Sacar / Peil (Soccer / Football) : A “Matching” Game of Terminology in Irish

Posted on 09. Jul, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Drawing of the several phases of a bicycle kick ("rovesciata" in Italian), by Fabio Messina.  If "rothar" is "bicycle" and "cic" is "kick" in Irish, how do we combine them?  And what's the Irish for "ethogram"?  For "bicycle kick," read on, and for "ethogram," see one suggestion below.  (Nasc don phictiúr thios)

Ethogram of the phases of a bicycle kick, by Fabio Messina. If “rothar” is “bicycle” and “cic” is “kick” in Irish, how do we combine them? And what’s the Irish for “ethogram”? For “bicycle kick,” read on, and for “ethogram,” see one suggestion below. BTW, that “if” might be bigger than anticipated. Why? See Note 3 below. (Grafaic:

This blog will present 10 soccer (football) terms in English and Irish.  Can you match them up?  Note also that there is one extra Irish term, just for the challenge (“dúshlán” [doo-hlawn] note the silent “s”).

Some of the Irish terms can also be used outside of soccer/football discussions, as can some of the English words.  “Tackle” in English can also be used for “gear” or “equipment, as in “fishing tackle,” which, in Irish,  is based on the word “gléas.”  So what’s “fishing tackle” in Irish?  See if you can figure it out based on this “leid” (clue): “fish” = iascMuna bhfaigheann tú é, tá an freagra (answer) thíos (below).

Seo na focail:

Gaeilge: ardscórálaí, druibleáil, foireann, drochphas, clibirt, cúl, cuaille báire, taicleáil, rotharchic, tosaí láir, cothrom na Féinne.  (NB: mar a dúirt mé cheana, tá aon fhocal déag anseo, deich bhfocal do na ceisteanna agus focal breise chun beagáinín níos mó de dhúshlán a chur ann). 

1. scrum

2. team

3. goal

4. goalpost

5. tackle

6. striker

7. bad pass

8. bicycle kick

9. top scorer

10. fair play

And, speaking loosely of football, let’s see, well, there’s lots of English words that I’ve never found exact or official Irish equivalents for, but here’s a football one I’d like to throw out to any takers.  An bhfuil an Ghaeilge ar “crab soccer” (“crab football”) ag duine ar bith?  I suppose it would be “sacar portáin.”  Or “peil phortáin” if specifically Irish, perhaps.  Moltaí ar bith uaibhse?  I Googled both these terms and came up with one hit (one measly hit in that great big cyberworld) for “sacar portáin” on a somewhat dubious-looking website on how to get your Social Security number.  Any context seemed to be meaningless, since the previous word was ‘digging” and the following word was “tlú” (tongs)!  Didn’t even dare open that one!  Maidir le “peil phortáin,” tada.  And yes, I tried variants with séimhiú and urú, but to no avail.

Hope you enjoy the match game and that even intermediate learners may pick up “focal nó dhó.”  – SGF, Róislín

Na Freagraí:

1. scrum (scrummage, scrimmage): clibirt.  I’ve never been completely sure if there’s a difference between “scrimmage” and “scrummage,” but it’s the same word in Irish, at any rate.

2. team: foireann, which can also mean “a group of people,” “crew,” “staff,” and “set” as in chess

3. goal: cúl, which has many other meanings, most prominently “back” (of a house, one’s head, etc.) and also “delay,” “reserve,” “pillion” (position in riding a horse), and “reverse” (of a coin).  Two more words for “goal” in sports are “báire” and “góraí.”  “Goal” as “destination” is “ceann scríbe.”

4. goal post: cuaille báire.  Hmm, could we say “cuaille cúil” as well?  Or does that sound too alliterative?  Can there ever be too much alliteration in this world?

5. to tackle: taicleáil (basically borrowed from “tackle” with an Irish verb ending, “-áil,” added).  One can also say “dul i ngleic le duine,” lit. to “go in struggle” with a person.  Note that for this second phrase, “the preposition “le” (with) is needed.

6. striker (center-forward / centre-forward) tosaí láir

7. bad pass: drochphas [drokh-fahss]

8. bicycle kick: rotharchic [RUH-hur-HyIK].  Have to admit I got a “kick” out of that one!  Who would have thought that the Irish for “bicycle kick” would end up looking so much like a fashion statement, “rothar, errmm, chic.”  Well, it’s sheer coincidence, of course, because “cic” (kick) has simply been lenited (to become “-chic“) because it’s part of a compound word, like “pas” was for “drochphas.”   But still, makes you wonder if Izumi or Giordana couldn’t do something with that!

And what’s the Irish for “chic” anyway?  Well, there are a couple of choices.  One can go with “chic,” straight from the French.  Hmm, so could we say, “Tá cuma an-chic uirthi” for “She has a very chic appearance” (She looks very chic).  I suppose so, but somehow seeing “chic” in a slot that would normally take lenition (after “an-“) makes my eye want to read it as a variant “cic” (kick) again.  But then, “kickin'” isn’t so bad either, is it?  Getting to the more general meaning of “chic,” we have “faiseanta” (fashionable), and a word with some implied value judgment going on, “péacach” (showily- or gaudily dressed, based on “péacóg“).  “Péacóg,” in addition to meaning “peacock,” can also mean a “showily-dressed” girl.   And just for gender equity, we also have the choice of “coileach péacóige,” which is literally “peacock” but also “a dandified vain man.”

An a further note to boggle the mind, or perhaps more accurately, the eye: as an Irish word, “an-chic” would mean “a great kick.”

Pronunciation differences: “an-chic” (in fashion): ahn-sheek but “an-chic” (great kick): ahn-hyick, with the “hy” like the “h” of “human” or “humid”

9. top scorer: ardscórálaí [ARD-skor-AWL-ee].  One can also say “príomhscórálaí” [PREEV-skor-AWL-ee].

10. fair play: Cothrom na Féinne, lit. the levelness or fairness of the Fianna (the warriors of Fionn Mac Cumhail, aka Finn McCool).  One of my favorite phrases, since it harkens back to the time of Ireland’s legendary past.

Sin deich bhfocal i mBéarla agus an Ghaeilge atá orthu.

Nóta 1: the extra Irish word, “druibleáil” means “to dribble” as in “to dribble a ball.”  In case you’re wondering, “to dribble” as in “to drool,” is “priosláil,” previously discussed in this blog: M3, .i. An Téarma Gramadaí (Ní Mótarbhealach Atá i gCeist) at (27 Aibreán 2011)

And yes, we’ve already covered the basics for dribbling, dribbler, and dribble bibs in this blog series.  Can’t say we’re not wide-ranging and comprehensive!

Nóta 2: “fishing tackle,” is “gléas iascaireachta,” lit. “tackle of fishing.”  As for the “Normal Fishing Tackle Choir,” well, I think it gets a bit lost in the translation!

Nóta 3 (an focal “ethogram”): ni fheicim in áit ar bith i nGaeilge é, ach is dócha gur ” *eiteogram “ a bheadh ann.  Barúil nó eolas ag duine ar bith eile?  Do we need such a word?  Well, why not?  Googling it, I see an interesting book title using the term in English, The Equid Ethogram: A Practical Guide to Horse Behavior (by Sue M. McDonnell, Ph.D.).  And since there’s definitely a great interest in horses in Ireland, the phrase “eiteogram eachaí” would appear to be of some use.  As for “eachaí” as “equid” vs. “equine,” The Brooke (Hospital for Animals) has the most interesting commentary I’ve seen on the issue, regarding one of their own publications: “[…] we decided to use equid, which is a noun, instead of equine, which is the adjective. If we had used the term Equine Veterinary Manual it implies that all of our vets are horses!”  (

Hmm, do I detect another “ábhar blag” lurking in the wings?  “Capall” and “each” [say “akh,” not like English “each”] for starters, not to mention some other horse terms (stail, láir, searrach, bromach, pónaí, capaillín).  Hmm, and then maybe a segue to Myles na gCopeleen, one of my favorite authors, whose pen name means “Myles of the Little Horses,” technically, “na gcapaillíní.”  Mealltach!

Nóta 4: rothar vs. badhsacail.  Many people, especially in the Gaeltacht, say “badhsacail” or “baidhseacail” instead of “rothar.”  It was years before I ever saw the transliterated Irish spelling, and even then, the first variations of it I saw were actually Scottish Gaelic (baidhseagal or badhsagal).  The “-dh-” is silent, but it does give us the IPA /ai/sound, as in English “eye,” “pie,” or “my”.  So, could we venture ” *badhsacailchic ” for “bicycle kick”?  Or is that definitely over the top?


Amhrán Náisiúnta na Stát Aontaithe: All Four Verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Irish with a glossary, literal translation, and pronunciation guide

Posted on 06. Jul, 2014 by in Irish Language

 (le Róislín)

Francis Scott Key autographed manuscript of “The Star Spangled Banner,” 1840. Manuscript Division. [cropped to first stanza only]

Francis Scott Key autographed manuscript of “The Star Spangled Banner,” 1840. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. [cropped to first stanza only]

I wonder how many Americans have actually sung all four verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in English, let alone in Irish.  Well, here’s your opportunity!  And if it’s not your own “amhrán náisiúnta,” it’s certainly an interesting song vocabulary-wise and history-wise.  In fact, I find all “amhráin náisiúnta” to be fascinating (and have two anthologies of them, from all over the world).

This blog contains all four verses, as translated by an tAthair Ó Gramhnaigh in 1898, with my own line-by-line literal translation and pronunciation guide, and a glossary for each stanza.   They were previously posted in this blog as four separate entries in 2012 (naisc thíos).  The original English, as written by Francis Scott Key, follows each section, in italics.

As for reaching “an nóta is airde,” you’re on your own, but I’ve heard that “uisce beatha” may help!  Cad é an nóta is airde san amhrán seo?  Má cheolann tú i ngléas B-maol é, is é an “f” ard atá i gceist.  Ochtach go leith!  Ceart go leor más Yma Sumac thú ach ní Yma Sumac mise maidir le raon gutha ná baol air.  Raon deich nóta atá agam, b’fhéidir.  Tusa?  Duine ar bith agaibh a bhfuil raon ceithre ochtach aige/aici?  Nó dhá ochtach?  Nó ochtach go leith, fiú (gan scréach ar an bhfocal “freeee” i mBéarla nó [gcró]gach” i nGaeilge)?

Please note the following about the pronunciation guide: I’ve made one concession here, compared to my usual rough guides to the sounds of Irish, since some people may want to plunge right into singing the song, not laboring over pronunciation.  For the broad “dh” sound (as in “dhuit“), best represented by the IPA symbol  /ɣ/, I’ve simply used “h.”  Experienced Irish speakers will know that this is really a guttural (throaty) sound not found in English but it’s better to lean toward softening the sound further than to ending up with too much of a “d” sound.  The consonant cluster “dh” has no “d” sound to it whatsoever.  For details on this sound, see the nóta thíos, marked by a réiltín (*), and there are some links to other blogs discussing this sound at the end of this entry.

The VERY literal translation is not meant to be singable; it’s very much word for word.  The regular English text is also given. A further note here for singers (as opposed to foghraithe, teangeolaithe, sintéiseoirí cainte agus a leithéid): this pronunciation guide is really designed for singing, not for individual analysis of focail or siollaí.  In most cases, in fact, I’ve transcribed the sounds as I would also speak them (not trying to fit a meter), since it seems to work.  Occasionally, though, I’ve made the words flow together even more than may be typical in speech, as for example in: ‘S tá an bhratach gheal-réaltach [stawn VRAH-tukh YAL-RAYL-tukh].  Here, I’ve collapsed the first three words (‘s tá an) into one sound (“stawn”), since it’s more singable that way (IMThF, ar a laghad).

Conversely, I stretched out the pronunciation in the following: Os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor?  is” as [ih-iss].  Normally, “is” is just like the “iss” of “hiss” or “miss.”  The “stretched-out” sound is like “us kyun HEERzh nuh GROH-gukh ih-iss TAL-uv nuh seer.”  

And in véarsa 4: d’Athair Bua is Síth’ [do-uh AH-hirzh BOO-uss shee] with a stretched-out “d’Athair Bua” as [do-uh AH-hirzh] and collapsed “Bua is” as [BOO-uss], not as the standard [BOO-uh iss], which doesn’t seem to “sing” as well.

Mini-Guide to the Transcription System:

a) “rzh” like the “r” in English “tree” combined with the “zh” sound of French  “Jacques

b) “le” like “let,” not like French “le

c) “kh” like German “Buch,” Welsh “bach,” Scottish “Loch”

d) “uh” like the “u” in “putt” or “nut,” not like “put”  or German “Huhn

e) “oo” like English “fool” or “cool” e) “hy” like English “human,” “hew,” or “hue,” not like “hydrogen” or Welsh “hylo

An Bhratach Gheal-Réaltach / The Star-Spangled Banner, with literal translation of the Irish

1) Ó abair, an léir dhuit, le fáinne an lae, [oh AH-birzh un layrzh hitch le FAWN-yuh un lay], Oh say, is it clear to you (can you clearly see), with the ring of the day  

2)  An bhratach ‘bhí ‘n-airde le titim na hoíche? [un VRAH-tukh veen AHR-djuh le TIH-chim nuh HEE-hyuh?] The flag that was up with the falling of night?  

3) Tríd an chath ‘bhí na riabha ‘s na réaltaí geal-ghlé, [treedj un khah vee nuh REE-uh-vuh snuh RAYL-tee gyal-lyay], Through the battle, the stripes, and the stars were bright-clear,  

4) Ag luascadh go huasal ‘s ag míniú ár gcroíthe; [egg LOO-us-kuh guh HOO-us-ul segg MEEN-yoo awr GREE-huh] Swinging nobly and comforting our hearts  

5) Is ar n-imeacht don ló, níor ghéill sí go deo, [iss err NIM-ukht dun loh nee-or yayl shee guh djoh] And at going to the day [as the day ended], it never yielded,  

6) Ach a caorthinte ag pléascadh sna spéartha le gleo! [ahkh-uh KEER-HIN-tchuh egg PLAY-skuh snuh SPAYR-huh le glyoh!] But its fireballs exploding In the skies with clamor!  

7) Ó abair ‘bhfuil an bhratach gheal-réaltach go síor [oh AH-birzh wil un VRAH-tukh GYAL-RAYL-tukh guh shee-ur] Oh, say, is the flag brightly-starred eternally waving  

8) Os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor? [us kyun HEERzh nuh GROH-gukh ih-iss TAL-uv nuh seer], Above the country of the brave and the land of the free?  

(O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?)

Gluais do véarsa 1.  This is a bit condensed from the original glossary in the 2012 post; more definitions can be found there, nasc thíos):

An léir?, is (it) clear?,

ár, our; ar n-imeacht, on (upon) going ,

bratach, flag; an bhratach, the flag,

cath, battle; tríd an chath, through the battle, crógach, brave (person); na gcrógach, of the brave (people); croí; croíthe, heart, hearts,

dhuit, to you,

fáinne, ring;  fáinne an lae, dawn,

geal-ghlé, bright-clear;  geal-réaltach, “star-spangled,” lit. bright-starry; literally, “spangled” is “spaglainneach;”  géill, níor ghéill, yield, didn’t yield;  gleo, clamor, tumult;  go deo, ever, never (if the verb is negative); go síor, for ever,

in airde, in a high place,

, day; don ló, to/for the day; an lae, of the day;  léir, clear;  luascadh, swinging

míniú, to explain, to comfort

oíche; night; na hoíche, of the night; os cionn, above, over

pléascadh, exploding

réaltaí, stars;  riabha, stripes

‘s = is = agus , and

saor, free (person); na saor, of the free (people);  spéir, spéartha, sky, skies

talamh, land;  tír, country;  titim, falling;  tríd, through

uasal, noble; go huasal,  nobly

An Bhratach Gheal-Réaltach, Véarsa 2

1) Ar an trá thall, go doiléir i lár cheonna na dtonn, [err un traw hawl guh DIL-yayrzh ih lawr HYOH-nuh nuh dun] On yonder shore dimly in the midst of the fogs of the waves  

2) Tá slua mór Shasan’ go gruama ina luí; [taw SLOO-uh mor HASS-un guh GROO-uh-muh nuh lee] There is England’s big horde gloomily lying down,  

3) Cad é siúd ar an ard thuas, ag luascadh anonn [kad ay shood err un awrd HOO-us egg LOO-us-kuh uh-NUN] What is that up on high up swinging over,  

4) Is á cheilt is á thaispeáint, ‘réir athrú na gaoithe? [iss aw hyeltch iss aw HASH-pyawntch rayrzh AH-hroo nuh gee-uh] And being hidden and being shown, According to the change of the wind?  

5) ‘Nois tá solas na gréine, ag lonradh air go tréan! [NISH taw SOl-us nuh GRAYN-yuh egg LON-ruh err guh trzhayn!] Now the light of the sun is shining on it strongly!  

6) ‘Nois is léir dhom a scáile sa toinn — féach í féin! [nish iss layrzh hom uh SKAWL-yuh suh tin – faykh ee hayn ] Now I clearly see its reflection in the wave — look at it itself!  

7) ‘Sí an bhratach gheal-réaltach, go raibh sí go síor [shee un VRAH-tukh YAL-RAYL-tukh guh ruh shee guh shee-ur] It’s the star-spangled banner, may it forever be

8) Os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor! [us kyun HEERzh nuh GROH-gukh ih-iss TAL-uv nuh seer] Above the country of the brave and the land of the free!  

(On the shore dimly seen, through the mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host, in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected, now shines in the stream, ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!)

Gluais do véarsa 2

Anonn, over;  Ard, high; high place;  Athrú, change; changing,

Cad é?, What’s that?;  Ceilt, hiding (act of);  Ceo, ceonna, fog, fogs,

Dhom, to me,

Féach!, Look!,

Gaoth, wind; gaoithe, of wind;  Grian, sun; na gréine, of the sun;  Go raibh sí (etc.) …, May she (etc.) be … ;  Go doiléir, murkily, Go gruama, gloomily;  Go tréan, strongly,

Is [say “iss” in Irish, not like the “izz” pronunciation of the English word “is]

Lár, middle;  Lonradh, shining;  Luí, lying down

‘nois, now

‘réir, according to

Sasan’, England; Shasan‘, of England;  Scáil, reflection;  Siúd, yonder;  Slua, horde, host;  Solas, light

Taispeáint, showing;  Trá, beach, shore, strand; Thall, over there; Thuas, up, above; Tonn, wave; na dtonn; of the waves; toinn, wave (dative case, after “sa“)

An Bhratach Gheal-Réaltach, Véarsa 3

1) Is cad d’éirigh don drong a thug mionna go teann, [iss kahd a DAYRzh-ee dun drong uh hug MIN-nuh go tchawn], And what happened to that throng , who gave oaths strongly

2) Go bhfágfadh gan tír sinn, gan áras ‘na sheasamh, [guhWAWG-huh gahn tcheerzh shin gahn AW-rus nuh HASS-uv], That they would leave [us] without a country, us without a building standing?

3) Is go dtabharfaidís léan leo, is leatrom is lann? [sguh DOR-hidj-eesh layn lyoh iss LAT-rom iss lahn?] And that they would bring grief with them, and oppression and blade?

4) Ó, do scrios a gcuid fola rian gránna a gcosa: [oh duh shkriss uh gwidj FOL-uh REE-un GRAW-nuh uh guss-uh], Oh, their share of blood destroyed the ugly track of their feet

5) Níl cara ná cáil ag fealltóir ná tráill, [neel KAH-ruh naw kaw-il egg FYAWL-toh-irzh naw TRAW-il], There is no friend or reputation at a traitor or a thrall

6) San uaigneas, san uaigh, níl a bhfoscadh le fáil! [sun OO-ig-nyuss, sun OO-ee neel uh WOS-kuh le faw-il] In the loneliness, in the grave there’s no shelter available (from it)

7) ‘S tá an bhratach gheal-réaltach go buach go síor [stawn VRAH-tukh YAL-RAYL-tukh guh BOO-ukh guh shee-ur] And the star-spangled banner is victoriously eternal(ly)

8) Os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor!         

[us kyun HEERzh nuh GROH-gukh ih-iss TAL-uv nuh seer] O’er the country of the brave and the land of the free!  

(And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution, No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!)

Gluais do véarsa 3:

Áras, building, house, mansion,

Cad?, What?;  Cáil, reputation;  Cara, friend; Cos, foot, leg; **a gcosa, their feet, their legs; Cuid, share, portion

D’éirigh + do, happened to;  Do (past tense marker, untranslated);  Drong, group, throng,

Fág, leave; go bhfágfadh, that (they) would leave;  Fáil, getting;  Fealltóir, traitor;  Foscadh, shelter; a bhfoscadh, their shelter;  Fuil, blood; fola, of blood,

Go teann, strongly, tightly, firmly;  Gránna, ugly,

Lann, blade;  Léan, grief;  Leatrom, oppression, unevenness,

Mionn, mionna, oath(s)

‘na sheasamh, standing (in its standing);  , nor

Rian, track, trail (n);

Scrios, destroyed Tabhair, give; go dtabharfaidís, that they would give;  Tráill, thrall, slave

Uaigh, grave (n);  Uaigneas, loneliness

And a few further notes:

a) Maidir leis an bhfocal “drong” -it’s a direct parallel to the English word “throng.”  Remember, the initial Irish broad “d” sound has a dental quality, with the tongue pressed against the back of the upper teeth, so it’s not surprising that English equivalent has a “hard th” (theta) sound.

b) Maidir leis an bhfocal Béarla “vauntingly”: I think “go teann” was a good choice here, given the context.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything described as occurring “vauntingly” in actual modern spoken English.  The ordinary Irish words for “vaunting” (if anything about the word “vaunting” could be described as “ordinary”) are “maíteach” and “gaisciúil.”  And where’s that “vaunting” from anyway?  Apparently from Latin “vanus” (“vain” — That figures!)  

**Iarsmaoineamh (28 Eanáir 2015): For “rian gránna a gcosa,” we see “a gcosa” for “(of) their feet.”  The official modern standard form for this would be “a gcos,” without the final “-a.”  But at the time Ó Gramhnaigh’s translation was made, the Caighdeán Oifigiúil didn’t exist yet.  Many words had numerous variations in spelling and grammatical treatment.  In fact, many still do, even after the spelling reforms of the 1950s.  It’s impossible to know now whether Ó Gramhnaigh was debating between “a gcosa” and “a gcos,” but he may have felt, as I do, that “a gcosa” flows better.  Pairing “gránna” with “gcosa” not only creates some alliteration (g + g), but the two “-a” endings create a loose sort of end rhyme.  And, while we’re at it, vowels are widely recognized as being easier to sing, mar is eol do na hIodálaigh!

An Bhratach Gheal-réaltach, Véarsa 4

1)  Gurab amhlaidh go brách, nuair a sheasfaidh na laoich                            [GUR-ub OW-lee guh brawkh NOO-irzh uh HASS-ee nuh lee-ih] May it be thus forever when the heroes stand

2)  Idir shlua na namhad is áras a gcloinne; [idj-irzh HLOO-uh nuh NAW-ud iss AWR-uss uh GLIN-yuh], Between the host of the enemy and the building (house) of their family;

3)  ‘S go raibh altú is glóir d’Athair Bua is Síth,’                                     [sguh ruh AL-too iss gloh-irzhdo-uh AH-hirzh BOO-uss shee] And may there be praise and glory to Father [of?] Victory and Peace,

4)  Thug dúiche Uaidh féin dúinn, go deireadh na cruinne,                                      [hug DOO-ih-hyuh OO-ee hayn,  doo-in guh DJERzh-uh nuh KRIN-yuh] Who gave the territory from Himself, to us until the end of the universe!

5)  Beidh rath ar an Neart, mar tá linn-ne an Ceart,                     [bay rah err un nyart mahr taw LIN-yuh un kyart] Propserity will be on the Strength, because the Right is with us,

6)  Is tá dóchas ár gcroí ar Dhia na bhFeart!      [iss taw DOH-khuss awr gree eh-err YEE-uh nuh vyart!] And the hope of our heart (is) is on God of the Miracles (almighty God)!

7)  ‘S beidh an bhratach gheal-réaltach, go buach go síor [sbay un VRAH-tukh YAL-RAYL-tukh guh BOO-ukh guh shee-ur] And the star-spangled banner will be victoriously eternally

8)  Os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor!          [us kyun HEERzh nuh GROH-gukh, ih-iss TAL-uv nuh seer] O’er the country of the brave and the land of the free!  

(Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved home and the war’s desolation,  Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land  Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation, Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.” And the star-spangled banner  in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!)

Gluais do véarsa 4:  

Altú, thanks, thanking;  Amhlaidh, thus,

Beidh, will be;  Bua, victory,

Ceart, right (noun or adj.);  Clann, family; a gcloinne, of their family (old spelling with “o”);  Cruinne, universe,

d’Athair, to/for Father (God);  Dia, God;  Dóchas, hope;  Dúiche, territory,

feart, miracle; na bhfeart, of the miracles,

Glóir, glory;  Go brách, forever;  Go deireadh, till (the) end; Gurab, may it be,

Laoch, laoich, hero, heroes,

Namhaid, enemy; na namhad, of the enemy(-ies) (sing. or pl.);  Neart, strength;  Nuair a, when,

Rath, prosperity

Sheasfaidh, will stand;  Síth, peace

Uaidh [OO-ee], from Him (capitalized in the text because referring to God)

Sin agaibh na ceithre véarsa.  SGF, Róislín

The links for the other blogs are:

*Pronunciation Note: You can hear the broad “dh” sound at the following site, but you’ll have to listen to four other velar sounds first: (Click on “velar” and listen for the 5th example, marked as ɣ).  The sounds are recorded in columns and rows, so you have to listen to all the sounds in that particular column or row.

