Irish Language Blog

Béigil: Uaine nó Glas? (Which Type of ‘Green’ for Bagels?) Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

I figured there would be a lot more online references to “green beer” than to “green bagels” and, iontas na n-iontas, that was the correct assumption.   When you search for the terms in Irish (beoir ghlas, beoir uaine, béigil ghlasa, béigil uaine), the numbers for both drop dramatically.

Not that there are that many online references to béigil (or the singular, béigeal) in Irish anyway, the ordinary sort, that is.  I got a total of 40 hits for the various forms of the word “bagel” in Irish, including na foirmeacha uraithe agus séimhithe, one of the most interesting being “banana brúite ar bhéigeal tóstáilte” from “Clubanna Bricfeasta Níos Sláintiúla” (  But certainly 40 amas i nGaeilge isn’t that much compared to the 14,000,000 amas i mBéarla.  A more or less foregone conclusion.

béigil — uaine nó glas?

The grand total that I got for “green bagel(s)” in Irish was 6 amas, all for “béigeal uaine,” none for “béigeal glas.”  Those six all lead back to the discussion on  If I separate the adjective from the noun (one search with the terms separated, e.g. “béigeal” “glas“), there are more results, but some of those are simply glossaries that happen to have the words “béigeal” and “glas” in them somewhere, including at least one with the homonym, “glas,” which as a completely separate word means “a lock.”  The total, for “béigeal” and “glas” in the same site was a paltry 11 (since Google eliminated about 142 duplicates from the count) — pretty slim pickins!

So clearly we are talking about a topic with somewhat limited parameters here.  But I would point out that in English, “green bagel” got a healthy 11,300 hits, probably mostly American in origin, and the plural, “green bagels,” got 20,100.  No doubt some of those are the same sites, since there could easily be references in the singular and in the plural in the same site.  But even allowing for some overlap, it’s at least a sizable number.  And I’d also note that in 2012, a record 100,000 green bagels were sold by one bakery chain alone (Bruegger’s). and this year’s search for “Bruegger’s” + “green bagel” got a healthy 469 hits.  Bruegger’s seems to lead the pack as far as food-colored bagels in America go  — maybe someday I’ll revisit their stats if we discuss dearg, bándearg, and the combo dearg/bán/gorm, since they also dye bagels for other special events (dearg for Lá Vailintín, bándearg I assume for ailse chíche, and dearg/bán/gorm for 4ú Iúil)Ag iarraidh tuilleadh mionrudaí?  Féach ar: nó ar

Here are the possibilities in Irish for “the green bagel(s)”:

an béigeal uaine, na béigil uaine (the logical choice since “uaine” refers to dyed things)

an béigeal glas, na béigil ghlasa (there’s always the possibility of “glas,” being used, despite the theoretical distinction)

Since you might not have that much opportunity to actually apply either of the color adjectives, “uaine” or “glas,” to “béigeal/béigil,” why don’t we practice the colors with a few more everyday objects, singular, plural and all that?  Remember that “glas” generally refers to naturally green objects (leaves, grass, etc.) and “uaine” to manmade, painted, or dyed things.  Also, remember the various forms for “glas” (ghlas, glasa, ghlasa).  We’ve already seen that “glas” changes to “ghlasa” after the plural “béigil.”  The same thing will happen if we’re talking about, let’s say “fir“:

an fear glas, the green man; na fir ghlasa, the green men

Of course, most of the “green men” we hear about in stories are small, so we’re more likely to encounter:

an fear beag glas, the little green man; na fir bheaga ghlasa, the little green men

And “An Fear Beag Glas” turns out to be the title of a YouTube video (natch — is anything not the title of a YouTube video these days?): é –bhain mé an-sult as.  Maith thú, a Oisín!  (Oisín O’Donovan a rinne é).

Did I say “everyday”?  You don’t think “little green men” is a typical vocabulary phrase to learn?  Ceart go leor!  Bhuel, let’s see, we need an everyday noun whose plural ends in a slender consonant (i.e. one preceded by the letter “i”).   A lot of green things I’m thinking of end in vowels in the plural (duilleoga, seamróga, bachlóga, srl., which we’ll do momentarily), but, hmm, consain chaola.  ‘Sea, faighte, using “glas” in one of its extended meanings, “weak” or  “immature”:

an scadán glas, the out-of-season herring; na scadáin ghlasa, the out-of-season herrings

Well, maybe not so “everyday,” but it shows the use of the form “ghlasa.”

A little more basic yet:

an t-iasc glas, the green fish; na héisc ghlasa, the green fish(-es).  This can mean a fish that happens to be green (or perhaps “grayish-green” since “glas” can mean “gray” or “green”).  Additionally, “iasc glas” can mean “greenfish,” which can actually be a “pollock” or “bluefish” (see nótaí below for more possibilities)

Glasa,” without lenition (just “g,” not “gh”), is used with nouns whose plural ends in a vowel, mar shampla:

an tseamróg ghlas, the green shamrock; na seamróga glasa, the green shamrocks

an bhachlóg ghlas, the green sprout; na bachlóga glasa, the green sprouts

As for “uaine,” the good news is that it has no separate plural and, because it starts with a vowel, there’s never a need to apply séimhiú:

an cóta uaine, the green coat; na cótaí uaine, the green coats

an geansaí uaine, the green sweater; na geansaithe uaine, the green sweaters (of course, that could also be translated as “jumper” in the Irish/UK sense, i.e. a pullover sweater, or as “gansey,” which is simply the Hiberno-English form of the word).

