The evening in Cluain Ard which took the Bluffer back to his roots

RANN NA FEIRSTE: The village in the Donegal Gaeltacht became a home from home when he won a Gael Linn scholarship to spend two months learning Irish there
RANN NA FEIRSTE: The village in the Donegal Gaeltacht became a home from home when he won a Gael Linn scholarship to spend two months learning Irish there

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh, a chairde, hello my friends and welcome to the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish in which the author goes back to his fréamhacha - his roots.

There was a time, dear readers when the Bluffer wasn’t the Irish language Collosus he is today. 

Bhí an-suim sa cheol aige - he was really interested in music and songs in Irish and bhí cumann sa chomharsanacht - there was a club in the area where people would gather together to sing songs in Irish, so the Bluffer made his way to Cumann Chluain Ard and was immediately captivated.

There, he heard the songs he had learnt on his first trip to the Gaeltacht, the atmosphere was welcoming, people were speaking in Irish and so bhí sé ar a sháimhín só - he was in his element.

The fear a tí - MC was  Albert Fry, who around that time had two series on RTÉ and one of the best-known folk singers in the country. Albert took the young Bluffer under his wing or thóg sé faoina chúram é.

Some friends came with him but in Cluain Ard, he made friends who have turned out to be life-long companions for the past four decades.

Albert died in May 2021 and on Saturday night, the Cluain Ard had a night in ómós dó - in his honour and what a night it was. It reminded the Bluffer of how and why he is an Irish speaker today.

Yes, it was originally na hamhráin - the songs, many from the Donegal Gaeltacht tradition,  and the music, but then it became an cairdeas - the friendship that grew between myself and all kinds of people who shared a love of Irish.

Then there was foghlaim na Gaeilge - learning Irish thanks to great teachers, starting with Albert before graduating to Máirtín Mac Grianna.

Máirtín was a member of a famous literary family from Rann na Feirste in the Donegal Gaeltacht and part of that vital connection to tobar an dúchais - the wellspring of Gaelic tradition and culture that exist on the western coast.

There were trips to Donegal and to Conamara and to Kerry as we were introduced to na canúintí éagsúla - the different dialects of Irish and the stunning landscapes of what has become branded as The Wild Atlantic Way.

The Bluffer won a scoláireacht - a scholarship to the Gaeltacht which allowed him to spend two months at a coláiste samhraidh - a summer college in the Gaelic mecca of Ranafast during the long, hot summer of ‘69, a period full of teenage romance,  sing-songs, céilithe - céilís, walking in the dark under the light of the stars, the smell of turf hanging in the air.

So, that was the foundation on which the Bluffer became a Gaeilgeoir - an Irish speaker.

He saw into domhan ceilte - a hidden world which gave him a different way of seeing the world through a culture that has been on this island for two millennia but is today keeping pace with the new technologies as they spring up.

The language has given him so many friends, so many nights of fun and laughter, a rich culture to enjoy or take part in, his paid work is mostly trí mheán na Gaeilge - through the medium of Irish – so what is there not to like?


fréamhacha (frayooaha) - roots

bhí an-suim sa cheol aige (vee aan-sim sa kyawl iyga) - he was really interested in music

bhí cumann sa chomharsanacht (vee cuman sa khorsanakht) - there was a club in the area 

bhí sé ar a sháimhín só (vee shay er a hiyveen saw) - he was in his element

fear a’ tí (far a tee) - MC

Thóg sé faoina chúram é (hoge shay fweena khooram ay) - he took him under his wing

in ómós dó (in owemose daw) - in his honour 

na hamhráin (ne horaain) - the songs 

an cairdeas (un carjass) - the friendship

foghlaim na Gaeilge (foelim na galyliga) - learning Irish

tobar an dúchais (tubber un doohish) - the wellspring of Gaelic tradition 

na canúintí éagsúla (ne canoointchee aygsoola) - the different dialects 

scoláireacht (scolaarakht) - a scholarship

coláiste samhraidh (colaashta saowree) - a summer camp 

céilithe (kayleeha) - céilís

Gaeilgeoir (gayligore) - an Irish speaker

domhan ceilte (dowan keltcha) - a hidden world 

trí mheán na Gaeilge (chree vaan na gayliga) - through the medium of Irish