Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge/Imleabhar 5/Uimhir 10/Easy Lessons in Irish

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Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge, Imleabhar V, Uimh. 10  (1895)  by Eugene O'Growney
Easy Lessons in Irish
[ 148 ]


(The First Part is now issued in book form: see advertisements.)



§ 410. The pronunciation of some words is difficult to the beginner, owing to the number of aspirated consonants in them. But if each syllable is taken separately. and pronounced according to the ordinary rules, there will be little difficulty. We shall merely give a few examples here, as we shall continue to give after each new word its pronunciation.

aġaiḋ (ei′-ee), face.
áḋḃar (au′-Wăr), cause.
ċoiḋċe (CHee′-hĕ), ever=go bráṫ.
oiḋċe (ee′-hĕ), night.
foġṁar (fō′-wăr), autumn, harvest time.
saiḋḃir (sei′-vĕr), rich. Often (sev-vĕr).
geiṁreaḋ (gev′-roo, Munster, gei′-ră, gee′-ră), winter.

These words look still more difficult when, instead of the usual dot, the letter h is used (§ 227) to mark the aspiration, with either ordinary Irish type or the Roman letter, thus:—

choidhche, or choidhche, ever.
oidhche, or oidhche, night.
oidhche Shamhna ee′-hĕ hou′-nă), Hallow Eve.

§ 411. ceó (k-yō), a fog.

Boċt agus saiḋḃir. Ḃí Doṁnall saiḋḃir aċt atá sé boċt anois, ní ḟuil airgead aige. Foġṁar agus geiṁreaḋ. Ní’l an foġṁar te; atá an geiṁreaḋ fuar. Geiṁreaḋ fuar fliuċ. Atá ceó mór ar an loċ. Geiṁreaḋ garḃ, foġṁar fliuċ.

§ 412. I was in the house (on) Hallow Eve. The night is dark, the moon is not in the sky. Dermot is rich yet; he has money in his pocket. The drink is wholesome. Put the key in your pocket. The night is wet; my coat is heavy. I came from Armagh to-day, and I am going over to Scotland now. Did you see the poor man. No, I did not see the ship; there was a heavy fog on the water.


§ 413. Only one chapter remains to be added to the foregoing treatise on the pronunciation of modern Irish. In every language there are words which are not pronounced according to the ordinary rule, and in Irish, a language which has been spoken without much change for so many centuries, there are of course exceptional words. Considering that Irish has been, for some two centuries at least, spoken by a people untrained to read and write the language, the wonder is that so few words are irregular.

Instead of giving here all the irregular words of the language, we will indicate an arrangement of irregular words to which we can easily refer in subsequent lessons, and the irregular words can thus be learned by degrees, and with comparatively little trouble. We will divide the words irregularly pronounced into classes, and we can afterwards refer to these as Irreg. A, B, C, and D, &c.


Some words are irregular in pronunciation because they are unduly shortened in rapid pronunciation. We have already given examples (§ 341) of one class of words, in which, for the purpose of avoiding hiatus, contraction takes place.

(1) Thus = bliaḋain, a year, is pron. not blee′-ă-ĕn but blee′-ăn.

§ 415. (2.) There are a few classes of ordinary words, with a long termination, in which the termination is shortened. The ordinary terminations thus shortened are:—

§ 416.

Termination full pron. shortened to
-aṁail ou′-ăl ool
-aṁain ou′-ăn oon
-uġaḋ oo′-ă oo
-ṁaḋ wă, woo oo
-iġiḋ ee′-ee ee

§ 417. So in words like—

marḃuiġ mor′-ee
sealḃuiġ shal′-ee
ollṁuiġ ŭL′-ee
fágḃáil faug′-aul
fáġḃáil [fau′-aul] faul
Maolṁuire (mweel′-rĕ) Miles

§ 418. canaṁain (kon′-oon), a dialect
fearaṁail (far′-ool), manly
flaiṫeaṁail (floh′-ool), princely, hence generous.

In Munster these words are accented on the last syllable.

§ 419. Go mbeannuiġiḋ Dia ḋuit! go mbeannuiġiḋ Dia agus Muire ḋuit (gŭ [ 149 ]maN′-ee). This is the full form of the ordinary salutation, which is contracted to Dia ḋuit in Munster. It means—

May God bless (everything) for-thee
go Dia mbeannuiġiḋ duit

§ 420. ’mbeannuiġiḋ Dia ḋuit, a Ṫaiḋg. Go mbeannuiġiḋ Dia is Muire ḋuit, a Nóra. An ḃfaca tú an ceo ar an loċ. Ní ḟaca mé bád nó long ar an loċ indiu. Fear flaiṫeaṁail, flaiṫ fearaṁail. Ḃí an fear flaiṫeaṁail, fial. Ní ḟuil an rí ag teaċt a ḃaile fós.

