Irish language

The Bluffer gets a wonderful reminder of how magical Donegal can be

SHEPHERDS ARE ECSTATIC: On one side, there was this stunning view looking out over the harbour at Bunbeg and behind was a glorious double rainbow, all on oíche na Féile Eoin, the day before the Bluffer and his daughter conquered Errigal!  
Robert McMillen

GREETINGS big and small, sure there’s no place else on earth just like the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

Well, the Bluffer and his daughter are just back from a wee trip to Donegal. 

Chaith muid seal gairid i dTír Chonaill - we spent a short while in Donegal and had an absolute ball but let’s sort out the name first. 

The county has two names - Tír Chonaill the land of Conall ie Conall Gulban, a son of Niall Naoi nGiallach - Niall of the Nine Hostages. It refers mainly to the west of Donegal.

The other name is Dún na nGall which means fort of the foreigners and this probably refers to the Vikings who were knocking around the area in the 9th century.

With Donegal being the fourth largest in Ireland, tá an contae an-éagsúil - the county is very varied but ever since the Bluffer got a Gael-Linn scholarship to spend nearly two months in Rann na Feirste, he has a huge preference for the Gaeltacht so last week when a iníon - his daughter suggested heading north-west to the AirBnBs of Donegal, he jumped at the chance. 

The bóithríní - little country lanes he had passed through decades earlier are now débhealaí - dual carriageways, the teaichíní - cottages which he passed are now fantastic bungalows and tithe dhá-stór - two-storey houses. 

Of course, that is only part of the story and Donegal and especially its Gaeltacht areas have always felt that its needs have been ignored by successive governments in Dublin – but that’s a conversation for another day.

The Bluffer and daughter were well aware of the srianta - restrictions that were in force due to Coronavirus but to be honest, ní fhaca siad duine nó deoraí - they didn’t see a sinner, apart from on their masked trip to Teach Mhicí, the supermarket in na Doirí Beaga - Derrybeg.

But what was so good about Donegal, when bhí sé ag cur fearthainne - it was raining, bhí gach áit druidte - everywhere was closed and there was no-one about?

Well, actually, all the above is WHY it was so good.

The AirBnB, Birdie’s in Cnoc a’ Stollaire - the hill of the standing stone which is at the end of a quiet lane off the R257 between Bunbeg and Crolly was fabulous, secluded but not at all remote and father and daughter felt at home right away.

Shiúil siad go Cé an Bhuna Bhig - they walked to the (little) quay in Bunbeg (harbour), counting the tinte cnámh - bonfires dotted across the countryside, as they are across Europe, to celebrate Oíche na Féile Eoin  - the feast of St John (or the pagan feast that came before it).

Yes, it was raining but there was a magnificent pink sky all around and with the sunshine, we were treated to a glorious double tuar ceatha - rainbow.

The following day, the Bluffer and the daughter climbed Mount Errigal. Wow! What a day to be alive and an ambition long on the bucket list achieved.

Later, they sipped beer, had a victory steak dinner, watched the sun go down and sang What a Wonderful World!  

CÚPLA FOCAL

Chaith muid seal gairid i dTír Chonaill (khyh midge shaal giridge i jeer khonil) - we spent a short while in Donegal

Tír Chonaill (cheer khonil) - the land of Conall

Niall Naoi nGiallach (neeal nee ngeealakh) - Niall of the Nine Hostage

tá an contae an-éagsúil (taa un contay aan-aygsooil) - the county is very varied

a iníon (a neen) - his daughter

bóithríní (boyhreenee) - little country lanes 

débhealaí (jay-valee) - dual carriageways

teaichíní (chakheenee) - cottages 

tithe dhá-stór (teehee ga-store) - two-storey houses

srianta (sreeanta) - restrictions

ní fhaca siad duine nó deoraí (nee aca shade dinya no joree) - they didn’t see a sinner

na Doirí Beaga (ne diree bigga) - Derrybeg

bhí sé ag cur fearthainne (vee shay eg ker farhinya) - it was raining 

bhí gach áit druidte (vee gakh iytch drija) - everywhere was closed 

Cnoc a’ Stollaire (cruck a stollera) - the hill of the standing stone 

tinte cnámh (chintcha craow ) - bonfires 

Oíche na Féile Eoin  (eeha na fella owen) - the feast of St John 

tuar ceatha (toor kaha) - rainbow

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