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.


Aerfort – why do they write it like that?

Aerfort is of course the Irish word for “airport”, but it looks somewhat funny. To start with, that word aer, air, which does not seem to adhere to the “caol le caol, leathan le leathan” principle (and no, it does not – there are other similar examples). And why -fort? Should it not be -phort, because in compound words the second constituent is lenited (p becoming ph), and it is obvious the latter part of this word is “port”? Yes, it should, but for some reason the ligeadóirí agus casadóirí of the Caighdeán have decided otherwise.

One of the problems of Irish orthography is that there is no satisfactory way to write a long e sound both preceded and followed by a broad consonant. In Munster, -ao- is pronounced like this, but in most dialects, -ao- is more like a long i sound preceded and followed by a broad consonant. (A well-known exception is aon with its derivatives, which is usually pronounced with an e sound even in non-Munster dialects.) Note though that this particular long i is very unstable and has very different phonetic realizations due to the influence the broad consonants have on it: the English names Milligan and Mulligan are both based on Ó Maolagáin: in words (mostly names) borrowed from Irish into English the -ao- has very different English reflexes. (Русским изучающим ирландский язык конечно известно – или должно быть! – , что ирландское “ao” – очень похоже на русское “ы”, которое является самым лучшим русским приближением ирландского звука.  – Может быть я здесь еще буду публиковать целые статьи по русски, но я стесняюсь писать на этом языке, которым владею гораздо хуже, чем ирландским. Russian speakers have in their native language a very good approximation of Irish “ao” – the sound they write “ы”. I might yet write blog posts about Irish in Russian, but as yet I am ashamed to write Russian, my command of which is much more shaky than that of Irish.)

Long e sounds preceded and followed by broad consonants are found both in loanwords and original Irish words – of the latter, the very word Gael is an example. (Pre-Caighdeán spellings for this word include Gaedheal and Gaodhal.) Note the noun traein ‘(railway) train’. In it. the long e sound is preceded by a broad consonant but followed by a slender one, and to signalize the latter, an -i- is inserted. On the other hand, in its genitive form traenach the -n- is broad, and this is shown both by the fact that the extra -i- is dropped and that the -n- is followed by an -a-, which is unambiguously a broad vowel. Thus, although no textbook I have used makes this explicit, the “ae” of the present orthography must be treated, for all intents and purposes, as a broad vowel in its own right.

Then that -fort. Obviously, the word is a compound of aer and port, and shoult be written aerphort rather than aerfort. However, in the Caighdeán spelling compound words, the last constituent of which is basically -phort, are written like this: aerfort “airport”, longfort “military base, military stronghold, camp”, críochfort “terminal”, calafort “port, harbour” (this is a compound of caladh “port, harbour, landing” and port). This is just a convention, I am not especially fond of it – I would prefer the more regular aerphort, longphort, críochphort – although I admit that caladhphort looks kind of clumsy compared to calafort, and calaphort would feel vaguely wrong.

Note that there is also the word ceannfort, which means “commandant” (there are no majors in the Irish armed forces, there are commandants – I guess this was modelled on the French military tradition, in an attempted departure from the English one). I am not sure about the etymology of ceannfort, but I guess it was originally not a compound word but a genitive construction (ceann an phoirt?). Maybe you’ll find the explanation in Dinneen’s dictionary.





Snakes on a plane? Sure, but in Irish

The language of aviation is English, and even in languages less endangered than Irish, aviation terms commonly are relatively raw borrowings from English. However, we sure can do better. So, here are the parts of a plane.

The plane itself is eitleán, which is a masculine word (an t-eitleán, an eitleáin, na heitleáin, na n-eitleán), but typically referred to with a feminine pronoun (the same applies to boats, ships and other vehicles). In old days, most eitleáin had a lián which is a propeller, attached to a seafta liáin or a propeller shaft for the traiseoladh cumhachta or transmission of power from the engine, inneall. Small planes even today usually have an inneall comhbhuailteach or inneall frithingeach, i.e. a reciprocating engine, and such an engine has sorcóirí, cylinders, and loiní – pistons – the way the internal combustion engine or inneall dócháin inmheánaigh of a gluaisteán has. You can call a reciprocating engine a piston engine – inneall loiní – too. Loine is a feminine word: an loine, na loine, na loiní, na loiní.

