LEARNING THE IRISH LANGUAGE
Seattle Irish Heritage Club takes a special interest in promoting the Irish language and encouraging its study. Because we are 4,490 miles away from Ireland itself, studying Irish from afar is a challenge. Here is a selection of resources for distance learning.
Ciarán O’Mahoney. Irish classes, beginner and advanced. Focus on conversation and interesting items from Ireland and about Ireland and Irish people. Email Ciarán if you are committed to advancing your knowledge of the Irish Language and things related to Ireland and yourself.
italki.com has a roster of Irish teachers around the world. Take a sample lesson.
Sean Williams, Ph.D. She teaches at The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA. (Classes may be on hiatus during the pandemic, but ask her about current status.)
Having the structure of an online class can be helpful. Find an organization that suits your own learning style:
Daltaí.com Search for teachers in your area, links to classes and resources.
Atomic Irish teaches the phonetic foundation to Irish. English speakers often have obstacles hearing and speaking the phonemes that are not present in their native language. Dr. Josephine Dunbar teaches how to make the sounds, and how to hear the differences. You will not learn grammar or vocabulary, but you will gain a solid phonetic background. A myriad of mysteries will clear up as you get the hang of it. It’s a hidden gem of online Irish courses.
Friends of Irish Studies in the West The Friends of Irish Studies supports the Irish Studies program at the University of Montana and promotes Irish culture in the community by organizing and sponsoring online courses in the Irish language and sean-nós singing, Irish language immersion courses, music and singing camps, cultural activities that celebrate Irish music and dance, and the game of hurling.
Glossika Choose a very structured practice, or listening-only mode.
Ranganna The online learning site from Gaelchultúr, noted above. Subtle differences between sites, so take a look at each of them.
Let’s Learn Irish A community with blogs, courses, practice conversations.
Pimsleur Short Irish course, but presented in a proven format to accelerate learning.
Michel Thomas “Stress-free” method of learning Irish. Offering classes via Zoom.
Future Learn has online Irish language courses that are perfect for any learner, whether you are a complete beginner or someone who wants to improve your vocabulary and skills for a specific use or context.
Free Online Resources
Duolingo is helpful in increasing your vocabulary, as well as making study a daily habit.
Teanglann This site is available in English. To start, concentrate on using the tab called English-Irish Dictionary (de Bhaldraithe, 1959) Teanglann is not forgiving of missing accents (the fada) but will suggest correct ways to spell. The next tab to the right, “Grammar” will be important to you as you progress. The tab on the far right will give you pronunciations in various dialects. Don’t fret over dialects in the beginning. As you get the opportunity to practice with Irish speakers, you will hear different dialects. After you have some experience under your belt, you will know which dialect you gravitate towards.
Abair Another source for pronunciation.
Irish for Beginners Éanna Freeney grew up in an Irish speaking household. An inspirational teacher with a lot of patience for beginners.
Twitter Irish served in 280 character chunks. Some suggested starting points are @gaelchultúr, @gaago (sports), @failteonline, @theirishfor, @muinteoirmeg. Follow a few of these, and they will lead you to many other accounts for you to follow.
Celtic Life and Heritage Foundation “Just a toe in the proverbial water.” Kieran O’Mahoney, native Irish speaker, introduces some basic concepts about the language. Do explore the entire site’s trove of educational material.
Books and teaching materials
An Síopa Leabhar Literally, The Book Shop. Excellent source of Irish language learning materials.
BiteSize Irish Podcast is a free show in English for anyone interested in the Irish language, and Irish culture. New episode published every couple of weeks.
The Irish Passport Not strictly dedicated to the language alone, but wide-ranging news and commentary on Irish culture and politics. Naomi O’Leary, formerly of Reuters, now with the Irish Times, does the podcast with Tim Mc Inerney. Try the episode, “The Irish Language.”
TG4 is the official Irish language channel of RTÉ, Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Stream the news in Irish, watch children’s programs, follow the famous soap opera Ros na Rún. Click Bearla to get the site in English.
Practice conversation with others
Let’s Learn Irish offers free conversation (comhrá) once a week for both beginners and fluent speakers.
Advice from The Mezzofanti Guild Donovan Nagel shares his own hard-won experience learning Irish at a distance. He includes an exhaustive archive of online resources for you.