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  5. Why are you learning Irish?


Why are you learning Irish?

Everybody's reason is probably different from the next. I would love to know why YOU chose it. I chose it as I am a 3 generation descendent from Ireland. I guess you could say it's in my blood.

December 12, 2016



As someone whose Irish has gone rusty, I always thought it was a lovely language and as both my parents, god rest them, would be very disappointed if I let it fade altogether.

Slan tamaill

Pauric P


I'm a linguist and work with Aboriginal people across Australia to help them document and preserve their languages. One situation I work with, the language hasn't been spoken for nearly a century and we are working to revive it based on historical materials. So I thought I should be learning my own heritage language! Irish is great fun, it's totally different to Australian languages and stretches the brain in very interesting ways.


That is really, really cool!


Because I'm Irish and proud :) too bad I hated the language growing up and ended up failing it. Now at a new job my co-worker puts out a few sentences every now and then, it got me in the mood for coming back to this language as well as finding it's available here on duolingo. Great stuff

Go n-éirí leat


I hope that you have thanked your co-worker for the inspiration!

Tá súil agam gur ghabh tú buíochas le do comhghleacaí as an inspioráid!


I have distant cousins who I visit every few years that live in the Gaeltacht. Obviously they all speak perfect English but I thought it would be cool to learn some Irish for when I go back next.


I have no connection to Ireland, but the language fascinates me because (as far as I'm concerned as an English speaker) the pronunciation of Irish is far removed from the spelling. For instance, I would occasionally see in English news articles the word Taoiseach, but an English speaker would not be able to work out how that word is correctly pronounced. That just makes the language intriguing to me.


The language isn't really removed from the spelling as much as it just uses the same letters with different meanings. The Irish alphabet came directly from Latin, not through English.


Bit deep Douglas probably true but what would I know. Pauric P.


The writing system of Irish matches the language much more closely than the English writing system matches English. In fact, the English writing system is generally regarded as one of the worst in terms of match between graphemes and phonemes.


In fairness to JamesRichardson2, he isn't complaining (as some people do) that Irish is hard to pronounce, he's just making the reasonable point that, for an English speaker, Irish pronunciation can be a bit puzzling, and it is his appreciation of the fact that Irish uses different rules that prompted him to pay more attention to the language.

English speakers don't usually comment on the fact that French speakers don't pronounce the "s" in "Paris" the same way that English speakers do, but it is a fair point that Irish, with it's initial mutations, vowel clusters and the séimhiú, not to mention dialect variations, does present a learning curve, even if it is generally more systematic than English.


Fair enough Knocksedan, sorry if I sounded like I was being critical, I wasn't meaning to, just trying to explain. Here in highly monolingual Australia I regularly come across people not aware of the fact that different languages have different sets of sounds, and have different ways of assigning written symbols to represent those sounds. For non-monolinguals, on the other hand, it's usually unsurprising.


I understand - I was about to post something similar when I first read his post, but when I re-read his post I realized that I was being unfair to him.


Like dubhglasM, I'm a linguist. I'm studying Irish to acquaint myself with a Celtic language and the various grammatical structures that Irish uses, especially those that are different from the Romance and Germanic languages I'm familiar with. I also want to learn some Irish so I can more easily give examples in my linguistics classes, instead of constantly having to piece together example sentences from dictionaries and online grammar websites without really understanding all the grammatical intricacies.


Marks try some easy ones like "Cad as duit [Where are you from] or scair me areir [last night I called over] or they too easy I mean is it something deeper you are thinking off?

Slan Tamaill

Pauric P.


Do you mean as in-class examples?


Well Windsaw that was some trip still not sure if you are impressed or not but failte roughat anyway.

Pauric/ P


I was looking through old Irish Census records to research my family tree and all of them had Irish & English as given languages. One distant (Great-Great) ancestor spoke Irish only.

I was born and raised in the West of Ireland and felt sad that I don't have even conversational Irish. This course is a nice refresher and I actually remember more than I realised.

It's just a matter of getting out there an speaking it now. I know some native speakers so I'll surprise them some day.


Hi, interesting story. Never (yet) having been to Ireland I always imagined that growing up in the West one would acquire a fair amount of Irish as a matter of course. Sad to hear that's not true, I presume it's a sign of the ongoing shrinkage of the Gaeltacht?


