form, used after those particles).

The reason behind this awkward-looking form is, as I pointed out above, that the present form acquires a future meaning after cha(n)Cha cannot be followed by future forms, because cha + present already has the additional future sense. Thus, cha bhíonn (or cha mbíonn) stands both for ní bhíonn and for ní bheidh. It seems that it feels important for some speakers at least to code those two meanings into the verb itself by using a combination of future and present forms. In comparison, the formally correct chan fhaigheann probably does not feel future enough.

Before a regular past tense, cha(n) obviously has the form char, which lenites the verb, the same way níor does. Thus, char cheannaigh, char chaith, char thoisigh (in Ulster, toisigh/toiseacht rather than tosaigh/tosú) and so on.

For irregular verbs, note the following past tense usages:

abair – I tend to think that in genuine Ulster Irish it’s char dhúirt or char ‘úirt rather than cha ndúirt. But I might be mistaken.

beir – char rug (not that there is much difference in pronunciation between cha rug and char rug anyway, but the convention is to keep the -r)

bí – cha raibh (or cha rabh – rabh corresponds the pronunciation even in Connemara, but it is traditionally used only by Ulster writers, I’d say)

tabhair – cha dtug – but note that the autonomous form is char tugadh

tar – cha dtáinig (I am not saying char tháinig is wrong, but in Ulster Irish, tháinig usually takes the -r-less particles)

téigh – cha ndeachaigh, cha dteachaigh. The first one is acceptable in the standard language, but in Ulster the past tense dependent stem is usually perceived to begin with t-, thus note forms such as go dteachaigh, nach dteachaigh too, if you are a dialect enthusiast.

Now, if you are all about reviving East Ulster Irish, please use chan, cha, char wherever you’d use ní, níor, but of course not with future verb forms. But if you want to use the cha particles in a way that is largely acceptable in Donegal too, use it only when answering to a statement. Thus:

An bhfuil Ian Paisley ina Uachtarán ar Éirinn? Níl.

An é Ian Paisley Uachtarán na hÉireann? Ní hé.


Is é Ian Paisley Uachtarán na hÉireann. – Chan é!

Tá Ian Paisley ina Uachtarán ar Phoblacht na hÉireann. – Chan fhuil!

Ní hé Ian Paisley Uachtarán na hÉireann. – Chan é, leoga.

Níl Ian Paisley ina Uachtarán ar Phoblacht na hÉireann. – Chan fhuil, leoga.


From the Confessions of a Grammar Nazi – Admhálacha ó Shaoithín Gramadaí

I have often been called a grammar Nazi as far as the Irish language is concerned, and I am quite happy to plead guilty. In my position, you would be one, too. Here is why.

Is minic a chuirtear i mo leith gur saoithín gramadaí mise. Tá mé breá sásta a admháil, iad siúd a deir mar sin, go bhfuil an ceart acu. Dá mbeifeá i m’áit, níor thaise duitse é. Seo fios fátha agus siocair.

The whole idea of a “grammar Nazi” comes from the English-speaking world, where it makes much more sense than in the world of small, threatened languages. Much of what is traditionally considered “good grammar” in English is based on Latin, but Latin and English are different languages, even representing different branches of the Indo-European genealogical tree. So it is completely lunatic to suggest that, say, you “should not split an infinitive”. If infinitives are split in spoken language, and if they were part of the written language before Latin-influenced grammarians gained the upper hand, then it makes no sense to not split them (ha!). Instead of basing the normative grammar on Latin, it should be, as far as possible, be based on natural spoken language, as well as established literary tradition.

An coincheap sin, saoithín gramadaí nó grammar Nazi mar a deir an Béarla, tháinig sé as saol an Bhéarla, agus cé go bhfuil sé oiriúnach don Bhéarla, ní luíonn sé le réasún i gcoimhthéacs na dteangacha neamhfhorleathana atá faoi bhagairt. Tá cuid mhór dá bhfuil meas na dea-ghramadaí air sa Bhéarla bunaithe ar an Laidin, ach is dhá theanga dhifriúla iad an Laidin agus an Béarla, agus níl siad fiú ar aon chraobh le chéile i gcrann ginealais na hInd-Eorpaise. Mar sin tá sé aiféiseach ar fad a rá, mar shampla, “nach bhfuil sé ceart infinideach a scoilt” sa Bhéarla. Más gnách infinidigh a scoilt i gcaint na ndaoine, agus má bhí an t-infinideach scoilte coitianta sa teanga scríofa sula bhfuair lucht na Laidine seilbh ar an gcaighdeánú, níl sé ciallmhar an t-infinideach scoilte a sheachaint. Ba chóir caighdeán na gramadaí a bhunú ar chaint na ndaoine agus ar thraidisiún seanbhunaithe na litríochta seachas ar an Laidin.

Now we come to the interesting part. The prescribed Irish grammar and style is based on the language of the last monolingual speakers. It was not some book language regulated by village schoolmasters thinking too much of themselves. It was the language of the people. The language of such luminaries as Séamus Ó Grianna and Peig Sayers is not revered because it is some Latinizing schoolmaster’s idea of good Irish. It is revered and imitated because it is the authentic language of the Gaeltacht and the nearest thing to an established literary tradition you could find among illiterate native speakers: the language of the oral literature of the story-tellers and tradition-keepers.

Seo an chuid is mó spéis den scéal anois. Tá an leagan saintreorach den Ghaeilge bunaithe ar chleachtais na gcainteoirí deireanacha aonteangacha. Níorbh iad na mionmháistrí scoile a bhí ag síleadh an domhain díobh féin a chum ná a cheap é. Ba é caint na ndaoine é. Má thugaimid urraim do theanga Shéamuis Uí Ghrianna agus Pheig Sayers, is é is cúis leis sin nach bhfuil an teanga sin bunaithe ar thuiscint mháistir scoile na Laidine ar an rud is dea-Ghaeilge ann. Bímid ag iarraidh aithris a dhéanamh ar an teanga sin toisc gurb í fíortheanga na sean-Ghaeltachta í agus í bunaithe ar an rud is cosúla le traidisiún liteartha seanbhunaithe i gcultúr na gcainteoirí dúchais nach bhfuil léamh ná scríobh a dteanga féin acu: teanga na béal-litríochta, is é sin teanga na scéalaithe is na seanchaithe. 

Those who do not speak Irish natively, such as yours truly, are advised to learn their language from native speakers, including the tradition-keepers and storytellers whose stories are available in book form, as well as native speakers who wrote books, such as Séamus Ó Grianna, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, and the writers of Gaeltacht autobiographies, of whom Peig is only one.

Sinne, nach bhfuil Gaeilge ó dhúchas againn, caithfidh muid Gaeilge a fhoghlaim ó chainteoirí dúchais – na scéalaithe is na seanchaithe san áireamh a bhfuil a gcuid scéalta ar fáil faoi chlúdach leabhair, chomh maith le cainteoirí dúchais ar tháinig leabhair óna bpeann, cosúil le Séamus Ó Grianna, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, agus údair na ndírbheathaisnéisí Gaeltachta, nach bhfuil i bPeig ach bean acu.

Stupid jokes about Peig should be refrained from, because there is a strong rationale behind teaching Peig: she is one of the authentic voices of the Gaeltacht, as a native traditional storyteller, and as such, one of the authentic voices of pre-Anglicization Ireland. If there is anything wrong about Peig, it is the overreliance on Peig; instead, you should read all the native material there is, both autobiographies, folklore, and fiction.

Ba chóir stad de bheith ag insint drochscéilíní magaidh faoi Pheig, nó ní chuirfí Peig os comhair na bhfoghlaimeoirí ach cúis mhaith a bheith leis: guth údarásúil de chuid na Gaeltachta í, ós scéalaí dúchasach traidisiúnta í, agus mar sin, guth údarásúil de chuid na hÉireann réamh-Ghalldachais í. Ní bhfaighinn locht ar bith ar Pheig ach an meas a bheith uirthi gurb ionann ise agus traidisiún na Gaeltachta go léir; ina ionad sin ba chóir duit gach cineál ábhar dúchasach ón nGaeltacht a léamh, na dírbheathaisnéisí, an béaloideas agus an ficsean san áireamh.

Guides to good Irish – Treoirleabhair don dea-Ghaeilge

An Béal Beo. By Tomás Ó Máille. This one was first published in the good old days of the Free State, and when I entered the Irish-language scene in the nineties, it had the reputation of some sort of secret medicine. I acquired an old copy and started to transform it to the new spelling for my own use, but fortunately, immediately after the millennium, the book was reissued in a modernized version. It teaches traditional Gaeltacht Irish in its cultural setting – among other things it includes the description of a loom and its parts (!). You might find it rather challenging, but if you want to learn to think in Irish, to use traditional sayings and idioms and understand their meaning, you need to read this book, and make extensive notes. The language is rather Connemara-slanted, but there is linguistic material from other dialects.

