Trip to the Gaeltacht

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    Dia Daoibh a chairde,

    (Gabh mo leithsceal do mo Ghaeilge dona) Is as Baile Atha Cliath mé agus tá roinnt Gaeilge agam ó meánscoil agus beagánín ó ollscoil. Ach ba mhaith liom feabhsú a chur ar mo chuid Ghaeilge. Ní ndeachaigh mé chuig an Ghaeltacht riamh, níl aon blas agam agus tá mo chuid Ghaeilge labhartha go dona ar fad….

    So, tá sé ar intinn agam a dhul chuig an Ghaeltacht i mhí an Fheabhair do seachtain amháin nó dhá chun feabhsú a chur ar mo Ghaeilge labhartha agus blas a fháil…

    Im thinking of somewhere in Connacht as that’s the Irish that’s closest to the Caighdeán, unless Im mistaken?

    Would you agree that this is a good plan?
    Does anyone know of any Irish speaking families in the Connacht Gaeltacht that would take a lodger for a week or two?
    Or can anyone recommend a Irish speaking B & B in the Gaeltacht?
    Also, does anyone have information on these ‘Ionad Seirbhisí Teanga’? ( How do they work, can one walk in off the street and start using the facilities?

    Also, on a separate note, a few years ago I happened upon a very useful book called something like ‘Irish for beginners’ that I’d very much like to find again. However, Ive forgotten the author’s name. She was a woman of Chinese descent with a Chinese surname, if anyone knows of it? There was also a free version of it available online.

    I very much appreciate your help 🙂
    Míle Buíochas,
    Antáin (leagan Gaeilge do ‘Anthony’, nach bhfuil?)


    Im thinking of somewhere in Connacht as that’s the Irish that’s closest to the Caighdeán,

    you could go to Connemara then. There are many differences between Connemara Irish and standard Irish, but a bit fewer than between standard Irish and the other dialects 🙂


    The name of the book you’re referring to is “A Learner’s Guide to Irish” by Donna Wong. I was able to find it in halves (2 pdfs) years ago and merged them together into one. If you can’t find it, email or message me privately and we can arrange to get a copy to you. (It’s about 2 MB in size.)

    You might look at programs at the Acadamh in An Cheathrú Rua. ( Many of them include accomodations in the area that have agreements with the Acadamh to only speak Irish with program participants.

    Go n-éiri an t-ádh leat!


    I would agree with Seáinín. If you’re planning to go to Connemara, An Cheathrú Rua is probably the best option. I’ve been to Áras Mháirtín Uí Chadhain myself years ago, once on a month-long summer course and once on a weekly course at Easter. Both times I stayed with a local bean an tí and the family only spoke Irish to us. But of course, you’d better check all the details before making your choice, as things might have changed.


    Míle Buíochas as do freagraí!

    Sin é, a Dháithí! Grmma!

    And thank you very much for your kind offer and suggestion, a Sheáinín. I think I will look into the Acadamh.

    A Sheáinín agus a Dháithí, do you agree with my that Wong’s book is quite useful? I remember it explaining grammar points very clearly and her use of phonetic spelling in brackets was also very helpful.

    Im determined to go to the Gaeltacht in the next few weeks. Only in Ireland could one be learning a language for 15 years and never visit a place where it’s spoken daily. In a country as small as ours! If I try to speak Irish will people be patient? Surely it must be odd straining to be understood in Irish when both speakers are probably fluent English speakers?

    There are many differences between Connemara Irish and standard Irish, but a bit fewer than between standard Irish and the other dialects 🙂

    Ive never quite understood the relationship the Irish language has to its dialects. Can anyone explain it? The Caighdean is basically hated by Irish enthusiasts, is it? It’s seen as a pathetic means to simplify and Anglicisise Gaeilge? I also get the feeling that there’s more of a difference between Irish dialects in terms of spelling and phraseology than there is in English. Are there ‘dialects’ in English or are they just uncodified accents? Funnily enough, Id probably consider Hiberno English a dialect..

    That old phrase ‘a language is just a dialect with an army’ is pithy and makes us think about history and question national identities but linguistically it’s off the point, isnt it?

    Apologies for stream of consciousness but “ye’re” all so learned and friendly.


    I found Wong’s book useful for a while but I rarely refer back to it. For Irish grammars written in English I use Nancy Stenson’s two-volume set or the online tome Gramadach na Gaeilge at There are several grammars written in Irish. The two that I use the most are Gramadach Gan Stró! and Cruinnscríobh na Gaeilge.

    Héilics Órbhuí

    I don’t think the Caighdeán is hated because it simplifies the language. It is mostly disliked because it’s not a true dialect in the most meaningful sense – that being that it is not spoken by native speakers. People who grow up speaking the language speak a real dialect from a real place, not something that was codified by academics to meet the needs of official use. That said, I don’t think if you speak it you will encounter actual derision from native speakers. It seems that for the most part people who speak Irish currently accept that many if not most other speakers they encounter may be speaking a different dialect than them or may be using the standard because they learned it in school. Also, the Caighdeán isn’t really, in it’s truest form, an Anglicization of the language. That is currently taking place, but not because of the Caighdeán but rather because of language contact with English and the fact that more people are growing up speaking primarily English but also being exposed to Irish through non-natives and thus they are learning ways of saying things in Irish based on English calques.

    With regard to dialects, it is much more than pronunciation. There are different words that are used for certain things in one dialect that have a totally different word in other dialects. There are different verb forms, different rules on consonant mutation, different ways of forming plurals, sometimes the gender of nouns even changes.

    By the way, if you’re looking to stay in CeathrúÂ Rua and want a nice Irish-speaking B&B, I recommend Carraroe House which is run by a lovely woman who makes a great breakfast and speaks native Irish very well. I stayed there for a week and haven’t eaten so well since then.

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