Irish language

A look at a representative section of the Bluffer's many book shelves

SUNNY DAY BOOKS: The Bluffer has been enjoying the fine weather by sitting in his garden reading a selection of books that has educated and entertained him while he gets a suntan that would make Rylan look like Casper

A hearty welcome to bibliophiles and the illiterate alike, you are all invited to the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

With The Irish News moving from its premises in Donegall Street, the Bluffer had a lot of books to dispose of.

Like any hoarder, he found it very difficult.Thug sé cuid acu do chairde - he gave some of them to friends; choinnigh sé cuid eile acu dó féin - he kept some others for himself, and bhronn sé cuid acu ar an Leabharlann Lár - he donated the rest to the Central Library so that people would have a chance to avail of them in the coming years or even decades.

Being an ileolaí - a polymath (a know-it-all), the books that he kept are completely random, but here are some of the ones that will remain on one shelf of his bookcase.

Left to right, there is I mBéal Feirste Cois Cuain - in Belfast beside the harbour, which is a history of the Irish language in Belfast in the 18th and 19th centuries written by the late Prof Breandán Ó Buachalla.

Is leabhar iontach é - it is a wonderful book in that it really gives us a flavour of what the city was like in times gone by and the contribution that Presbyterians made to caomhnú na Gaeilge - the preservation of the Irish language, work which, of course, is being continued this very day.

Beside it, is Susan McKay’s, Northern Protestants: Shifting ground, sraith agallamh - a set of interviews with various members of the PUL community including “the Lundys, those who find in banishment the freedom to grow.”

Next up is The Popular Mind in Eighteenth-Century Ireland by Vincent Morley. 

Tá sé thar a bheith neamhghnách mar leabhar - it is a very unusual book in that it looks at what the ordinary Irish-speaking people of Ireland were thinking in the tumultuous 18th century “as revealed in the vernacular literature of the time.”

But next is where the Bluffer lightens up (thank God, I hear you mutter).

Belfast: City of Song by Maurice Leydon is a book that the bluffer dips into ó am go chéile - from time to time to learn songs about Beann Mhadagáin - Cave Hill, the coming of lampaí gáis - gas lights, horse trams, the Maids of Belfast, politics (natch!) and amhráin do pháistí - children’s songs. 

Nestling beside that is Pádraig Ó Baoill’s wonderful book on Scotland’s national poet entitled Rabbie Burns: An Nasc le hÉirinn - RB: the link with Ireland.

Ó Cheann Ceann na Bliana is a book on nósanna an fhéilire - calender customs in Ireland, while John Creedon’s That Place We Call Home is described as “a journey through the place-names of Ireland”.

And that is just one small shelf – the works of Jake Mac Siacais are going to require a shelf of their own given the West Belfast man’s prodigious output in Irish and English!

The Bluffer also has what are known as “the good books” – not versions of the Bible but books by Seosamh Mac Grianna and Séamus Ó Grianna and other Donegal authors who wrote in the last century.

Now, given the weather outside, it’s time for an iced tea and a good book!


thug sé cuid acu do chairde (hug shay daw kharja ay) - he gave some of them to friends

choinnigh sé cuid eile acu dó féin (khunyee shay cudge ella acoo daw hane) - he kept some others for himself

bhronn sé cuid acu ar an Leabharlann Lár (wron shay cudge ella acoo ar an lyorelaan laar) - he donated the rest to the Central Library 

ileolaí (il-olee) - a polymath

Is leabhar iontach é (is lyore eentakh ay) - it is a wonderful book caomhnú na Gaeilge (keeonoo ne gayliga) - the preservation of the Irish language

sraith agallamh (sryh lyore) - a set of interviews 

Tá sé thar a bheith neamhghnách mar leabhar (taa shay har a vay nyaowgraakh mar lyore) - it is a very unusual book

ó am go chéile (o am gaw kayla) - from time to time 

Beann Mhadagáin (ban wadagaan) - Cave Hill

lampaí gáis (lampee gaash) - gas lights

amhráin do pháistí (ore-aan daw fashtee) - songs for children’s songs 

An nasc le hÉirinn (un nask le herin) - the link with Ireland

nósanna an fhéilire (nosana un elira) - calender customs



Irish language