Tomás Ó Máille a scriobh. Foilsíodh an chéad eagrán thiar i laethanta an tSaorstáit, agus nuair a thosaigh mise ag cur aithne ar shaol na Gaeilge is éard a fuair mé amach go rabhthas ag labhairt faoin leabhar seo mar a bheadh druagántacht na seanleigheasraí ann. Cheannaigh mé seanchóip agus chrom mé ar an litriú nua a chur i bhfeidhm uirthi le haghaidh m’úsáide féin, ach, ádhúil go leor, tháinig eagrán nua i gcló tar éis chasadh na mílaoise. Is éard a mhúineas an leabhar seo ná Gaeilge thraidisiúnta i gcomhthéacs an tseansaoil – mar shampla tá cur síos ann ar sheol an fhíodóra agus ar a pháirteanna (!). Is dócha go bhfaighidh tú an leabhar réasúnta deacair, ach más mian leat a bheith in ann smaoineamh as Gaeilge, úsáid a bhaint as na teilgeanacha dúchasacha cainte agus a mbunchiall a thuiscint, caithfidh tú an leabhar seo a léamh agus nótaí cuimsitheacha a bhreacadh síos. Tá blas Chonamara ar stíl an údair, ach san am chéanna tarraingíonn sé ar na canúintí eile freisin le haghaidh ábhair.

An Cabhsa, By Tomás de Bhial. This is a book of idiomatic expressions explained in their context, in sentences which make sense, and with practical advice. If you find the idea of reading Gaeltacht literature intimidating, you might start with this book. The writer was a teacher in the Ring of Waterford Gaeltacht, and the language used is mostly very mainstream, the kind of Munster and Connacht expressions that are widely used even by non-natives.

Tomás de Bhial a chum an ceann seo. Is éard atá sa leabhar seo ná teilgeanacha dúchasacha cainte agus iad mínithe ina gcoimhthéacs, in abairtí a bhfuil ciall cheart iontu, chomh maith le leideanna praiticiúla. Más ábhar scanraidh duit dul i ngleic le litríocht na Gaeltachta, tá súil agam go réiteoidh an leabhar seo an ród romhat beagáinín. Bhi an t-údar ina mhúinteoir i nGaeltacht na Rinne, agus an teanga a úsáidtear sa leabhar tá sí an-chóngarach do phríomhshruth na Gaeilge – teilgeanacha cainte ó Chonnachtaibh nó ón Mumhain atá ann, Gaeilge den chineál a d’fheicfeá ag scríbhneoirí neamhdhúchais chomh maith.

Dea-Chaint John Ghráinne agus a chairde. Collected by Tom Hodgins. This is a book about expressing emotions in idiomatic Irish. This is Ulster Irish pure and unadulterated, and if you want to express your emotions like Séamus Ó Grianna, you need to read this book. However, having read Ó Grianna’s available books as well as other Ulster classics, I was mostly familiar with the material in the book already. This is good news though: it means that you can learn to express emotions in good Irish if you read Gaeltacht literature; and on the other hand, that this book can make that literature more accessible for the learner.

Tom Hodgins a bhailigh. Leabhar é seo a chuirfeas ar do chumas do chuid mothúchán a chur in iúl go nádúrtha trí mheán na Gaeilge dúchasaí. Is í Gaeilge Uladh an chanúint a úsáidtear. Mar sin, más maith leat friotal Shéamuis Uí Ghrianna a chur ar do chuid mothúchán, ní mór duit an leabhar seo a léamh. Ón taobh eile de áfach, caithfidh mé a rá nár tháinig mé ar mhórán rudaí anseo nach raibh ar eolas agam cheana féin, nó bhí mé tar éis mionstaidéar a dhéanamh ar shaothar Uí Ghrianna agus ar na clasaicigh eile ó Chúige Uladh cheana féin. Dea-scéala é sin féin áfach: ciallaíonn sé gur féidir leat friotal na mothúchán a fhoghlaim trí litríocht Gaeltachta a léamh, agus go gcuirfidh an leabhar seo le do thuiscint ar an litríocht sin, más foghlaimeoir thú.

“…mar a déarfá”, by Séan Mac Cionnaith. This is a book of Irish clichés, as the author suggests. This is basically a very good, extensive guide to idiomatic Irish, but regrettably it seems that it was rushed into print. The idiomatic expressions presented sometimes exhibit pre-Caighdeán spelling or archaic grammar (unnecessary dative forms, for instance). Basically, the problem seems to be that the author took the expressions (or at least some of them) as he found them in primary sources, without checking them in standard dictionaries. So, for an old hand such as me who knows the language well, this book is a great help, but I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it for learners. This is deplorable: with some editing this would be a superb book, now it is only a good one. However, the problem of the book is the problem of much Irish publishing in general: you don’t have access to a whole team of expert editors, you must do the work all by yourself. Noting this, the book is quite a tour de force.

Seán Mac Cionnaith a scríobh. Cnuasach cliséanna Gaeilge atá ann, mar a deir an t-údar. Go bunúsach is iontach cuimsitheach an treoirleabhar é don duine a bhfuil Gaeilge dhúchasach ag teastáil uaidh ach uaireanta feictear duit go ndeachaigh an leabhar i gcló gan an snas deireanach a fháil, Na teilgeanacha cainte sa leabhar, ó am go ham d’aithneofá litriú na ré réamh-Chaighdeánaí orthu, sin nó lorg na seanghramadaí (tuiseal tabharthach mar shampla, áit nach bhfuil gá leis an bhfoirm a thuilleadh). Is é an phríomhfhadhb dar liom ná gur phioc an t-údar na teilgeanacha cainte (cuid acu ar a laghad) leis mar a fuair sé sna bunfhoinsí iad, gan iad a sheiceáil sna foclóirí caighdeánacha. Mar sin is mór an chabhair atá sa leabhar seo dom féin, ós duine de na seanfhondúirí mé, ach ní féidir liom é a mholadh do na foghlaimeoirí gan chuntar. Is mór an trua é, nó dá ndéanfaí tuilleadh eagarthóireachta ar an leabhar, bheadh sé thar barr ar fad – níl sé ach go maith faoi láthair.  Tríd is tríd áfach is é an phríomhfhadhb atá ag an leabhar seo ná fadhb na foilsitheoireachta Gaeilge go ginearálta: níl teacht agat ar fhoireann eagarthóirí seanchleachta agus caithfidh tú iomlán na hoibre a dhéanamh ar do leontaí féin. Le taobshúil air sin, is móréacht é an leabhar seo.

Cora Cainte as Tír Chonaillby Seán Mac Maoláin. This book is another reissued one from the good old days, and the language is pure Donegal Irish, as the title suggests. It is a list of words followed by explanations or usage examples, all in Irish. The reissued version uses a standard spelling which sometimes seems less than well suitable to how the words are pronounced in Donegal. However, the book is a good guide to Ulster Irish for those who only know the Caighdeán.

Ba é Seán Mac Maoláin a chuir an leabhar seo i dtoll le chéile. Atheagrán eile é ar sheanleabhar maith, agus is í Gaeilge Thír Chonaill an chanúint sa leabhar seo, mar is léir ón teideal. Liosta focal é, agus míniúcháin nó samplai úsáide i ngach iontráil, as Gaeilge amháin. An litriú a úsáidtear san atheagrán seo tá sé chomh gar don Chaighdeán is nach bhfuil sé chomh hoiriúnach céanna d’fhuaimniú na canúna. San am chéanna is maith an treoir atá ann dóibh siúd nach bhfuil ach an Caighdeán acu agus iad ag iarraidh ciall a bhaint as canúint Uladh.

I guess you miss Ceart nó Mícheart, by Seán Ó Ruadháin, here. The next blog post is my old review of that very book. (Only in Irish, I am afraid.)

Is dócha go bhfuil sibh ag crothnú Ceart nó Mícheart le Seán Ó Ruadháin anseoSa chéad bhlagmhír eile tá mo sheanléirmheas ar an leabhar áirithe sin.

Main Difficulties

I don’t suggest it is easy to learn good Irish. Not being a native speaker of English, my idea of what is difficult in Irish is obviously different from that of most learners, but speaking of purely practical difficulties, I’d like to note the following:

  • The dialectal differences, of course. People often exaggerate them, especially those people who try to find any convenient excuse not to learn Irish. However, they are there, and they complicate the acquisition of Irish. There is a recognized linguistic, or sociolinguistic, phenomenon called schizoglossia. In a schizoglossic situation, you don’t know which kind of language you should see as exemplary and normative, and you have this feeling that whatever you say, it will be wrong according to some norm. This phenomenon especially concerns diaspora minorities, for whom the language they habitually speak will be full of borrowings from the local language, but who at the same time often find the linguistic changes in the old country vulgar and distasteful. Analogies with Irish should be obvious; in a way, the Irish-speakers are a diaspora in their own country.
  • The abundance of bad examples. Publicly displayed Irish in Ireland is often plain wrong, and when it is not grammatically incorrect, it is too obviously translated from English. For instance, the dead word rochtain is far too often used as a catch-all for all the meanings of the English word access. However, it should be limited to where a special term is called for (accessing a computer network, for instance), instead of calling every door an “access” to the building. Of course, the ultimate problem here is the stupid way how English nowadays tries to express the most everyday things with Latinate abstractions, and then people translating into Irish but without much idea of how Irish really works think that they need a special Irish word for every hard word in English, instead of translating the highfalutin’ English into plain and intelligible Irish.
  • Bad teaching materials. It is very good that people use Learning Irish, because it is vintage Gaeltacht Irish. But as my little spies have told me, it does occur that reading materials for schools often intentionally depart from acceptable Irish, using instead their own pidgin. An example of this is a (printed and officially distributed) book which consequently used past tense instead of habitual past tense. This is so wrong that it should be punishable with death. If children haven’t been taught the habitual past yet, there are grammatically legal workarounds (for example using the conditional instead – there are dialects where conditional has ousted the habitual past – as well as the expression ba ghnách le [duine] [rud] a dhéanamh: bhíodh sé ag obair ansin = ba ghnách leis a bheith ag obair ansin “he used to work there”). But learning materials should never include anything grammatically incorrect.
  • Bad cultural priorities. We are constantly told to admire “modernist” authors who are no native speakers and whose “modernist experimentation” is just a way to conceal the fact that – to put it brutally – they couldn’t write anything near Gaeltacht Irish to save their lives. At the same time, there are excellent writers of popular fiction whose novels have never been reprinted since their first publication back in the fifties or sixties. In the nineties, Cló Iar-Chonnacht rediscovered and reprinted Máire Nic Artáin, which is a linguistically superb novel about a Catholic girl falling in love with a Protestant boy in Belfast. When I read it for the first time, I was completely lost for words: how was it possible that such a book hadn’t been reprinted for almost forty years, while everybody had been kvetching about how there are no books for young people in the language? For Chrissake, if people like me read Joan Lingard’s Kevin and Sadie novels with interest in Finland when young, how is it possible that young Irish people wouldn’t read Máire Nic Artáin? And it’s not the only example. Seán Ó Mulláin’s swashbuckling historical novels about the Ryan family are still waiting to be reprinted. So is Mícheál Ó hOdhráin’s Cine Cróga.

Should you learn a particular dialect?

Should you learn a particular dialect of Irish and stick to it? Many learners make a point of doing so, but I have certain reservations about it. To start with, for some marginal dialects there is very little material available, and all there is is contaminated with unacceptable anglicisms typical of what we call terminal speakers (a terminal speaker, “cainteoir foirceanta” in Irish, is a native speaker who does not speak the language on a regular basis and isn’t sure about the correct language anymore). Thus, dialect enthusiasts run the risk of incorporating what is definitely “bad Irish”. Moreover, there is what I call petty dialect enthusiasm. Petty dialect enthusiasm means that you make a big fuss about using the words and inflectional forms of a particular dialect, while using heavily English-influenced syntax (again, for those not familiar with the slang of my trade, the term”syntax” means “how words depend on each other in a sentence”).

It is my impression that syntax is the key to the difference between “that dreadful school Irish” and that mythologically perfect Gaeltacht Irish which you can only learn sitting at the feet of some distinguished Gamaliel in a druidic-bardic hedge school. The reason why “standard Irish” is so disliked is the fact that it is all too often paired with poor syntax and heavy English influence. The reason why new terms are disliked is the fact that you only meet them in the context of poor syntax and heavy English influence. Myself, I have spoken with Gaeltacht people in an Irish that is very near to standard Irish, with a pronunciation based essentially on the standard one introduced in Focloir Poca and Focloir Scoile. They were quite happy with the kind of Irish I spoke to them, and said that it sounded like Gaeltacht Irish, but not of any particular Gaeltacht.

Thus, it is possible to use standard Irish in a way that is acceptable to the native speakers. And I am afraid it is possible to use faux-dialectal Irish in a way that is as hair-raising as the worst standard Irish. However, focusing on one dialect is not a bad idea – although not as an end in itself, but rather as a way to good Irish in a more inclusive sense. I became known as an enthusiast of Ulster Irish, but before that I studied Connemara and Blasket Irish quite extensively, and this is precisely why I got so fanatical about Ulster: it was a new kind of Irish,which really had a taste and feel of its own. By starting with one dialect and learning it thoroughly, you can develop an appreciation of all dialects, and enrich your Irish by picking up  new words and expressions as you go.

What to put between tá and the noun

One of the first things you learn is that you can’t put two nouns together by using the verb . Using tá you can tell what something is like, or where it is, but you can’t tell what it is, or who somebody is – that is, instead, told using the copula, which is a part of speech of its own, not a verb. (Grammarians and textbook authors often suggest that the copula, is, is another verb for “to be”. This is misleading, because is has a syntax of its own, very different from how normal verbs are used in a sentence. It is better to see is as a distinct part of speech. , on the other hand, is a verb.)

However, people do sometimes feel pressed to combine two nouns using , and they are not always quite familiar with how this is done correctly. They tend to put mar “as, like” before the second noun. While this is not wrong (well, not always), I myself feel very seldom even tempted to do so, because I use other instruments.

To start with, + possessive pronoun. This should be part of every Irish speaker’s toolbox.

Tá mé i mo mhúinteoir. I am a teacher.

Tá mé i m‘fheirmeoir. I am a farmer.

Tá mé i m‘fhisiceoir. I am a physicist.

Tá mé i m‘eachtránaí spáis. I am a space adventurer.

Tá mé i mo ridire. I am a knight.

Tá mé i mo chaptaen spásloinge. I am a spaceship captain.

Tá mé i mo theangeolaí. I am a linguist.

Tá tú i d‘fheirmeoir. You are a farmer.

Tá tú i d‘fhisiceoir. You are a physicist.

Tá tú i d‘eachtránaí spáis. You are a space adventurer.

Tá tú i do ridire. You are a knight.

Tá tú i do chaptaen spásloinge. You are a spaceship captain.

Tá tú i do theangeolaí. You are a linguist.

Tá sé ina fheirmeoir. He is a farmer.

Tá sé ina fhisiceoir. He is a physicist.

Tá sé ina eachtránaí spáis. He is a space adventurer.

Tá sé ina ridire. He is a knight.

Tá sé ina chaptaen spásloinge. He is a spaceship captain.

Tá sé ina theangeolaí. He is a linguist.

Tá sí ina feirmeoir. She is a farmer.

Tá sí ina fisiceoir. She is a physicist.

Tá sí ina heachtránaí spáis. She is a space adventurer.

Tá sí ina ridire. She is a knight.

Tá sí ina captaen spásloinge. She is a spaceship captain.

Tá sí ina teangeolaí. She is a linguist.

Tá muid inár bhfeirmeoirí. We are farmers.

Tá muid inár bhfisiceoirí. We are physicists.

Tá muid inár n-eachtránaithe spáis. We are space adventurers.

Tá muid inár ridirí. We are knights.

Tá muid inár gcaptaein spásloinge. We are spaceship captains.

Tá muid inár dteangeolaithe. We are linguists.

Tá sibh in bhur bhfeirmeoirí. You (guys) are farmers.

Tá sibh in bhur bhfisiceoirí. You are physicists.

Tá sibh in bhur n-eachtránaithe spáis. You are space adventurers.

Tá sibh in bhur ridirí. You are knights.

Tá sibh in bhur gcaptaein spásloinge. You are spaceship captains.

Tá sibh in bhur dteangeolaithe. You are linguists.

Tá siad ina bhfeirmeoirí. They are farmers.

Tá siad ina bhfisiceoirí. They are physicists.

Tá siad ina n-eachtránaithe spáis. They are space adventurers.

Tá siad ina ridirí. They are knights.

Tá siad ina gcaptaein spásloinge. They are spaceship captains.

Tá siad ina dteangeolaithe. They are linguists.

Tá mé ag obair i mo mhúinteoir. I am working as a teacher.

Bhí sí ag obair ina múinteoir. She was working as a teacher.

Chaith Seán trí bliana sa tSaimbia ina mhúinteoir. Seán spent three years in Zambia as a teacher.

Bhíodh Cathal ina mhúinteoir ó am go ham. Cathal used to work as a teacher occasionally.

Chuir Séimí aithne ar a lán neachanna eachtardhomhanda nuair a bhí sé ina chaptaen spásloinge. Séimí got acquainted with a lot of extraterrestrial beings when he was a spaceship captain.

Nuair a bhí sé ina mhúinteoir bhí dearcadh eile aige ar an gceist seo. When he was a teacher, he had a different view of this question. (= Ina mhúinteoir dó bhí dearcadh eile aige ar an gceist seo.)

The idea behind this construction is being in the role, say, of a teacher. A child could also say: Tá mé i mo Gharda “I am (being) a policeman” (i.e. the child refers to the role of a policeman in a game).

There is one thing to be noted about this construction. The possessive pronoun (or possessive adjective, both terms are used) mo, do, a, a,  ár, bhur, a has the power of the definite article. Thus, when you want to tell us that Nero was an Empire of Rome, you cannot say ?bhí Nearó ina Impire na Róimhe. In the construction Impire na Róimhe we have a noun (Impire) qualified by a definite genitive (na Róimhe), You cannot put a definite article before this, and you cannot put a possessive pronoun/adjective before it either. In this example, it is better to use the preposition ar to refer to the entity Nero was an emperor of: bhí Nearó ina Impire ar an Róimh. It is also possible to say bhí Nearó ina Impire Rómhánach, but it sounds kind of literary.

The preposition i, in usually takes the form (without -n) before mo, m’ and do, d’. If you see the -n there, i.e. in mo, in m’, in do, in d’, this is an indicator of Ulster dialect.

