does anyone have a way to help with spelling? Right off the bat i've noticed many words sound nothing like how they are spelled.
I found this helpful. No idea where it fits on the dialect map.
The system is complex, but seems pretty regular once you've mastered it (unlike English!).
My eureka moment came when I realized that some vowels are inserted by a consonant simply to keep the broad/broad slender/slender thing balanced. They mark the consonant as broad or slender, but seem to have no other role (i.e., sometimes have no other effect on how the word is pronounced).
Two pointers that really have helped me out were the 'slender with slender/broad with broad' thing, (so, if there's an 'e' or 'i' on one side of a consonant group, there will be an 'e' or 'i' on the other, and the same with 'a', 'o' and 'u'), and pointing out that vowels have two jobs, one is determining if the consonant group is slender or broad and the other is the sound... So, if there's a fada, that's the sounded vowel, and the other vowels are there to affect the consonant group. Plus, just keep working on it... it does get easier, just with practice:-)
I agree, learning that one rule did help me a tonne. Also, learning the different sounds that slender/broad consonants make helps you out a lot. The orthography is a huge pain, it's why I was super excited for there to be a Duo course so I could hear how they are pronounced as I learned each word. Sadly, sound isn't yet available for 100% of the words, but I hope and pray that the popularity of the Irish course will encourage Duo to make it available for the full course :D
I have to admit that the whole slender/broad thing was flying right over my head, (kinda/sorta like long/short vowels but then again, not quite, and maybe not on Tuesdays), but I've read a bunch of things about it on various websites mentioned in the comments here and there in the Irish threads and it is slowly (very slowly, but slightly faster than a glacier, I guess) starting to seep into my old head. It just seemed to me that there were a lot of extra vowels and consonants being thrown in for no apparent reason I could see, because none of them seem to be pronounced, but some of it is beginning to gel and make a little bit of sense. Before that, I was just adding /i/ or /e/ or /a/ or /g/ or /h/ into the mix and once in a while getting it right. Hearing it spoken is a big help when you can get it.