Irish Language Blog

Ainmneacha na Míonna i nGaeilge (Names of the Months in Irish) Posted by on Sep 6, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

We’ve discussed the Irish names of various months as this blog has continued, but this might be a good time to go over the liosta as a whole.

First let’s look at “Meán Fómhair” (September).  By the way, if this is a new term for you, or if you’re new to the list, please note that the “-mh-“ in the middle of “Fómhair” is pronounced like a “w,” not like an “m” or like an “h” as they occur i mBéarla.  The word rhymes approximately with “mower” or “rower” (but not with “bower” or “cower,” a distinction that is due to the quirks of English spelling!).  More pronunciation notes below.

Some of the months’ names are readily translatable, with everyday meanings in Modern Irish.  “Meán Fómhair” means “middle of (the) harvest-season.”  “Fómhar” (minus the “-i-“) is the Irish word for “harvest,” “harvest-season,” and for “Fall / Autumn.”  To say “of the harvest” (or “of Fall” or “of Autumn”), we insert the “-i-“ before the final consonant. That’s the same rule we follow for nouns like “bord” (table) and “capall” (horse).  “Of a table” is “boird” (as in mata boird, table-mat) and “of a horse” is “capaill” (as in crú capaill, horseshoe, shoe of a horse).  In other words, it’s the typical rule for first-declension nouns, as we’ve seen in .

Meán” means “middle” and can be translated by related words in English, like “average,” “middling,” or “intermediate”).  It shows up in words like “meánráta” (average rate), “meánscoth” (middling quality), “meánteistiméireacht” (intermediate certificate), and “meánscoil” (but remember this is not the same as “middle school” in the American context).

We can discuss the meaning and structure of more of the months’ names in future blogs, but for now, how about beagán meaitseála?  Keep in mind that of the 12 months, I’d say 5 are related to the Latin names (as the English versions are), 6 really reflect Celtic or specifically Irish roots, and one is a bit of both.

1) Márta                                                               a) January

2) Lúnasa                                                             b) February

3) Iúil                                                                    c) March

4) Mí na Nollag                                                    d) April

5) Deireadh Fómhair [DJERzh-uh FOH-irzh]        e) May

6) Meitheamh [MEH-uv]                                       f) June

7) Eanáir                                                               g) July

8)) Meán Fómhair [myawn FOH-wirzh]                  h) August

9) Feabhra [FyOW-ruh]                                         i) September

10) Bealtaine                                                        j) October

11) Aibreán                                                           k) November

12) Mí na Samhna [mee nuh SOW-nuh]               l) December

Ádh mór agus sin é don bhlag seo.  SGF, ó Róislín

Freagraí: 1c, Márta, March (Latin), 2h, Lúnasa, August (Irish/Celtic); 3g, Iúil, July (Latin); 4l, Mí na Nollag, December (Latin and Irish), 5j, Deireadh Fómhair, October (Irish); 6f, Meitheamh, June (Celtic); 7a, Eanáir, January (Latin); 8i, Meán Fómhair, September (Irish); 9b, Feabhra, February (Irish); 10e, Bealtaine, May (Celtic); 11d, Aibreán, April (Latin); 12k, Mí na Samhna, November (Irish/Celtic)

Additional Pronunciation Notes:

Deireadh Fómhair [DJERzh-uh FOH-irzh]: the initial “d” is almost like an English “j”; the “zh” superscript indicates a “slender r,” completely different from the letter “r” in English, and also quite different from the Irish “broad r,” which is “flapped.”

Feabhra [FyOW-ruh]: the “-eabh” is like the “-eabh” in “leabhar.”  If the word “leabhar” is new for you, consider the phrase “Leabhar Power” (as in, and that will give you the pronunciation of the “-eabh.”  Nothing like the power of rhyme for a catchy slogan!  When combined with the next letter, “r,” it’s sort of like the English word “dowry,” except that the “r” is flapped (with one quick trill).

Bealtaine [BAL-tin-yuh]: keep in mind that in Irish, this word has three syllables, unlike the anglicized version, “Beltane,” which is a two-syllable word.

Mí na Samhna [mee nuh SOW-nuh]: the transcription “sow” here is as in the pig (a sow), not as in “to sow seeds”  This one literally means “the month of Samhain,” and the word “” (month) must be used to distinguish the full month from the single day of “Samhain.”

Mí na Nollag: this literally means “the month of Christmas,” and, as with “Mí na Samhna,” the word “” must be included to distinguish the month from “an Nollaig,” which is Christmas Day.  The phrase “na Nollag” means “of Christmas Day.”

Nóta don Nóta faoi “”: Northern speakers tend to pronounce “leabhar” (book) more like “lure,” rather than with the “-ow-“ vowel sound of words like “flower,” “power,” or, for that matter, “vowel” itself.

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  1. Lughaidh:

    The names of the months (or some of them) may be different in the Gaeltachtaí. Here are the months as they are said in parts of Donegal:
    Mí Eanáir
    Mí na bhFaoilleach
    Mí an Mhárta
    Mí Aibreáin
    Mí na Bealtaine
    Mí na Féile Eoin
    Mí na Súl Buí
    Mí Lúnasna
    Mí Mheán Fómhair
    Mí Dheireadh Fómhair
    Mí na Samhna
    Mí na Nollag

  2. Maire Ni Ghriofa:

    Translate for me 30 day of Sept and april and Nov etc

  3. ss:

    An Márta=March
    An t-Aibreán=April
    An Bhealtaine=May
    An Meitheamh=June
    Meán Fómhair=September
    Deireadh Fómhair=October

    • róislín:

      @ss GRMA as seo a sheoladh isteach. Mholfainn, áfach, cuimhne a bheith agat faoi litriú (Eanáir, caol le caol agus leathan le leathan) agus go gciallaíonn an focal “Samhain” “Samhain .i. November 1st” agus an focal “Nollaig” “Christmas.” Le “mí” ciallaíonn siad an mhí go hiomlán (Mí na Samhna, Mí na Nollag, NB: an tuiseal ginideach)

  4. Joseph Martin:

    September: Mí na Féile Míchil; June: Mí Mheán an tSamhraidh ??

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