A related construction is Múinteoir atá ann. As you should know, ann is the word for “there” in the existential sense, but it is also the combination of the preposition and the third person singular masculine pronoun, “in it, in him”. These three constructions are more or less interchangeable:

Is múinteoir é Múinteoir is ea éMúinteoir atá ann.

There is a dialect difference: the third one is markedly Ulster dialect.

Similarly: Is múinteoir mé – Múinteoir is ea mé – Múinteoir atá ionam

Is múinteoir thú – Múinteoir is ea thú – Múinteoir atá ionat

Is múinteoir í – Múinteoir is ea í – Múinteoir atá inti

Is múinteoirí sinn – Múinteoirí is ea sinn – Múinteoirí atá ionainn

Is múinteoirí sibh – Múinteoirí is ea sibh – Múinteoirí atá ionaibh

Is múinteoirí iad – Múinteoirí is ea iad – Múinteoirí atá iontu.

In Ulster, where this is a common construction, there is a tendency to use ann for all third persons, so you should not be amazed to see Múinteoir atá ann used to refer to a woman, or Múinteoirí atá ann.

Note that a similar construction is used for referring to the innate qualities of a person. Thus, you could also say: Tá comhábhair an mhúinteora ann “He has all the makings of a teacher” (i.e. he is innately qualified to become one). And, while ar refers to (notionally transient) diseases (tá slaghdán orm), refers to permanent invalidity: tá cam reilige ann “he is club-footed”.

Another preposition used in this way is ar. It is most typically used when we suggest relative position, and it can be used when the noun is definite and qualified by a superlative adjective construction:

Tá sé ar fhir chróga na hÉireann “he is one of Ireland’s [most] courageous men” (the superlative is here notional, but not needed in the construction; word for word it means “he is among the courageous men of Ireland”)

Tá sé ar na fir is cróga in Éirinn “he is among – i.e. one of – the most courageous men in Ireland”. Note that we can’t have the genitive form here, because the definite article is a necessary part of the superlative construction, and a definite genitive cannot follow a definite noun. We work around this problem by using in Éirinn “in Ireland” rather than the genitive form.

Tá sé ar an bhfear is cróga in Éirinn “he is the most courageous man in Ireland”. This is the “relative position” use of ar, which we see even in the following:

Tá sé ar fhear chomh cróga is a rugadh in Éirinn riamh “He is as courageous a man as ever was born in Ireland”.

My old list of recommended readings in Irish – now with added comments and recommendations

I guess my old friends remember this list of recommended readings – books by native speakers, folklore and similar stuff. If you wonder what you should read in Irish to acquire a good command of the traditional language, this should help you. The list is somewhat dated now – there is a lot of good stuff that should be added. I am going to publish reviews of other good and interesting books.

TÍR CHONAILL – ULAIDH (Donegal – Ulster)

‘AC FHIONNLAOICH, Seán: Scéal Ghaoth Dobhair. Foilseacháin Náisiúnta Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1981 (stair áitiúil) Gaoth Dobhair

(This is a history of the Gaoth Dobhair area in Donegal. The language is relatively standardized, although it still shows strong influence from local dialect.)

MAC A’ BHAIRD, Proinsias: Cogar san Fharraige. Scéim na Scol in Árainn Mhóir, 1937-1938. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2002 (béaloideas) Árainn Mhór

(A small book of folklore.)

MAC CIONAOITH, Maeleachlainn: Seanchas Rann na Feirste – Is fann guth an éin a labhras leis féin. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2005 (béaloideas) Rann na Feirste

(Folklore and other stuff, with CD’s to illustrate the dialectal pronunciation in Donegal.)

MAC CUMHAILL, Fionn (= Mánus): Na Rosa go Brách. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 (úrscéal) Na Rosa
Slán Leat, a Mhaicín. Úrscéal do Dhaoine Óga. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1998 (úrscéal) Na Rosa
Gura Slán le m’Óige. Oifig an tSoláthair, Baile Átha Cliath 1974 (úrscéal) Na Rosa

(Mánus “Fionn” Mac Cumhaill was a sentimental, religious writer of the kind they don’t make anymore. However, his Irish is beautiful Donegal dialect, and his books are warmly recommended as source of good language.)

MAC GABHANN, Micí: Rotha Mór an tSaoil. Seán Ó hEochaidh a scríobh, Proinsias Ó Conluain a chuir in eagar. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1996/1997 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ulaidh

(This is a well-known book about an Irish migrant’s quest for the gold fields in Klondike. It is one of the most interesting and thrilling Gaeltacht autobiographies. Also the first ever Irish-language book to mention Finns, as far as I know.)

MAC GIOLLA DOMHNAIGH, Gearóid agus Gearóid STOCKMAN (Eag.): Athchló Uladh. Comhaltas Uladh, Béal Feirste 1991 (béaloideas) Oirthear Uladh: Aontroim, Reachrainn

(This one includes material both in Donegal Irish and in defunct East Ulster dialects. Interesting, but might be more for the scholar than the general learner.)

MAC GRIANNA, Seosamh: An Druma Mór. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1991 (úrscéal) Na Rosa
Pádraic Ó Conaire agus Aistí Eile. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1986 (aistí) Na Rosa
Dá mBíodh Ruball ar an Éan. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1992 (úrscéal gan chríochnú) Na Rosa
Mo Bhealach Féin. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 (dírbheathaisnéis) Na Rosa

(Seosamh Mac Grianna is the greatest modern writer of Ulster Irish, and his books are edited in a more reader-friendly way than his brother’s. Everybody should read him.)

MAC MEANMAN, Seán Bán: An Chéad Mhám. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1990 (gearrscéalta) Lár Thír Chonaill
An Dara Mám. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1991 (gearrscéalta) Lár Thír Chonaill
An Tríú Mám. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1992 (aistí) Lár Thír Chonaill
Cnuasach Céad Conlach. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1989 (béaloideas) Lár Thír Chonaill

(Seán – or Seaghán – Bán Mac Meanman writes mostly folklore-ish stories in a heavily dialectal Irish. I have derived both enjoyment and learning from his books, but he sometimes uses literary archaisms which do not feel natural in modern Ulster Irish, especially noting that some of his Anglicisms are rather unacceptable. This creates a somewhat untidy impression. However, his rich Ulster vocabulary should be duly noted.)

McGLINCHEY, CHARLES: An Fear Deireanach den tSloinneadh. Patrick Kavanagh a bhreac síos. Eag. Desmond Kavanagh agus Nollaig Mac Congáil. Arlen House, Gaillimh 2002 (dírbheathaisnéis) Inis Eoghain

(This is an abortive autobiography in a now-defunct dialect, but perfectly readable if you know Ulster Irish.)

NIC AODHÁIN, Medhbh Fionnuala (Eag.): Báitheadh iadsan agus tháinig mise. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1993 (finscéalta) Tír Chonaill

(This is a nice book of folklore that I used and perused a lot as an intermediate learner. However, the spelling is somewhat untidy and inconsistent.)

NIC GIOLLA BHRÍDE, Cáit: Stairsheanchas Ghaoth Dobhair. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1996/1997 (seanchas, béaloideas, cuimhní cinn) Na Rosa

(A compact collection of folklore stories from and personal memories of the Rosses in Donegal. The language is quite standard-friendly.)

Ó BAOIGHILL, Pádraig: An Coileach Troda agus scéalta eile. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1993 (gearrscéalta) Na Rosa
Óglach na Rosann. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1994 (beathaisnéis) Na Rosa
Cuimhní ar Dhochartaigh Ghleann Fhinne. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1994 (aistí beathaisnéise) Na Rosa
Nally as Maigh Eo. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1998 (beathaisnéis) Na Rosa
Gaeltacht Thír Chonaill – Ó Ghleann go Fánaid. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 (seanchas áitiúil) Na Rosa
Srathóg Feamnaí agus Scéalta Eile. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2001 (gearrscéalta) Na Rosa
Ceann Tìre/Earraghàidheal. Ár gComharsanaigh Ghaelacha. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2003 (leabhar taistil)
Amhráin Hiúdaí Fheidhlimí agus Laoithe Fiannaíochta as Rann na Feirste. Pádraig Ó Baoighill a chuir in eagar, Mánus Ó Baoill a chóirigh an ceol. Preas Uladh, Muineachán 2001
Gasúr Beag Bhaile na gCreach. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2004
– (Eag.) Faoi Scáth na Mucaise. Béaloideas Ghaeltachtaí Imeallacha Thír Chonaill. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2005

(Pádraig Ó Baoighill is a contemporary writer from Donegal, who has been a huge influence on me. His Irish isn’t always free from somewhat unacceptable Anglicisms, but it is vintage Gaeltacht Irish and you could do worse than reading him. His books include biographies of nationalist heroes, folklore, travelogues, and short stories.)

Ó BAOILL, Dónall P. (Eag.):Amach as Ucht na Sliabh, Imleabhar 1. Cumann Staire agus Seanchais Ghaoth Dobhair i gcomhar le Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair. Gaoth Dobhair 1992 (béaloideas) Gaoth Dobhair
…Imleabhar 2. Cumann Staire agus Seanchais Ghaoth Dobhair i gcomhar le Comharchumann Forbartha Gh. D. Gaoth Dobhair 1996 (béaloideas) Gaoth Dobhair

(These two folklore collections are in vintage Donegal Irish, although somewhat marred by misspellings. If you work your way through them, though – especially the first one, which consists mostly of stories – you will acquire a formidable command of the dialect.)

