Is fearr Gaeilge briste, na Bearla cliste

iss far gale-geh brishteh naw bear-elh clish-teh

“Broken Irish is better than clever English”

Ahh that time of year again. Here in France a few of my friends and I are going to Nice to celebrate  (a very American version of) this holiday.  Other than consuming an occasional shamrock shake and wearing green, I haven’t really celebrated this holiday before. Maybe it’s because after years and years of being asked “What kind of dance do you do? Riverdance, right?” I would probably bite Michael Flatley’s head off if given the chance.  However, I have made my peace with being a cousin of Ireland, not a daughter, through my very Scottish roots. To illustrate the difference, Scottish Highland Dancing, what I did for years and years, is on the right and Irish step dancing is on the left.

You can see here the similar rhythms, similar music, similar gusto but with radically different turnout, extension, use of arms, and history.  I always thought Highland Dancers have it harder with our big lifts, pointed feet, and engagement of the whole body, but I admit it does take a lot of practice to twiddle your toes like that either way.

In a gesture of peace, I have listed a few phrases in Irish Gaelic, so we can all feel part of the festivities.  Me, nil moran Gaeilge agam (see below), but kiss me anyway!

1st line is the Irish Gaelic spelling, 2nd is approximate pronounciation, 3rd is the translation.  Source for most of these,

//St. Patty’s Day Flavor//

Eireann go Brach !
air-inn go braw
Ireland forever!

Cead mile failte romhat!
kade meela fall-cheh row-itt
A hundred thousand welcomes!

Good Health!/Cheers!

//Getting to Know You// 
Cad is ainm duit?
cod is ann/um dwit? 
What is your name?

Michael is ainm dom
Michael is ann/um dum
My name is Michael

Ca as duit? 
caw oss dit
Where are you from?

Is as Meiricea/Sasana/ Éire/Albain dom
iss oss mare-i-caw/sos-in-ah/air-ah/alabuen dum
I am from America/England/Ireland/Scotland!

An bhfuil tu damhsa liom?

On will two dowsa lum

Would you like to dance with me?

Ta tu go h-aileann 
taw two guh haul-inn
You are beautiful!


Nil moran Gaeilge agam.
kneel more/on gale/geh ah/gum
I don’t have much Irish

Nil Gaeilge maith agam
kneel gale-geh mot ah-gum
I cannot speak Irish very well

An miste leat labhairt níos moille?

on mishteh lat low-art neice mwille

Can you speak a little slower

Gle mhaith!
glay moth
Very good!                  

Rinn tu e!
rinn two a (as in the letter a)
You did it!

Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo aris!
guh mware-eh mwid beow air on omm shuh ah-rish
May we be alive this time next year!

Go raibh míle maith agat
Guh ruh meal/ah mawt ag/gut 
Many thanks (lit: may you have a thousand good things)

//The Night Progresses// 

Ta athas/bron/fearg/ocras/tart orm
taw aw-iss/broin/farg/ock-ros/tart urr-im
I am happy/sorry/angry/hungry/thirsty 

Ta tu mall/go luath/go halainn/ard/go tapaidh
taw two moll/guh loo-ah/guh hall-inn/ard/guh top-igg
You are late/early/beautful/tall/fast

Ta me are meisce
I am very drunk

An bhfuil tu posta ?
on wil two poe-sta
Are you married?

Ca bhfuil do sheomra leaba?
kaw will do shoim/rah labb/ah
Where is your bedroom?

Dia duit ar maidin
dee/ah dwit air mod/ging
Good morning 

Tá grá agam duit! 
taw graw agg/um dwit
I love you!

Tapadh leat?
tapah lat?
Thank you?

//When Things Go Wrong//

Na dean sin!
naw dane shin
Don't do that!

Go hifreann leat!

Guh hee-fran lath

To hell with you!

Is cuma liom!

is cumma lum

I dont care!

Is minic a gheibhean beal oscailt diog dunta!
iss minick ah gav-awnn bail os-kuly dee-ug doon-ta
An open mouth often catches a closed fist! 

Ta me ar buille
I am very angry

Ta me tuirseach
I am tired

Ta si/se ag caoineadh

taw shee/shay egg cween-idd

She/he is crying

Thit si/se ar an urlar

hit shee/shay air onn urr-lore

She/he fell on the floor

Beidh an dochtuir anseo gan mhoill.

beg on docktoor onshuh gon vwill

The doctor will be here soon

Bi ciuin! Ta tinneas cinn orm.

bee quewn! Taw tinniss kinn urm

Be quiet! I have a headache.

Amháin/ dhá/trí aspairín agus gloine uisce, le do thoil
ah-wann/ daw/tree aspirin ogg-us Glinn-yah ishkah, 
leh duh hull 
One/two/three aspirin and a glass of water, please.

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!
bann/ockt/tee nih fail/eh pawd/rig!
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


1 Comment

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One response to “Is fearr Gaeilge briste, na Bearla cliste

  1. This was a lovely little find. I knew a few little phrases from a much to short visit to Edinburgh and Dublin a few years back but I wish I knew more! The language is so lyrical. I’m glad I happened across your post. I learned something new and having the proper pronunciation too was most helpful!

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