Yes, as the second "é" is what corresponds to the "He" in the English translation.
The first "é" is a generic pronoun that refers to the first noun and matches it in gender, so it will be "í" for feminine nouns.
Literally the duolingo sentence means:
He is it, the most famous man.
The "He" corresponds to the second "é" and the "it" corresponds to the first "é", "an fear is cáiliúla" then explains what that "it" is. Think of the sentence:
Is é é = He is it.
Then this sentence can be thought of as being like:
Is é (i.e. an fear is cáiliúla) é = He is it (i.e. the most famous man).
In Kerry Irish this is made even stronger where native speakers will say:
an fear is cáiliúla is é é = The most famous man, he is it.
Again the two pronouns do not need to match in gender as they refer to two different things. The first is the gender of the information you are giving, in this case masculine as "an fear" is masculine. The second pronoun is the gender of the subject you are talking about. I'll take a slightly more complicated sentence to show the distinction:
Sin é an saghas duine í Bríd = That is the type of person that Bríd is.
The information here is "an saghas duine = the type of person", this is masculine so we have é. Bríd however is feminine so we have "í" for the second pronoun.
This is probably one of the most complicated aspect of Irish grammar!
Note: The first é is optional in Ulster Irish. The one agreeing with the noun giving the information.
AnLonDubhBeag, thanks for the explanation. The Irish-to-English translation was offered to me before an English-to-Irish translation, so the pattern was new to me. The key for me is that Irish doesn’t have a superlative form of adjective; if this was mentioned in the Tips and Notes, I’d missed it. The comparative form for a definite noun, e.g. an fear is cáiliúla (“the more famous man”), becomes superlative when used with the copula, e.g. Is é [comparative] é., with the pronouns matching as you’d described.
Actually "An fear is cáiliúla" by itself means "The most famous man"
níos cáiliúla = more famous.
is cáiliúla = most famous.
Táim ag caint leis an bhfear is cáiliúla = I'm talking to the most famous man.
The only time "Is cáiliúla" can mean "more famous" is when it occurs at the beginning of a sentence which also includes "ná":
Is cáiliúla Seán ná Mícheál = Seán is more famous than Mícheál.
Thanks for the correction — I must have misinterpreted the examples in my grammar book. They were given, Irish and English, as Is í an tsúil chlé an tsúil is fearr agam (“My left eye is the better [of the two]”) and Is é Seán an gasúr is fearr sa rang (“John is the best boy in the class”). They must have meant that “better” is preferred over “best” for the English translation of the first sentence, since only two eyes were being compared. Both examples used is fearr, hence my confusion.
Really? I thought in Ulster Irish it was the first é that was optional. I'll put a note in regardless.
I believe the second é is necessary as you'd have no subject otherwise. The first é could be dispensed with as it just matches the information/predicate in gender and doesn't carry any crucial information. That's why Ulster dispensed with it.
My school Donegal Irish instincts also allowed me to drop the first é and not the 2nd é.
The grammar rule cited at https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/4383900 "a definite noun is not allowed directly following the copula" Comes from here I believe: http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/kopul5.htm Is there any more authoritative source for it?? Any native Donegal Irish speakers on here?
The first "is" is the copula, used when making a definitive statement about what someone/something essentially is/was, long term, present tense in this case. "Is innealtóir é" - he is an engineer. The second "is" is the first half of the present tense superlative form, to be followed by the adjective, in this case cailiúil - famous: "Is cailiúla" - the most famous. "Is fearr" - the best. "Is mó" - the biggest/most
is cáiliúla is the superlative form of the adjective cáiliúil.
English is inconsistent on this point - sometimes you have to use the "-est" suffix" ("biggest"), sometimes you can choose either the -est suffix, or the qualifier "most" ("tastiest", "most tasty"), and sometimes you have to you the qualifier "most" - "most famous". Irish doesn't have this inconsistency.