However, passenger planes these days are usually jet planes, scairdeitleáin. A jet engine is called scairdinneall, and it has a compressor – comhbhrúiteoir – for air intake (aer-iontógáil). Behind the compressor there is the combustion chamber, cuasán dó (or maybe cuasán dócháin!), where the breosla or fuel is consumed, and then the stream of fuel turns the tuirbín or turbine. There are also turboprop engines – inneall turba-liáin – and turbofan engines – inneall turba-fean. That word looks like a very raw loanword indeed.

The main part of the plane is the cabhail or fuselage – it is a feminine noun, an chabhail, na cabhlach, na cabhlacha, na gcabhlach. Inside the fuselage you’ll find the cábán or cabin, with the stewards and air hostesses – in Irish, both are called óstach or aeróstach, and this is a first-declension masculine noun: an t-aeróstach, an aeróstaigh, na haeróstaigh, na n-aeróstach. For cabin stewards, the word stíobhard can be used too. It is an old and well-established loanword (and even in my country’s first language the word used is “stuertti”, so using stíobhard is just fine).

A modern aerlínéar (airliner) will fly at high altitudes – sroichfidh sí an-airde agus í ag déanamh a bealaigh, tá a fhios agat. So, it is necessary for the cabin to be pressurized or brúchóirithe. Note the similarity of aerchóiriú ‘air-conditioning’ and brúchóiriú ‘pressurization’ – the second one means, word by word, ‘pressure-conditioning’. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Both are part of the córas rialaithe timpeallachta or environmental control system.

An aircraft has also something called eitleonaic or avionics. I must say I am not particularly happy with this Irish term, which is an English-modelled abbreviation for leictreonaic eitilte (flying electronics, or aviational electronics), but I guess it’s more compact than leictreonaic eitilte after all. Eitleonaic includes such stuff as uathphíolóta (autopilot), rabhchán raidió neamhthreo (non-directional radio beacon), córas an-ardmhinicíochta uile-raoin (Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range system, or VOR), gléasra fadtomhaiste (distance measuring equipment, or DME), trasfhreagróir (transponder), córas tuirlingthe ionstraimí (instrumental landing system or ILS), not to mention an Córas Suite Domhanda or GPS.

A plane obviously has sciatháin or wings (singular form: sciathán, a wing), with flapaí (flaps) and coscáin eitilte (air brakes) as well as ailearáin (ailerons).  The tail of the plane usually consists of a cobhsaitheoir ingearach (vertical stabilizer) with a stiúir (rudder) attached – this is a feminine noun: an stiúir, na stiúrach, na stiúracha, na stiúrach – as well as a cobhsaitheoir cothrománach or horizontal stabilizer, with a rialtán airde or elevator (the Irish word means “altitude controller”).

The eitleán is steered by the píolóta who is a professional eitleoir. He is assisted by the loingseoir eitilte (navigator). possibly even an innealtóir eitilte (flight engineer). They are sitting in cró an phíolóta (cockpit). They have a lot of ionstraimí (instruments, gauges) to attend to, but nowadays with everything computerized and electronized, so that they have just computer displays instead of those gauges, and they can choose which instruments they want those displays to show – this is called cró gloine (glass cockpit).

Planes land on an aerfort (actually aerphort would be etymologically better, as a spelling). Or maybe it is just an airstrip. aerstráice. Landing itself is tuirlingt, and landing-gear is fearas tuirlingthe. (The website gives also an alternative expression, cosa tuirlingthe, i.e. landing feet, which sounds excellent to me.) The place where the plane lands is the same place where it takes off, i.e. a runway, rúidbhealach. A taxiway is raon innealta, or bealach innealta – the participle innealta is associated with the verb innill!/inleadh “to set, to order, to array”. And of course it is important for the pilot to stay i dteagmháil raidió with the crew in the túr rialúcháin, control tower.

