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Book recommendations.

Have you ever read a book as Gaeilge?

Would you recommend it?

What level of learner would it be most suited to?

July 25, 2015



A really unfortunate thing here is that, in my opinion, the best books for learners are out of print. The most accessible short stories and novels were all written before 1940, these were novels with natives and learners in mind. Since they are out of print, I'll begin to type some up and leave a link to my dropbox here.

Fanaidh go dtiocfad thar n-ais a dhaoine uaisle!


I would really appreciate that Dropbox link.


That would be fantastic


So just rereading this: are there any out there specifically for Connacht Irish? I know you're better at Munster stuff, but if there's anything for Connacht I'd greatly appreciate it.


Actually most of the books I've bought to write up are from Connacht. Ill make a list when I get home.


I've read a number of books because I belong to a Yahoo group which reads/translates Irish books. A list of books we have read is here (I did not read Rogha Scéalta, and the group gave up on Gaothán, which is supposed to be quite good--we just weren't ready.)

I'm pretty omnivorous in my reading taste, and I think I've derived more pleasure from the later books, since I was able to read them without clutching my dictionary quite so desperately. I did enjoy Is Gearr, Pianó Mhín na bPréachán, and Bealtaine in particular. I think they are all novelettes written for learners--the Ó Searcaigh might have been a book for kids.

We are now reading two books at a time--one easier and one harder--and people read either or both, as they wish. Our current books are An tAthair Pádraig Ó Duinnín - Bleachtaire, a book of short stories where Patrick Dinneen--yes, that Dinneen--solves mysteries, sometimes helping Sherlock Holmes, and Hurlamaboc, a short novel about the intersecting lives of three teen-agers.

If this interests you, you can look at the group page on Yahoo to see how it operates. We will soon be starting a couple of new books, Gluaiseacht (look it up on Amazon to preview) and Run an Bhonnain, and that would be a good time for new people to join.

I think we've left the úrscéalta d'fhoghlaimeoirí fásta behind at this point, so as of September 1, I'm starting a group for beginning readers. It's on Facebook--there are some issues with the Yahoo platform, so this is an experiment--Irish Learners' Book Club. The first book will be a kids' book called Smuf (Preview) My idea was to get a book with good Irish that wouldn't cost people an arm and a leg. There's a Kindle edition available for USD 5.00, and a learner who adds an Irish dictionary to his/her Kindle might find looking words up easier. If this interests you, just click the link of the Facebook page that asks to be invited.

Sorry for writing a book about this--I really do feel that reading is what taught me what Irish I have! I don't know how far back those archives for the Yahoo group go, but there were times when I had to be told that bhí was past tense!


This sounds great, it has been hard for a beginner like me to find some good external resources to find these types of materials. I purchased The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe on kindle, so I am glad that is one that has had good reviews from other beginners. Excited to join other people learning this language!


Emily, you can add an Irish-English dictionary to your Kindle so that you can carry just your Kindle around with you. Instructions are on the FB page.


Interesting idea - do you have a recommendation for an Irish dictionary that will work with the Kindle (and the Kindle apps?)


This is the one that Cait recommended to me: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MLR11FS/ref=pe_385040_117923520_TE_M1T1DP

I have an Android and all I needed to do once I had the dictionary in my collection was to highlight a word in my Irish book, swipe over to the dictionary tab, and hit Change Dictionary.


Thanks - unfortunately, it looks like alternative dictionaries aren't supported on the Windows app, so I'm out $8 :-(


Okay, I don't know a thing about Windows phones, but I know that the Kindle app is supported on Windows (for PCs), and my one friend who has a Windows phone says it works just like Windows on a PC, so... Do you have the Kindle app on a computer? Can you move your Irish dictionary into the Dictionaries folder? (Now you can at least use the dictionary to read Irish books on your computer, so it's not a total loss.) Try synching your phone to your computer. I don't know how to do it--the Kindle app just asks me if I want to, and I say yes. I had the dictionary on my Kindle, and now I have it on my computer and my phone.


The App from the Windows Store on Windows 8/10 doesn't allow me to select a dictionary. I haven't tried the desktop version of the Reader, though. The Kindle app on a Windows phone doesn't support Dictionaries at all, even in English, as far as I can tell - I can't select a word in any of the books that I checked. It's hardly surprising to see how many 1-star reviews these apps have.


Yes, that's the one that was recommended to me, but I bet any Irish-English dictionary in Kindle format would work.

Edited to add that the Collins Irish to English dictionary, ISBN-13: 978-0007580897 ISBN-10: 0007580894 is the only one that works in pop-up mode on the Kindle. It costs $3.99, so I don't see how it would be possible to waste $8 on it.


Cló Mhaigh Eo has some comics as well.



If you're looking for books well suited to lower learners, I can recommend a few.

First, I say get Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin's Fionn Mac Cumhaill box set. It contains four books, geared towards children, as well as audio of him reading them. While he's not a native speaker, and the books are, sadly, written mostly in the Caighdeán (I think there's an aríst or two in there), he has an excellent command of the broad and slender consonants, and is a highly advanced user (in fact, he lives in the Gaeltacht nowadays).

Another series I just got (I won them, actually; they're below my level) is the translation of the "Freestylers Short Thillers" series. The English books are geared towards children, and this is true of the Irish ones as well. Of course, they're translations and also written in the Caighdeán... I also haven't read them, so can't comment on the standard of Irish. The series can be found from Cló Iar-Chonnachta (the first four on that author's page).

One piece of advice I also can give is to not read Harry Potter. While it's certainly a children's book in English (and other languages), it isn't in Irish, using advanced grammatical structures and even (apparently) some literary idioms from Classical Irish! Such a waste of a translation, sadly. However, I'd much rather read native Irish material.

