Irish Lesson 82


Review the letter groups “amh” and “eamh” this week. When these groups are in the first syllable of a two-syllable word, pronounce them usually as (ou). Examples: amhrán (ou-RAW*N), song; amharc (OU-uhrk), sight; Samhain (SOU-in), November; samhradh (SOU-ruh), summer; damhsa (DOU-suh), dancing; deamhan (DYOU-uhn), demon; sleamhain (SHLOU-in), slippery.

The letter group “amh” in a one syllable word can be (ahv), as in damh (dahv), ox; amh (ahv), raw. Pronounce the letter group “eamh” in a one-syllable word as (av): leamh (lav), tasteless; neamh (nyav), heaven.

At the end of a two-syllable word, “amh” and “eamh” can be (uhv), as in the verbal nouns “déanamh”, doing, and “caitheamh”, throwing, wearing, spending.

For the letter groups “ámh” and “áimh”, the “á” (aw*) is the predominant sound. In a one-syllable word “ámh” is (aw*v) and is nasalized. Examples: lámh (law*v), hand; sámh (saw*v), tranquil. Do not nasalize the sound in a two-syllable word such as “lámha” (LAW*V-uh). Pronounce “áimh” as (AW*-iv), which will resemble (oyv) when said quickly. “Láimhe” (LAW*-i-ve), of a hand; sáimhín” (saw*-i-VEEN), rest, quiet.

Do not mistake the group “éamh” for the above groups. Always pronounce “éamh” as (ay*v): léamh (lay*v), reading; éamh (ay*v), crying.


Personal names can be in the genitive case, too. For “John’s son”, the Irish is “mac Sheáin” (mahk HYAW*-in), son of John. “James’ book” is “leabhar Shéamais” (LOU-uhr HAY*-mish). Where possible, aspirate an initial consonant in a name used in this way. With all masculine names except “Liam” (LEE-uhm), make a final consonant in the genitive case slender. To show the need for a slender sound in pronunciation, write an “i” before the final consonant. With feminine names, merely aspirate the initial consonant where possible. Learn these as examples that you can readily recall in working with new names:

bád Shéamais (baw*d HAY*-mish), James’ boat

seoladh Mháire (SHOH-luh VWAW*-re), Mary’s address

Nearly all feminine names end in a slender consonant or a vowel, and so the ending does not usually change. “Bríd” is one that does change. “Leabhar Bhríde” (VREED-e) is “Bridget’s book”.

To say “a book of John’s” or “one of John’s books”, the form is “leabhar le Seán”, literally “book with John”. Here, the person’s name does not change.


Here are more first-declension nouns, all masculine and all ending in a broad consonant, which is one preceded by “a”, “o”, or “u”.

buicéad (bwi-KAY*D), an buicéad, an bhuicéid (uh vwi-KAY*D), na buicéid; bucket, the bucket, of the bucket, the buckets.

fómhar (FOH-uhr), an fómhar, an fhómhair (un OH-ir), na fómhair; autumn, etc.

buidéal (bwi-DAY*L), an buidéal, an bhuidéil (uh vwi-DAY*L), na buidéil; bottle, etc.

scéal (shkay*l), an scéal, an scéil (uh SHKAY*L), na scéalta (SHKAY*L-tuh); story, etc.

siléar (shee-LAY*R), an siléar, an tsiléair (uh tee-LAY*R), na siléir; cellar, etc.

ostán (ohs-TAW*N), an t-ostán, an ostáin (un ohs-TAW*-in), na hostáin; hotel, etc.

glas (glahs), an glas, an ghlais (glahsh), na glais; lock, etc.

peann, (pyoun), an peann, an phinn (uh FING), na pinn; pen, etc.

oileán (IL-aw*n), an t-oileán, an oileáin (un IL-aw*-in), na hoileáin (nuh HIL-aw*-in); island, etc.

rialtas (REE-uhl-tuhs), an rialtas, an rialtais (uh REE-uhl-tish), na rialtais; government, etc.

rabhadh (ROU-uh), an rabhadh, an rabhaidh (uh ROU-wee), na rabhaidh; warning, etc.

parlús (PAHR-lus), an parlús, an pharlúis (uh FAHR-lush), na parlúis; parlor, etc.

Other words:

i measc (mask), in the middle of (with the genitive)

líon, (LEE-uhn), líonaim, ag líonadh (LEE-uh-nuh), fill, I fill, filling

géar (gay*r), sharp, sour


We continue with practice on use of the genitive in the first declension. Here is an example of the drill to be gone through:

Combine: ag líonadh; an buicéad, using the genitive. The result is: ag líonadh an bhuicéid (uh LEE-uh-nuh uh vwi-KAY*D), filling the bucket.

le linn; an fómhar

tar éis; an rabhadh

ag briseadh; an buidéal

ar chúl; an rialtas

timpeall; an t-ostán

de bharr; an peann

os comhair; an glas

in aice; an siléar

chun; an t-oileán

ag léamh; an scéal

ag ceannach; an buicéad

ag glanadh; an parlús

Do the same drill with the following, but translate into Irish first:

above the boat

after the story

the postman

reading the book

around the floor

the son’s hat

next to the match

cleaning the table

the boatman

closing the door

after the dinner

the island’s boat

Key to the drill phrases: le linn an fhómhair; tar éis an rabhaidh; ag briseadh an buidéil; ar chúl an rialtais; timpeall an ostáin; de bharr an phinn; os comhair an ghlais; in aice an tsiléir; chun an oileáin; ag léamh an scéil; ag ceannach an bhuicéid; ag glanadh an pharlúis.

Os cionn an bháid (ohs KYOON uh VWAW*-id); tar éis an scéil (tahr AY*SH uh SHKAY*L); fear an phoist (far uh FWISHT); ag léamh an leabhair (uh LAY*V un LOU-wir); timpeall an urláir (TIM-puhl un oor-LAW*-ir); hata an mhic (HAH-tuhn VIK); in aice an lasáin (in A-kuhn luh-SAW*-in); ag glanadh an bhoird (uh GLUHN-uhn VWIRD); fear an bháid (far uh VWAW*-id); ag dúnadh an dorais (uh DOON-uhn DUH-rish); tar éis an dinnéir (tahr AY*SH uh din-YAY*R); bád an oileáin (baw*d un IL-aw*-in).

©1999 The Irish People

Irish Lesson 81 | Irish Lesson 83

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