How to direct an Irish-speaking alien to Belfast City Hall?
Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus bhur gcéad fáilte isteach chuig The Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.
A big hello to fans of the Bluffer many of whom are reading this page while possibly holidaying in a different jurisdiction - be it Bunbeg, Bundoran or Baden-Baden.
Which brings the Bluffer to today’s theme, saying where places are.
So, say you were lost in the middle of the madey-up city of Gaeltachtia and you needed to get money out of an ATM - aka poll sa bhaile - a hole in the wall and also baptised a drink link by the more sociable of you out there - you would ask cá bhfuil an banc? Where is the bank? or an bhfuil banc thart anseo? - is there a bank around here.
You’d use the same formula if you were looking for oifig an phoist - a post office, An Chultúrlann - the Cultúrlann (or culture-land as it is known to Belfasters) or Halla na Cathrach - the City Hall.
You can use it for shops as in Cá bhfuil siopa Ann Summers? - where is the Ann Summers shop (admitedly not a question you would hear many Gaeilgeoirí ask out loud!) or an bhfuil Tesco sa cheantar seo? - is there a Tesco in this area?
So now that you can ask the questions, what about the answers?
If someone asks you where the John Hewitt bar is, for example, you could say tá sé i Sráid Dhún na nGall - it is in Donegall Street or tá sé i lár na cathrach - it is in the city centre.
(Isn’t it great that the busses in some parts of the town have their destinations in Irish? It would be great to see that throughout Belfast because the Irish language names tell you something about the area, but that’s an argument for another day)
Let’s take Belfast City Hall as our main focus with apologies to all those who don’t know Belfast that well.
(People who think Béal Feirste/Belfast is the centre of the universe and that nowhere else exists are jokingly called Béal Fascists by the way).
HnaC will stand for Halla na Cathrach for convenience.
So if you are looking for Royal Avenue, tá sé os comhair HnaC - it is opposite the City Hall. If you are looking for the main Ulster Bank banch in Belfast - tá sé in aice le HnaC - it is beside the City Hall ar thaobh na láimhe clé - on the left-hand side.
The Northern Bank, Apartment and so on are also beside the City Hall, ar thaobh na láimhe deise - on the right hand side.
And if you are looking for a hotel then tá Ten Square ar chúl HnaC - Ten Square is behind the City Hall.
So if you ever bump into an Irish-speaking Alien or Machan Magan, and they are looking for directions, then you should be able to take them to your leader in or around the City Hall.
So for your homework, you could think of places in your city/town/village and work out how you would tell people where they are using the phrases above.
Obviously, this short column can’t cover giving people specific instructions but we’ll do that next week.
In the meantime you could use a dictionary to find out left, right, in front of, on the corner and so on.
poll sa bhaile (pul sa wala) - a hole in the wall
cá bhfuil an banc? (cal un baank) Where is the bank?
an bhfuil banc thart anseo? (will baank hart anshaw) - is there a bank around here?
oifig an phoist (ifig a' fwisht) - a post office
An Chultúrlann (un khultoorlaan) - the Cultúrlann
Halla na Cathrach (hala na cahrakh) - the City Hall
Cá bhfuil siopa Ann Summers? (cal shuppa ann summers) - where is the Ann Summers shop
an bhfuil Tesco sa cheantar seo? (will Tesco sa kyanter shaw) - is there a Tesco in this area?
tá sé i Sráid Dhún na nGall (taa shay i srydge goon ne ngaal) - it is in Donegall Street
tá sé i lár na cathrach (taa shay i laar ne cahrakh) - it is in the city centre
tá sé os comhair HnaC (taa shay os score HnaC) - it is opposite the City Hall
tá sé in aice le HnaC (taa shay in aka le HnaC) -- it is beside the City Hall
ar thaobh na láimhe clé (er heeoo na lava clay) - on the left-hand side
ar thaobh na láimhe deise (er heeoo na lava jesha) -- on the right hand side
tá Ten Square ar chúl HnaC (taa ten square er khool HnaC) - Ten Square is behind the City Hall