Irish language

The trials and tribulations of the families who live on mountains

CLANN MHIC DHOMHNAiLL: The family appear in Ar an Slaibh, a portrait of life amongst Ireland’s mountain communities and how they grapple with winter and the raging Covid pandemic as well as with ordinary family life

GO mBEANNAÍ DIA daoibh, hello to mountainy folk and sea levellers, you are more than welcome to the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

Ar An Sliabh is a new BBC Gaeilge series following the lives of mountain communities - from the slopes of Sliabh gCuillinn - Slieve Gullion to the heart of sléibhte Chill Mhantain - the Wicklow mountains.

Now mountains need a bit of perspective. 

A sherpa from the Himalayas would think we were having a laugh when we talk about mountains.

He would use the word cnoc - a hill or a cnocán - a small hill; tulach is a low hill or a mound; binn is a peak as in binn sléibhe - a mountain peak.

A word the Bluffer likes lantán which means a grassy place on a mountain.

The BBC series which starts tonight at 10pm was filmed during 2021 and focuses on the lives of the people who live in four different Irish mountain regions during one extraordinary year.

Over the six weeks, viewers will meet 12-year-old businessman (yes, 12-year-old) - Cérill, who, cut off from his friends, finds solace in his beloved animals and an dúlra thart air - the nature around him. Is feirmeoir caorach é Séamus - Séamus is a sheep farmer who contemplates a lonely rural existence amidst the beauty of the bunchnoic - the foothills of na Beanna Boirche - the Mourne Mountains.

The Glenmalure lodge in the heart of the Wicklow mountains closed its doors for the first time during Covid and now the Dowling family who run the hotel wonder when they will ever be able to open up again.

Déanann Seán ceirtlís - Sean makes cider and keeps a close eye on his growing apple crop on the sunny side of Slieve Gullion while John Ross is a beachaire - a bee-keeper who tries to avoid getting stung as he harvests the honey.

Student Niamh is ag déanamh staidéir ón bhaile - studying from home while príomhoide scoile - school principal Pól tries to keep his students and staff motivated until he can finally welcome his pupils back to school.

The audience has a fly-on-the-wall view of the everyday struggles and triumphs of these bunadh an tsléibhe - mountain dwellers. Themes such as love and loss, coping with family illness and celebrating life’s milestones, growing up and growing old, self-love and nurturing others are gently explored through the lives of the people who have chosen to live in some of the most rugged regions on the island of Ireland.

Each geographical area is very distinct. Slieve Gullion is home to a tight-knit south Armagh community, nestled close to one another within the protection of the Ring of Gullion. 

The Sliabh Eachtaí - Slieve Aughty community is more scoite - dispersed over the sprawling mountain and

lakes region of east Galway, bordering on counties Clare and Tipperary. 

:: Ar An Sliabh starts on BBC Two Northern Ireland tonight (Monday, 3 January) at 10pm and is currently available on the BBC iPlayer.


Sliabh gCuillinn (shleeoo gillen) - Slieve Gullion

sléibhte Chill Mhantain (shlayvcha kil wantaan) - the Wicklow mountains

cnoc (cruck) - a hill

cnocán (cruckaan) - a small hill 

tulach (tulakh) - a low hill or a mound 

binn (bin) - a peak 

binn sléibhe (bin shlayva) - a mountain peak

lantán (lantaan) - a grassy place on a mountain

an dúlra thart air (un doolra hart er) - the nature around him

Is feirmeoir caorach é Séamus (is feramore cayrakh ay Shaymus) - Séamus is a sheep farmer

bunchnoic (bunkhrick) - the foothills

na Beanna Boirche (na banna boraha) - the Mourne Mountains

Déanann Seán ceirtlís (janan shaan kertchleesh) - Sean makes cider 

beachaire (bakhara) - a bee-keeper

ag déanamh staidéir ón bhaile (eg janoo staadge-ayre own walla) - studying from home

príomhoide scoile (preeoo-idgea sculla) - a school principal

bunadh an tsléibhe (bunoo un chlayva) - mountain dwellers 

Sliabh Eachtaí (shleeoo akhtee) - Slieve Aughty 

scoite (skitcha) - dispersed

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