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The Irish 'Spiritual' Lesson

To quote Father Ted, 'That would be an ecumenical matter.'

I suspect I'm not the only one who found the 'Spiritual' lesson on the Irish course to be a bit too Christian-centred (although it didn’t give the words for Christianity etc). Catholicism is still a very important part of modern Ireland but it gives a rather lopsided picture of Irish culture to not mention the other religious and irreligious views held by Irish speakers and learners. Here are a few words, to begin with, which I think could be helpful for learners (all sourced from www.focal.ie):

(grouped by creed because I can’t format for headings and sub-headings)

Aindiachas – Atheism,

Aindiach – Atheistic,

Aindiachaí – Atheist,

Sceipteach – Sceptic,

Búdachas – Buddhism,

Búdaí – Buddhist (noun),

Búdaíoch – Buddhist (adjective),

Críostaíocht – Christianity,

Críostaí – Christian (noun and adjective have same spelling),

Caitliceachas – Catholicism,

Caitliceach – Catholic (noun and adjective),

Protastúnachas – Protestantism,

Protastúnach – Protestant (noun and adjective),

Eaglais Cheartchreidmheach an Oirthir – Eastern Orthodox Church,

Giúdachas – Judaism,

Giúdach – Jewish,

Giúdach – Jew,

Frith-Sheimíteachas – Anti-Semitism,

Hiondúchas – Hinduism,

Hiondúch – Hindu,

Ioslám – Islam,

Ioslámachas – Islamic,

Moslamach – Muslim,

Ioslámafóibe – Islamophobia,

Jaineachas – Jainism,

Jainigh – Jains (curiously I couldn’t find the singular),

Págántacht – Paganism,

Págánacht – Pagan (noun and adjective),

Saíceachas – Sikhism,

Suíceach – Sikh (noun and adjective),

Seamanachas – Shamanism,

Sinteochas – Shinto,

Taochas – Taoism,

Taoch – Taoist,

And the very useful terms:

Caoinfhulaingt – Toleration,

Éagsúlacht – Diversity,

Meas – Respect.

I’ll add more words when I have time. Let me know if you spot any typos.

November 25, 2014



Here are a few more entries for your list:

  • agnóisí — agnostic (noun)
  • agnóisíoch — agnostic (adjective)
  • agnóisíochas — agnosticism
  • diachaí — theist
  • diachas — theism
  • sceipteachas — scepticism / skepticism

Since Jainigh ends with a slender consonant, that suggests that it’s a first declension noun with a weak plural, so its singular would end with a broad -ch — most likely Jaineach.

I would have translated caoinfhulaingt as “tolerance” rather than “toleration”, but perhaps that reflects upon my dialect of English, where “toleration” is closer to “forbearance” than to “acceptance”.


Upon second thoughts the focus on church => funeral => graveyard does accurately reflect most people's relgious engagement in modern Ireland :-)


Although I like the sentiment, most of these are not words a native speaker would actually use. I could say Taoch a million times in Cork and be greeted with "Cad 'tá á rá agat a mhic" each time. Búdachas, Protastúnach and Caitliceach are used, as is Giúdachas. Críostaíocht as well.

Atheism is said in English or you would say "gan creideamh". I knew a guy whose knickname was "An t-Étíast" = The Atheist, just the English word in Irish phonology.


To be honest, you'd get the same reaction saying 'Taoist' in most Anglophone places.


That's true, but in this case I would say the words Taoch,Frith-Sheimíteachas and Ioslámafóibe don't really exist in the language rather than being uncommon.


Blame Foras na Gaeilge and An Coiste Téarmaíochta (http://www.focal.ie/About.aspx)

If you wanted to talk about these subjects would you just borrow the English terms whenever a word that didn't previously exist in Irish came up?


Not exactly. Islamophobia can be discussed in Irish, it's just not denoted with a single word like Islamophobia. You'd say something like, "Tá mioscais aige do (Name of Group)". Mioscais being that type of bias. Similarly anti-semitism would just be said with an analogue of "He doesn't like Jews".

A major difference between Irish and English is that Irish does not use abstraction to anywhere near the same degree. There was a very interesting serious of articles published early in the 20th century by native speakers and Gearóid Ó Nualláin on this point. I'll try posting some at some point. Peadar Ua Laoghaire, a major writer also dedicated several essays to this point.

I'm not blaming anybody, I just think that these words are created by Anglophones for native speakers because it is felt they are missing, when in fact they can easily be seen as unnecessary abstractions conveyable with a sentence rather than a word.


I'd love to see those articles, too. I also feel that if people realized that this is how Irish talks, and let the natives create words if needed, there'd be a whole lot less béarlachas


Interesting. I'd be really grateful if you could link to some of those articles when you have time. Grma.


Thank you! These words are all very cool.


You gave the word for Shinto :/ and not even agnostic. Most ppl in Ireland are agnostic.


Yes, all part of a cunning plan to appear helpful while stealthily offending the massive silent majority :-P


A lingot for that Father Ted reference!


Found agnóisí = agnostic. Not sure how accurate the source is https://glosbe.com/en/ga/agnostic.


Is there any way to hear these pronounced ( like on some website)?

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