Ó COLM, Eoghan: Toraigh na dTonn. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1995 (cuimhní cinn, stair áitiúil) Toraigh/Machaire an Rabhartaigh

(This is a book about Tory Island in Donegal. I kept reading and rereading my own copy until it was completely in tatters. I am still waiting for the publisher to issue a reprint, because the book is interesting, at times memorable and fun. There is some information about the local dialect, but the book is mostly in a rather standardized Irish.)

Ó DONAILL, Eoghan: Scéal Hiúdaí Sheáinín. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 (beathaisnéis agus béaloideas) Na Rosa

(This is – let it be admitted – not a particularly good book: it includes both autobiographical chapters and folklore stories, and you don’t always know which kind of stuff you are reading. In fact, it might feel somewhat surrealistic to think you are reading a Gaeltacht autobiography and then come across obviously supernatural folklore stuff! However, it is good Ulster Irish, so you are advised to read it and take comprehensive notes. But it might feel tedious.)

Ó DONAILL, Niall: Na Glúnta Rosannacha. Oifig an tSoláthair, Baile Átha Cliath 1974 (stair áitiúil) Na Rosa
Seanchas na Féinne. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1998 (miotaseolaíocht) Na Rosa

(Niall Ó Donaill is well known as lexicographer. Na Glúnta Rosannacha is a book of local history, printed in Gaelic characters but in the modern orthography. Seanchas na Féinne is a retelling of the Fenian tales in modern Irish, but the style is somewhat archaic and peppered with old-fashioned words. It is good for your Irish, but personally I prefer folklore versions of the myths.)

Ó GALLACHÓIR, Pádraig: Seachrán na Mic Uí gCorra. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2008 (úrscéal)

(Pádraig Ó Gallachóir is a contemporary writer of tales with a mysterious atmosphere. I confess I still don’t know what to say about this book. But his Irish is quite good and you are advised to read him.)

Ó GALLCHÓIR, Tomás: Séimidh agus scéalta eile. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1996 Na Rosa

(This is supposed to be a collection of humorous stories. They aren’t as fun as they should be, but they are written in a superb Irish and are good reading for the learner.)

Ó GRIANNA, Séamus (= “Máire”): Caisleáin Óir. Cló Mercier, Baile Átha Cliath 1994 (úrscéal) Na Rosa
Castar na Daoine ar a Chéile. Scríbhinní Mháire 1. Eagarthóir: Nollaig Mac Congáil. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2002 (úrscéal, altanna) Na Rosa
Cith is Dealán. Cló Mercier, Baile Átha Cliath agus Corcaigh 1994 (gearrscéalta) Na Rosa
Cora Cinniúna 1-2. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1993 (gearrscéalta) Na Rosa
Cúl le Muir agus scéalta eile. Oifig an tSoláthair, Baile Átha Cliath 1961 (gearrscéalta) Na Rosa
Na Blianta Corracha. Scríbhinní Mháire 2. Eagarthóir: Nollaig Mac Congáil. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2003 (altanna) Na Rosa
Nuair a Bhí Mé Óg. Cló Mercier, Baile Átha Cliath agus Corcaigh 1986 (dírbheathaisnéis) Na Rosa
An Sean-Teach. Oifig an tSoláthair, Baile Átha Cliath 1968 (úrscéal) Na Rosa
Tairngreacht Mhiseoige. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1995 (úrscéal) Na Rosa

(Séamus “Máire” Ó Grianna is the quintessential Gaeltacht writer, whose Irish is perfect. I’d recommend especially his book of childhood memories, Nuair a Bhí Mé Óg.)

Ó LAIGHIN, Donnchadh C.: An Bealach go Dún Ulún. Scéalta Seanchais agus Amhráin Nuachumtha as Cill Charthaigh. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Indreabhán, Conamara 2004 Cill Charthaigh

(This is basically a collection of songs in Irish, such as Irish-language translations of well-known ballads, with some folklore stories added. The language is standard-friendly, but with obvious Ulster slant.)

Ó SEARCAIGH, Cathal: Seal i Neipeal. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Indreabhán, Conamara 2004 (leabhar taistil) Gort an Choirce

(This is Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s beautifully illustrated book about his travels in Nepal. Interesting, and with a subject matter until recently not typical of Irish-language literature.)

Ó SEARCAIGH, Séamus: Beatha Cholm Cille. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 Na Rosa
Laochas – Scéalta as an tSeanlitríocht. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1945/1984/1996 (miotaseolaíocht) Na Rosa

(Both books – the life of St Colm Cille and the retellings of old myths – are good Irish and should be studied as such. However, they – especially Laochas – are not of very high literary quality.)

ÓN tSEANAM ANALL – Scéalta Mhicí Bháin Uí Bheirn. Mícheál Mac Giolla Easbuic a chuir in eagar. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Indreabhán, Conamara 2008. Cill Chárthaigh

(This is a collection of folklore stories, in a relatively standard-friendly Ulster Irish.)

SCIAN A CAITHEADH LE TOINN Scéalta agus amhráin as Inis Eoghain agus cuimhne ar Ghaeltacht Iorrais. Cosslett Ó Cuinn a bhailigh, Aodh Ó Canainn agus Seosamh Watson a chóirigh. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1990 (béaloideas) Tír Eoghain

(These stories are in a defunct dialect, and the spelling does become a problem for a learner. However, the language is not particularly complicated – in fact, it is somewhat arid.)

UA CNÁIMHSÍ, Pádraig: Idir an Dá Ghaoth. Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 (stair áitiúil) Na Rosa

(This is a modern-style history of Donegal Gaeltacht, in a relatively easy and standard-friendly Irish.)

CONAMARA, ÁRAINN, MAIGH EO – CONNACHTA (Connemara, Aran, Mayo – Connacht)

ÁR nOILEÁN – TUILE ‘S TRÁ. Bailiúchán Bhéaloideas Árann. Mná Fiontracha, gan dáta. ISBN 0-9546061-1-6

(This is a collection of material about Aran Islands. I found especially the information about Máirtín Ó Direáin, the modern poet, quite interesting.)

BECKER, Heinrich (Eag.): I mBéal na Farraige. I gComhar le hOllscoil Wuppertal (Bergische Universität) sa Ghearmáin agus le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1997 (béaloideas) Conamara/Cois Fhairrge

(This is a collection of seaweed folklore (!). Believe it or not, but some of the stories are even fun.)

BREATHNACH, Pádraic: Buicéad Poitín agus scéalta eile. Clódhanna Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1978/1986 (gearrscéalta) Maigh Cuilinn

Bean Aonair agus scéalta eile. Clódhanna Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1984 (gearrscéalta) Maigh Cuilinn
Ar na Tamhnacha. Clódhanna Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1987 (gearrscéalta) Maigh Cuilinn
Gróga Cloch. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1990 (úrscéal) Maigh Cuilinn
An Pincín agus scéalta eile. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1996 (gearrscéalta) Maigh Cuilinn
As na Cúlacha. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1998 (úrscéal) Maigh Cuilinn
– (Eag.)Maigh Cuilinn – a Táisc is a Tuairisc. Cló Chonamara, Indreabhán 1986 (béaloideas) Maigh Cuilinn

(Pádraic Breathnach is a contemporary writer, whose Irish is mostly simple and easy to read. His own books are quite fine, but you should steer clear of his Irish translation of “Angela’s Ashes”, which is in my opinion a complete failure. I cannot understand that someone whose own books are so good – especially As na Cúlacha – could produce such bad Irish. But then, translating and writing are two different skills. I am better as a translator into Irish than as an original writer, and I guess it’s the other way round for Breathnach.)

DE BHALDRAITHE, Tomás (Eag.): Seanchas Thomáis Laighléis. An Clóchomhar Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1977/1981 (béaloideas) Baile an Chláir

(This is a collection of folklore from Claregalway. Mostly straightforward Connacht Irish, but interestingly, in this dialect the word gúm – you remember An Gúm, the publishing house? – exists as a real word for “plan, scheme”.)

IDIR MNÁ – Scríbhneoirí Ban Ros Muc. Pléaráca Chonamara, Ros Muc 1995 (cuimhní cinn, seanchas, béaloideas) Ros Muc, Conamara

(A collection of various texts in Connacht Irish by and about women. Both memories and folklore.)

MAC AMHLAIGH, Dónall: Beoir Bhaile agus scéalta eile. An Clóchomhar Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1981 Conamara
Dialann Deoraí. Réamhrá le Niall Ó Dónaill. An Clóchomhar Teoranta, 1960/1966/1970. (dírbheathaisnéis) Conamara

(Dónall Mac Amhlaigh was a pioneering journalist, whose style is, well, journalistic – easy to read and natural. He was not a native speaker, something I found out only recently. His Dialann Deoraí was one of the first books ever I could read and finish in Irish.)

MAC AN IOMAIRE, Séamas: Cladaí Chonamara. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1985 (seanchas) Conamara

(A Connemara fisherman reveals the secrets of his trade, as well as his own knowledge of local nature. I think this book could interest even a biologist. I remember having picked up a lot of fishing terms from it.)

