Irish language

The Bluffer is compass mentis as he takes you to the four corners

An tIarthar Fiain: The Wild West that some of us grew up watching on the television was only slightly more out of the way than trying to get to Donegal back in the 1960s
Robert McMillen

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus bhur gcéad míle fáilte isteach chuig The Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

So after last week you won’t get lost thanks to the Bluffer’s directions (hopefully) but here are a few more words that are useful.

A big one of course is an tuaisceart which means the north. 

You can call this place Tuaisceart Éireann - Northern Ireland or tuaisceart na hÉireann - the north of Ireland but most Irish speakers call it na Sé Chontae - the six counties which actually doesn’t seem as politically charged in Irish as it does in English.

An deisceart is the South which in an Irish context can also mean the Free State or the Republic of Ireland depending on your political point of view.

But Ireland is more than a north and a south.

Go west young man and you are in an t-iarthar, a land of beautiful seascapes, more native Irish speakers than you can shake a stick at and the smell of turf.

The Bluffer was down in An Bun Beag in Donegal last week, staying at Teach an Bhun Bhig - highly recommended - down by the quay.

Seafood, great conversation, a lot of music in Tigh Hiúdaí Bhig played by a huge group of local musicians - including Máiread Ní Mhaonaigh - and way too much Guinness. The Wild Atlantic Way certainly lived up to its reputation! But I digress.

On the other side of the island is an t-oirthear - the east, and that’s where you’ll find the príomhchathair - the capital city of Ireland, me jewel and darlin’ Dublin. 

(Did you know that Belfast was once bigger than Dublin?)

Now you can have a quiz with your mates and ask them where cities or towns are.

Cá bhfuil Corcaigh? - Where is Cork? Tá Corcaigh sa deisceart. 

Cá bhfuil Gaillimh? Tá Gaillimh san iarthar.

Tá Doire sa tuaisceart - Derry is in the north and Tá Dún Dealgan san oirthear - Dundalk is in the east.

(Notice how the t disappears in iarthar and oirthear when you have san before it).

Another very common way of saying both in the north and to the north is ó thuaidh.

If you are of a certain age and listened to the news in Irish, you would hear tá géarchéim ó thuaidh - there is a crisis in the north. 

On the same news you would hear talk of an rialtas ó dheas - the government in the south. Ó dheas means in the south or to the south.

An bhfuil tú ag dul ó dheas? Are you going to the south?

But just say you are blessed by coming from  somewhere like Westmeath, home to Athlone, said to be in the very centre of Ireland.

You would say it is i lár na tíre - in the midlands or in the middle of the country.

Now we won’t go into the fishing forecast with its north by north-west and so on but by now you should how a few geographical terms.

There is a nice little compass at if you are interested and if you are mad keen on learning more there is a table of locational and directional adverbs at but it might be a little bit confusing. 


an tuaisceart (un tooishkyart) - the north 

Tuaisceart Éireann (tooishkyart ayrin) - Northern Ireland

tuaisceart na hÉireann (tooishkyart he hayrin) - the north of Ireland 

na Sé Chontae (ne shay khonday) - the six counties 

An deisceart (un jeshkyart) - the South 

an t-iarthar (un cheeraher) - the west

an t-oirthear (un tiriher) - the east

príomhchathair (preeookhaher) - capital

Tá Corcaigh sa deisceart (taa corkee sa jeskyart) - Cork is in the south 

Tá Gaillimh san iarthar (taa galyiv san eeraher) - Galway is in the west

Tá Doire sa tuaisceart (taa dirra sa tooishkyart) - Derry is in the north 

Tá Dún Dealgan san oirthear (taa doon jalagan san iriher) - Dundalk is in the east

tá géarchéim ó thuaidh (taa gayrcaym o hooey) - there is a crisis in the north

an rialtas ó dheas (un reealtis o yass) - the government in the south

An bhfuil tú ag dul ó dheas? (an wil too ag gul o yass) - Are you going (to the) south?

i lár na tíre (i laar ne cheera) - in the middle of the country



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