Love and Hate: Speak Irish

Speak Irish: Love and Hate
By Bob Carney

                                                “B’fhearr liom thú nó céad bó bainne!”

                                                    (bar lum who no kayd bo bahn-ya)

                                               I love you more than a hundred milk cows

In celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, I thought we could cover some ways to express our loves, likes, preferences and even our dislikes. Before we get into that, however, I’ve shared in the past one of the things that draws me to Irish speech and literature is the beauty and expressiveness of the language.

A column in The Irish Times by Manchán Magan titled, “A magical vision is hidden in the Irish language – we need to rediscover it,” was recently brought to my attention. Originally published on July 14, 2018, it is well worth searching out on-line if you’re a student of Irish or just have an interest in your Irish heritage.


Tá grá agam duit. (taw graw ah-gum gwit) I love you.

Tá tú ag féachaint go hiontach. (taw too ahg fay-cant guh hee-on-tach) You look wonderful.

Airím uaim thú. (ah-reem oom who) I miss you.

An bhfuil grá agat dom? (ahn will graw ah-gut dom) Do you love me?

Nach bhfuil grá agat dom? (noch will graw ah-gut) Don’t you love me?

Tá tú an-álainn! (taw too ahn awl inn) You are very beautiful.

Mo mhíle grá. (moh vee-la graw) My thousand loves.

Mo rún. (moh roo-in) My secret (love)

Tá grá ag Pádraigin do Bhrian. (taw graw ehg paw-druh-geen duh vree-un) Patricia loves Brian

Grá (graw) Love – only used for affectionate love – Tá grá agam duit- lit. I have love for you.

Fear céile (far kayla) husband

Bean chéile (ban kayla) wife

Grá geal (graw gal) sweetheart / darling

Caidreamh (caw-driv) relationship

Croí (kree) heart

Álainn (awl-inn) beautiful

Dathúil (da-hool) handsome

Cara (kar-ah) friend


Is breá liom brioscaí. (iss braw lum bris-kee) I love cookies.

Is breá léi a bheith ag rince. (iss braw lay-ih ah veh ehg ring-kuh) She loves dancing

Is breá leis úlla. (iss braw lesh oo-la) He loves apples.

An breá leat úlla? ( ahn braw laht oo-la) Do you love apples?

Nach breá leat úlla? (noch braw laht oo-la) Don’t you love apples?

Is breá. Is breá liom úlla. (iss braw. Is braw lum oo-la) I do. I love apples

Ní breá. Is breá liom brioscaí. (iss braw. Is braw lum bris-kee) I don’t. I love cookies.


Ar mhaith leat tae? (ar wah laht tay) Would you like tea?

Ba mhaith. Ba mhaith liom tae. (buh wah. Buh wah lum tay) I would. I would like tea.

Níor mhaith. Ba mhaith liom caife. (neer wah. Buh wah lum kaf-ay) No. I would like coffee.

Ar mhaith leis an bpáiste bainne? (ar wah laht lesh ahn baw-stchuh bahn-ya) Would the child like milk?

Nár mhaith léi an briosca? ( nawr wah lay-ih ahn bris-kuh) Wouldn’t she like the cookie?


Uisce (ish-kuh) water

Siúcra (shoo-kra) sugar

Briosca (bris-kuh) a cookie

Brioscaí (bris-kee) cookies

Úll (ool) apple

Úlla (oo-la) apples

Tae (tay) tea

Caife (kaf-ay) coffee

Ceapaire (kya-puh-ruh) a sandwich

Bainne (bahn-ya) milk


Ag foghlaim (ehg foe-lum) learning

Ag léamh (ehg lay-uv) reading

Ag taisteal (ehg tash-tuhl) travelling

Ag rince (ehg ring-kuh) dancing

Is maith liom a bheith ag foghlaim (iss mah lyum uh veh ehg foe-lum) I like learning

Is maith leis na cairde a bheith ag taisteal. (iss mah lesh nuh kahr-ja uh veh ehg yash-tul)  The friends like travelling.

Ní maith liom caife. (nee mah lyum kaf-ay) I don’t like coffee.

Ní maith leis a bheith léamh. (nee mah lesh uh veh ehg lay-uv) He doesn’t like reading.

An maith leis an gcat bainne? (ahn mah lesh un got bahn-ya) Does the cat like milk?

Nach maith leis an madra a bheith ag rith? (noch mah lesh un mah-dra uh veh ehg rih) Doesn’t the dog like running?


Is fearr liom tae. (iss far lyum tay) I prefer tea.

Is fearr léi torthaí. (iss far lay-ih tor-hee) she prefers fruit.

Ní fearr le Brian siúcra. (nee far leh bree-un shoo-kra)  Brian doesn’t prefer sugar.

Ní fearr liom a bheith ag rith. (nee far lyum uh veh egh rih) I don’t prefer running’

Is fearr liom a bheith ag siúl. (iss far lyum uh veh ehg shool) I prefer walking.

An fearr leat tae no caife? (ahn far lyat tay no kaf-ay) Do you prefer tea or coffee?


Is fuath liom brioscaí. (iss foo-uh lyum bris-kee) I hate cookies.

Sometimes there are things that you don’t love or even like, to say that you hate something all you need to do is take the sentence expressing what you like and change the word maith (mah) for fuath (foo-uh)..

If someone really despises something it might be said that;

“Tá an oiread gráin aige air is atá ag an diabhal ar uisce coisreacain.”

(taw ahn air-ihd groin ehg-uh ayr iss ah-taw ehg ahn dee-val ar ish

Click on icons below to share articles to social.

Recent issues

E-Bulletin Signup

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive news and event emails from: iIrish. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.
New to Cleveland Ad

Explore other topics