MAC CON IOMAIRE, Liam: Breandán Ó hEithir – Iomramh Aonair. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 2000 (beathaisnéis) Conamara – Árainn

(A biography of Breandán Ó hEithir the writer.)

MAC LOCHLAINN, Alf: Fiáin na Bocs a Bhí ann an tAm Sin. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1999 (stair áitiúil) Conamara

(An easy read about local history,)

MAG RUAIDHRÍ, Mícheál: Le Linn m’Óige. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2001 (cuimhní cinn) Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo

(The story of a Mayoman who knew Patrick Pearse, told in Northern Mayo dialect. Somewhat poorly edited – you sometimes come upon incomprehensible words in the old spelling.)

MAG UIDHIR, Séamas: Fánaíocht i gContae Mhaigh Eo. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1994 Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo

(Another republished old book in Northern Mayo Irish. Two young men travelling in Mayo in the nineteen twenties and telling about local traditions. Beautiful Mayo dialect.)

NÍ MHAINNÍN, Cáit: Cuimhní Cinn Cháit Ní Mhainnín. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 2000 (dírbheathaisnéis) Conamara

(A traditional-style Gaeltacht autobiography in beautiful Connacht Irish.)

Ó BAOILL, Pádraig (Eag.): Glórtha ár Sinsear. Béaloideas Oirdheisceart na Gaillimhe. I gcomhar le Loughrea History Project. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2005. (béaloideas) (Oirthear na Gaillimhe)

(This is a collection of folklore stories, which I found interesting and at times even kind of scary.)

Ó CADHAIN, Máirtín: Athnuachan. Coiscéim. Baile Átha Cliath 1995 (úrscéal) Conamara
An Braon Broghach. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1991 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
Barbed Wire. Arna cur in eagar ag Cathal Ó hÁinle. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2002 (úrscéal) Conamara
Caiscín. Altanna san Irish Times 1953/56. Arna gcur in eagar ag Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1998 (iriseoireacht) Conamara
Cois Caoláire. Sáirséal – Ó Marcaigh, Baile Átha Cliath 2004 (géarrscéalta) Conamara
Cré na Cille. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1949/1965 (úrscéal) Conamara
Idir Shúgradh agus Dáiríre. Oifig an tSoláthair, Baile Átha Cliath 1975 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
Tone Inné agus Inniu. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1999 (stair, polaitíocht) Conamara
An tSraith dhá Tógáil. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1970/1981 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
An tSraith Tógtha. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1977 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
An tSraith ar Lár. Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh, Baile Átha Cliath 1986 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
Ó Cadhain i bhFeasta. Eag. Seán Ó Laighin. Clódhanna Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1990 (aistí, iriseoireacht, stair, polaitíocht, ábhar ilghnéitheach) Conamara
An Ghaeilge Bheo – Destined to Pass. Eagarthóir: Seán Ó Laighin. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2002. (taighde agus tuairimí) Conamara (Partly written in English.)
Caithfear Éisteacht! Aistí Mháirtín Uí Chadhain in Comhar. Eagarthóir: Liam Prút. Comhar Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1999 (aistí) Conamara

(Máirtín Ó Cadhain is the quintessential European intellectual among Irish writers. Linguistically though he was very ambitious and difficult, and it takes some time to get accustomed to his rich language – basically he seems to have attempted to turn his Connemara dialect into a literary medium in itself, jazzing it up with occasional borrowings from other dialects and older literary Irish. He is worth reading, but don’t despair if you find him unreadable to start with.)

Ó CAITHLÍN, Antoine (“Tony Catherine Antoine William”): A Chomhairle Féin do Mhac Anna. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1999 (béaloideas) Oileán Acla
Seanfhocail as Acaill. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1995 (béaloideas) Oileán Acla

(Small folklore books, easy short texts for the learner, as well as proverbs.)

Ó CATHÁIN, Séamas agus Caitlín Uí Sheighin (Eag): A Mhuintir Dhú Chaocháin, Labhraigí Feasta! Cló Chonamara, Indreabhán 1987 (béaloideas) Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo
– (Eag): Le Gradam is le Spraoi. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1996 (béaloideas) Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo

(Two important collections of folklore in Northern Mayo Irish, for those who want to learn this interesting and, sadly, almost extinct dialect.)

Ó CEALLAIGH, Colm: Brídín. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Indreabhán 1995 (úrscéal) Conamara
Meilt Mhuilte Dé. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2002 (úrscéal) Conamara
Clann na Feannóige. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2004 (gearrscéalta) Conamara

(Colm Ó Ceallaigh is a contemporary writer of riveting stories, who should be read because of his, well, readability. Unfortunately, Meilt Mhuilte Dé is poorly edited.)

Ó CEANNABHÁIN, Peadar (Eag.): Éamon a Búrc – Scéalta. Leabhar Thaighde, an dóú himleabhar is dhá scór. An Clóchomhar, Baile Átha Cliath 1983/2000 (béaloideas) Conamara

(This is a comprehensive collection of folklore, not always that easy to read.)

Ó COINCHEANAINN, Peadar: Inis Meáin – seanchas agus scéalta. Bill Doyle a mhaisigh, Pádraig Ó Siadhail a chóirigh an t-eagrán seo. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1993 (srair áitiúil) Oileáin Árann

(A reissued old book about Inishmaan, in beautiful Irish.)

Ó CONAOLA, Dara: Amuigh Liom Féin. Ceardshiopa Inis Oírr Teoranta, Inis Oírr 1988 (scéal) Oileáin Árann
Cor in Aghaidh an Chaim. Ceardshiopa Inis Oírr Teoranta, Inis Oírr 1983 (scéal) Oileáin Árann

(Small, easy reads for learners.)

Ó CONGHAILE, Mícheál: Mac an tSagairt. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Béal an Daingin 1986 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
Seachrán Jeaic Sheáin Johnny. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Indreabhán 2002 (úrscéal) Conamara

(Mícheál Ó Conghaile writes beautiful contemporary Irish, but some of his themes might be disturbing. Seachrán Jeaic Sheáin Johnny is a short novel about an old man’s infatuation with a young girl, told in an unreal, even surrealistic style.)

Ó CONGHAILE, Seán: Cois Fharraige le mo Linnse. Clódhanna Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1974/1984 (seanchas) Conamara

(This is  an eminently readable book about old Connemara life, but it is linguistically quite demanding. I was already an old hand when I read it, but found it sometimes difficult and had to browse old Ó Donaill a lot.)

Ó CORBÁIN, Seán: Daoine Dathúla an Iarthair. Cló Chaisil, Baile Átha Cliath 2005. Oirthear na Gaillimhe

(Another autobiographical Gaeltacht book, somewhat marred by its depressing cultural pessimism.)

Ó CURRAOIN, Seán (Eag.): Iascairín Chloch na Cora – Scéalta agus Seanchas ó Bhearna agus na Forbacha. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 Bearna – Na Forbacha

(Another typical collection of folklore. Relatively easy read, on the other hand linguistically interesting, I seem to recall.)

Ó DUINNSHLÉIBHE, Tomás: Taidhgín. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1995 (úrscéal) Tuar Mhic Éadaigh

(A novel in Tourmakeady Irish, somewhat old-fashioned in style, but the language is very beautiful.)

Ó FINNEADHA, Cóil Learaí: Tórramh an Bhardail agus Scéalta Eile. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1995. (gearrscéalta) Conamara

(A collection of funny stories in natural Gaeltacht Irish. Quite delightful!)

Ó FLAITHEARTA, Liam: Dúil. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1970 (gearrscéalta) Oileáin Árann

(Liam O’Flaherty wrote mostly in English. His Irish short stories are difficult and linguistically demanding.)

Ó GIOLLAGÁIN, Conchúir (Eag.): Stairsheanchas Mhicil Chonraí – Ón Máimín go Ráth Cairn. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1999 (béaloideas, cuimhní cinn, dírbheathaisnéis) Ráth Cairn

(An Irish-speaking man’s autobiography in a conversational style showing strong English influence, but nevertheless interesting.)

Ó GRÁINNE, Diarmuid (Eag.): Máire Phatch Mhóir Uí Churraoin – A Scéal Féin. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1995/1997 (dírbheathaisnéis) Conamara

(A small, traditional Gaeltacht autobiography.)

Ó hEITHIR, Breandán: An Chaint sa tSráidbhaile. Eagarthóir: Caoilfhionn Nic Pháidín. Comhar Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1991 (iriseoireacht) Oileáin Árann
Lig Sinn i gCathú. Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh, Baile Átha Cliath 1983 (úrscéal) Oileáin Árann
Sionnach ar mo Dhuán. Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh, Baile Átha Cliath 1988 (úrscéal) Oileáin Árann

(Breandán Ó hEithir was an Aran islander and a journalist with an easy style comparable to Dónall Mac Amhlaidh. His journalism and novels are eminently readable.)

Ó LAIGHIN, Pádraig G.: Bánú Phartraí agus Thuar Mhic Éadaigh. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 (stair áitiúil) Deisceart Mhaigh Eo

(This is a small book of local history, written in a very standard Irish.)