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.

Verb forms not found in the Caighdeán

To start with: I am not particularly happy with the war people wage against the Caighdeán Oifigiúil, because I have seen too much printed material in make-believe dialect which has been about as riddled with clumsy English-influenced syntax as the worst school Irish you ever saw. The reason why people detest the Caighdeán Oifigiúil is that bad Irish (i.e. bad syntax and word-for-word translation from English) usually goes hand in hand with the Caighdeán. However, they then tend to follow the clue in the wrong direction and adopt morphological features (i.e. words and inflectional forms) from some dialect, while sticking to English-influenced constructions and syntax. (For the linguistically challenged, here is a simple explanation of the concept of syntax: it is how words depend on each other in the sentence as a whole. The Irish term for syntax is comhréir, i.e. mutual consistency, and that pretty much summarizes it.)

I must say though that many people parroting away about how bad the Caighdeán is are those who seize upon any convenient excuse not to learn Irish. I have my issues with the Caighdeán but as standard languages go it isn’t that bad. (Of course, these days they are changing the Caighdeán in new ways. You can rest assured I couldn’t care less about their new Caighdeán. I have my own ideas of what standard Irish should be, and those ideas are firmly rooted in the Irish of the Gaeltacht folklore and literature. I teach you my own caighdeán, and that’s the end of it.)

This does not mean that it is not sensible to learn the word forms not used in the Caighdeán. The best linguistic models (even syntactic models) are to be found in Gaeltacht literature, which for natural reasons is written in more or less dialectal language. Thus, it is important to see to it that your quest into that world will not be stopped by your unfamiliarity with the non-Caighdeán forms. (Note though one of the reasons why I am nowadays critical of the anti-Caighdeán stance is the fact that the Caighdeán as defined by the unabridged Irish-language edition of the Christian Brothers’ grammar is solidly based on the syntax of the best native writers. The problem is, again again again, that people don’t read that particular grammar or focus on syntax.)

Here are the stems of strong verbs including those not used in the Caighdeán. (There will, I hope, be a later blog post about those personal endings which are most typical of Munster dialects.)


For the verb feic!/feiceáil ‘to see’, the main problem is the stem tchí-, chí-, tí- (based on earlier ad-chí, do-chí). In the mythical good Irish of bygone days this was the form used in statements and in direct relative (and note that in direct relative clauses the t- is not lenited!). The stem feic- was used after go, ní, nach, an. 

Thus, the present tense has the form tchí, chí, tí when it is not preceded by any verbal particles other than the direct relative a. (The added -onn in present as well as the broad -os of the direct relative are allowed but not required.) After ní, go, an, nach the feiceann form is preferred.

Similarly, the future tense has the forms tchífidh [tʃ-], tífidh, chífidh (and where applicable, it takes the direct relative broad -s: an fear a tchífeas/chífeas/tífeas a leithéid de radharc ‘the man who’ll see such a sight’). After the verbal particles, the stem is again feic-: ní fheicfidh, go bhfeicfidh, nach bhfeicfidh and so on.

The conditional mood has the forms tchífeadh [tʃ-], tífeadh, chífeadh – but after the verbal particles, go bhfeicfeadh, ní fheicfeadh and so on.

The habitual past tense has the forms tchíodh, tíodh, chíodh – and after the verbal particles: go bhfeiceadh et cetera.

The tchí- stem can be pronounced tiu-, tʃu- in Ulster, but is seldom so written.

Even in the Caighdeán there is the absolute vs dependent distinction in the past tense: chonaic vs go bhfaca, ní fhaca, an bhfaca, nach bhfaca.

The chí/feic– distinction is however most typical of Ulster. In Munster, at least in colloquial Kerry Irish, the chí- stem has been generalized (in the way feic- has been generalized in the caighdeán), so that we have such forms as go gcíonn, ní chíonn in the present, go gcífidh in the future and so on. The ch- is usually delenited in the absolute forms: cíonn, cífidh – but of course it is lenited after the direct relative a. (Actually, direct relative a tends to become do in Munster.)