Alternately, you could click on the “fricative” row, but then there are 15 fricatives ahead of the one we want.  Which is called the … <tormáil drumaí> … “cuimilteach glórach coguasach.”   Or, más fearr leat i mBéarla é, “voiced velar fricative.” This /ɣ / sound, which doesn’t occur in English, has been discussed in previous blogs in this series, like the following:

a) Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives,

b) Fools, on Hills and Otherwise, with Irish Pronunciation Tips

c) Pronunciation Follow-up to the “Cúig Fhocal gan Mhaith” Series

Four Ways to Say ‘Star-Spangled’ in Irish (plus ‘star’ in general — réalta)

Posted on 04. Jul, 2014 by in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Bratach na Stát Aontaithe (URL thíos)

Bratach na Stát Aontaithe (

It seems like such a specific term, but there at least four ways to say “star-spangled” in Irish.  A timely phrase for this time of year (Lá na Saoirse) in the United States.

Let’s start with the ‘star” part, since that’s the basis of all of the terms that follow, and also probably the most broadly applicable in daily life.  ‘Cos what else do we really describe as being ‘spangled’?

réalta, star (sometimes the singular is given as “réalt,” which seems more in line with typical Irish noun endings, but so be it — “réalta” always “looks” plural to me, by analogy with “scéalta” and “néalta.”   It is what it is, as they say, or a bit less succinctly, in Irish, “Is é an rud atá ann atá ann“),

réaltaí, stars.  That’s the standard plural these days.  “Réaltana” was also used at one time.

Réalta” is a feminine noun, so we could have phrases like (aistriúchán thíos):

réalta dhonn

réalta charbóin

réalta thimpholach

réalta dhíchineálach — gotta love a term like that!  Try to figure it out and if no luck, the “aistriúchán” is “thíos

But if you’re looking for “dwarf star,” there’s no lenition, because it’s a compound word, with “réalta ” as the second element: abhacréalta

Now having said all that, the word “réalta” sometimes does appear as just “réalt,” with <get ready> , “réalta” as the plural.  Which means we often have to look at context to see what’s what.  But, ní ionadh é sin, we have the same situation with other words in Irish, like “apple,” which is “úll, plural: úlla” in standard Irish, but “úlla, plural úllaí” in Cois Fhairrge Irish.  Maybe it’s no worse than dealing with “sheep / sheep” and “deer / deer” in English.  We have to look at context.

The word “réalta” can take an adjective ending, to become “réaltach” (starry).  There’s also “reannach” (starry) in Irish, for those who want to exhaust all possibilities, but it’s not used as much as “réaltach,” i mo thaithí féin, ar a laghad.

Réaltach” becomes the basis of “gealréaltach,” lit. bright-starred, which is in the following phrase, from the American national anthem:

Ó abair ‘bhfuil an bhratach gheal-réaltach go síor os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor?

an bhratach gheal-réaltach, lit.  the brightly starred flag (not “spangled” as such), or very literally, the flag bright-starry

The hyphenation is not typical today, but it does help show the two parts of the compound word.

Geal,” the first part of the compound word, means “bright.”

And for our second choice:

réaltbhreac [raylt-vrak], star-spangled (lit. star-specked, since the actual word for a “spangle” in Irish is “spaglainn”).

This compound word is based on “réalt-” (star-) as we’ve already discussed and “breac” (speckled, spotted, or in some American vernacular, “brackled;” “breac” also means “trout” in Irish, naturally enough).

Although the phrase, an bhratach gheal-réaltach has probably now been immortalized in the Irish version of the song, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” there is at least one other alternative phrase, using “réaltbhreac“:

an bhratóg réaltbhreac, [un VRAH-tohg raylt-vrak] the star-spangled banner

Third choice:

breactha le réaltaí, lit. dotted or speckled with stars.  Straightforward, but not very poetic-feeling, i mo bharúil féin, ar a laghad.

And fourth, and finally (at least for today’s blog):

buailte le réaltaí, lit. struck or beaten with stars

And how about “spangled” on its own?  Or bespangled?  Seo an briathar:

to spangle (not that it’s a word I use all that often, especially transitively; maybe “bespangled” from time to time): breacadh le spaglainní, lit. to dot or speckle with spangles

breactha le spaglainní, bespangled

And finally, so maybe a fifth alternative, there’s a somewhat obscure word, ‘scragallach,’ meaning ‘spangled,’ which could be made into a compound word:


This is based on another word for “spangle,” scragall, which also means “thin leaf of gold or silver foil” (gold foil, silver foil)

But somehow, “réaltscragallach” doesn’t have much aesthetic appeal to me, as words go.  And a quick Google search shows no results at all for this word, so I think the opinion is probably general.

And what exactly is a ‘spangle’?  Apparently the same as a sequin, aka paillette.

If it weren’t for that fact that we’ve already got four good choices above, we could play with the word “seacain” (or variant: séacain) in Irish.  Any guesses as to what this noun means?  Leid: it’s an indirect adaptation from the Italian word zecchino via French and then English, to reach Irish.  As far as I know, despite their torques (toirc) and penannular brooches (dealga neasfháinneacha), the ancient Irish didn’t have “seacainí” as such.

Now, after all of this discussion of starriness and spangledness (a word?), perhaps you’re chomping (or champing) at the bit to actually sing the one song that actually contains this phrase, especially given the time of year (i Meiriceá, ar a laghad).  Seo véarsa a haon, and if you want the other three verses, in Irish, you find them at the links at the end of this article, with glossaries AND pronunciation guides.  Not that we usually sing the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th verses, of “The Star-spangled Banner,” fiú i mBéarla, but it’s always interesting to check them out:

Ó abair, an léir dhuit, le fáinne an lae, an bhratach ‘bhí ‘n-airde le titim na hoíche

Tríd an chath ‘bhí na riabha ‘s na réaltaí geal-ghlé ag luascadh go huasal ‘s ag míniú ár gcroíthe

Is ar n-imeacht don ló níor ghéill sé go deo ach a caorthinte ag pléascadh sna spéartha le gleo!

Ó abair ‘bhfuil an bhratach gheal-réaltach go síor os cionn thír na gcrógach is talamh na saor?

And if you’re wondering which is the super-high note, it’s the “-gach” of “na gcrógach” (of the brave).  The Irish word order is reversed, so we have “the land (tír) of the brave and the land (talamh) of the free.”  Why?  So “saor” at the end can rhyme with “go síor” (eternally, still).  Saoirse fhileata!

SGF – Róislín

Aistriúchán: réalta dhonn, brown star; réalta charbóin, carbon star; réalta thimpholach, circumpolar star; réalta dhíchineálach, degenerate star (not a comment on “moráltachtaí“)

Gluais: ann [ahn OR own as in “town” or “gown”], in “it” (with “it” as existence), in existence, in him, in it; ar a laghad [“laghad” rhymes with English “side” or “tide”]; fiú, even; saoirse [SEER-shuh], freedom, and now a popular name for girls as well, as in Saoirse Ronan and Saoirse Roisin Hill (daughter of Courtney Kennedy and Paul Hill)


Liricí do “Ó abair an léir dhuit?”  

Véarsa a haon:
(18 Meitheamh 2012)

Véarsa a dó: (21 Meitheamh 2012)

Véarsa a trí: (24 Meitheamh 2012)

Véarsa a ceathair: (27 Meitheamh 2012)

And some further background information: (30 Meitheamh 2012; a chronology of translations of The Star-Spangled Banner into eleven languages, starting in 1861 and coming up to the 21st century.  The languages include some major world languages (Gearmáinis, Spáinnis, m. sh.) to some with far fewer speakers (Samóis, O’odham, Navachóis, srl.)

P.S. 5 Iúil 2014: No sooner did I ponder what might be described as “spangled,” besides the star-spangled banner, than I stumbled on one major example of the word (in English): the great spangled fritillary (butterfly).  But, so far, at least, I don’t see any official Irish term for them.  “Fritillary” is “fritileán” and “great” would probably be “mór.”  Barúil ar bith ag duine ar bith agaibh do “spangled” sa chás seo?