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Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Language, Northwest, Q&A, Southeast, Southwest | 7 comments

Q & A: Where Can I Hear Irish Spoken?

An Chistin pub in An Cheathrú Rua, Co. Galway, is a great place to hear Irish Gaelic spoken.

 

To answer this week’s question, I called on an expert. Mo chara (that’s irish for “my friend”) Eoin from Bitesize Irish Gaelic jumped at the chance to share some tips about the speaking the Irish language.

 

Where Can I Go to Hear Real Irish Spoken?

– Anne Marie Sparks via Facebook

Map of Irish-speaking regions in Ireland with the three main dialects of the language labeled courtesy of Wikipedia

Irish Gaelic (or simply, ‘Irish’) is the native language of Ireland. If you’re planning a visit, it’s a real treat to seek out the language.

I’ll be upfront: English is spoken just about everywhere in Ireland. Apart from the strange accent you’ll hear, this is probably the only language you’ll hear Irish people speak.

Having said that, there are places where Irish is still the community language. Places where I think you should visit. A Gaeltacht is any officially-recognized area where the Irish language is spoken. The Gaeltacht regions are mainly along the western Atlantic coast, especially in Counties Kerry, Galway and Donegal.

I have another admission to make: it’s difficult to hear Irish spoken even within the Gaeltacht. You have to go seek it out. So I’ll tell you exactly where to go to hear it spoken.

Places to Visit and Hear Locals Speak Irish

Trá an Doilín (Coral Beach), near An Cheathrú Rua, County Galway

An Cheathrú Rua in Connemara, County Galway is a vibrant little town. An Chistin is the main pub in town – a great place to hear the locals.

Baile na nGall, County Kerry is to be found on the Dingle peninsula. A tiny village, but worth stopping there if you are driving through to hear the language being spoken.

Gaoth Dobhair in County Donegal is 16-mile stretch along the Atlantic coast. Irish is spoken in this vibrant area. Stop for food in any of the local hotels or pubs.

Summary

  • Even in Gaeltacht strong-holds, shops default to using English — they don’t want to lose English-speaking customers (surprise!). If the shopkeeper doesn’t recognize you as an Irish speaker, they’ll most probably greet you in English.
  • Take the initiative, and learn some Irish words and phrases for your trip. Use them when you get to Ireland!
  • It will be worth your time visiting the areas where Irish Gaelic is spoken. They are found in some of the most beautiful and striking landscapes of Ireland.

More Q & A >>

Bitesize Irish Gaelic - learn to speak irishEoin Ó Conchúir — a native Irish Gaelic speaker who was not lucky enough to grow up in the Gaeltacht — founded Bitesize Irish Gaelic with his wife Saša. There, guests can come to learn Irish Gaelic online in bite-sized chunks.

 

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7 Comments

  1. As a Gaelic scholar, I have had the infinite pleasure of spending time in all the Gaeltacht areas mentioned. My fondest memories however are from the summers spend in An Cheathrú Rua, studying at Áras Mháirtin Uí Chadhain and enjoying the craic in An Chistin. Even as a visitor to the area, I was always warmly welcomed, and made to feel at home.

    I haven’t been back in many years, but would love to revisit it again. I would thoroughly recommend a visit here to imbibe the language and culture.

  2. I just came back from our first two week tour of Ireland. (self drive). It was fairy tale like perfect.

    I did learn a few phrases of Irish before we arrived. I did get to practice my Irish with some locals. And I surprised, pleasantly, everyone I did. They were quite thrilled. And I felt more connected to them. By the way the owner of our B&B in Doolin was more willing to speak it with me than the owner in Dingle. That surprised me.

  3. To answer this week’s question, I called on an expert. Mo chara (that’s irish for “my friend”) Eoin from Bitesize Irish Gaelic jumped at the chance to share some tips about the speaking the Irish language. Shouldn’t “the speaking the” be either “the speaking of the” or “speaking the”?

    Also, don’t you make a habit of capitalizing language names (“Irish” for instance) across the pond?

  4. Dingle! Years ago I was in a town somewhere on the coast in Galway on the way to Roundstone where everything was in Irish and that’s what people spoke. Think it was further north than An Cheathrú Rua, but that could have been the town.

    • It was probably An Cheathrú Rua in Co. Galway. Although Dingle is officially in a Gaeltacht area, the attitude of far too many of the locals towards Irish is pretty lousy. I remember going into a very well known pub there a few years ago (think famous comedian and violin player who died in 1974, hehe) and getting spiteful stares from all the staff and locals when I tried to strike up a conversation in Irish. The attitude towards Irish is much better in Co. Galway and Co. Donegal thankfully.

      Bhí sé go maith a labhairt leat

      John.

      Co. Chill Dara

      • All I remember about the Galway town was it was on the coast between Spiddal and Roundstone.

        Interesting about the pub in Dingle. I heard one of the pub’s owners conversing in Irish one night. Guess we had really different experiences.

  5. Hey John you were unlucky in Dingle because trust me I come from only a few miles from Gaeltacht in Galway and locals do not want to speak in Irish unless you are fluent. Dingle how ever is great for picking it up especially in the bars I know well about this. Try it again in fact I would say it is the best part of the country to learn Irish as people from all over live there for this very reason..

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