Dé Máirt, Samhain 17, 2009

Records of Glens Irish available on line

The Doegen Records of Irish dialects are available online.

"This digital archive of Irish dialect recordings made during 1928-31 comprises an important collection of early Irish language recordings of folktales, songs and other material. It includes recordings from many regions of Ireland where traditional Irish dialects have disappeared since the time the recordings were made."
Wilhelm Doegen, under whose supervision the records were made, more can be found out about him here
There are six recordings of Glens Irish in the collection. They can  found here.

Unfortuately there is no Rathlin material on them as there was an outbreak of flu on the Island the weekend in which they were recording in Belfast.

Still, there is some very good material from the Glens to be found.

This story is my personal favorite, it is the biblical story of the Prodigal Son. 

Listen to it here, the speaker is Brian Mac Amhlaoibh of Glenn Airimh. 

Bha[1] an dís mac ag an duine áirid. Dúirt an duine ab óige aca le a athair, "A athair, A athair. Tabhair, tabhair damh mo chuid. Tá mé ag dul ar shiubhal." Agus roinn seisean eatorr', a mhaoin eatorr'. Chuaigh sé ar shiubhal. Agus bhí sé cúig bliana déag ar shiubhal nuair a tháinig sé ar ais. Agus char aith-, cha rabh aithne ag a athair air. Dúirt sé le a athair, "Mise do mhac a bhí caillte." Agus nuair a chluin a athair sin chuaigh sé amach agus scairt sé ar a chuid lucht seirbhísigh a theacht isteach. "Seo mo mhac a bhí caillte. Tháinig fo réir. Tabhraibh[2] isteach an lao biata. Marbhaibh é. Ithibh, ólaibh agus bíbh go súgach."
A certain man had two sons. The youngest one said to his father, "Father! Father! Give me my inheritance. I am leaving." And [the father] divided his wealth between them. [The son] left. And he was gone fifteen years when he returned. And his father did not recognise him. And he said to his father, "I am your son who was lost." And when his father heard that, he went out and called for his servants to come in. "This is my son who was lost. He has returned willingly (?). Bring in the fatted calf. Kill it. Eat, drink and be merry."

Dé Céadaoin, Meán Fómhair 09, 2009

Basic Phrases of Glens' Irish

Note - phrases specific to the dialect are marked *.

[I hope to put up a pronunciation guide in the future] 

Sé do bheatha


Dia libh anseo

God be with those here.

Goidé mar atá tú?

How are you?

Goidé an dóigh atá ort?

How are you?

Goidé an chuma atá ort?

How are you?

Tá mé / sinne go maith

I / We are well

Tá mé (díreach) drotara*

I am (just) alright

’bhfeil Gaelc agat?

Do you have Irish?


Chan fheil ach rud beag

I have only a little

Tuigim go maith

I understand well

Tuigeann tú go glé mhaith / go breagha

I understand very well

Goidé an t-ainm atá ort? (ainm is pron. airm!)

What is your name?

Goidé a shaoileas tú don aimsir* seo

What do you think of this weather

Tá an lá seo giobach

This is a rough day

Cá as duit?

Where are you form

Beannacht leatgood bye

Sabháilt** ’un abhaile dhuit (**actually orignally a mistake!)

Safe home to you

Oíche mhaith (pron. mhath)

Good night

A bit of Galloway Gaelic

There is some dispute about how long Gaelic survived in Galloway and Ayrshire, what cannot be disputed however is that it must have been quite similar to East Ulster Irish, including Rathlin, to Manx and the the Gaelic of Arran.

The following is one of the few examples of what some understand as Galloway Gaelic, much of what was written in Gaelic in Galloway was of course written in literary Gaelic which would disguise any dialectical features.

The song is called Óran Bagraidh, it includes many place-names in Galloway. I found it here.

Oran Bagraidh [Fonn- "When the kye cam hame"]

Aobh Cumar an Eas dom,
Aobh Bealach na Slogh,
Aobh bruthaichean Beinn Beithich, Aobh an gleann 's an robh tu óg
Trom dom maduinn an aon-là,
Trom dom maduinn a' chró
Ni ro eirig air an eislig
Caisteal Caiseal a' chró
Nar ro geis anns a' chró,
Nir bu geis anns a' chró,
Fa tu deanma bimid diamain,
Lagaidh ceudan diogailt linn
Buille beada gom bòrr,
Goille grad beart doid,
Com gun choluin Sliochd na Feannaig
Diogailt ri dearg baradag sliom,
Riam righfinnid air an Fianta,
Ro-sar rath an rightech tu,
Riam ruighean rath na righinn
Rogaid roighean tu ar righ,
Sainndseart sighi sorcha seiti,
Caimbeart cruthach calma ceannt,
Supach suanach solma socrach
Ceudnach clota cleusta clit.
Toinnti Muinntir na Dubh-Chos,
Inn san Draoinich 's Ruigh Raoin,
Sloinnti cinneil Sliochd a' Mhaduidh,
Cingdi Cairpeach diamain saoidh
Bhite breacach Loch a' Bhàrr,
Bhite fiadhach Carrsa Feàrn,
Bhite brocach Gleann na Seamraig,
Bhite fleaghtach an Dail Righ
Do bhi treilis donna dosrach,
Air an ruaghadgh 's an do dail,
Greaghan congail tochadh sgola,
Seirbhti an deireadh gnas:
Tarpa sluagh na gruaigi ciar,
Na cneas deathar teasmailt brianta
Sosguin foirprig teanmhaidh bràgh.

