Irish Lesson 83

The letter group "ei" gets various pronunciations, depending on whether it is in an accented syllable, what letters follow it, and what part of Ireland the speaker is from. Often it has an (e) sound, as in "creidim", I believe.

With a síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh) over the "e", the sound is usually (ay*), as in "féin", self, or "Éire" (AY*-re), but sometimes the pronunciation is (eye), as in "éirigh" (EYE-ree), rise. This word is pronounced (AY*-ree) in parts of Ireland.

"Ei" before "bh", "dh", "gh" or "mh" in an accented syllable may be (eye), as in:

Eibhlín (EYE-leen), Eileen

eidhneán (EYE-naw*n), ivy

leigheas (LEYE-uhs), cure; resembling (leyes) in parts of Ireland

deimhin (DEYE-in), certain

In parts of Ireland, "eibh" and "eimh" in these words may be (ev):

Eibhlín (EV-e-leen), Evelyn

deimhin (DEV-in), certain

The word "geimhreadh", meaning "winter", may be pronounced (GEE-ruh), (GEYE-ruh), or (GEV-roo), depending on the speaker's origin. This may sound confusing, but we have parallels in the United States, where "right" may be (reyet), (raht), (rat), or even (royt). And of course "either" can be (EE-thur) or (EYE-thur).

We will continue to give you one pronunciation, but we will add occasional explanation of variations.


The genitive plural of a noun is the form you need if you wish to say, for example, "house of the men, the men's house" in Irish. In the first declension, consisting of nouns that are masculine and end in a broad consonant, the genitive plural is usually the basic word that you have learned. "Men's" is "fear" (far).

"House of the men" is "teach na bhfear" (TAHK* nuh VAR). The word "na" here means "of the," and it causes eclipsis wherever possible.

Review the cases for the first declension:

man fear (far)

the man an fear (un far)

of the man, the man's an fhir (un IR)

a man's fir or fhir

men fir

the men na fir

of the men, the men's na bhfear

of men, men's fear or fhear (ar)

The genitive plural is the same as the basic noun for all the first-declension nouns whose nominative plural is formed by:

slenderizing the broad consonant, or adding "a" to the basic word. Examples are:

fear; na fir

leabhar; na leabhair

úll; na húlla

bord; na boird (bwird)

Éireannach; na hÉireannaigh

ceart; na cearta

"Next to the books" is "in aice na leabhar" (in A-ke nuh LOU-uhr). "Color of the apples" is "dath na n-úll" (dah nuh NOOL). Note that an "n" precedes a vowel in the genetive plural.

For plurals that end in "ta", "tha", "í", or "anna", the genitive plural is the same as the nominative plural that you have been learning in the last three lessons. For example:

dán (daw*n), poem; na dánta, the poems; ag léamh na ndánta, reading the poems; ag léamh dánta, reading poems.

bealach (BAL-uhk*), road, way; na bealaí (nuh BAL-ee), the roads; ag dúnadh na mbealaí (uh DOON-uh nuh MAL-ee); ag dúnadh bealaí

This subject of plurals and the genitive case seems puzzling at first, but we will be drilling on it in the next few weeks to give you a good understanding of it. You will be surprised at the progress you make, provided that you do the drills and exercises faithfully.


Form these word groups into the genitive (singular or plural as indicated), as shown by the following example:

"praghas; an ticéad" becomes "praghas an ticéid" (preyes uh ti-KAY*D).

ar chúl; na crainn (nuh krin)

i measc; na froganna

os cionn; na hárasáin (nuh HAW*-ruh-saw*-in)

hataí; na Meiriceánaigh (nuh mer-i-KAW*-nee)

ag déanamh; arán (uh-RAW*N)

ag oscailt; an béal (un BAY*L)

barr; an ceann (un kyoun)

polasaí; an rialtas (un REE-uhl-tuhs)

ag ceannach; na lasáin (nuh luh-SAW*-in)

chun; na droichid (k*un; nuh DRUH-hid)

barr; an buidéal (un bwi-DAY*L)

ag lasadh; an solas (SUH-luhs)

timpeall; an carr

le linn; na lónta


ar chúl na gcrann (er K*OOL nuh groun), in back of the trees.

i measc na bhfroganna (i mask nuh VROHG-uh-nuh), in the midst of the frogs.

os cionn na n-árasán (ohs KYOON nuh NAW*-ruh-saw*n), above the apartments.

hataí na Meiriceánach (HAH-tee nuh mer-i-KAW*-nuhk*), the Americans' hats.

ag déanamh aráin (uh DAY*N-uhv uh-RAW*-in), making bread.

ag oscailt an bhéil (eg OH-skilt uh VAY*L), opening the mouth.

barr an chinn (bahr uh HYIN), top the head.

polasaí an rialtais (POH-luh-see uh REE-uhl-tish), the government's policy.

ag ceannach na lasán (uh KAN-uhk* nuh luh-SAW*N), buying the matches.

chun na ndroichead (k*un nuh NRUH-huhd), to the bridges.

barr an bhuidéil (bahr uh vwi-DAY*L), top of the bottle.

ag lasadh an tsolais (uh LAHS-uh uh TUH-lish), lighting the light.

timpeall an chairr (TIM-puhl uh K*AHR), around the car.

le linn na lónta (le LIN nuh LOHN-tuh), during the lunches.

(c) 1999 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.