Speak Irish: Cé as Tú, by Bob Carney

Speak Irish: Cé as Tú?

The purpose of conversation in any language is communication, gaining and sharing information with others. Last month we began our introduction to conversation in Irish with greeting others, inquiring about their well being, introducing ourselves and others and saying goodbye. Now we can start to get to know each other better by asking where someone is from, their background and where they live.

In our sample conversation last time, we learned how emphasis can be shown by altering the endings of some words (see OhioIANews Feb.2019). The following is a list of emphatic pronouns that can be used in sentences that use the verb “tá” in it’s various forms, a few of which we’ve already encountered.

PRONOUN                             EMPHATIC FORM                         ENGLISH

Mé  (may)                              Mise  (mee-sha)                            I / me

Tú  (too)                                 Tusa  (tuh-suh)                               You

Sé  (shay)                                Seisean  (shesh-in)                       He

Sí  (shee)                                 Sise  (shih-shuh)                            Her

Muid (mwidj)                         Muide (mwidj-uh)                         We

Sibh  (shiv)                              Sibhse (shiv-shuh)                         Y’all

Siad (shee-ud)                       Siadsan (shee-ud-sun)                   They

Tá mé go maith. (taw may guh mah)            I am good.

Tá mise go maith. (taw mee-sha guh mah)   I am good!

As we are being introduced to new words and some of the grammar used in Irish, it is very important to remember how we learned English. At a very young age, and long before we could understand what a pronoun or adjective is, we were able to converse, we could communicate our feelings and needs without understanding or even knowing what grammar was. So take things easy, there is plenty of time later for that part of Irish.

In our pronunciation guide in the January issue, we learned a little bit about changes that can be made to the beginnings of words as well. An urú, or eclipsis,  changes the way a word sounds; a new letter goes in front of the first letter of some words in certain situations and that letter silences the original first letter.

For example, the Irish for Belfast is Béal Feirste (bell-fehrshta), but if I wanted to say, “in Belfast,” I would say, i mBéal Feirste  (ih mell fehrshta).  The Irish for in is i or in, i is used for words beginning with a consonant and causes an urú. An urú is only used on words beginning with the consonants b, c, d, f, g, p,and t with the simple preposition i. If the word begins with a vowel, in is used and an urú is not needed.


B – mb  Béal Feirste (bell-fehrshta)          i mBéal Feirste (ih mell-fehrshta)             Belfast 

C -gc Corcaigh (kork-uh)                             i gCorcaigh (ih-gork-uh)                              Cork 

D- nd Doire (derry)                                     i nDoire (ih nerry)                                        Derry

F – bhf Fear Manach (fare mahn-awk)    i bhFear Manach (ih air mahn-awk)         Fermanagh

G -ng Gaillimh (gahl-iv)                               i nGaillimh (ih nahl-iv)                                Galway  

P – bp Port Láirge (port law-reh-geh)       i bPort Láirge (ih bort law-reh-geh)        Waterford

T -dt Trá Lí (traw-lee)                                  i dTrá Lí  (ih dra-lee)                                    Tralee 


Cé as tú?  (kay ahs too)                                                      Where are you from?  Connacht

Cé as tusa? (kay ahs tuh sa)                                             Where areyou from?  (with emphasis)

Cé as tú féin? (kay ahs too fayne)                                    Where are you from yourself?

Cád as tú?  (kahd ahs too)                                                 Where are you from? Munster

Is as gCleveland mé. (iss ahs gleevland may)                 I’m from Cleveland.

Cá bhfuil tú i do chónaí? (kaw will ih duh coney)          Where do you live?

Tá mé i mo chónaí i gCleveland.                                       I live in Cleveland                                                                                                            (taw may ih muh coney ih gleevland)

Tá mé i mo chónaí..

i  lár an bhaile (ih lar ahn wahl-ya)                                          in the center of town

taobh amuigh den bhaile (tay-uv ah-mah den wahl-ya)      outside the town

faoin tuath  (fenn too-ah)                                                         in the countryside

ar Bhóthar na Pearl (ahn vo-her na pearl)                              on Pearl Road

An Meiriceanach tú? (a mer ah kahn ach too)                       Are you American?

Tá, is Meiriceanach mé. (taw iss mer ah kahn ach may)      Yes, I’m American.

Ní hea, is Éireannach mé. (nee ha iss ayr ah nach may)       No, I’m Irish


Éireannach  (ayr-ah nach)                                                 Irish

Sasanach (sahs ah nach)                                                   English

Albanach (all bah nach)                                                    Scottish

Gearmánach (gerr mah nach)                                          German

All of the above refer to people only. For example, when refering to the English language, we would use the word béarla (bayr-la), for Irish language, Gaeilge. Many more nationalities can be found by using the on-line dictionary

Aoife: Dia’s Muire a duit. Conas atá tú?

Nóra: Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat, agus tú fein?

Aoife: Níl mé go dona. Is mise Aoife. Cén t-ainm atá ortsa?

Nóra: Mise Nóra, tá sé go deas bualadh leat.

Aoife: Tá sé go deas bualadh leatsa freisin!

Nóra: Cé as tú?

Aoife: Is as Béal Feirste mé ach tá mé i mo chónaí i mBaile Átha Cliath. Agus tú fein? An Meiriceánach thú?

Nóra: Is ea, tá mé i mo chónaí i gCleveland i lár an bhaile.

Aoife: Feicfidh mé thú.

Nóra: Tóg go bog é!

Don’t forget past Speak Irish columns as well as past issues of the Ohio Irish American News are available on-line at All vocabulary used in our sample conversation as well as pronunciation has been covered in the past beginning in the January 2019 issue. New students in Speak Irish Cleveland Classes are encouraged to use a new word or phrase every day in their intereactions with others, this helps us in building our vocabulary and promotes the Irish language at the same time. If you would like to attend a class to see what it’s like, you can contact me at [email protected].


A Good Start is Half the Battle!

*Bob Carney is a student of Irish history and language and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday @Pj McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhounds and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary and hounds Cian and Morrighanand terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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