First time in a Gaeltacht – rather disappointing

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    I’ve only been learning Irish for a short time, and only really have the basic phrases. I’m currently living in England so have no real opportunity to practise, but I’m in Co Waterford at the moment and on Thursday had the opportunity to visit the Gaeltacht at An Rinn. It was a wet and windy day and I was there early afternoon so there were not many people around. I spotted 2 pubs; only 1 was open but it was promisingly adorned with lots of Irish on the outside walls, no English at all, so in I went. I asked for 2 pints of Guinness and was disappointed when the barman didn’t seem to understand what I wanted: I felt a bit crestfallen that my accent was so bad that I’d failed to communicate something so obvious and simple, until I realised that the barman did not speak Irish ;( There was only one other customer, and he didn’t speak Irish either.

    There was quite a big Gaelscoil not far from the pub so I’m sure things will be improving in terms of people being able to speak the language, but it was disappointing not to be able to try it out in a Gaeltacht pub! We met up with some of my wife’s family later in Waterford and one of them could speak Irish, so at least I did get to try it in the end.

    Nothing to do with the above, but if anyone happens to read this, could you tell me how to say “free the spirit!” in Irish please? I worked out what I think it should be and then checked on google translate which gave something quite different, though I’m not sure it’s always accurate.



    You’d very likely (for now, anyways) have had a different experience in Dún Chaoin, or many places in Conamara, or on Inis Oírr, &c…

    Google Translate is barely ever at all accurate for Irish. It’s comically or nonsensically wrong far more often than not.

    “Free the spirit” is pretty ambiguous in meaning even in English (I’m not actually sure what you mean—whose spirit is being freed, or what kind of spirit? spirit as in soul, or spirit as in phantom/ghost/ghoul, or spirit as in feeling? who’s doing the freeing? one person, multiple people, some outside force? &c.). Most likely, as with many idiomatic and/or abstract phrases and sayings, a literal translation wouldn’t work in Irish (or any target language) anyways. You’d have to figure out what you really meant by “free the spirit” and do some research to see how a similar sentiment is/might be expressed… Also, you must remember that, in asking “how to say ‘free the spirit!’ in Irish,” there remains the possibility that such a thing is not said in Irish (or French or Chinese or what have you)…


    As far as I know, the majority of An Rinn people don’t speak Irish.

    Actually, I also met quite a lot of waiters and waitresses in Gaoth Dobhair who had no Irish. The 1st time it happened, I really wondered if my pronunciation was that bad, but later I understood it wasn’t a problem of pronunciation since I talked to native speakers and they understood me perfectly.
    Other times, other waiters or waitresses told me they had no Irish so they didn’t understand what I said. It’s a pity that people working in Gaoth Dobhair don’t even try to learn Irish when they are from English-speaking areas.


    Thanks both for comments: I agree that it is rather sad that people working in Gaeltacht areas can’t be bothered to learn even simple Irish – I’ve only been learning for a couple of months and only by working through a book (with CDs) and it’s ridiculous if I can speak more than some of them. It also seems a little “immoral” to just use Irish as a sort of marketing ploy. Coincidentally, while I was in the An Rinn pub somebody come in and was talking to the landlord and, though I could only hear snippets of their conversation, the visitor was clearly trying to get the landlord to learn some Irish, which the landlord was not at all happy about.

    Cúnla – thanks for your comments on the translation, Years ago there was some sort of campaign in London that involved a lot of use of the slogan “free the twins” and my wife and I use it as a bit of a joke thing, so that is what I really want to be able to say in Irish. I’m sure there must be a reasonable rendition that is better than google translate’s “saor in aisce ar an cúpla”.


    You might look through the entries for the word “free” at the New English-Irish Dictionary to see if any of the uses there come close to the meaning you’re looking for:


    “saor in aisce” means FREE as in it doesn’t cost anything.

    to free someone might be “scaoil Saor” or just “saor”

    “meon” is one of the words for spirit, as in “the spirit of the age”


    According to Wikipedia the largest demographic of Irish speakers in An Rinn is ages 10-14 with 50.8%. Maybe the pub was the wrong place to find Irish speakers

    Daithi Carr

    I’ve spent some time in Rinn and I have heard teenagers freely speaking to each other in Irish and other people as well, but there are many too who have moved there and have none and others grown up there who feel their command is inadequate and thus unwilling to speak it.

    I live in a very strong Gaeltacht area, 80-90% Irish speaking, but the local pub is owned by two non local Anglophones. One night recently i was there with two visitors , speaking English, there were two Girls from Dublin looking to speak Irish, but there was only the owner and her friend and one other man from outside the Gaeltacht, who did speak Irish, but stayed in English out of politeness for the owner and her friend.

    If they had visited another nite they could have found the place packed and no English been spoken except to the bar staff.

    It can really depend on the circumstances.

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