Ó MÁILLE, Tomás: An Béal Beo. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 2002 (teanga)
An tIomaire Rua. Cogadh na Saoirse i dTuaisceart Chonamara. Máirtín Ó Cadhain a chóirigh an t-eagrán nua seo. An Gúm, Baile Atha Cliath 2007. (stair)

(An Béal Beo is a guide to Gaeltacht Irish, which should be studied and memorized by every advanced learner. An tIomaire Rua describes the Anglo-Irish war in Connemara, but regrettably the book was never finished. It is superb Irish, but uses some unnecessary and unintelligible archaisms.)

Ó NEACHTAIN, Joe Steve: Clochmhóin. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1998 (gearrscéalta) Conamara
Scread Mhaidine. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 2003 (úrscéal)
Lámh Láidir. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 2005 (úrscéal)

(Joe Steve’s short stories are somewhat too ambitious, but his novels are Maeve Binchy-esque page-turners.)

Ó RÁIGHNE, Mícheál: Bóithrín na hAille Báine. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán, Conamara 1994 (úrscéal) Conamara
Deoir ón tSúil. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán, Conamara 1993 (úrscéal) Conamara
Nach Iomaí Cor sa Saol. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán, Conamara 2002 (úrscéal) Conamara

(The other two books aren’t very special, but Bóithrín na hAille Báine is unadulterated, hysterical fun in Connemara Irish.)

Ó RUADHÁIN, Seán: Pádhraic Mháire Bhán. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1994 Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo

(The description of a Mayo boy growing up. While the book as a whole is too fragmentary, it is packed with interesting, even thrilling scenes. The language is great and should be studied by every advanced learner.)

RIDIRE AN GHÁIRE DHUIBH agus scéalta eile. Mícheál Mac Ruairí a d’inis. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1993 Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo

(Three folklore stories in a beautiful, but at times quirky and difficult Mayo dialect.)

SCÉALTA MHÁIRTÍN NEILE, bailiúchán scéalta ó Árainn. Holger Pedersen a thóg síos, Ole Munch-Pedersen a chuir in eagar. Comhairle Bhéaloideasa Éireann, An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath 1994 (béaloideas) Oileáin Árann

(These are folklore stories from Aran Islands. However, there are unacceptable Anglicisms, and for a native speaker’s Irish, the style is not very good.)

CIARRAÍ, CO. CHORCAÍ, CLÉIRE, AN RINN – AN MHUMHAIN (Kerry, Cork, Cape Clear, Ring of Waterford – Munster)

BREATNACH, Nioclás: Ar Bóthar Dom. Coláiste na Rinne, Rinn Ó gCuanach 1998 (béaloideas) Gaeltacht na Rinne

(This is a collection of folklore from Ring of Waterford. The language is dialectal and somewhat difficult. However, there is a good vocabulary list which you will doubtlessly need.)

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 1: BLÁITHÍN – FLOWER. In eagar ag Mícheál de Mórdha. An Sagart, An Daingean 1998 Ciarraí

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 2: TOMÁS Ó CRIOMHTHAIN 1855-1937. In eagar ag Máire Ní Chéilleachair. An Sagart, An Daingean 1998 Ciarraí

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 3: PEIG SAYERS SCÉALAÍ 1873-1958. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1999 Ciarraí

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 4: SEOIRSE MAC THOMÁIS 1903-1987. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 Ciarraí

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 5: MUIRIS Ó SÚILLEABHÁIN 1904-1950. In eagar ag Máire Ní Chéilleachair. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 Ciarraí

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 6: OIDEACHAS AGUS OILIÚINT AR AN mBLASCAOD MÓR. In eagar ag Máire Ní Chéilleachair. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2001. Ciarraí

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 7: FÓMHAR NA MARA. In eagar ag Máire Ní Chéilleachair. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2004. Ciarraí.

CEILIÚRADH AN BHLASCAOID 8: TRÉIGEAN AN OILEÁIN. In eagar ag Máire Ní Chéilleachair. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2005. Ciarraí

(Ceiliúradh an Bhlascaoid is a collection of articles published annually, which includes material both in English and Irish about the history and culture of the Blasket Island, the home of Peig Sayers and Tomás Ó Criomhthain.)

de RÓISTE, Proinsias: Binsín Luachra. Curtha in eagar ag Dáithí Ó hÓgáin. An Clóchomhar, Baile Átha Cliath 2001 Contae Luimnigh (gearrscéalta agus seanchas)

(This book is fine Irish, but as far as I remember, the stories in it are not authentic Irish-language folklore, but back-translated from English.)

GUNN, Marion (Eag.): Céad Fáilte go Cléire. An Clóchomhar Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1990 (seanchas, béaloideas) Oileán Cléire

(This is a collection of folklore material from Cape Clear Island/Cléire, and should be studied by everybody interested in the dialect, or just in good Irish.)

MAC AN tSÍTHIGH, Domhnall: An Baile i bhFad Siar. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 (stair áitiúil, seanchas, dinnseanchas, cuimhní cinn) Corca Dhuibhne

(This is a typical autobiographical book from the Gaeltacht, interesting for linguistic reasons. I seem to recall that there is good concrete language in this one.)

MAC SÍTHIGH, Domhnall: Fan Inti. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliatj 2003/2004 (seanchas bádóireachta) Corca Dhuibhne

(Fan Inti is a useful book about boating and boatmaking in the Gaeltacht, but the writer has one linguistic quirk that is more typical of non-Gaeltacht Irish.)

NÍ CHÉILEACHAIR, Síle, agus Donncha Ó CÉILEACHAIR: Bullaí Mhártain. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1955/1969 (gearrscéalta) Cúil Aodha

(An uneven collection of short stories. The title story I have always liked, those, because of its strong language and realistic portrayal of Gaeltacht people.)

NÍ FHAOLÁIN, Áine Máire (Eag.): Scéalta agus Seanchas Phádraig Uí Ghrífín. Dán agus Tallann 4. An Sagart, An Daingean 1995 (béaloideas) Ciarraí

(This is a good collection of folklore, but its spelling is so dialect-based that it’ll drive you nuts. It almost did me, too.)

NÍ GHUITHÍN, Máire: Bean an Oileáin. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1986 (seanchas, dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(A small collection of memories from Kerry, as a woman saw it. Quite good if Peig is still too heavy for you.)

NÍ SHÚILLEABHÁIN, Eibhlín: Cín Lae Eibhlín Ní Shúilleabháin. Eagarthóir: Máiréad Ní Longsigh. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(A young woman’s diary from the Blasket Island. Very different from Peig in atmosphere and content.)

Ó CAOIMH, Séamas: An Sléibhteánach. In eagar ag Éamon Ó Connchúir, cóirithe don chló ag Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. An Sagart, Maigh Nuad 1989. (dírbheathaisnéis) Tiobraid Árann

(A Gaeltacht autobiography by one of the last speakers of Tipperary dialect, which is very similar to Waterford Irish. At times quite interesting.)

Ó CEARNAIGH, Seán Sheáin (= Seán Sheáin Í Chearnaigh): An tOileán a Tréigeadh. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1974 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(A requiem to the Blasket Island, full of melancholy. Necessary reading if you are into Blaskets literature.)

Ó CINNÉIDE, Tomás: Ar Seachrán. An Sagart, Maigh Nuad 1996 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí

(This is a Gaeltacht autobiography that mentions the arrival of the hippies to Haight-Ashbury. Seriously!)

Ó CÍOBHÁIN, Ger: An Giorria san Aer. In eagar ag Tadhg Ó Dúshláine. An Sagart, Maigh Nuad 1992 (béaloideas agus cuimhní cinn) Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne

(One of the first ever books I have read in Irish, so I am probably not very good at assessing its literary or other value. The language is easy enough if you are familiar with Kerry Irish.)

Ó CÍOBHÁIN, Pádraig: Le Gealaigh. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1991 (gearrscéalta) Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
An Gealas i Lár na Léithe. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1992 (úrscéal) Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
An Grá faoi Cheilt. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1992 (gearrscéalta)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
Desiderius a Dó. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1995 (úrscéal)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
Ar Gach Maoilinn Tá Síocháin. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1998 (úrscéal)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
Tá Solas ná hÉagann Choíche. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1999 (gearrscéalta)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne

(Pádraig Ó Cíobháin is a man of very high literary ambitions, who writes Kerry Irish. I must admit much of his work is rather highbrow even for me. The book I have really enjoyed is the novel An Gealas i Lár na Léithe.)

Ó CRIOMHTHAIN, Seán: Lá Dár Saol. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1991 (cuimhní cinn) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí
…agus Tomás: Cleití Gé ón mBlascaod Mór. In eagar ag Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. An Sagart, An Daingean 1997. (seanchas) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(Seán Ó Criomhthain was the son of Tomás; his autobiographical book Lá dár Saol is in atmosphere very different from Tomas’s. I found it a relatively easy read, but that might be just me.)

Ó CRIOMHTHAIN, Tomás: Allagar na hInise. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1997 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí
An tOileánach. Pádraig Ua Maoileoin a chuir in eagar. Helicon Teoranta/An Comhlacht Oideachais, Baile Átha Cliath 1980 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí
Bloghanna ón mBlascaod. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1997Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(Tomás the Islandman’s Irish is rich and he writes about tangible things, so reading his books is good for your Irish. Obviously, it is Kerry Irish with all the verb endings.)