In the past tense Kerry Irish also keeps the absolute stem even in the dependent forms, so you should not be surprised to see forms such as gur chonaic, níor chonaic rather than go bhfaca, ní fhaca in Kerry literature. And of course, these days the verbal particles ending in -r are becoming extinct in Kerry, so I guess go gconaic, ní chonaic are quite common too. Personally, though, I think these are vulgar dialect that should only be used where very colloquial style is called for.

Note that the old form for “I saw”, still used in Munster, is chonac (pronounced more like ch’nuc though).

The autonomous (impersonal) form is chonacthas/go bhfacthas, but as dialects go chonaiceadh is not that uncommon – I’d say it is most typical of Munster. 

Note that in the sense ‘seemed to’, you often see b’fhacthas. B’fhacthas dom ‘it seemed to me’. This sort of thing is found at least in Ulster and Connacht.

The verbal noun is feiceáil, with some typical provincial alterations: feiceál in Connemara, feiceáilt in Ulster. In Munster, feiscint is common. 

FAIGH!/FÁIL ‘to find, to get’

Then faigh. Now that’s a nice one. To start with, the present tense in the “good old Irish” used to be gheibh, and the faigh- stem is only ever used after the verbal particles. 

Even in the Caighdeán, the future tense has a somewhat similar distinction: gheobhaidh vs ní/go/nach/an bhfaighidh. Note that here even eclipses.

And similarly in the conditional mood: gheobhadh vs ní/go/nach/an bhfaigheadh

In the Caighdeán, we use faigheann rather than gheibh, but Ulster Irish basically keeps the gheibh vs faigheann distinction, and in Munster gheibh has become gheibheann and is also used in dependent forms, so that you encounter such forms as ní gheibheann, go ngeibheann

After chan, we can use the faigh- stem: chan fhaigheann; but as I have pointed out elsewhere, the construction chan gheobhann (future form with -ann substituted for the future ending) also exists in the dialect. I have seen it in literature only once – the writer was an Ulsterman but not a native Irish speaker, and he used it for dialectal plausibility – and there are some instances in East Ulster folklore. I must say though that using this kind of expressions is precisely the kind of petty dialect enthusiasm that I have grown suspicious of, and I would prefer people to take more interest in syntax and idiom.

Note that gheobhaidh has the direct relative form gheobhas. Giving the form gheibh a direct relative ending where applicable (gheibheas) is hardly wrong, but it is not required or necessary.

The past tense is fuair, as you should know, and it takes the -r-less verbal particles. And even here, ní eclipses: fuair, an bhfuair, nach bhfuair, ní bhfuair, go bhfuair. Note though that the Ulster particle chan lenites: chan fhuair. The autonomous form is fuarthas, although fuaireadh does have some currency in dialects. There is also the completely irregular autonomous form frítheadh or fríth, which can sometimes be spotted in Connacht or Clare literature (Sean-Phádraic Ó Conaire uses it). It takes the -r particles, as far as I know, and resists lenition, as autonomous forms of regular verbs do.

The verbal noun is fáil; the Ulster variant is fáilt. The participle is faighte, but in Munster, there is the form fachta.

ITH!/ITHE ‘to eat’

Then let’s consider ith. As you certainly know, the future and conditional moods use the stem íos-: íosfaidh, d’íosfadh. The past tense is usually regular in all dialects: d’ith. However, you should remember that the irregular form d’uaidh, níor uaidh, nár uaidh, gur uaidh (it can also be written d’uaigh or d’ua) is sporadically found in folklore. It is a remnant of classical Irish rather than part of any particular dialect. I have seen it (as d’ua) in a folklore volume from Clare.

