Cúpla focal for when you want to practice your Gaeilge

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Here are some phrases as Gaeilge to have on hand

As you might have seen in this month’s Irish Country Magazine, there are loads of little ways for you to employ your cúpla focal as Gaeilge around the country. From visiting a Gaeltacht to wearing a gorgeous necklace, you can promote our lovely language in a myriad of ways. 

WAW signage Slea Head

Image by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

But what if you don’t know where to start? Below you’ll find some words and phrases to get you feeling fluent in no time. One of the most important phrases for you to take forward into your learning is “labhair cibé Gaeilge atá agat,” meaning speak however much Irish you have. As the saying goes, is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste (better to have broken Irish than clever English). 

Like all languages, Gaeilge is constantly evolving, and phrases get added or changed all the time. Most recently, the term duine de dhath was added to the National Terminology Database. Duine de dhath is now the official Gaeilge for person of colour. Previously, speakers used the outdated expressions duine gorm, literally meaning “blue person”, or duine daite, a “coloured person”.  Last year, a team in DCU launched new phrasing for COVID-19. You won’t need a dictionary to translate Coróinvíreas, that’s for sure!

The evolution of the language aside, here are some small phrases to start bringing into conversations. You don’t need to recreate your Irish oral every day, but even swapping out your ‘hello’ for dia dhuit can make a difference.

Key phrases

Go raibh maith agat (Guh rev mah agut) – Thank you. 

(This can be shortened to GRMA on social media, if you want to introduce Gaeilge into your online spaces!)

Conas atá tú** (Kun-ass at-aw too) – How are you?

Cad é an scéal?/Aon scéal? (Kod ay on sh-kayl/ay-n sh-kayl) – What’s the story? What’s up?

Sláinte (Slawn-tah) – Cheers. A handy one for the reopening of the pubs!

Cén fáth? (Kay-n faw) – Why?

Gan dabht (Gone dowt) – Without a doubt.

Tá bron orm (Taw bro-n ur-um) – I’m sorry.

Gabh mo leithscéal (Gov muh le-shkayl) – Excuse me.

**If you’re in Munster. In Ulster, it’s more common to use Go dté mar atá tú?, and in Connacht they say Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?

For more handy phrases, as well as pronunciation guides, check out DaltaíTake your new Irish skills on your next staycation, and go n’éirí an t-ádh leat! (Good luck!)