Some Glens material - 'Do's and Don'ts'

Here are some 'Do's and Don'ts of Glens Irish, or if you like - how to fake Glen's Irish.

Apply these and you could certainly make standard or Donegal Irish sound quite authentically like Glens Irish, because and the end of the day, they are not really that dfferent.

Gleann Airimh


The fundamental  thing is to remember that 'cha', and 'cha' alone is used as the negative particle.


* Words like beannacht, bean etc are pronounced as if written byean and byeannacht

* ‘ch’ is often extremely weak if pronounced at all

* Final –amh and -adh is often just like –a like in Conamara.

* Broad mh & bh are pronounced like a ‘v’ sound rather thán like a ‘w’ sound

* Words like deas are pronounced like ‘djes’ rather thán like ‘djas

 Focail - Words

Ní - Cha 
Bhfuil - bhfeil 
bígí - bíbh 
déanaim - ním 
achan - gach / gach uile 
Gaeilge - Gaelc 
Cailín - Cailean 
Teach - Toigh / Taigh 
Buachaill - balach

Dé Máirt, Meán Fómhair 08, 2009

Some notes on Arran Gaelic

Here is a link to some notes on Arran Gaelic, Arran Gaelic was the closet Scottish Dialect to Rathlin.

These notes are taken from Nils Holmer's 'The Gaelic of Arran', see citation below.

This is the same Nils Holmer who wrote the 'Irish language in Rathlin Island' etc.

When are we going to recognize this man properly? 

Without him, we would know little of the Irish of the Antrim Glens, and only the bare bones of the Gaelic of Kyntyre, Arran, Rathlin and even County Clare! 

Here is a link to his Celtic Studies related work although his ' Studies on Argyllshire Gaelic ' (1938) appears to be missing from that biblo. 

Holmer (Nils M.): The Gaelic of Arran.
Dublin: D.I.A.S., 1957. viii + 211 pp.

Dé Sathairn, Lúnasa 29, 2009

Another Wee Hint

Leid # 2, feil and fuil

This is another fundamental point about the Irish of Rathlin Island.

Most people who have studied Irish will remember the words, , and an bhfuil.

'Níl' is made up of the elements 'ní fhuil'. We have already seen that cha takes the place of in Rathlin and East Ulster, but there is a little more.

'is not' was chan fheil in Rathlin as it was in mainland Antrim, Omeath and South Armagh, and Scotland and Man as can be seen of the map.

'Chan fheil' is pronunced /han n'el/ or /han n'il/ approximately. The important thing is to remember that the 'n' is pronounced slender as in Newry.

'Bhfeil' differs from 'bhfuil' in that the 'bh' is slender, it is a 'v' sound, not a 'w' sound as in Donegal Irish. 'Bhfeil' is there pronounced /vel/ or /vil/ approximately.

Dé Domhnaigh, Lúnasa 23, 2009

A Wee Hint

Leid Beag # 1, 'a wee hint'.

The fundamental aspect of Irish as spoken in Rathlin, as opposed to the Standard Irish taught in schools today is that the dialect of Rathlin was a 'cha' /xa/ dialect.

For example, 'ní raibh mé' (I was not) was 'cha rabh mé' in Rathlin.
Gaelic dialects can be spilt into the language of 'cha' and the language of 'ní' as illustrated in the map opposite.

East Ulster, Scotland and Mann use 'cha', most of Ireland uses 'ní'.

However, as the map illustrates, 'cha' was once used over quite a bit of Ireland's East Coast, including Co. Meath.

To find out more about how to use 'cha' click here.

Dé Céadaoin, Lúnasa 12, 2009

Basic Phrases of Rathlin Irish

Gaelc / Gaelg  
Irish / Gaelic 


Maidin Mhath duit 
/mɑdʒin mɑ  dɑtʃ/
good morning

Dia duit ar maidin
/dʒiɑ dʎtʃ əɾ mɑdʒin/
good morning

Lá math
/lɑə mɑ/
good day

Coinfheascar math duit
/kɔnʲəskəɾ mɑ (dʎtʃ)
good evening to you

Goidé mar atá tú / thú 
/gə dʒeː məɾ ə tɑː tʎ (ʎ)/
how are you?

Goidé mar atá thú dol ar t'aghaidh?
/gə dʒeː məɾ ə tɑː ʎ dol əɾ teˑi/
How are you getting on?

Tá mé go math 
/tɑː mɛ gə mɑ/
I am well

Tá sinne go math 
/tɑː ʃinʲə gə mɑ/
we are well

Tá mé meanach 
/tɑː mɛ mɛːənɑx (mɛːənəx)/
I am middling

Tá mi go dona 
/tɑː mi gə dɔnə/
I am sick / I am feeling ill

Caidé an t-ainm a t(h)á ort?
/gə dʒeː ən tɑɾʲm a hɔɾt/
what is your name?

Oíche mhath (leat) 
/ɪːçə vɑ/
good night (to you)

Go rabh mile math a’d 
/gə  ro miːlə mɑ  ɑt/
thank you

Go rabh math a’d fhé’ 
/gə ɾəˈmɑ  agət he:/
thank you yourself

Mar sin leat
/məɾ   ʃin lʲɑt/  
same to you

Beannacht leat 
/bjɑnɑxt lʲɑt/                            

(ón leabhar 'Dhá Scéal Reachlann agus Eile, 2008)