Even at the beginning of the 20th Century, the Gaelic Leaguers had to go to the Aran Islands to improve their Irish. While there were still many native speakers east of Galway city, the tide had already turned, and English had become the daily language in much of the country west of the Shannon, and most of the country to the east.

The Wikipedia article on the Gaeltacht is illustrated by two maps that show how the areas that qualified for Gaeltacht status in 1926 and in 1956. Obviously there were still plenty of Irish speakers outside the Gaeltacht, but nobody was "picking it up as a matter of course" outside the relatively remote Gaeltacht areas.


Hiya, I didn't grow up in the Gaeltacht but when I was younger I did listen to some radio shows in Irish and occasionally watch tv shows in Irish. I understood Irish reasonably well but never really spoke it. My school emphasised written Irish but that doesn't translate to oral skills very well.

I rapidly 'lost' a lot of Irish upon leaving school. I recognise words when I see them but would draw a blank if I tried to converse. I feel like the Irish is still in my head but I have to 'unlock' it.

You can very easily live in the West without encountering Irish sadly. You really have to seek it out.


That's cool! What shows did you listen to in Irish? Would they be good for someone learning Irish?


Hiya. I often watched the live shows ; a pop music show where they showed the lastest music videos and did a countdown of the Irish music charts with interviews and phone-in requests. Don't remember the name. I watched travel shows and documentaries as well. One guy (Neelo) spent time among the KKK and homophobic groups in the US (he's openly gay here).

The Tv station is TG4 - they also had a popular teen highschool drama Aifric in the mid 2000s and dubbed Spongebob Squarepants in Irish!

Not sure whats on tv now these days or if you'll be geoblocked but here's the website


They have Youtube and an App as well; https://www.youtube.com/user/TG4

The kids shows might be a bit slower in speech so could try their youtube channel; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCusPSXmu_J8eKbEz0duYVfQ


I moved to Ireland last year. First I thought I only wanted to pick up the proper pronunciation, as many people do actually have Irish names like Eoghan, Aoife or Niamh. Then Irish turned out to be quite interesting and it's always a fascinating topic to talk to to people in Irish - some of them are quite fond of it, some have only terrible memories of their school days :) I don't know how successful I will be at really getting good at Irish - there is not really that much pressure in terms of Irish being useful or a real necessity.


Years and years ago I wanted to learn another language. I tried Japanese. After many years I noticed that I failed, that I would never learn it enough. So I stopped.

I hate failing in things I really want to. And I really want to learn one more language. The fact that languages in general became a hobby of mine made that desire stronger.

Now, Irish always interested me to some extent. Back before the Internet it was even more exotic than today. On a bicycle vacation in Ireland I actually came through a Gaeltacht (the Munster one) where I first heard it spoken. Sounded really cool I thought. Anyway, while researching the reasons why I failed with Japanese I compared different language learning techniques and books. I acquired three different books on Irish and compared them by starting with the first chapters. I wasn't actually trying to learn it, I was just interested in the language itself and language teaching books.

Then, months later, I found Duolingo. I thought this was really worth trying out. So I asked myself "which language"? Most useful would be Spanish, but I encountered plenty of spanish and sorry, I don't like the sound of that language. The same goes for French. Which left Italian, which I am actually really interested in and I like the sound of. The problem: Too common. Too ordinary. I was searching for something more interesting. I was hoping that Duolingo had a Latin course since I used to learn it somewhat back in school, but Duolingo doesn't have one yet.

Then I noticed that there was an actual Irish course! Which surprised me in a very positve way. I thought myself "Well, I already have three books on it, I know for a fact that it is a language with interesting features and I was always somewhat interested in it, so why not?"

I have to admit though, if I would have found Duolingo now I would probably have chosen Welsh, simply because it is much more in use today.


Maith fear/cailin

Pauri P.


i just started to learn Irish soo... i have no idea what u said.


should be maith an fhear, or fear maith "good man"


fear is a masculine noun, so it's maith an fear, not maith an fhear.

fear maith would only be used in a context like "he is a good man" - is fear maith é. It wouldn't be used in the congratulatory sense that saoirsep1 indicated - "good man yourself!" is just maith an fear! (or maith an cailín!)