Ó CRÓINÍN, Seán agus Donncha: Seanachas ó Chairbre 1. Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann, An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath 1985 (seanchas) Cairbre, Co. na Corcaí

(This is a collection of maritime folklore in Irish, minimally edited. Also the orthography attempts to reproduce the dialectal pronunciation minutely. Nothing for learners, I am afraid. There never was a second volume, as far as I know.)

Ó hEOGHUSA, Tomás: Solas san Fhuinneog. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2001 (cuimhní cinn) Ciarraí

(A collection of some sort of newspaper columns about “good old” Gaeltacht life. Some of them are interesting because of the folklore-esque content.)

Ó LAOGHAIRE, An tAthair Peadar: Eisirt. Leagan Caighdeánaithe. Longmans, Brún agus Ó Nualláin Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath, gan dáta. (Miotaseolaíocht) Muscraí/Cúl Aodha
An Cleasaí. Leagan Caighdeánaithe. Longmans, Brún agus Ó Nualláin Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath, gan dáta. (Miotaseolaíocht) Muscraí/Cúl Aodha
Mo Scéal Féin. Sraith na gClasaiceach, Cló Thalbóid, Baile Átha Cliath 1999 (dírbheathaisnéis) Muscraí/Cúl Aodha
(= UA LAOGHAIRE, Peadar): Séadna. Liam Mac Mathúna a chuir in eagar, Brian Ó Cuív a scríobh an brollach. Carbad, Baile Átha Cliath 1987/1995 (úrscéal/béaloideas) Muscraí/Cúil Aodha

(Peadar Ó Laoghaire is obviously a classic and has had a formative influence upon modern Irish. I found his autobiography quite interesting not just for linguistic reasons; as a programmatically nationalistic book, it is markedly different from a run-of-the-mill Gaeltacht autobiography.)

Ó MURCHÚ, Pádraig: Gort Broc. Scéalta agus Seanchas ó Bhéarra. Máirtín Verling a chóirigh is a chuir in eagar. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1996 (béaloideas, seanchas) Uíbh Ráthach

(This is a comprehensive collection of folklore from Béarra. You should be warned, though, that it incorporates some features typical of terminal speakers’ Irish, i.e. native speakers who haven’t used the language for a long time and who are already forgetting it. Thus, the book should preferably be studied only by very advanced learners.)

Ó MURCHÚ, Tadhg (Eag.): Béarrach Mná ag Caint. Seanchas Mhairéad Ní Mhionacháin. Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 1999 Uíbh Ráthach

(More folklore from the same area. This one is a smaller book, and in better Irish.)

Ó SÉ, Maidhc Dainín:
A Thig Ná Tit orm. Eagrán Nua. C.J. Fallon, Baile Átha Cliath 1995 (cuimhní cinn) Ciarraí
Corcán na dTrí gCos. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1988 (gearrscéalta) Ciarraí
Dochtúir na bPiast. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1993/2000 (úrscéal) Ciarraí
Lilí Frainc. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2001 (úrscéal) Ciarraí
Madraí na nOcht gCos. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1998
Mair, a Chapaill. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1999
Mura mBuafam – Suathfam. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2003 (cuimhní cinn) Ciarraí
Tae le Tae. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1990 (úrscéal) Ciarraí
Idir Dhá Lios. Coiscém, Baile Átha Cliath 2005 (úrscéal) Ciarraí

(Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé is a linguistically and otherwise uneven writer. Much of what he has written is too heavily laced with English – not just English loanwords, but sometimes even unacceptable Anglicisms in syntax – to be a good model for learners. Besides, the gratuitous violence of some of his novels might be too much for you. However, Tae le Tae, Idir dhá Lios, and his reminiscences are quite readable.)

Ó SÍOCHÁIN, Conchúr: Seanchas Chléire. Ciarán Ó Síocháin agus Mícheál Ó Síocháin a chuir i scríbhinn. Oifig an tSoláthair, Baile Átha Cliath 1977 (Dírbheathaisnéis) Oileán Cléire

(A traditional Gaeltacht autobiography. The language is beautiful and rich.)

Ó SÚILLEABHÁIN, Muiris: Fiche Bliain ag Fás. An Sagart, An Daingean 1998 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí
Ó Oileán go Cuilleán Eagarthóir: Nuala Uí Aimhirgín. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000(aistí) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(Muiris Ó Súilleabháin is a Gaeltacht classic. The collection Ó Oileán go Cuilleán is linguistically interesting, showing how Connemara dialect influences the writer’s original Kerry Irish. Consisting of shorter texts, it is probably less intimidating for the learner than his autobiography.)

Ó SÚILLEABHÁIN, Páid: Ag Coimeád na Síochána. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1995 (cuimhní cinn) Ciarraí

(A Garda’s memories in unadulterated Kerry Irish.)

SAYERS, Peig: Machnamh Seanmhná. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1992 (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí
Peig. Tuairisc a thug Peig Sayers ar imeachtaí a beatha féin. Comhlacht Oideachais na hÉireann, Baile Átha Cliath, gan dáta (dírbheathaisnéis) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí

(Peig needs no introduction. Personally, I find Machnamh Seanmhná easier to read than his autobiography – Machnamh Seanmhná consists of shorter texts, and some of them I found interesting even as a young learner, such as the portrait of an Irish-speaker from Mexico.)

TYERS, Pádraig: Leoithne Aniar. Cló Dhuibhne, Baile an Fhirtéaraigh 1982 (béaloideas) Ciarraí/Na Blascaoidí
Malairt Beatha. Inné Teoranta, Dún Chaoin 1992 Ciarraí
An tAthair Tadhg. An Sagart, an Daingean 2000 (beathaisnéis) Ciarraí
Abair Leat Joe Daly. An Sagart, an Daingean 1999 (seanchas) Ciarraí
Sliabh gCua m’Óige. An Sagart, an Daingean 2003 (dírbheathaisnéis)

(Pádraig Tyers, as I found out only recently, was not a native speaker. This I found surprising, because his Irish is native-like Munster dialect with a literary polish. He was a folklore collector, and Leoithne Aniar and Malairt Beatha are among the results of this occupation; An tAthair Tadhg is the biography of a priest who promoted Irish; Abair Leat Joe Daly is an interview with a folklore collector; Sliabh gCua m’Óige is Tyers’s autobiography.)

UA CIARMHAIC, Mícheál: Iníon Keevack. An Gúm, Baile Átha Cliath 1996 (úrscéal) Ciarraí
Ríocht na dTonn. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1989 (seanchas) Ciarraí
Guth ón Sceilg. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2000 (gearrscéalta) Ciarraí
An Gabhar sa Teampall. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1986 (creideamh is cráifeacht) Ciarraí

(Mícheál Ua Ciarmhaic was a Gaeltacht writer of a philosophical bent. Iníon Keevack is a Wild West adventure and quite delighful.)

UA MAOILEOIN, Pádraig: Ár Leithéidí Arís. Cnuasach de Shaothar Ilchineálach. Clódhanna Teoranta, Baile Átha Cliath 1978 Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
Bríd Bhán. Sairséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1968/1972 (úrscéal)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
De Réir Uimhreacha. Muintir an Dúna, Baile Átha Cliath 1969 (dírbheathaisnéis)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
Na hAird ó Thuaidh. Sáirséal agus Dill, Baile Átha Cliath 1960 (stair áitiúil) Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
Ó Thuaidh! Sáirséal Ó Marcaigh, Baile Átha Cliath 1983 (úrscéal)Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne
An Stát versus Dugdale. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 2001 (tuairisc) Ciarraí/Corca Dhuibhne

(Pádraig Ua Maoileoin was a Garda and a Gaeltacht man. His novel about the life of the Garda, De Réir Uimhreacha, is both fun and good Irish – not “good Irish” in the traditional seanchas style, but the good Irish of a Gaeltacht man who knows when it is better not to use the traditional seanchas style. Bríd Bhán is a partly funny, partly haunting Gaeltacht novel. Ua Maoileoin’s books about the Gaeltacht are both insightful and subversive, and should be read as an antidote to Peig.)

VERLING, Máirtín (eag.): Leabhar Mhadhc Dháith. Scéalta agus Seanchas ón Rinn. Seosamh Ó Dálaigh, Nioclás Breatnach, Úna Parks agus daoine eile a bhailigh. An Sagart, an Daingean 2007. An Rinn, Co. Phort Láirge

(If you ever wanted to be able to speak about God, the universe and everything in Waterford Irish, this book is for you. It is quite an impressive piece of work. Basically, it is a very comprehensive collection of linguistic and folkloristic material in that particular dialect.)


Ó TUATHAIGH, Gearóid, Liam Lillis Ó LAOIRE agus Seán UA SÚILLEABHÁIN a chuir in eagar: Pobal na Gaeltachta – a Scéal agus a Dhán. Raidió na Gaeltachta i gcomhar le Cló IarChonnachta, Indreabhán 2000

(This is a book about all the Gaeltacht districts, with articles written by natives or longtime residents of those districts. Thus, you can observe how the language changes when you move along the west coast.)

PÓIRTÉIR, Cathal (Eag.): Glórtha ón Ghorta. Béaloideas agus an Gorta Mór. Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath 1996

(This is a collection of folklore about the Great Hunger: short fragments in the different dialects, which you can compare and draw your own conclusions.)