"Irish is being spoken by them."
Translation:Tá an Ghaeilge á labhairt acu.
Can anyone explain the "á labhairt" part? Does á here stand for a feminine object: literally "Irish is at its speaking by them"?
You’ve practically explained it yourself — the á (= do + a) refers to the patient an Ghaeilge.
So is this how you express the passive + progressive combination? Since there is no passive form for tá apparently.
Tá + subject + á (gender of subject)-verbal noun + ag + agent
It is how you do the passive progressive, yes. You can use táthar as a 'passive', though. Just note that it's not used that way by native speakers, but more as an agentless verb ('one is eating', for example)
For more information about the Irish passive, I suggest you read this
The á part of the equation becomes dár for a first-person plural patient, and do + possessive-adjective-for-patient for other patients that aren’t third-person. The verbal noun is mutated accordingly.
Couldn't I say, "Irish is spoken by them"? I don't understand the "being" part.
"Not all uses of Gaeilge require a definite article."
This is the part that gets me. Why is in an Ghaeilge in this case, but "They speak Irish." would be Tá Gaeilge acu. or Labhraíonn siad Gaeilge.?