FÁG!/FÁGÁIL ‘to leave’

Fág!/fágáil ‘leave’ is basically a regular verb. However, in Ulster it has the irregular future form fuígfidh – as in the song Fuígfidh mé an baile seo nó tá sé dúghránna – and similarly the conditional mood d’fhuígfeadh; and in Connacht it has the past form d’fhága rather than d’fhág

TAR!/TEACHT ‘to come’

Tar!/teacht shows quite a lot of variation. Tagann is the present form, you say? Well yes, but in Ulster they typically prefer thig. (Obviously, tig and tigeann as well as the direct relative form thigeas also exist in dialects. In fact, tig- forms are found even in Connacht.) Tag- can be pronounced teag- in dialects, but this is seldom written.

The subjunctive present has theoretically the form taga, but in Ulster both tige and tara are found (with extra -idh added in pronunciation if the following word is not a pronoun). Thus: fan go dtaga mé, fan go dtaga Seán in the caighdeán, but in Ulster:

fan go dtara mé, fan go dtaraidh Seán


fan go dtige mé, fan go dtigidh Seán.

Now you obviously ask me what the hell the subjunctive present is, because they never taught you that at school. Well, I am afraid I’ll need to blog about that separately.

Anyway, Ciarán Ó Duibhin, who is much more versed in Ulster Irish than yours truly, told me that for Ulster the rule is that you never have the tag- stem – instead, you have either the tar- or the t(h)ig- stem in those forms that don’t have t(h)ioc-. (Future and conditional forms are in Ulster tiocfaidh, thiocfadh, as anywhere else.) The past habitual, which is in Ulster also used as past subjunctive, is thigeadh: dá dtigeadh sé abhaile, bheinn breá sásta

The past tense has, as everybody should know, the form tháinig. The caighdeán recommendation is to use the -r particles with it: níor tháinig, gur tháinig, ar tháinig, nár tháinig, but actually such forms as ní tháinig, go dtáinig, nach dtáinig, an dtáinig are quite widespread in dialects (even other dialects than Munster). The Ulster cha is used without -r: cha dtáinig

Note that the historically correct synthetic form for ‘I came’ is thánag. However, this is only used in Cork. In Kerry, thána (in analogy with chuala ‘I heard’) is used. 

The imperative of gabh! can be used in Ulster in the meaning “come!” – which has given rise to the word goitse, goitseo “come here” (basically gabh anseo).

The verbal noun is usually teacht, but the parallel form tíocht exists at least in Connemara. The verbal noun tends to be permanently lenited in many dialects (i.e. theacht, thíocht).

TABHAIR!/TABHAIRT ‘to give, to bring’

Tabhair!/tabhairt used to have the (permanently lenited) present form bheir when not preceded by verbal particles (tugann is always used after them: ní thugann, cha dtugann, an dtugann, nach dtugann, go dtugann). In Ulster, such forms are still used, but even there tugann is common even without verbal particles. The form tabhrann (in Ulster pronounced tóireann) also exists, but I tend to think it is very colloquial (in the sense ain’t and gonna are very colloquial English). 

Similarly, the future and conditional forms (tabharfaidh and thabharfadh in the caighdeán) distinguish in Ulster between bhéar- forms used in independent or direct relative position: bhéarfaidh (future), bhéarfas (future direct relative) and bhéarfadh (conditional mood).  T(h)abhar- stem is used after verbal particles: ní thabharfaidh, nach dtabharfaidh, go dtabharfaidh, an dtabharfaidh; ní thabharfadh, nach dtabharfadh, go dtabharfadh, an dtabharfadh, cha dtabharfadh. (Note that Ulster Irish does not use cha[n] before the future form – instead, the present form caters for both present and future, cha dtugann = ní thugann AND ní thabharfaidh.)

The written form tabhar- conceals many different phonetic realizations, such as tiúr- and tóir-. These are seldom written even in relatively dialectal texts, though.

The habitual past is in Ulster bheireadh, but after verbal particles –thugadh, -dtugadh: ní thugadh, cha dtugadh, an dtugadh, go dtugadh, nach dtugadh. 

