Irish Language

Easter is a time for eggs, chocolate – and politics

Some of us nearly choked on our Malteser Easter eggs when a political bombshell exploded on Good Friday ...

Portrait of happy family with Easter eggs at table in kitchen
Portrait of happy family with Easter eggs at table in kitchen More Easter clichés than you can shake a stick at with painted eggs, daffodils, bunny ears and happy families – but with no pesky politics (Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images)

Happy Easter to fans old and new of the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish and the Bluffer hopes you are all having a splendid time.

An Cháisc is the Irish for Easter (probs from the Latin pasqua) and is also the Irish for the Jewish Passover.

While an creideamh - religion has been almost totally obliterated from Christmas, subsumed into a spending frenzy of Biblical proportions, Easter still feels like a religious feast - despite na huibheacha Cásca - Easter eggs, coiníní - rabbits and maisiúcháin - decorations for the home.

The Bluffer likes the way Easter feasts have weird names associated with them.

Déardaoin Mandála is Maundy Thursday in Irish but what is Maundy? Apparently it is to do with a ceremony of washing the feet of the poor.

Chez the Bluffer, it means rubbing the feet of his significant other with uachtar maothaithe - moisturising cream, something she is very keen on!

Or it can mean the offering of alms to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Déanamh déirce - alms-giving has a long tradition in a country known for its féile - generosity.

Pentecost is another word that has fascinated the Bluffer along with it’s Irish equivalent, Cincís.

As Pentecost and Whitsun are the same thing, we use Cincís for both English terms.

Cincís comes from the Irish that would have been spoken between 900–1200 AD when it would have been written cengciges, from the Latin quinquigisima (meaning “fiftieth”), as Whitsun is the fiftieth day of the Easter season and marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ disciples.

As a kid, the Bluffer wondered what was meant by Céadaoin an Bhraith - Spy Wednesday but apparently it referred to Judas Iscariot who chose to betray Christ on a Wednesday.

Other feast-days that Christians celebrate are Domhnach na Pailme - Palm Sunday which marks the first day of Holy Week while Yesterday was Domhnach Cásca - Easter Sunday.

Now, while it is true that Easter is more of a religious feast, in Ireland, it is laden with political meaning.

This is because of Éirí Amach na Cásca - the Easter Rising of 1916 which eventually lead to the formation of the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland.

However, some connected the political with the religious as they saw the Rising as an aiséirí - the resurrection of a new Ireland similar to the resurrection of Christ.

It is why yesterday, republicans marched to proclaim their allegiance to a 32-County Socialist Republic as envisioned by many of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

In more contemporary times, Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta - the Good Friday Agreement might also be considered a kind of resurrection, an agreement that ended the 30-year Troubles in the north.

Good Friday – although the date of the feast is movable – might also go down in history as the day that the leader of the biggest unionist party in the country was arrested and charged with serious crimes. The implications of that could be huge, the Bluffer believes.


An Cháisc (un khaashk) - Easter

an creideamh (credge-oo) - religion

na huibheacha Cásca (ne hivaha caaska) - the Easter eggs

coiníní (cunyeenee) - rabbits

maisiúcháin (maashookhaan) - decorations

Déardaoin Mandála (jeerdeen mandaala) - Maundy Thursday

uachtar maothaithe (ooakhtar mweeheeha) - moisturing cream

déanamh déirce (janoo jerka) - alms-giving

féile (fayla) - generosity

Cincís (kinkeesh) - Pentecost/Whitsun

Céadaoin an Bhraith (caydeen un whry) - Spy Wednesday

Domhnach na Pailme (doenakh ne palma) - Palm Sunday

Domhnach Cásca (doenakh caasca) - Easter Sunday

Éirí Amach na Cásca (eeree amakh ne caasca) - the Easter Rising

aiséirí (aasheeree) - a resurrection

Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta (co-ayntoo aynya un caysta) - the Good Friday Agreement