This conversation is becoming a bit ladrainach, ca raibh tusa aimsir na gcluas I'm not arguing that grammar wise I'm wrong but actual spoken wise. And as someone who all my life [65 years] has tried my best to speak my language when and where ever possible.......

Slan Tamaill

Pauric P.


As you can hear in many of the exercises on Duolingo, the "n" in an is often elided in spoken Irish, so you ar correct, maith an fear can sound like "moh far". My point is that fear isn't lenited - it doesn't sound like "moh nar".


My maternal grandfather was an Irishman, Proud Clan MacVeigh (fhioghbhuidhe) here. I have done a lot of research regarding my clan and have learned that my clan originally hailed from The Isle Of Mull, Scotland and were a sept to Clan MacLean of Duart where they were the hereditary physicians. Thereafter we could be found mostly around Ulster and were Barons of Stradbally, we are also descended from one of the 3 collas being Colla Uais.

I decided that I wanted to honour my heritage on my mother's side by learning to speak my ancestral tongue. I also wanted to help keep it alive, I started learning when Irish began going through it's revival and influx of learners and I often heard others say it was a "Dead" language. I have never agreed with this, as long as it still being spoken and taught, it isn't dead. Now look at how many Irish learners there are!

It has been difficult sometimes, Irish is so vastly different from English or any other language I have ever learned but I feel as though I have picked it up relatively quickly because as you said, "It runs in the blood", I am usually strongly spoken by nature, but when I am verbalising in Irish I come across sounding much softer. I love the language, very involved learning and lots of interesting and tricky rules that I am still trying to get the hang of and probably will be for a long time yet.

Now I am just waiting for duolingo to bring out my father's language, which is Maltese.


I am an O'Brien and come from a long line of irish folks.I want tolerant so i can learn more about the history


I didn't really have a reason, I just thought it might be a fun way to pass the time for a week or two... nine months ago ;-)


Well fair dues at least you are honest agus nach maith an rud e

Pauric. P.


My grandparents moved back to Ireland a few years ago and now that I have finished school I want to go and visit them. They said they will take me to meet all my family, but some of my family members don't speak English so I am learning Irish to be able to interact with my family! :D


For me, Celtic Woman was the biggest inspiration for me to learn Irish. I'm also a huge culture and history geek, so the fact that Irish music is so deeply rooted in telling stories of Ireland's history and culture is what makes learning Irish special and unique to me. And of course, with the spelling being so different from the pronunciation, it makes for a good challenge! If I were to ever meet any one of the members of Celtic Woman and have a full conversation with them in Irish, I could probably die a happy person. I also think each language I learn brings a different aura or feeling. I'm not very far along with Irish just yet, but I love the idea that each language has its own 'aesthetic'; its own cluster of things (all positive, of course) people associate with a certain language.


And of course, with the spelling being so different from the pronunciation

I see that expressed a lot, and I'm always intrigued - do people learn French because the pronunciation doesn't match English rules, and French people pronounce "Paris" as "paree", and words like "voulez" or "entrez" are pronounced with a "lay" ending?


I wonder the same.


I suppose! Funnily enough, Irish never really seems to frustrate me, but I have a love/hate relationship with French. French is definitely challenging, but not nearly as such as Irish, which makes it an ironic situation for me. I definitely think there's a myriad of reasons people may choose to learn French. For me, the biggest reason is that it simply sounds nice (and it's such an accomplishment when you can decipher spoken French and mentally match it up with it's written form, since some words have different grammatical forms, so they'll have different written forms but they'll sound the exact same in the spoken form - then again, it's the same way with Irish.) I guess maybe the fact that Irish isn't a popular language makes it much more intriguing for me to learn, as opposed to a popular language like Spanish or French.


I was originally trying to sign up for a Scottish Gaelic class at night school but it was fully booked. I spotted the Irish class and haven't looked back! My family history is Irish (1st generation not born in Ireland on Mum's side and 3rd on Dad's). Finding it very hard on just 2 hours' tuition per week and relying on Duolingo to challenge me with new vocabulary.


I've always had a passion for Ireland and I believe it's the least I can do to understand more deeply everything. I want to travel to Ireland and even if Irish isn't a language many Irish people know anymore, I find it pretty amazing. So yeah. It's hard, harder than I expected but it would be truly amazing to finish the Duolingo course.


