Written by:
Mar 7, 2024

3 Proven Tips to Learn Irish Gaelic (and Some Fun Facts!)

Céad míle fáilte! Now that you know how to learn Irish Gaelic with Drops’ latest language course, how about some tips on how to learn the language effectively, along with some interesting facts?

Here we go!

  1. Start small.

Prioritise your learning by focussing on the essentials and work your way up from there. Drops’ Irish course provides you with the most useful expressions and words from the very beginning, so that you can then choose what you are most interested in and build your own learning path.
Did you know that Drops’ Irish course contains 10 basic vocabulary modules with all you need to get you started with your Irish language journey?

  1. Cultivate word building (word formation skills).

Getting familiar with word formation processes in any language you wish to learn is a very useful skill to develop, mainly because it will help you work out the meaning of new words, and smoothly grow your vocabulary.

In the Irish language, words are built in many different ways, but here are a few of the key elements:

  • The suffix “-lann”, which means “place or location” → bialann: bia (food) + -lann = “restaurant”; clólann: cló (to print, to type) + -lann = “printing office”.
  • Suffixes -oir/óir, -aí, and -ach, which are used to describe people in different ways: múin = “to teach” → múinteoir = “teacher”;  amhrán = “song” → amhránaí = “singer”; Éire = “Ireland” → Éireannach = “Irish”
  • Prefixes, such as
    Ain- (negation): ceart (“right”) → aincheart (“unjust”);
    For- (overly, more than): daonna (“human”) → fordaonna (“superhuman”);
    mion- (small): insint (“telling”) → mioninsint (“thorough report”).

Did you know that the longest word in Irish is grianghrafadóireachta and it “only” means “photography”?

  1. Interact with sources of information in Irish Gaelic.
    As an absolute beginner, one way to get used to the language is to listen to podcasts from online Irish radio stations, obtain and read levelled reader series in Irish, or watch Irish movies / TV shows with subtitles. You may not understand everything that is said, but you will learn new words and get used to native pronunciation.

TV stations:

  • TG4 (eilifís na Gaeilge Ceathair): channel based in the Republic of Ireland and broadcasting to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. They also offer plenty of online content.
  • Cúla 4: Irish-language children's channel broadcasting as part of the TG4 franchise.
  • RTÉ is the Irish national broadcaster. Their website has a page dedicated to learning Irish.

Radio Stations:

  • RnaG (RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta): radio station which is part of the RTÉ franchise broadcasting throughout the whole island of Ireland. Most of their content can be found on their webpage as well.
  • Raidió Rí-Rá: youth-oriented music station, currently broadcasting on the internet and some areas of Ireland.

Levelled readers:

Most of the resources available are for primary school children, but there are other options for young adults and adults, such as bilingual books (English/Irish), as well as interesting alternatives such as graphic novels. There are a variety of bookshops that offer their catalogues online, such as Litríotch and An Ceathrú Póilí.  

Did you know that the first Irish language newspaper was published in New York City? Irish immigrant and teacher Mcheál Lócháin established An Gaodhal in 1881. Before evolving into An Gael, an online quarterly literary magazine, it was released consistently until 1904, then irregularly after that.

Do you feel even more encouraged to learn Irish and other languages? Try Language Drops now and learn Irish (plus over 50 more languages!).

Javier Gil is our Language Content Manager. He loves linguistics, reading, skincare, 90s music, and Zumba. He currently lives in Spain.

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