Anyway, so much for “green.”  At least for now.  And back to “béigil.”

To what extent are bagels eaten in Éirinn anyway, given that it’s the land of many non-bagel, home-grown tasty baked or griddle-cooked treats (arán baile, arán donn, arán sóide, arán coirce, arán prátaí, arán cuiríní, bapaí donna, bapaí bána, farlaí prátaí, scónaí cruithneachta, scónaí silte, scónaí tae, srl.)?  Bhuel, I can’t list all the possibilities but here are some of the top hits for “bagels” in Ireland:  Broadway Bagels (Dungarvan, Co. Waterford), itsabagel (various locations), and Bagel Factory (various locations, including Dublin Airport).  So bagels in general seem to be réasúnta coitianta, at least sa lá atá inniu ann.  Ní in aimsir na bhFiann in Éirinn, cinnte.

But what are some of the more traditional references to béigil in the Irish context?  I have a hazy memory of once hearing Cathal McConnell referring to “bagel dogs” in Ireland.  Bhuel, actually he was introducing one of the showpiece tunes of The Boys of the Lough, a sound-effects-laden tour de force which imitates hunting horns and baying hounds, before launching into the actual “Foxhunter’s Jig.”  He noted that “bayguls” (/beɪgəlz/), as he pronounced it, were part of the hunt, and clarified that he meant the dogs, and then repeated the word as “beeguls” (/bigəlz/), for the sake of the Meiriceánaigh in the lucht éisteachta.  Of course, there is something intriguing about the notion of bagels themselves being part of the hunt, rolling over hill and dale, in hot pursuit of the wild lox, oops, I meant, fox.  And assuming that the poll lárnach of the bagels could be some sort of mouthpart, surely the sound emanating from this cascade would resemble “uaill na conairte.”  So perhaps that’s what put the “bay” in “bagels” (instead of the more typical explanation, from Sean-Ard-Ghearmáinis, that “bagel” is based on the word “boug” (fáinne / a ring).

I originally thought I’d be able to do “green bagels” and “green rivers” i mblag amháin, ach mar a thiteann sé amach, that’s a little too much for “aon bhlag amháin.”  Especially because amidst my online perusing I found various references to both “Abhainn Ghlas” (“green river”) and “Abhainn Uaine” (“green river”) in Scotland, as actual rivers, not temporary manmade spectacles for Lá Fhéile Pádraig.  So, is there actually any significant difference in the color of the water in these two rivers?  And if we’re talking about “the color of water,” we could also ponder the water’s peatiness, since that’s such an important factor, at least for the drioglanna in Scotland.  Dála an scéil, cén Ghaeilge a bheadh ar “peatiness”?  Does the “glaise” or “uaine” of the “uisce” tell us anything about the peatiness or smoky flavor of the “fuisce” (uisce beatha)?  Hidreolaí ar bith?  Or perhaps we should ask a “hidreolaí portaigh“!  Anyway, aibhneacha glasa/uaine will be ábhar an chéad bhlag eile.  

Ní bhfuair mé an focal Gaeilge ar “peatiness” in áit ar bith ach caithfidh sé go bhfuil a leithéid d’fhocal ann.  “*Móinteachas”?  “*Móineacht”?  Barúil ag duine ar bith?  Just to add to the intrigue (that is if, like me, you find lenition intriguing), I should also note the existence of “An Abhainn Ghlas” (a baile fearainn or townland, not an actual river, i gCo. Mhaigh Eo) and “Abhainn Glas” [sic], gan séimhiú, a development in Meathas Troim, Co. an Longfoirt. Maybe there are more such logainmneacha?

Bhuel, sin é an scéal, béigeal le mo bhéal, SGF, Róislín

Gluais: brúite, mashed; conairt, pack of hounds; glaise, greenness; glas, green, gray (grey); glas, a lock; hidreolaí portaigh, a peat hydrologist (interesting occupation!); iasc, fish; iasceolaí, ichthyologist; lárnach, central; Meathas Troim, Mostrim/Edgeworthstown; poll, hole; uaill, howling, baying; uaine, green, greenness


1) Maidir le “greenfish,” one of the translations of “iasc glas,” there are at least five possibilities of which fish it refers to: Ascension wrasse, Bluefish, Murray cod, Pollock (which I understand is actually white), and St. Helena wrasse.  Eolas ag iasceolaí ar bith amuigh ansin cén ceann atá i gceist i nGaeilge? 

2) A traditional ending to Irish stories was “Sin é mo scéal, Dia le mo bhéal.” (That’s my story, God with, i.e. bless, my mouth).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

Leave a comment: