Speak Irish: Tosach Gaeilge II

Speak Irish: Tosach Gaeilge II
by Bob Carney

Last month we learned how to initiate a conversation with others by greeting them and posing questions or exchanging pleasantries. We started with a formal greeting; Dia duit (dee-uh gwit) God to you, and the proper response, Dia’s Muire duit (dee-uhs mora gwit) God and Mary to you. In daily conversation this is rarely used, it is more common to hear someone greet someone else with one of the phrases for “How are you?”, Conas atá tú? (kun-us ah taw too) to one person or Conas atá sibh? (kun-us ah taw shiv) to more than one person. See last months lesson for the phrase in the other dialects and try to become familiar with all of them. People often comment on the weather after exchanging greetings.

Aoife (ee-fa): Cád é mar atá tú? (kuh-jay mar ah taw too) How are you?

Nóra: Tá mé go maith, (taw may go mah) I’m good, go raibh maith agat (guh rah mah ah gut) thank you, agus tú féin? (ah-gus too fayne) and yourself?

Aoife: Tá mé go breá. (taw may guh braw) I’m fine. Tá lá breá ann inniu! (taw law braw ahn in-yoo) It’s a fine day today!

Nóra: Tá, cinnte. (taw kin-tuh) It is indeed or certainly. Buíochas le Dia. (boo-kus la dee-uh) Thank God.

Aoife: Is mise Aoife, (iss mee-sha Aoife) cén t-ainm atá ortsa? (ken tan-um ah-taw ort-suh?) I’m Aoife, what’s your name?

Nóra: Mise Nóra.

Aoife: Tá sé go deas bualadh leat, a Nóra. (taw shay guh jess boo-la laht ah Nora) It’s nice to meet you Nora.

Nóra: Agus ormsa freisin. (ah-gus orm-suh fresh-in) It’s nice to meet you too.

You are probably familiar with most of the dialogue in the preceding conversation, so now we might ask where someone is from and be able to answer that question ourselves. There are various ways to ask, these are the most common:

Cé as thú?  (kay ahs who)  Where are you from?   Connacht dialect

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

Cad as tú? (kad ahs too) Where are you from? Munster

As you can see, there are very minor differences, use the one you are most comfortable with. You would reply by saying; Is as, the name of the place, followed by mé. Is as Cleveland mé. (iss ahs Cleveland may) I’m from Cleveland.

Saying where you live is different. Tá mé i mo chónaí i Londain. (taw may ih muh ho-nay ih lon-den) I live in London. Lit.; I’m in my living in London.

Cá  bhfuil tú i do chónaí? (kaw will too ih duh ho-nay) Where do you live, or where are you in your living?

Tá mé i mo chónaí i gCleveland. (taw may ih muh ho-nay ih gleveland) I live in Cleveland.

Tá mé i mo chónaí i mBaile Átha Cliath. (taw may ih muh ho-nay ih mall-yeh ah cle-uh) I live in Dublin.

The simple preposition i (in) is used before words beginning with a consonant. Notice how Cleveland changed to gCleveland and Baile changed to mBaile when they were preceded by the preposition i. These  are examples of urú or eclipsing. Urú changes the way a word sounds by  suppressing or eclipsing the first letter of the word and only the new letter is pronounced. An urú is placed before the consonants b, c, d, f, g, p, and t.

b-mb    Béal Feirste    i mBéal Feirste     (bel fer-shtah) (ih mel fer-shtah) Belfast                                                                                                                 c-gc      Corcaigh        i gCorcaigh             (kor-ca) (ih gor-ca)  Cork

d-nd     Doire               i nDoire                   (der-ee)  (ih ner-ee) Derry

f-bhf    Fear Manach  i bhFear Manach  (far man-ach) (ih ar man-ach)  Fermanagh

g-ng     Gaillimh  i nGaillimh     (gal-iv) (ih nal-iv)   Galway

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

t-dt       Trá Lí   i dTrá Lí   (traw lee) (ih draw-lee)  Tralee

The form in is used before vowels.

Tá mé i mo chónaí in Aontroim.  (taw may ih muh ho-nay in ahn-trim)  I live in Antrim.

Tá mé i mo chónaí in Inis.  (taw may ih muh ho-nay in inn-iss) I live in Ennis.

Refer to Sept. OhIAN for more on placenames or visit

We can also ask a persons nationality.

An Ceanadach tú? (ahn kah-nad-ach too) Are you Canadian?

Is ea. (ih shah) Yes

Ní hea. (nee hah) No

Is Meiriceánach mé. (iss mer-ah con-ach may) I’m American

Is Éireannach mé. (iss air-ih-nach may) I’m Irish.

Aoife: Cé as thú a Nóra? (kay ahs too a Nora) Where are you from Nora?

Nóra: Is as Doire mé. Cé as thú féin? (iss ahs derry may. Kay ahs too fayne)  I’m from Derry. Where are you from yourself?

Aoife: As Glaschú ach tá mé i mo chónaí i mBaile Átha Cliath anois.  (ahs glass-koo ach taw may ih muh ho-nay ih mal-yeh ah clee-uh ah-nesh) From Glasgow, but I live in Dublin now.

Nóra: Slán a Aoife. (slawn a ee-fa)  Goodbye Aoife

Aoife: Slán go fóill. (slawn guh fahl) Goodbye for now.

Slán go Fóill!

*Bob Carney is a student of Iirsh 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 Moragon and Keegan and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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