Irish language

Video: Each of the 12 months of the year brings its own joys and challenges

Robert McMillen


Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh, hiyaz all and welcome to the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish and, yes, that includes you, Givan.

Last week, we learned the  days of the week and today it’s the turn of the months of the year, all twelve of them.

A school question I remember was what month of the year do you like best and most of us chose July because of the good weather. 

Nowadays, the good weather could come in April or November so It’s a bit confusing. Just like Irish.

But here’s goes. Like the days, there are two ways of saying the names of the months. 

Mí is the Irish for a month and we are in the middle of Eanáir - January. 

The second month of the year is Feabhra - February which is saved from being totally forgettable because it has Valentine’s Day in it but more importantly, Leabhra Feabhra - February books which is a festival where people give books IN IRISH to each other on the first of the month.

Márta is March when the unsophisticated celebrate the patron saint of Ireland by drinking green beer.

Aibreán - April is when showers come our way, people turn into fools on the first of the month but for TS Eliot April was the cruellest month.

Bealtaine was an old Celtic festival which has given its name to the month of May and was so good it made it onto the T Rex single: “Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane, Wear your hair long, babe, you can’t go wrong.” 


Meitheamh is June, busting out all over but with school exams for young people - In Scottish Gaelic, it is called an tOg-Mhìos meaning the young month - and Iúil is July when we all used to go on our holidays or take part in sham fights depending on what side of the fence you were born on before we get into another old Celtic festival Lúnasa which is what we now call the month of August.

Ireland of course has long been an agricultural society and that is why September is called Meán Fómhair meaning (the month of the middle harvest while October is Deireadh Fómhair - the end of harvest (time).

Samhain is November and finally, we arrive at Nollaig or December, which is also the word for Christmas.

Now for a bit of craic, do yourself a little féilire - a calender with the months of the year in Irish on it.

Now. The. Bad. News. Ach not really. There is another way of saying the months of the year and they go mí Eanáir, mí Feabhra, mí an Mhárta, mí Aibreáin, mí na Bealtaine, mí an Mheithimh, mí Iúil, mí Lúnasa, mí Mheán Fómhair, mí Dheireadh Fómhair, mí na Samhna and mí na Nollag. 

Basically you are just adding “the month of” to the name of the month. So how can you use all this info in a conversation?

You could tell people bíonn mo lá breithe i mí Eanáir - my birthday is in January or beidh na scrúduithe ar siúl i mí an Mheithimh - the exams will take place in June, and so on.

We’ll come back to dates next week.  

Ádh mór.


Mí (mee) - a month

Eanáir (anaar) - January; Feabhra (fyaora) - February

Leabhra Feabhra (lyaora fyaora) - February books 

Márta (maarta) - March; Aibreán (abraan) - April 

Bealtaine (baltanya) - May; 

Meitheamh (mayhoo) - June; Iúil (yoo-il) - July; Lúnasa (loonissa) - August’ Meán Fómhair (maan fower) - September

Deireadh Fómhair (jeroo fower) - October

Samhain (saowin) - November

Nollaig (nulegg) - December 

féilire (faylera) - a calender 

mí an Mhárta (mee un warta); mí an Mheithimh (mee un vehiv); mí Mheán Fómhair (mee van fower), mí Dheireadh Fómhair (mee yeroo fower); mí na Samhna (mee na saowna); mí na Nollag (mee ne nullug)

bíonn mo lá breithe i mí Eanáir (beean maw la brayha i mee anaar) - my birthday is in January

beidh na scrúduithe ar siúl i mí an Mheithimh (bay ne scroodeeha er shooil i mee un vehiv) - the exams will take place in June

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