You Can Learn to Speak Irish Gaeilge! - Lora O'Brien - Irish Author & Guide

You Can Learn to Speak Irish Gaeilge!

gaeltacht Irish language region

It’s not that hard, really.

Us Irish actually have the toughest time of it, with our outdated dinosaur curriculum forced-by-nuns-and-christian-brothers system of learning the Irish or Gaeilge, from the age of 4 or 5 until we leave school at 17 or 18.  There’s many an Irish person who’s done over 13 years of schooling here, with Irish lessons most days, only to firmly believe that they can’t speak a damn word of it past ‘how are ya’, and the ubiquitous ‘póg mo thóin’.

But see if we could spend that much time learning it like any other language is taught? We’d be a nation of Gaeilgeoirí once more.


Learning to speak Irish is no more difficult than learning any other language, with the right tools and tricks up your sleeve. That’s where this blog post comes in!

When a friend (check her out, she’s awesome) asked me for some tips and tricks recently, this is what shot off the top of my head…

  • These graphic novels are awesome, and the kid’s books make it suitable for all levels (seriously like, who wouldn’t want to learn Irish through the medium of COMIC BOOK?) – Cló Mhaigh Eo Foilsitheoirí / Book Publishers 
  • I’m sure you know the site Comhaltas – promotes traditional Irish music and culture around the world. Best known for teaching Irish traditional music through a global network of branches and for running the Fleadh Cheoil music competitions, but good for the oul Gaeilge too.
  • And there’s an extensive list of resources here – Foras na Gaeilge or Gaeilge.ie, it’s a great resource for anyone interested in any aspect of the Irish language. The aim of this new website from Foras na Gaeilge is to create a central point on the internet for everything to do with the Irish language, classes, course, events, and the likes.
  • And this is good for saturation, even if they don’t translate it’s really useful to just have it going in the background so your mind learns the patterns – Radionalife.ie
  • Western Radio Station IRadio do a good show here which mingles pop stuff with Irish and English, it’s really good for confidence building because you’re not lost ALL the time like a full on Irish programme, and they have podcasts too.

Then Kass returned the favour by showing me this: List of Resources for Learning Irish.

If you’re learning Irish, I’d love to hear about your favourite resources and experiences in the comments below?!

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Lora O'Brien

Irish Author and Guide to Ireland

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Christy Nicholas Reply

Bitesize Irish is a great resource – small lessons you can digest in a bite! The folks who run it are lovely. https://www.bitesize.irish/

    Philip Reply

    Thanks for sharing the link. I am trying to learn a few words in Irish.

Erin Gergen Halls Reply

I am currently using Duolingo, Memrise, Living Language book/audio cd, Bitesize Irish, and the website Songs In Irish, as I am finding song a great way to use language in a fun way, and the site has both English and Irish lyric translations. I am very determined, and have 3-4 other online programs bookmarked to do later, as well. I am finding that coming at the language from many angles and approaches works best for me!

Sartenada Reply

Is it a difficult language? Finnish is.

Happy Midsummer.

Aoibhe Ni Reply

Absolutely agree about Radio na Life.
It’s been the difference for me between the buntús Gaeilge I left my bunscoil with and the Irish I now get to use daily. It’s conversational, modern, and cheerful, all the things most of our schooling lacks.
The nice thing, too, is that it often includes interviews with people around the world invlved in Irish language restoration, and many of them are still learning, themselves. There’s no snobbery or judgement. Just pure grá don teanga.

Another great resourse I find, is the FB group “Gaeilge Amháin”. My Irish is fairy weak, but I find reading the articles, and following the conversations in there to be very helpful, especially when something big is happening in the world. You get a lot of specialised vocab used in those instances.

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