Irish language

There are more Irish words for bad weather than for good

TÁ SÉ FUAR: Hopefully we’ve seen the last of the snow disrupting our journeys although the Bluffer likes going up in to the mountains to look down on his native city
Robert McMillen

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh, my aspiring Gaeilgeoirí and welcome back to the Bluffer's Guide to Irish.

Last week, we started over again our journey to turn you into fluent Irish speakers and today we'll take that difficult second step.

You've said Dia duit - hello and the other person has replied and then tumbleweed crosses the floor and panic sets in.

In Irish, the verb comes first, so to describe something you start off with tá sé ...

Like most people, we end up talking about an aimsir - the weather and God knows, there's been a lot of it recently. The Bluffer has used these phrases recently: Tá an aimsir cáidheach - the weather is filthy ie, showery and nasty and Tá mé cónáilte ag an fhuacht - I'm foundered with the cold.

He has also said tá sé Baltach - it is Baltic, but that was just to get a laugh!

To describe somthing like the weather you start off with tá ... and you can have an easy conversation with just tá sé fuar - it's cold, tá sé te - it's warm.

Or you can say níl .. isn't - níl sé fliuch - it isn't wet or níl sé gaofar - it isn't windy.

That's how easy it is to describe things, tá sé or níl sé.

Now you might bump into people wearing Aran jumpers, smoking pipes and sporting long, scraggy beards - and that's just the women - who will try to bamboozle you with words and phrases such as bearradh an deimhis - fleecy clouds portending rain (literally it describes what wool looks like after it's been shorn) or líbíneach - a person dripping with rain.

He's a big fan of cith agus dealán - showery changeable weather or sunshine and showers which is very common in these parts.

The Bluffer will slip some of these lovely terms into the column as time goes on.

But the easy bits (I hope) first.

We've learned about tá and níl but if you want to ask a question, tá changed to an bhfuil - is..? and níl changed to nach bhfuil...?

So, an bhfuil sé fuar means is it cold? Nach bhfuil sé fuar? - isn't it cold?

While an enquiring mind is a great thing, sometimes it just gets in the way of learning things so don't be obssessing about how bhfuil is pronounced will. Babies learn languages, be it Irish, Swahili, Russian, Chinese or whatever by hearing and repeating so hopefully the phonetics on the right will help you out there.

We've learned how to describe the weather although it's nearly all bad weather!

Tá lá breá ann - means it is a fine day or tá an aimsir galánta - the weather is brilliant if it lasts longer than our three-day summers.

if you want to describe yourself or other people you need other simple words.

Tá mé - I am; tá tú - you are; tá sé - he or it is. tá sí - she or it is; tá muid - we are; tá sibh - you (plural) are and tá siad - they are.

So find a dictionary - you can get them online at or and add words to describe the things in your world.

Once you have the building blocks you can go anywhere.

an aimsir (un iymhser) - the weather

tá an aimsir cáidheach (taa un iymsher kaiyakh) - the weather is filthy

tá mé cónáilte ag an fhuacht (taa may conaaltcha eg un ooakht) - I'm foundered with the cold

tá sé Baltach (taa shay baaltakh) - it is Baltic

tá sé fuar (taa shay foor) - it's cold

tá sé te (taa shay chay) - it's warm

níl sé fliuch (neel shay flyukh) - it isn't wet

níl sé gaofar (neel shay geefer) - it isn't windy

bearradh an deimhis (baroo un jevish) - fleecy clouds portending rain

líbíneach (leebinyakh) - a person dripping with rain

cith agus dealán (keeh is jalaan) - sunshine and showers

Tá lá breá ann (taa laa braa un) - it is a fine day

tá an aimsir galánta (taa un iymsher galaanta) - the weather is brilliant

Tá mé (taa may) - I am; tá tú (taa too) - you are; tá sé (taa shay) - he or it is; tá sí (taa shee) - she or it is; tá muid (taa midge) - we are; tá sibh (taa shiv) - you (plural) are; tá siad (taa shade) - they are.

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Irish language