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
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
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.
- 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.