Speak Irish: Tús Maith Part III

Speak Irish: Tús Maith Part III
By Bob Carney

Tá suil agam, go bhfuil sibh go maith. As I’m writing this month’s column, the Ohio Irish American News has returned to a printed edition. This is Part III of a basic introduction to Irish, Parts  I and II can be found online at

We have learned how to say hello  and goodbye and other phrases that can help intiate conversations. We’ve also talked about the verb tá in all it’s forms and how a basic sentence is structured in Irish, verb, noun or pronoun, and then the adjective: Tá mé go maith. (taw may guh mah) I am good or am I good.

As we add vocabulary, if you can visualize a chart that lists all of our forms of tá, followed by the pronouns and nouns and finally all of the adjectives we’ve encountered so far, you could choose from each category to construct an insane number of sentences. I hope you’re using the Irish words and phrases in your English conversations as well; it’s the easiest way to learn and the words come much faster with daily use.

We won’t be adding a category for verbs this month, but will introduce a couple in some of our phrases or conversations.

Irish Nouns

An aimsir  (un am-sheer)  the weather

An lá  (un law)  the day

An oíche (un ee-ha) the night

An mhaidin (un woh-gin) the morning

Inniu (in-yoo)  today

Anocht (uh-nahkt)  tonight

Scamall (skom-ull) cloud

Baísteach (bosh-tahk) rain

Irish Adjectives

Fuar (foo-uhr)   cold

Te (tcheh)    hot

Fliuch (fluhk)     wet

Tirim (tchihr-um)    dry

Scamallach (skom-uh-loch)    cloudy

Grianmhar (gree-un-wer)  sunny

Deacair (jahk-er)  difficult

Dainséarach (dyne-sher-ach)  dangerous

Togha (tahw) grand or fine

Tógtha (toe-gha) excited

Neirbhíseach (ner-ah-vee-shohk) nervous

Gnóthach (gno-hoch) busy

Tuirseach (ter-shohk)  tired

Dubh dóite (duv duh-tay)   fed up

Trí chéile (tree kay-leh) confused or upset

Go deas (guh jass) nice

Go hálainn (guh hah-lynn)  beautiful

Irish Bonus Phrases

Buíochas le Dia. (beh-uh-uss leh dee-uh) Thanks be to God

Tá tú an chineálta. (taw too ahn kinn-yawlta) You’re too kind.

Cad é atá cearr? (kad ay ah-taw kyarr) What is wrong?

Bhí sé ag cur báistí. (vee shay ag cur bash-tee) It was raining.

Tá sé ag cur sneachta. (taw shay ag cur shnok-ta) It is snowing

Irish Sentence Examples

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

Tá an aimsir go maith. (taw ahn am-sheer guh mah) The weather is good.

Níl an lá go deas. (neel un law guh jass) The day isn’t nice.

An mbeidh an oíche fuar? (un vay un ee-ha foo-uhr) Will the night be cold?

Beidh sé fuar ach tirim. (bay shay foo-uhr ach tchihr-um) It will be cold but dry.

In Irish, ach, on its own, means “but”, but it is pronounced as you would the word for lake, loch. One very important tool in learning any language is the ability to hear it. My phonetic spellings are my own interpretations of how I hear the words, and not necessarily the way another would.

Try writing out the phonetic spelling of the word orange, then ask someone else to do the same. I think you’ll see my point.

The online dictionary teanglann .ie is a free dictionary that includes an audio section, where you can hear the word spoken in all three of the regional dialects. Although I have numerous Irish-English dictionaries on my desk, teanglann is the one I refer to the most; it is on my phone’s home screen and is always with me.

Note our sentence structure: all we are doing is substituting our verbs, nouns or pronouns and adjectives. We have built up an amazing vocabulary in the past three months, we could use what we’ve learned to help “Liam and Nora” have more of a conversation than they were able to do last month.

If you refer back, you’ll see other than greeting each other, finding out each other’s names, asking how they were each doing and saying goodbye, it wasn’t much of a conversation by our native English standards. BUT, by our new Irish language knowledge it was huge!

When we meet someone, it is common to make a comment on the weather, sometimes it’s the only thing that is said, perhaps you could have “Liam and Nora” discuss that as well. We would love to see what conversations you come up with.

Slán go Fóill!

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

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