Dé Sathairn, Meán Fómhair 18, 2010

Samples of Rathlin Irish, Upper End

Samples of Rathlin Gaelic from conversation of Bella McKenna (nee McCurdy) with Liam Mac Carráin (Belfast)

The Rathlin Irish (upper end) comes first, followed by Standard Irish, followed by English.

This is upper end Rathlin Irish, it was recorded very late in the 70s. 


It represents the latter stages of late Rathlin Irish, however considerable material has been recorded from a semi-native speaker after this date. 


The speaker in these samples died in the mid-80s, having lived most of her life in Belfast.

One should note, that one occasions she corrects herself, from a Donegal type pronunciation to the Rathlin one. 


I understand that she actually attended Irish classes in Belfast, learning some Rosses Irish, which was in vogue among Belfast Irish speakers at the time.


That may seem surprising to readers but one should remind one's self that the Gaelic League sent a speaker from the Rosses to teach Irish in Rathlin and that native speakers in the Glens of Irish often mixed Donegal Irish with their native dialect having been exposed to it in Gaelic League classes. 

A full description, short off of a phonetical transcription is to be found in Irish ...

Dunbar, Ciarán, "Guthanna Reachrainn, guthanna Uladh", An tUltach 82:2 (2/2005) 14-16


and in English (and slightly revised)  ...

Dunbar, Ciarán, "Some Phrases of Rathlin Irish", The Glynns 35 (2007) 65 - 74.


Hit the Rathlin Irish (the first one to listen) 


(Note that item 1. & 25 lack a sound sample)


1. [tá] brón orm anois
[tá] brón orm anois
I [am] sorry now

An bhfuil a fhios agat cad é tá mé ag rá?
Do you know what I am saying?

An rabh a fhios agatsa?
Do you know?

4. Bhá bachaill[3] eileag[4] anseo
Bhí buachaill eile anseo
There was another boy here

5. Bhá ceann ruadh[5], ceann ruadh … dearg ar m’athair
Bhí ceann rua, ceann rua …. dearg ar m’athair
My father had a red (ginger) head [of hair] a red head ….red.

Bhí mé ar mire
I was mad

7. Bhá sean-saighdiúir ansin
      Bhí sean-saighdiúir ansin
      There was an old soldier there

8. ‘Bhfeil[7] mé deas?[8][9]
      An bhfuil mé críochnaithe?
      Am I finished?

      An bhfuil fhios agat air Danny Diffin?
      Do you know Danny Diffin?

      An raibh go leor Gaeilge agam?
      Did I have enough Irish?

      ‘chan fheil’ sin an fhocal a bhí ag na daoine in Reachlainn
      ‘chan fheil’ that is the word the people had in Rathlin

      Níl fhios agam rud ar bith fán ait sin
      I don’t know anything about that place

      Níl a fhios agam fán ainm atá ar loch
      I don’t know the word for loch

      Níl cuimhin …Níl mórán Gaeilge, Gaeilge, Gaeilge agam     anois.
     [I] don’t remember …I don’t have much Irish ….now.

    Ní cuimhin liom … nl cuimhin liom
    I don’t remember

      Cloigeann
      Cleggan (skull shaped hill?[13]

     Níl a fhios agam anois
     I don’t know now

     Cnoc an Tairbh
     ‘The bull’s hill’

      Rugadh mé ansin ins an teach, bhí … an t-ainm a bhí air     Lartach Aoibhinn
       I was born there in the house,

      I mo chónaí ansin
      Living there

     Sin an ait a bhí mise
     That’s were i was

     Rachadh mé ansiúd is anseo
     I used to go here and there

     Teacht arís
     Coming again

     Tá a fhios aigesean cá huair a gheobhaidh mé bás
     He knows when i will die

na páistí
the children

na mic
the sons

na rudaí
the things

cosa
Big Mary has big feet

míosa
months

25. ‘bhfeil blas na Béarla air
An bhfuil blas na mBéarla air
Does it have an English ‘blas’



[1] This ‘g’ is always aspirated in Rathlin. i.e agham (pron. a’m) aghad (pron. a’d)
[2] See footnote 1.
[3] This word appears to be a confusion of the Scottish Gaelic word word ‘bachlach’and the Standard Irish ‘buachaill’. Holmer records Bachlach as the Rathlin form (HOLMER, N.M., The Irish language in Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim, (Royal Irish Academy [Hodges Figgis], Dublin 1942) whilst Wagner records ‘bachaill’. (WAGNER, H., Ó BAOILL C., Linguistic Atlas and Survey of Irish Dialects IV, (Royal Irish Academy Dublin 1969) p16)
[4] This form was also recorded by Holmer ibid p190.
[5] ‘dh’ at the end of a word normally pronounced like a ‘g’ in Late Rathlin Irish.
[6] ‘bhá’ is always the word used in Rathlin where standard Irish has ‘bhí’. ‘bhá’ also occurred in Irish of the Glens along side ‘bhí’. ‘bhá’ is considered Scottish Gaelic.
[7] Where standard Irish has ‘bhfuil’, East Ulster (including Rathlin), Scottish Gaelic and Manx have ‘Bhfeil’.
[8] Literal meaning is ‘am I nice?’
[9] A distinguishing feature of East Ulster Irish (including Rathlin), North Donegal Dialects Scottish Gaelic and Manx is the pronunciation of ‘ea’ as ‘e’ (i.e. d´es) whereas in most of Ireland it is pronounced as an ‘a’ sound (i.e. d´as)
[10] ‘timpeall air’ (about that) is a Rathlin Idiom which can also be found in Islay Gaelic – see footnote 26.
[11] This pronunciation of the word ‘ainm’ as ‘arm/airm’ was also to be found in Farney Irish. Ó SEARCAIGH, S., Foghraidheacht Ghaedhilg an Tuaiscirt (Brún agus Ó Nualláin, Baile Átha Claith 1925) pp.182-183
[12] Rathlin place-name.
[13] See Place-Names of Northern Ireland, Co Antrim II, (The Institute of Irish Studies, QUB) p299.
[14] This is an example of metathesis, the standard Irish word being Latrach normally meaning a piece of rough scrubby ground. See footnote 5.
[15] pronounced as ‘rachag’ in late Rathlin Irish.
[16] the plural constructed in Rathlin Irish by simply adding ‘an’ or ‘ean’. For example, taigh (house) taigheán (houses)

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