Irish Language Blog

Cén dath atá ar ghruaig d’athar? (some Irish questions for Father’s Day) Posted by on Jun 20, 2015 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In the last few blogs, we’ve been looking at the color of hair (gruaig), beards (féasóga), and even sideburns (locaí).  In honor of Lá na nAithreacha, why don’t we look at saying what color hair your father has, and if he has them, what color féasóg, croiméal (mustache) and locaí he might also have.   Remember, we’re using the word “ar” (on) in these sentences.  In Irish, we say such and such a color is “on” the person, not that they “have” it.

Before we really get started, let’s also be sure to include a general greeting for the holiday, “Lá na nAithreacha Sona” (Happy Father’s Day [law nuh NAH-rzhukh-uh SUN-uh), which, word by word, means, “day of the fathers happy.”

Now, back to hair color.  Remember the pattern, like “Tá gruaig ghorm orm,” a deir Marge Simpson (lit. blue hair is on me).  If you want to say “on my father,” to describe his hair color, it’s “ar m’athair.”  But if you’re answering a question and want a slightly shorter answer, you can substitute “air” [erzh], which means “on him.”

For the questions, I’ll be asking “An bhfuil … ar d’athair?” (Is … on your father?).  Some people also use “ar t’athair” (on your father) but that’s a little less standard.

So let’s see how many of you will answer “yes” () for these questions:

1) An bhfuil gruaig rua ar d’athair?   (Tá / Níl)

2) An bhfuil féasóg fhada liath ar d’athair?  (Tá / Níl)

3) An bhfuil croiméal dubh ar d’athair? (Tá / Níl)

4) An bhfuil locaí stothacha ar d’athair? (Tá / Níl)

5) An bhfuil “paiste anama” ar d’athair?  (Tá / Níl).  Muna bhfuil, an féidir leat smaoineamh ar fhear ar bith a raibh (a bhfuil) paiste anama air?  Tá freagra amháin thíos–b’fhéidir go bhfuil cúpla ainm eile agat.

And for good measure, it’s not really a question, but I guess we could say

6) “Níl ach cúpla ribe gruaige ar m’athair,” a deir Bart Simpson, “agus níl mé cinnte cén dath atá orthu.”

And, finally, and unfortunately for the sake of grammar practice, Ambrose Burnside (1824-1881), from whom we get the word “sideburns,” didn’t have any children, so we can’t make a realistic sentence in which we could definitively say, “Tá locaí ar m’athair agus is uaidhsean a fhaigheann muid an t-ainmfhocal ‘sideburns’ i mBéarla.”  But we could imagine such a sentence if he had had children.

And if you think a discussion of “sideburns” borders on the simply trivial, there was an interesting article from 1957 (February 8) in the New York Times, reporting that Bruce Dern, a track athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, quit the track team rather than shave his Elvis Presley-type sideburns (a locaí ar nós Elvis Presley).  He would have been required to shave them to stay on the team.  Hmmm, I wonder how such issues would play out today!  (nasc:, alt le díol ar $3.95).  And, lo and behold, or should I say, iontas na n-iontas, it looks like this is Bruce Dern, the actor (an t-aisteoir).  His Wikipedia bio doesn’t mention the sideburns issue, but it indicates that was born in 1936 and that he attended the University of Pennsylvania, which would have made him the right age for a university student in 1957.  I suppose if I were really dedicated to the topic, I could check out all the episodes of an early TV series he was on, Surfside 6, to see if he still sported the “locaí.”  If so, I guess we could call them his “surfside-burns.”  But, believe it or not, I have a few more pressing things to do, although I do really enjoy vintage TV.  Surfside 6 ran from 1960 to 1962.  And sometime, if I’m “ag surfáil an Idirlín,” I’ll see if I can find a good “grianghraf” of him (agus na locaí air!).  Bhuel, on that bad side-burns pun note, SGF- Róislín

Freagra: Maynard G. Krebs ar an gclár Dobie Gillis

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


  1. Jon Moran:

    Have I seen “Fifty Shades of Gray?”
    Yeah. Every time I look in the mirror.

Leave a comment: