Irish Lesson 123


Below are several sentences. Read them aloud or have someone familiar with the pronunciation of Irish read them to you, phrase by phrase. Do not translate them in your mind. Instead, form a mental picture of the action and of who or what is doing it. Also, try to form an emotion, such as sympathy, disappointment, hunger, surprise, joy, etc., about the activity.

If you don’t understand at the first reading or hearing, wait a few seconds and then try again. You will probably retain a few words of the sentence, and a second reading or hearing will give you more. Only if you fail after four or five tries should you look at the key under the sentences.

Dhún na fir doirse tar éis an chéilí.

Bheadh sé ina luí roimh a lón, mura mbeifeá ann.

Ní ordóidh mé rud ar bith as catalóg ordú phoist.

An mbristí mórán soillse sráide nuair a bhí tú i d’óige, a athair?

Ná bailítear airgead ag an gcruinniú seo.

Nach gcnagfaidh tú ar an bhfuinneog ar thaobh eile an tí?

Coimeádaigí na ceapairí sin, agus gheobhaidh mé buidéal bainne.

Déarfainn go mbeadh an fómhar chomh te agus a bhí sé riamh.


The men closed the doors after the céilí. He would be lying down before his lunch, if you weren’t there.

I won’t order anything out of a mail-order catalog. Were many street lights broken when you were young, father?

No money is to be collected at this meeting (Don’t let money be collected).

Won’t you knock on the window on the other side of the house?

Keep those sandwiches, and I will get a bottle of milk. I would say that the autumn would be as hot as it ever was.

The word “catalóg” should be obvious to you. It is a direct borrowing from English. The following word, “ordú”, should be close enough to “order” in English to cause you to connect it with “catalóg” and think of a mail-order catalog, even if you can not immediately work out the grammar details.


Nearly the last important area of Irish that these lessons have not yet covered is the grouping of sentences or clauses together in ways that are slightly more complicated than merely saying “and” or “but” to join two sentences. Up to now, these lessons have encouraged you to speak, and to write and think, in short sentences. This was done to help you speak and write without overly long deliberation. By now, you should be able to reply to someone with an answer that is relevant to some degree, even if only “Abair arís é sin, más é do thoil é”.

The relative clause form of which

Chonaic mé an buachaill a d’imigh abhaile ar maidin; I saw the boy who departed for home this morning

is an example, improves your style in Irish, allowing you to speak and write better Irish.

Read these examples over, out loud of course, several times to understand what is called the nominative case. Do not bother to learn the grammatical terms for this, however. Merely learn how to use the form.

Éisteann sé leis an múinteoir atá sa rang eile; he listens to the teacher who is in the other class.

Chuir mé ar an mbord an leabhar a thit ar an urlár; I put on the table the book that fell on the floor.

Tiománann Máire an bus a bhuail a seanathair; Mary drives the bus that hit her grandfather.

Is é sin an fear a d’ól an cupán tae tamall ó shin; that’s the man who drank a cup of tea a while ago.

Is í seo an cailín a dhéanfaidh an obair; This is the girl who will do the work.

Léim na daoine a bhí ann thar an mballa; The people who were there jumped over the wall.

This should give you a sense of how to form the relative. The small word (called a particle) that means “who” or “that” in English is “a”. It causes aspiration in the verb after it. “The child who cries” is: An páiste a ghoileann.

In the present and future tenses, the particle “a” is followed by the ordinary form of the verb, with initial letter aspirated if possible:

an bhean a itheann feoil; the woman who eats meat

an fear a cheapann é sin; the man who thinks that

an dochtúir a dhéanann an obair; the doctor who does the work

an traein atá anseo; the train that is here

na daoine a ólfaidh fíon; the people who will drink wine

an ceoltóir a chasfaidh an t-amhrán; the musician who will sing the song

In the past, past habitual, and conditional tenses or moods, the particle “a” is followed by the form of the verb that you have already learned, with the “d” preceding vowels and “f”. Here are examples:

an fear a chaith an liathróid; the man who threw the ball

an bhean a d’ól an tae; the woman who drank the tea

an dochtúir a d’fhág an scian san oifig; the doctor who left the knife in the office

na cailíní a chaitheadh toitíní; the girls who used to smoke cigarettes

an madra a d’óladh beoir; the dog that used to drink beer

an t-iascaire a d’fhilleadh abhaile go luath; the fisherman who used to return home early

an péintéir a gheallfadh é sin; the painter who would promise that

an cat a d’ólfadh an t-uisce salach; the cat who would drink the dirty water

an bus a d’fhanfadh sa stáisiún; the bus that would remain in the station

Then, with “tá”, some examples are:

an t-uachtarán atá breoite; the president who is sick

an samhradh a bhí te; the summer that was hot

an loch a bhíodh fuar; the lake that used to be cold

an bád a bheidh ann; the boat that will be there

an léine a bheadh saor; the shirt that would be cheap

We will begin practice with this in the next lesson, but in the meantime try to use this form in your thinking, speaking, and writing of Irish. Do not worry about making mistakes in usage. Merely try to be clear and follow your developing linguistic instinct.

©2000 The Irish People

Irish Lesson 122 | Irish Lesson 124

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