Irish language

Do the most beautiful places in the world have to be in the country?

A TRUE FAIRY LAND: The Glens of Antrim are one of the most beautiful parts of the country but what about cites? Is there anywhere in our towns or cities which can match the beauty of the surrounding countryside?
Robert McMillen

GO mBEANNAÍ Dia daoibh and a big welcome as usual to the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish, episode a gazillion.

As you read this, dear fans, the Bluffer will be getting ready to head of to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Alnwick and Edinburgh for a wee break with some of his chums.

It promises to be a varied six days with two big cathracha - cities, cósta oirthuaisceart Shasana - the coast of north-east England and a trip along Balla Hadrian – no points for guessing that’s Hadrian’s Wall – and an tuath máguaird - the countryside around.

It’ll be interesting the listen to people talk and hear how the blas - the accent changes from pure Geordie to the (self-acclaimed) cultured accent of the Scottish capital.

Acclaimed by all however, is the beauty of Edinburgh.

Now, if you were having a conversation in your basic but improving Irish who would you describe the most beautiful place you had ever been? 

Well, it depends on what you like. For instance, is breá liom na sléibhte - I love the mountains whether it’s the tinchy ones we have here like an Sliabh Dubh - Black Mountain or Mount Everest.

Given that Irish mountains are vertically challenged compared to the majestic heights of the Himalayas or the Andes, we have to make do with being i measc na gcnoc - amongst the hills or down below sna gleanntáin - in the valleys.  

It’s not always the mountains that we think are beautiful but the radharcanna we get from the summit.

It can be breathtaking looking around you from the clouds atop Errigal or Donard although I would recommend the Cuilin on Sgítheanach - the Isle of Skye for beauty.

(BTW, the word for the top of a hill or a mountain is mullach which is why you have mullagh- in so many place-lnames.)

For others who don’t like the idea of walking up a mountain, foraoiseanna - forests are the most beautiful places on earth.

There is a new health trend in Japan called Shinrin yoku which means “forest bathing.”

It’s not like taking a bath but rather engaging in some quiet contemplation surrounded by trees. 

Others prefer to be cois na farraige - beside the sea, ag éisteacht leis na tonnta - listening to the waves and watching luí na gréine - sunset.

How many of us has taken photographs of the sun going down far away on the horizon or behind an oileán - an island in the Mediterranean?

We all love sunsets. We all like easanna - waterfalls whether it is Glencar Waterfall in Co Letrim – mentioned in Yeats’ poem The Stolen Child – or Niagara in Canada.

You don’t even have to have a great view as the Bluffer remembers walking through Rathasair (Raasey) of the Scottish coast to visit the birthplace of the great Gaelic poet, Somhairle MacGill-Eain.

The area was covered in ceo - mist which gave it an unworldly feel that was so appropriate, a Celtic mist if you will.

While the countryside has an obvious advantages – people will also see beauty in cityscapes, the ailtireacht - architecture of, say, Paris or Rome or even watching the moon shine down on the cobble stones of Hill Street in Belfast or a night-time walk along the Foyle or the Liffey can be just as attractive as any rural idyll. 


cathracha (kahraha) - cities 

cósta oirthuaisceart Shasana (cawsta irhooishkart hasana) - the coast of north-east England

an tuath máguaird (un tooa magoordge) - the countryside around

blas (blass) - the accent 

is breá liom na sléibhte (iss bra lum na shlayvchta) - I love the mountains

an Sliabh Dubh (un shleeoo doo) - Black Mountain

i measc na gcnoc (i mask ne gruk) - amongst the hills 

sna gleanntáin (ana glaantaan) - in the valleys.  

na radharcanna (rarkana) - the views 

Sgítheanach (shkeeanakh) - the Isle of Skye

mullach (mullakh) - the top of a mountain or hill

foraoiseanna (foreeshana) - forests 

cois na farraige (cush na farraga) - beside the sea

ag éisteacht leis na tonnta (eg ayshtyakht lesh na tunta) - listening to the waves 

luí na gréine (lee na graynya) - sunset

oileán (ilaan) - an island

easanna (assana) - waterfalls

ceo (kyaw) - mist

ailtireacht (aalchirakht) - architecture

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