If you want some more advanced stuff, I can give you some recommendations based on what I've recently read or am reading or plan to read.


So I'm going to add more advanced stuff here. Basically, this is where you're going to start reading the 'classics'. Personally, I recommend short stories to start out with and get yourself accustomed to literary Irish. There's two good collections Gearrscéalta an Chéid collected by Gearóid Denvir and Gearrscéalta ár Linne collected by Brian Ó Conchubhair. These combine some of the best writings from the best authors of modern Irish, including quite a few classics, like Nora Marcus Bhig, by Padraic Ó Conaire.

From there, I suggest just reading authors in whatever dialect you're most interested in, since native speakers tend to write more dialectally. I can really recommend Micheál Ó Conghaile, who is perhaps the most highly regarded Irish short-storiest currently. His stuff is very Connemara Irish, though it generally doesn't use the spellings, just the grammar.

It's also at this point that I say start branching out from just novels. I'm not saying tackle An tOiIleanach or Peig quite yet, but start reading things like folklore tales and whatnot. A lot of that is very dialectal, and some even use phonetic spelling, making them an amazing resource for true, spoken Irish (though, sadly, the only ones I'm aware of that do this are all Munster based).

I'd also say do Liam Mac Cóill's series about Lúcás Ó Briain, starting with An Litir. It's fairly easy read and will really challenge an intermediate learner. It can be a great segue into more advanced stuff by Mac Cóill. Eventually, you'll be so comfortable with reading Irish you can start reading the 'classics' (although you could likely read some of them at an intermediate stage, with help). For that, I recommend looking here, for a list as well as some information on what will allow you to get the most out of those novels.

Though, at this stage you certainly want to make sure you're getting stuff by native speakers (or Mac Cóill, who I'm not sure about).


Thanks for the suggestions! I'm not looking for advanced material, but i'd like to hear them for future reference, and for other advanced speakers' benefit.


Go raibh míle maith agat. I would love to see advanced list, too. I was thinking about Harry Potter, so thank you for the warning.


Have visited a dozen or more bookshops in Ireland, both the Gaeltacht, and Dublin / Belfast. I find it extremely hard to find beginner's books or actually any kind of books (or newspapers / magazines) in Irish.


Harcourt Street is where ya go. Or online. Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Litriocht.com, siopa.ie. There's plenty of places to find them online (along with newspapers - Foinse, tuairisc, nuacht, archives of Beo!, etc)


Harcourt street it is ;-) I am amish by behaviour with money and will not shop online, if it is anyhow avoidable. I actually found one bilingual book in a bookshop in Clifden, where the same text is in Irish and English from both ends. There I also found a translation of Cre na Cílle, but that seems to be way over my head (even in english ;-)


You might have to give up on hopes of finding everything in print. CnaG's bookstore will certainly be a blessing to you, and they can likely order everything you need (Sadly, I don't know, as I'm not in Ireland :( ), but you might have to turn online.

If you're worried about card information and not, try buying a prepaid card and using it.


Thanks, I will drop a note when I am successful ;-)


I frequent antiquarian fares across Ireland (I'm aware that sentence makes me sound like an extra from a Dicken's novel!) and collect as many Irish books as I can and I must emphasise that really you have to shop online to get good Irish books.


An Siopa Gaeilge had Tintin, Enid Blyton, and a ton of kids' books a couple of weeks ago. I've spoken with a couple of beginners who have been happy with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as Gaeilge.


I'm reading a novel called "Hong" (by Anna Heussaff) on my Kindle, downloaded from Amazon. It's a teenage-level novel... a sort of sci-fi fantasy about computer game adventure. The level is fantastic for a DUO graduate as the vocabulary range is very similar to what we learn in the Duo course.

There's an Irish-Enlgish dictionary on Amazon for Kindle too, which works well and makes reading really easy as you just need to touch a word to get its definition.


Yes, we've already read Hóng, and it was easy enough. I'm not sure what level a Duolingo graduate is, but the publisher recommends the book for ages ten and up, so it's more of a tween novel than a teen novel. Anna Heussaff has just published a third novel (Sárú) about the same kids, although only in paper format, as far as I know.

We've been using the Kindle Irish-English dictionary since it was published almost three years ago. It's a Collins dictionary, so not as good as teanglann.ie, but certainly good enough. ISBN-13: 978-0007580897 or ISBN-10: 0007580894, for anyone looking for it. It costs USD 3.99

We're also reading Cúpla Focal (Kindle edition, Anna Heussaff again), a book for adult learners, and it's going okay.

The Úrscéalta group is currently reading Aisling nó Iníon A by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Buille Marfach by Anna Heussaff. Both are available in Kindle format. I would call Aisling real YA fiction, with a more adult subject matter and a bit more difficulty than the kids' books, but still pretty easy. Buille Marfach is a detective story that takes place on the Beara Peninsula. It's just normal Irish, but not written expressly for kids or learners.

If you go to www.leighlinn.ie, you will find PDFs of the first few chapters of Hurlamaboc (a teen novel), Buille Marfach, Dracula, and Rún an Bhonnáin (my favorite), plus a recording of the author of each book reading those chapters. You could check out the difficulty of a book before buying it.


I forgot to mention what a great resource www.clubleabhar.com is. There are about 80 books listed, and you can read a summary, download a few pages, and download a glossary if you join. (No expectations, no cost, no spam) The books are mostly regular adult novels or collections of short stories, but there are some graphic novels and some kids' books in the mix. Some of the books are available in Kindle format, some not.

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