Exclusive Irish Gaelic Lesson

Learn the Celtic language of Ireland
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Your ancestors once spoke the beautiful language of Irish Gaelic. Bitesize Irish Gaelic is the best resource for online lessons.

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Lesson 1 vocabulary

How to start a conversation in Irish

Fáilte go "Bitesize Irish Gaelic"! Welcome to "Bitesize Irish Gaelic!"

As its name says, this program will help you learn Irish in small, easily assimilated, bitesize, portions.

Let's start with "Hello"

The first time you meet someone with whom you can actually use a bit of the Irish that you're learning, you don't want to be stuck with "Hi, um, oh, hmm". You need to be able to greet someone in Irish, and to be able to reply if they greet you!

One of the most basic ways to do this is to use the greeting you saw in the very first sentence of this lesson: Hello:

Dia dhuit Jee-ah ghwitch (throaghty gh) Hello

"Dia" means "God". Literally, "Dia dhuit" means "God to you". This just goes to show how the Irish language uses a number of religious references for everyday sayings.

An important note about "dhuit/duit"

As you progress to other lessons, you will see that sometimes this word is spelled "dhuit" and sometimes it's spelled "duit."  When it's spelled without the "h," it's pronounced duit ditch

Technically, according to the official written standard of Irish, An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, this word should always be spelled "duit," no matter how it's pronounced. Many native speakers, however, prefer to spell it with the "dh" when it's pronounced that way, as we have here, and you will see it both ways as you progress in your studies.

The use of "dhuit" vs. "duit" varies, depending on dialect:

In Munster (the southern part of the island): dhuit after vowels; otherwise duit ditch.

In Connacht (the western part of the island): Always dhuit

In Ulster (the northern part of the island): Always duit ditch, except for in some set phrases.

We'll be following the Munster convention in these lessons.

Saying "Hi" back in Irish (Gaelic)

If someone has said Dia dhuit Jee-ah ghwitch (throaghty gh) to you, you can't just reply with another "Dia dhuit", because you need to almost out-do them. Instead, you reply with the following:

Dia is Muire dhuit. Jee-ah iss Mwir-eh ghwitch.  Hello. (as a reply to Hello)

You'll notice that this reply to "Dia dhuit" is longer. It includes the extra words "is Muire" ("and Mary").

Literally, this reply means "God and Mary to you".

The reply just gets even more religious, eh? Don't worry about it, even if you're not religious yourself. These greetings are part of the culture, just as "adios" ("with God") is in Spanish, or "goodbye" (originally "God be with you") is in English, and are used daily even by people who aren't themselves religious.

A more casual greeting

When you're greeting an acquaintance, sometimes "hello" can seem a bit formal, even in English. If you run into an English-speaking friend, you might say "how's it going?" or "how are you?"  Irish has a similar system. One of the easiest ways to say "how are you" is:

Conas atá tú? How are you?

This greeting is particularly favored in the province of Munster, in the southern part of the country, and literally, word-for-word, means "how are you?"

There are other ways of expressing this in Irish, just as there are in English ("How's it going?" "How are things?" etc.), and we will go into some of those in Lesson: How are you?, but don't worry about those for now. "Conas tá tú" is relatively easy to remember, and will be understood wherever you go in Ireland.

Replying to "How are you?"

Of course, there are lots of possible answers to "How are you?", but we'll only talk about two in this lesson:

Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat Taw may guh mah, guh rev mah a-gut I'm well, thank you

Tá mé go breá, go raibh maith agat Taw may guh braw, guh rev mah a-gut I'm fine, thank you

You'll often hear these shortened to simply:

Go maith Guh mah Well

Go breá Guh braw Fine

These answers will usually be followed by the question "And yourself?"

Agus tú féin? Ogg-us too hayne? And yourself?

(You might notice "féin" is pronounced here as "hayne". That's a little difference between how this phrase is written and how it's usually spoken.)

Polite phrases

As you saw in the section above, the Irish for "thank you" is go raibh maith agat guh rev mah a-gut, which literally means "may there be good at you." It's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? Often it is said very quickly, and the sounds may be blended together, sounding something like "gura muh HAG-it" or "gura mad." You'll learn to catch the sounds of it very quickly!

The Irish for "please" is le do thoil leh duh huh-ill, which literally means "with your will."

Note: These greetings are suitable to use when you're talking to one person. They will change slightly when you're talking to multiple people because Irish has different forms for the singular and plural of "you" (this is the case in many European languages). We'll get into this more in subsequent lessons, all in good time.

Don't be afraid to try again

After you've listened to the greetings above, practice repeating them yourself. Don't worry if you can't seem to get the sounds just right at first...that will come as you spend more time with the language. For now, just work on getting comfortable with saying the words.  You'll get a chance to practice these in the context of an actual conversation in Lesson 4: Your first conversation.

Express yourself in new ways

Bitesize Irish Gaelic is a language learning program that teaches you to speak Irish (Gaelic) in small portions. Since these online Irish Gaelic lessons are bitesized, none of them will be too demanding or overpowering. 

You can take the Irish language lessons at your own pace. You'll learn pronunciation, with recordings and phonetic guides. Members can choose to complete any lesson at any time. The choice is yours and the sky is the limit! 

Congratulations. You've taken your first step to speaking the Irish language.

b) In the middle of the word -agh- sounds like → eye

 

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