The verbal noun is tabhairt, but of course there are different ways to pronounce it, such as tiúirt and tóirt – these are seldom written. The participle is tugtha, but tabhartha is used in the set expression leanbh tabhartha “illegitimate child” (also páiste ceo, páiste gréine, páiste díomhaointis). 


In the caighdeán, the cluin- and clois- stems are perfectly equal, and nothing keeps you from using them in free variation (if you are not trying to imitate the preferences of a particular dialect). Present is thus cluineann or cloiseann, future is cluinfidh or cloisfidh, and conditional is chluinfeadh or chloisfeadh

Cluin = clois has the present form chluin in Ulster; this is permanently lenited, but responds to eclipsis: go gcluin, nach gcluin, an gcluin.

The past tense of course has the form chuala, impersonal form chualathas; note though that the regularized cluineadh is also known in dialects. Both chuala/chualathas and cluineadh take the -r particles (ar, nár, níor, gur), but such forms as go gcuala are not unheard of. The verbal noun has the standard forms cloisteáil and cluinstin, but there are several nonstandard ones such as cluinstint, clos, cloisint, cluinsbheáilt (the last one I mined from some very marginal Ulster dialect and made a point of using it back when I tried to cling to Ulster Irish). The participle is cloiste or cluinte.

The form for ‘I heard’ is in Kerry simply chuala with no ending or pronoun added. In Cork, it is chualag (under the influence of thánag). Chualas for ‘I heard’ is an innovation based on the regular verb; it is more typical of those dialects where the synthetic form is only used in poetry or in answering a question.

Note that the verbs mothaigh!/mothú (in Ulster often mothachtáil in the verbal noun) and airigh!/aireachtáil both meaning basically “to feel” are often used in the meaning “to hear”. (As far as I know, braith!/brath is not used in this sense, though.)

BEIR!/BREITH ‘to bear; to seize upon, to catch’ 

Beir has regular present: beireann. The past tense is in the caighdeán based on the rug- stem: rug mé, rug tú. However, there is a tendency in several dialects to spare the rug- stem for the autonomous verb rugadh ‘was born’, and use bheir in the sense of catching, seizing. Many writers of Irish, even those who use a relatively caighdeán kind of style, would write rugadh Einstein in Ulm ‘Einstein was born in Ulm’, but beireadh ar Veerappan i bPapparapathi ‘Veerappan was caught in Papparapathi’.

I seem to recall (but this is on strictly ‘I seem to recall’ basis) that in Connemara the rugadh/beireadh distinction is expressed as rugadh/rugthas (or rugadh/rugús). I should check the literature though.

In Ulster, the regularized past forms bheir mé, bheir tú are usually used, although they can be confused with the old present of tabhair!/tabhairt. 

In future and conditional, the written forms are béarfaidh, bhéarfadh, although at least in Ulster the pronunciation is more like beirfidh, bheirfeadh to keep them distinct from the forms of tabhair!/tabhairt

The verbal noun is breith, the participle is beirthe – but the form rugtha does find some idiomatic use in some dialect, I think.

DÉAN!/DÉANAMH ‘to do, to make’

The present is regular in the standard language: déanann, ní dhéanann, go ndéanann, nach ndéanann, an ndéanann. However, in Ulster (< ghní, do-ghní) is still used when not preceded by verbal particles (and you do find it sporadically in other dialects too). The spelling ghní is sometimes used, but it should not be interpreted too phonetically, because that gh- is not pronounced – it is rather a way to keep ghní distinct from both the verbal particle ‘not’ and the stem of the regular verb nigh!/ní ‘to wash’. Note that at least for some speakers, initial slender n- can be audibly lenited; the initial n- in (gh)ní ‘does’ is permanently lenited, while the one in níonn ‘washes’ is not, if it is not preceded by a leniting verbal particle.

The form used after the verbal particle in Ulster is déan or téan, often sounding more like deán or teán. Thus, ní dhéan/ní théan/ní dheán/ní theán; cha dtéan/cha ndéan/cha dteán/cha dtéan; go dtéan/go ndéan/go dteán/go ndeán, and so on.

The past is rinne, with the form dearna used after the verbal particles: ní dhearna, go ndearna, nach ndearna, an ndearna and so on. We saw above that the impersonal past of the verb ‘to hear’ can be cluineadh although the personal forms use the chuala stem; similarly, déanadh has some currency in the spoken language instead of rinneadh. The form used after the verbal particles is dearnadh: ní dhearnadh, nach dhearnadh, go ndearnadh, an ndearnadh – but I am positive I have seen ní dhearnthas in some Munster text. (Update: yes, ní dhearnthas is used in Co. Cork Irish, probably because they indeed have the form dhearnag in the first person singular, under the influence of thánag ‘I came’ and chualag ‘I heard’. This I have never seen in any folklore book, but Breandán Ó Buachailla tells in his book about Cork Irish that the dhearna stem is used even in positive statements, i.e. where you would in the standard language use the rinne stem: do dhearnag ‘I did’, do dhearnamar ‘we did’ etc.)

Sometimes we see the rinn- stem used after verbal particles: níor rinne, gur rinne and so on. This occurs in some places in Connemara. 

Déanadh takes -r particles: níor déanadh, ar déanadh; this sometimes occurs with dearnadh too: níor dearnadh. Both in Connemara.

In Ulster, the past forms are rinn rather than rinne and dearn/tearn rather than dearna: thus, ní thearn/ní dhearn, go dtearn/go ndearn, cha dtearn/cha ndearn

In some places in Munster, the past of déan is based on the dein stem, and it is regular: dhein sé, deineadh: níor dhein sé, níor deineadh (such forms as go ndein sé, go ndeineadh occurring instead of gur dhein sé, gur deineadh are not due to irregularity of irregular verbs, but to the more common loss of -r particles in Munster Irish). I am not versed enough in Munster Irish to tell, whether this dein- stem is phonetically very different from the déan- stem used in other forms. 

Habitual past, future, and conditional forms are regular in the Caighdeán. At least in Ulster, though, habitual past is based on the (gh)ní- stem; and not just conditional but also future forms are permanently lenited: dhéanfaidh. And as in present and past, the verb in Ulster does not seem to be able to decide whether its stem vowel is or éa, and whether its first consonant is t or d. Thus, we get forms such as cha dteánfadh, cha dteánfaidh, go dteánfadh, go dteánfaidh, and so on.

The verbal noun is déanamh and the participle is déanta, but in the recently published book on East Ulster Irish, Scéalta Mhuintir Luinigh, I have spotted teanamh, which seems to be another example of Ulster t- for d- in this verb.

ABAIR!/RÁ ‘to say, to sing’

The present is deir, and in the Caighdeán it is the same after verbal particles: go ndeir, nach ndeir, ní dheir, an ndeir. Some textbooks suggest that there is a difference in meaning between deir and deireann, but this is bonkers: I say it is one of style.

Note that deir is not lenited after direct relative particle: an fear a deir nach bhfuil sé sásta ‘the man who says that he is not satisfied’. This is due to the fact that historically a- is part of the stem. This is why some writers prefer adeir to a deir.

The impersonal present is deirtear. The old form ráitear should be avoided, as it is hardly living language anywhere. The old formula ris a ráitear is sometimes used, but this is in today’s Irish purely facetious; it means ‘which is called’, i.e. ar a dtugtar or a dtugtar…air/uirthi/orthu in better and more modern Irish.

The historically correct way obviously was to use the abair-/abr- stem after verbal particles: ní abraíonn/ní abrann, go n-abraíonn/go n-abrann, an abraíonn/an abrann, nach n-abraíonn/nach n-abrann; an abraítear/an abart(h)ar etc. However, even where abr- stems survive, they are not always used according to this rule – in Ulster, ní dheir is seen alongside ní abraíonn or ní abrann, and in Connacht, you see such forms as abraíonn used without any verbal particles. 

