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Richness of Irish: Bolgam

Conas atá sibh!

Sometimes a word is interesting purely because of its meaning. As we continue to map out the course we are confronted with choices on the words we will get to include. I will do my best to write semi-regular little articles about some amazing Irish words, which may or may not make it into our course, so that either way you have the chance to taste the richness of the language.


A cup of tea between meals.

The attention here is on the act of stopping for a cup of tea, as bolgam can also sort of mean "mouthful", or "emphasis." A bolgam evokes the idea of a short rest, and a timeout. It's a bit similar to a Scandinavian word, fika, which you may know. Notice the hidden syllable in the spelling; it's really bull-a-gum, similar to how you pronounce bolg or orm. This is a characteristic of certain Irish words to look out for.

This is a really great word to know for the workplace:

An nglacfaimis bolgam caife?

"Will we go for a quick coffee?"

You can see how putting caife after to modify it makes it a coffee break instead of tea.

Hopefully this opened your súile to a moment of richness which knowing another language can provide. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy; make sure to regularly take a moment out for a bolgam. It's even better with a friend!

More of these excellent words in the future.

Le grá,


October 14, 2018



GRMA as do phostáil an-suimiúil. Tá súil agam go feicfimid níos mó den chineál céanna.

October 14, 2018


Go raibh Maith agat , this is a new word for me , I'm off for a bolgam caife anois

October 15, 2018

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I hope that you'll use the phrase Saibhreas na Gaeilge in the title of any future posts on this topic - it somehow has a nicer ring to it (even in English!)

October 15, 2018


The FGB gives bolgam beag as meaning “cup of tea between meals”, with bolgam by itself meaning “mouthful”. The “emphasis” meaning isn’t noted there.

Dinneen noted bolmac as a Munster version of bolgam.

October 14, 2018


You'll see though on the link from your comment that "bolgam cainte" means strong statement, which to me indicates a general deeper meaning of "emphasis" or "moment of stoppage" or something.

October 14, 2018


It might have had a deeper meaning of “emphasis” if there were more than a single phrase with that idiomatic meaning of “strong” (or “strength”, since bolgam is a noun). I don’t see the connection between “strong statement” and “moment of stoppage”.

October 14, 2018


as in leaving a pause for effect, I would imagine.

February 23, 2019


I actually used this word today! I learned it in a children's book I think. I've developed a habit of repeating words in Irish when my kids are about and someone asked me to stop with them for tea. Bolgam beag :)

October 22, 2018


Iontach! Míle maith agat. Beidh bolgam agam anois díreach!

October 20, 2018


I love this! Yes please give us more - never mind the negative comments.

August 21, 2019
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