Irish language

From the cowboy suits of Christmas past to today's shopping on line

PICTURE PERFECT: Until a stampede of last-minute Christmas shoppers head in a frenzy into town looking for that special present for that special someone they forgot to buy something for until the 11th hour! 
Robert McMillen

HO, HO, HO and welcome to  Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

The heat is on - or not as the case may be – it depends on what kind of Christmas shopper you are. 

Siopadóireacht Nollag is Christmas shopping so you will hear people ask an bhfuil an tsiopadóireacht Nollag déanta agat? - have you your Christmas shopping done?

This means have you entered the twilight zone of slipéir - slippers, stocaí - socks and geansaithe Nollag - Christmas jumpers that are so naff, they’re cool.

Something that will never be cool again was a staple of Christmas presents in the 1960s - culaith buachaill bó - a cowboy outfit or a culaith Indiaigh - an Indian suit.

Gangs of working class kids would dress up as either and chase each other through streets with gunnaí bréige airgid - silver toy guns and entries/alleyways.

Few wanted to be an Indian because the redskins always lost on the TV westerns of the time.

You could threaten to scalp the pale-face who spoke with forked tongue but its was odds on you would end up they way real Native Americans ended up.   

Bábóga - dolls for the girls with matching toy bottles to feed the imaginary baby along with a mini-po for when it comes out the other end!

To show how far we’ve travelled, I read a sentence on which noted: “many 60s’ wives would have loved to find a Kenwood Chef under the Christmas tree.”

Greannmhar agus brónach - funny and sad, and not to be tried in 2019, lads!

The way we shop has changed too since many of us started using the internet to do our festive purchasing.

D’ordaigh mé cumhrán ó amazon - I ordered perfume from amazon is what you’ll hear from guys who wouldn’t be seen dead near the cúntar cosmáidí - the cosmetics counter at Boots and who wouldn’t know their Aqua Manda from their Poison.

Attitudes are getting more irreverent as time goes on and Christmas is better known as a season for turcaithe - turkeys, bronntanais - presents and an bharraíocht - excess.

Church attendance figures would suggest that we are heading towards a post-religion society in the west.

In fact, there is a cluiche cártaí - a card game called Santa vs Jesus in which Team Santa and Team Jesus fight it out through a variety of festive themed puzzles, riddles, jigsaws, building challenges and brain games to win Believers!

Or maybe the Bluffer is just ag éirí sean - getting old and kids nowadays love Christmas as much as when he was a child.

Arm an tSlánaitheora - the Salvation Army playing carúil Nollag - Christmas carols on cold crisp evenings; the excitement of children as they open their presents; families at peace with themselves; the innocent joy of ET and The Sound of Music, sure it’s enough to put the cynicism and the naysayers to flight.

So, good luck with the shopping. May you get what you want and may your nearest and dearest be happy with what they’ve been given.

Including today, there’s only 23 days left!   


an bhfuil an tsiopadóireacht Nollag déanta agat? (un wil un chuppadoreakht nullag janta ugut) - have you your Christmas shopping done?

slipéir (slipayr) - slippers

stocaí (stuckee) - socks 

geansaithe Nollag (gyanzeeha nulag) - Christmas jumpers

culaith buachaill bó (culee booakhil baw ) - a cowboy outfit

culaith Indiaigh (culee injee-ee) - an Indian suit

gunnaí bréige airgid (gunee brayga aragidge) - silver toy guns

bábóga (babawga) - dolls

greannmhar agus brónach (granwar agiss bronakh) - funny and sad 

D’ordaigh mé cumhrán ó amazon (dordee may cooraan o amazon) - I ordered perfume from amazon 

an cúntar cosmáidí (un coontar cosmajee) 

- the cosmetics counter

turcaithe (turkeeha) - turkeys 

bronntanais (bruntanish) - presents 

an bharraíocht (un wareeakht) - excess

cluiche cártaí (cliha cartee) - a card game 

Arm an tSlánaitheora (aram un tlaneehora) - the Salvation Army 

carúil Nollag (carool nullag) - Christmas carols

ag éirí sean (eg eeree shaan) - getting old

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