§ 421. Did you get money? No; I got corn at the market. Barley or oats? Nora got a rich husband (fear), he is princely and generous. I did not get the key. Do not leave the key on the floor. Miles Lynch has the key. I have not the lock.


§ 422. Irregular Words, B.

Some words are irregular from the fact that a consonant in a word is moved from its proper position for greater ease in pronunciation.

[1]Conċuḃar, Connor, is often pronounced Cnoċuḃ’r (KnŭCH′oor).
[1]Muinċille, a sleeve, is often pronounced mnuiċille (mnee′-hi-lĕ).
Coisrig, bless, is often pronounced carsuig (kor′-sig).

§ 423. The words for “brother” and “sister.”

dearḃ-ḃráṫair deirḃṡiúr
Correct pron. dar′-ăv-vrau′-hĕr derv-hyoor
Contract. (Con.) dreh′-aur dreh′-oor
(Mun.) dreh-aur dreh-oor′
(Ulster) daar′hăr der′-hăr

The possessive case and plural of “sister” is deirḃṡeaṫar (der′-ev-ha′-hăr) shortened to dref-aer′.

But the learner should pronounce these two words correctly as above. They are the most curiously pronounced of all the words in the language.


Not to weary the student by giving at once all the exceptional words of the language, we propose to speak now of simple matters.

§ 424. The Gender of Irish Words.

Beings possessing animal life are divided into male and female, and the words which are NAMES for beings of the male sex are said to be of the masculine gender, and the words which are NAMES for beings of the female sex are said to be of the feminine gender.

Thus the following words are masculine: fear, a man; capall, a horse; tarḃ (thor′-ăv), a bull; coileaċ (Kel′-ăCH: Munster, Kel-oCH′), a cock.

These are feminine: bean, a woman; láir, mare; , a cow; cearc, a hen.

§ 425. But in Irish, as in Latin, Greek, and most other languages, even things without life are personified, and said to be either masculine or feminine in gender. Thus the following words are said to be masculine: (see vocabulary to the first part of Simple Lessons in Irish), am, time; aol, lime; arán, bread; bás, death; bainne, milk, etc.

These are said to be feminine: aill, a cliff; áit, a place; coill, a wood, etc.

§ 426. In English, the words “time,” “lime,” “cliff,” &c., are said to be neuter gender, that is—neither masculine or feminine. In the older Irish, also, some words were regarded as neuter, and there are still a few traces of this in modern Irish.

§ 427. How are we to know what words are to be regarded as masculine and what as feminine? Not from the meaning of the words, but from their form, or, we might say, from their ENDINGS.

§ 428. Thus, as a general rule, all words are masculine which end in a consonant or two consonants, preceded by a BROAD vowel (a, o, u). For example, am, aol, arán, bás, given above. This rule, of course, does not affect words like cearc, a hen, which is naturally feminine.

§ 429. Similarly, as a general rule, words are of feminine gender which end in a consonant or two consonants, preceded by a SLENDER vowel (e, i), as áit, aill, coill above. This rule does not affect words such as flaiṫ, a prince, which is, of course masculine.

§ 430. This use of masculine and feminine gender, for words denoting things without life, has an effect on the use of the pronouns for masculine (he), feminine (she), and neuter (it). Instead of having three pronouns for masculine (he), feminine (she), [ 150 ]neuter (it), we find as a rule only two pronouns, sé, sí;— being used for masculine nouns, and for feminine. As Atá an feur fada, agus atá sé folláin, the grass is long, and it (literally, he) is wholesome. Ní ḟuil an áit tirim, agus ní ḟuil sí folláin, the place is not dry, and it (literally, she) is not wholesome.

(See Vocabulary to Part I. of Lessons.)

§ 431. Fuair Úna caṫaoir úr ag an margaḋ, aċt ḃí sí briste ar an ród. Ní ḟuil an bóṫar bog; atá sé tirim anois. Atá an gual daor, ní ḟuil sé saor. Fuair mé eun óg, ḃí sé ṡuas ar an aill. An ḃfaca tú an líon, atá sé ṡíos ag an tobar. Fág an láir ins an leuna; atá sí óg fós agus ḃí sí ar seaċrán.

§ 432. I have the hammer. It is not heavy. Nora has a hen, she is young. The grass is not green now, it is yellow. The weather is fine, it is warm (and) dry. There is a wood at the well, it is green. The door is strong; it is high and wide. The sack is wide, it is strong (and) heavy. Leave the flax on the floor, it is soft yet. The young cock is at the door. Our hammer is lost, it is not in the bag. They found their cow in the meadow, Dermot found his horse at the well. Brigid found her cow at the door.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Often as if Croċuḃ’r, mruiċille.