As I'm Irish and I can't bear the thought of it dying.


Hi I'm French so forgive me for my poor English...

Two years ago I spent 3 weeks in Ireland. I arrived at Rosslare and drove to Cleggan (where I stayed one week), through Limerick, Galway... I really had a wonderful time there.

I found Irish people so cool, showing such solidarity in every day life (due to history...) and Irish mentality so open that I decided to go return there soon. Landscapes there are so beautiful...

I love foreign languages (even if I'm not good at it) because I'm sure that there is a very deep relationship between the way a community thinks and sees the word and the structure of the language it uses. The fact that Irish is very far from those I already know (English/German/Russian) was an important point. Another one is that (I may be false about that...) Irish seems to be still very near its ancient form and I find that fascinating...

I wish I could make friends there one day and speak Irish with them !

My two cents. Thanks for the question !



Your English is excellent — I’d only suggest using “wrong” (incorrect) instead of “false” (faux) in “I may be false about that”.

Do you know if Breton is no longer close to its ancient form?


Thanks for you indulgence.

You are perfectly right (and not "true" :-)) about the choice "wrong" vs "false" in my sentence. It looks so obvious afterwards...

About Breton, I'm sorry, but I have not the slightest idea ! Oddly I have almost no interest in Breton... About French particularities I focus myself on "patois" (=very local language, I don't know the English word for that...) of my birthplace (Dauphiné) and of my living place (Franche-Comté). That's enough for a single life...

What astonishes me is your 23 level in Irish. Are you a native or an E.T. ?



The English word for patois is “patois”. (French is a large contributor to English vocabulary.)

I’m neither native nor E.T. — I’ve just done a little bit every day for many days now.


So just one word : comhghairdeas !!


Wow! Your English skills are very impressive! Someday I hope to be able to speak/write French like that.


Thanks !

About your future French skills, you sure will ! Even the dumbest of our politicians manages to speak an understandable French, so...

Anyway if you need some help, please ask for.



Thank you! I'll keep you in mind....


I'm learning it in order to be able to understand better the sean-nós songs that I'm working on.


I chose it because, though with no family connection to Ireland, I have a love for the country, culture, music, history and all. I've been studying the Irish Revolution for a while, and the Irish language played a major part on the conditions that led to the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. My first contact with Patrick Pearse's work, actually, was through his work with the Irish language on the gaelscoileanna!


My granddad was Irish, and I've been to the country before, in particular to see literary/author related things for Wilde and Yeats, and while being there fell in love. I've often wanted to pick up something other than the Greek and Latin I need for my degree, so I went with Irish due to personal attachment.


Going to Ireland in a week. Started this course about a month ago to learn some basic everyday phrases. I just hope I can recall a few things to say, speak well and in the right context. Very excited for this trip - first of many I am sure.


Well ta failte robhart agus is maith e an sli ata robhait [\\\well you are welcome and good it is the road you travel] Slan[Good bye]] Paddy P


First, because I have a love of Ireland that goes back to my early years, though I haven't a single drop of Irish blood on my veins (as far as I know). I love the culture, history, songs, folk tales - everything, so the language came just "in the package". Second, I'm a "logophile" - a lover of words - and amateur linguist, with at least a little knowledge of several languages for mere pleasure, and from the moment I read a short brief about the Celtic languages I became keen to learn a little of them. Earlier I learned a little Breton, still have to find time to dedicate more! Third, I'm studying the Irish revolutionary years (it's a personal project as an independent researcher), and the Irish language features high on their concerns - besides, it's frustrating to find a letter between two people who weren't supposed to be friends and be unable to read it because it's as Gaeilge! Last of all, a few months ago I met a Gaeilgeoir - a fluent Irish speaker - for the first time, and his passion for the language was the spark that was missing to lit my desire to learn it too! And here I am ^^


I am part Irish (I don't know how much), and also part scottish and welsh. I have become sort of obsessed with my celtic heritage, and am extremely interested in Scottish and Irish history. I started learning Irish as a way to connect with my heritage.


Just for fun really. I love languages and I love Ireland. What better combination... I find that it is different from any language I have ever heard, and it's very challenging. But I intend to "keep buggering on". My ultimate goal is to be able to speak Irish with the locals when on holiday. That would be awesome.

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