Very much the same applies to future and conditional forms, which are based on the déar- stem (déarfaidh, déarfadh) with the d- resisting aspiration after the direct relative particle (a déarfas, a déarfadh), but not after (ní dhéarfaidh, ní dhéarfadh).

Again, the use of the abair-/abr- stem after verbal particles has been most stable in Ulster. Note though that the abr- forms in Ulster show the usual Ulster features of second conjugation verbs in conditional and future. Thus, the conditional and future endings are either two-syllable: abróchaidh [abrahi], abróchadh [abrahu] (note that in Ulster, non-initial long o is realized as short but clear [a]) or intrusive: abórfaidh [abarhi], abórfadh [abarhu]. 

The habitual past form is deireadh, with the impersonal form deirtí. It is not lenited except after ; such forms as dheireadh, dheirtí with a regularized lenition of the initial consonant are typical of Waterford Irish. The abair-/abr- stem after verbal particles is again possible: ní abraíodh, ní abraítí or ní abart(h)aí. But note again that where the ab(ai)r- stem does exist, it is often used even where you would except deir-: I am positive I have seen d’abraíodh rather than deireadh in folklore volumes from Mayo, at the very least.

The past is dúirt, the past impersonal is dúradh (dúrthas is dialectal.) The personal endings are added to dúr- stem, and the first person form used in Munster is dúrt (old orthography dubhart). However, both in Ulster and Connacht, the past form is frequently reanalyzed as d’úirt, which gives rise to such forms as níor úirt, nár úirt, ar úirt, gur úirt (note that the caighdeán recommendation is ní dhúirt, nach ndúirt, an ndúirt, go ndúirt). This is orthographically often represented as níor (nár, ar, gur…) dhúirt or níor (etc.) ‘úirt. Similarly, the impersonal form is in these dialects húradh or húrthas (the addition of h- to the initial vowel of past impersonal is a regular feature in those dialects). The initial d- resists lenition after direct relative a (and of course some writers prefer to spell the direct relative form as one word, adúirt).

The verbal noun is (rádh, ráidht, ráit are seen in Ulster literature), ráite is the participle.

TÉIGH!/DUL ‘to go’

This verb has a number of issues. We saw above that gabh! is used for ‘come!’ in Ulster, but at least in Connacht the forms of gabh!/gabháil are more typically substituted for forms of téigh, such as future (gabhfaidh for rachaidh) and conditional (ghabhfadh for rachadh). 

The present form is téann. However, in Ulster they use théid with all personal pronouns. It is permanently lenited but it responds to eclipsis: go dtéid, nach dtéid, cha dtéid… 

The future form is rachaidh and the conditional form is rachadh. However, in Munster these forms are created from the ragha- rather than racha- stem at least if they end in personal endings, thus raghainn for rachainn ‘I would go’, and raghad for rachaidh mé ‘I will go’. The -f- is used only in the impersonal form: rachfar (raghfar), rachfaí (raghfaí). 

The past tense is chuaigh, and the past form used after verbal particles is deachaigh (an ndeachaigh, go ndeachaigh, nach ndeachaigh, ní dheachaigh). While -igh is the standard spelling, some people insist on -idh as the historically correct spelling, but as you know this is not phonetically relevant anywhere. 

In Munster, expect such forms as gur chuaigh and (due to loss of -r particles) go gcuaigh. And in Ulster, there is again some confusion about the first consonant: cha dteachaigh, an dteachaigh etc.

The impersonal past is chuathas/go ndeachthas; the form chuadh (or chuathadh)/go ndeachadh is dialectal.

The verbal noun is dul, obviously, but in Ulster and Connacht, ghoil (delenited only after ag: ag goil) is preferred. It is obviously another example of gabh invading the paradigm of this verb. It is sometimes written ghabháil, but as far as I know the real honest-to-God gabháil has even in those dialects a full pronunciation [gawa:l’] to keep it distinct from ghoil. The participle is dulta, but the construction ar shiúl is preferred at least in Ulster.

There will be a separate post about  and is of course.