p h o u k a   h o m e i r i s h   l e s s o n s   h o m e







Two vowels coming together form a diphthong. Three coming together form a tripthong. In Irish there are thirteen diphthongs ; five triphthongs. The chief use in treating of them at any length at so early a stage in our instructions, is to know their sounds clearly.

Of the thirteen diphthongs six are always long, or naturally so ; seven are naturally short, but become long when marked with the accent. The long diphthongs do not require, as they are always long, any notation of the accent. The seven naturally short do require the presence of the accent to show that their sound is, in the case so noted, to be pronounced long.

The long are: — ae, ao, eo, eu, ia, ua : iu (see Third Lesson, p. 13) has not yet been ranked amongst the long diphthongs.

Sounds of the six long dipthongs
ae, like ae in Musae ex. rae, yesterday
ao, like ee in queer:-- in Munster, like the first e in the word there daoe, dear; saor, chearp
eo, like eo in Keon ceol, music. Is it short in the five following words: eochair, a key, deoch, a drink, Eochaidh, a man's name; seo, this(1); reoc, apart.
eu, long, like ai in wail beul, mouth, sgeul, story
ia, like ee in teem pian, pain
ua, like ooe in wooer ruan, rest

This sound is easy, if it be kept in mind that u is always sounded as in the Continental languages, oo, and not 'you'.


caor berry, burning coal
aer air daor dear
gae of an arrow; possessive case of ga, an arrow, ray, javelin faon weak, pining, feeble
lae of a day , poss. opf lá, a day maol bald
nae yesterday maor a steward
rae the moon raob to rend
ag at, to; saor cheap, free; a workman
le with taom a fit, rage
ó from taos dough
agam to me mar as, like
agat to thee ni not
aige too him bhfuil (pr. will) is?
ann in;    
an the, whether
tu thou, second person beo alive
sibh (shiv),you, second person plural, is never, in Irish employed for the second person singular ceo fog, vapour
ceol music
deol suck
deor a tear, a drop
laor enough


seol a sail
aon one, any treor a guide
aos age orm on me
bhlaosg shell ort on thee
draon drop air on him
caol slender    

Exercise V

1. bhfuil an t-aer árd? 2. tá an t-aer árd. 3. bhfuil an lá fáda? 4. tá an lá fáda. 5. bhfuil an mac tinn ó nae? 6. tá an mac tinn ó nae. 7. bhfuil an rae bán? 8. tá an rae bán. 9. bhfuil bárr an gae garg? 10. tá bárr an gae garg. 11. tá arán (bread) saor. 12. bhfuil aol daor? 13. tá aol daor. 14. bhfuil aon blaosg agad? 15. tá blaosg agam. 16. bhfuil aon braon agad? 17. tá braon agam. 18. bhfuil taom ort? 19. tá taom orm. 20. bhfuil an mac faon? 21. tá an mac faon. 22. bhfuil an bó beo? 23. tá an bó beo. 24. bhfuil an maor tinn? 25. tá an maor tinn. 26. tá an taos daor? 27. tá ceol aige. 28. bhfuil aon deor agad? 29. tá ceo ann. 30. bhfuil eochair agad? 31. tá beoch agam ann seo.

Exercise VI

1. Is the cow white? 2. The cow is white. 2. Is the son tall? 3. The son is tall. 5. Is the day long? 6. The day is long. 7. Have you a berry? 8. I have not a berry. 9. Is the steward alive? 10. The steward is not alive. 11. The steward was alive yetserday 12. He was not alive yesterday. 13. He was sick yesterday. 14. Are you sick? 15. No, I am not. 16. Time is like a vapour. 17. Is music melodious? 18. Yes, music is melodious. 19. He tore a strong of the harp (cruit). 20. Music is cheap. 21. He tore the sail with the top of the arrow.

OBS. 1—THere are at peresnt very few words spelled with the dipthong ae,in fact only one or two more besides those given here; as faetheadh, smiling: in modern Irish, ao is used for ae, so commonly found int he ancient written language.

OBS. 2—The diphthong ao is not found in the English language save in the word GAOL, a prison ; in which it is pronounced like é in there — agreeing exactly with the sound given this diphthong in Irish by the natives of Munster. This analogy, and the fact that words now spelled with ao were, by ancient Irish writers, spelled with ae— which, as we have shown, has the sound of the first e in the word. there — leads us to believe that the sound of this diphthong, as pronounced in Munster, is the correct one. Add to this, that if ao be pronounced ee, it is not easy to distinguish between it and the sound of the triphthong aoi which is formed from it, nor from that of the diphthong ia

OBS. 3.—Following the authority of Dr. O'Donovan, eo is placed by us among those diphthongs which are long by nature. For, as there are only five words in the language in which the sound of eo is found to be short, it is useless to mark it long. Hence, though hitherto this diphthong has been, by many Irish writers, marked with the accent ('), yet in our Lessons we shall avoid using this notation. It is plainly not only useless, but calculated even to lead astray.

OBJECTION. — In what does the sound of the diphthong eo differ from that of the simple vowel o ? — Answer — e, in the diphthong eo adds to the sound of the simple o in a twofold way : first the sound of e in the diphthong eo is so blended with that of o as to make, as far as possible, only one whole sound — thus differing in their unison from the simple sound of- o. Again, the consonant preceding e becomes liquid, so that the same consonant which, before a, o, or u, would be pronounced hard, is pronounced liquid- like when going before e or i ; as, for example, the word , a cow, is pronounced like the French beau, while beo, alive, is pronounced as if be-yo ; so in ceol, music, the eo is pronounced as eo is heara in the Irish proper name Keogh ( or Kehoe, as it is written in some districts), and Keon ; while c not followed by e or í is not pronounced with that slender or liquid strain, but just like c in the English word cow. So l before e or i is sounded like l in million, or l in the French word lieu ; and s before e or í is sounded like sh, while before a, o, or u it is like s in sound or soul. This slender or liquid sound of the consonants before e and i should be much attended to ; it is the key for getting a proper pronunciation of the Irish language.

Sound the following words according to the pronunciation noted in the commencement of this lesson:


EU   mian desire
beul mouth pian pain
creud what piast worm
deug branch sgian knife
deur sharp siar westward
eun finger or toe slias a thigh, the loin
-eul cloud srian bridle
reult star is is, pronouncedis andnot ish. it is the only excpetion to the rule that s = sh after e or i
seun happiness UA  
sgeul story buan lasting
speur sky, firmament cluas ear
treud herd cruas hardness
gan without cuan harbour
lón a store dual work, duty
or fuar cold
IA   gruag hair
ciall sense scuab broom
Dia god suan slumber
dias blade of corn uan lamb
fiall generous liom with me
giall jaw leat with thee
grian sun leir wityh him
iasg fish leithe with her

Examples formed from the foregoing words:—

Exercise VII

1. ní feur geug. 2. bhfuil seun ort? 3. tá seun orm. 4. bhfuil treud agad? 5. tá treud agam. 6. an seult an neul? 7. ní seult an neul. 8. an seult an speur? 9. ní seult an speur. 10. sreud an sgeul? 11. tá asn speun suas. 12. tá ciall aige. 13. bhfuil ciall aige? 14. agus tá mian agie. 15. tá iasg iage. 16. tá srian air. 17. bhfuil pian ort? 18. tá pian orm 19. tá giall agam. 21. tá giall air. 21. ní bhfuil slias air. 22. tá sgian geur. 23. is mian liom srian. 24. bhfuil gruag ort? 25. tá gruag orm. 26. tá gruag air. 27. bhfuil an cuan suas nó siar? 28. tá an cuan siar? 29. bhfuil ruan air? 30.tá ruan air. 31. is dual bás? 32. ni dual bás. 33. tá scuab agam. 34. tá cluas air. 35. tá uan óg aige. 36. tá an lá fuar.

OBS. 1. — bhfuil is, pronounced will, is the third person singular present indicative of the verb fuilim, , I am; a form of the verb "to be," which is always employed instead of táim, I am, after any of the particles of questioning (as A , whether; nác, whether not, &c.); of wishing (go, that); of denying (ní, not, nách, who not); and of supposing (ma, if), and after the relative pronoun a, who, nách who not; as ní bnfuil sé, he is not; go bhfuil se, that he is; an bhfuil se, is he; nách bhfuil sé is he not; an té a bhfuil, the person who is; an te nach bhfuil the person who is not.

OBS. 2. — The difference between is, is, and , is, is that the one (is) denotes simply existence; denotes existence in relation to time, state, condition, place.

OBS. 3. — Is is omitted in short assertive sentences; as, feárr máda beo 'na leon marbh, a living dog (is) better than a dead line; feárr clú 'na conach, better fame than wealth.

OBS. 4.—. Is (is) is never employed after particles of asking, wishing, deying, supposing, or the like; as an seult an grian, whether (is) the sun a star? nach seult an grian? is not the sun a star? ní seult an grian, the sun (is) not a start; an tu a tá ann? anne tu qui es illic! whether (is it) you who are in it? It is left understood, as is done so often in Latin sentences.


tus beginning tá, is there is
cre, úir, talaimh earth ní bhfuil there is not
deire, críoch end   the word there is ommitted in translation into irish
bun funcation nith (pr. nhee)
feur grass gach uile nith all things
se, e it, he fionn white, fair, as poosed to red ruas
si, i is, eht fear fionn fair haired man
ann, air in, on bán white
lón, stór store geal bright
barr top    
fíor true    
e so this é sio that

Note—There being in Irish, as in French, only two genders masculine and feminine (see Sixteenth Lesson), the pronoun it, when referring to nouns which in Irish are masculine, must be translated sé, but sí when to nouns which in our language are feminine.

Exercise VIII

1. Is the story true? 2. The story is not true. 3. Is the grass green. 4. THe grass is green. 5. Is prosperity on the country? 6. Prosperity is not on the country. 7. Prosperity is not lasting. 8. Is fish dear or cheap? 9. Fish is dear. 10. Is that a star or a cloud? 11. It is neither a star nort a cloud, it is the moon 12. Is that a story or a wish? 13. It is a story. 14. Is that a bridle on the cheek? 15. Is the ear erect? 16. I am in a slumber. 17. Are you in a slumber? 18. The finger is cold. 19. The sun is on high. 20. The sun is in the sky. 21. The sun is in a cloud. 22. Without store, wihtout friend. 23. A lamb is white. 24. THe worm is on the earth 25. The clay is cold. 26. THere is no rest on earth. 27. THere is rest with God. 28. Is there a God? 29. There is a god. 30. God is the beginning and the end, the foundation and the top of all things.


(1) So, and seo, this, are the same pronoun; e is, by some, inserted before 0, in order that s in so migh, according to the general rule (see Obs. 1, p. 2) receive the sound of sh--a sound which, be it remembered, it always has when placed before or after e or i.



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self-instruction in irish -Bourke - 1885