Irish Language Blog

Children’s Books in Irish by Gwyneth Wynn:  References, Links, and Vocabulary (pt. 2) Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

If you’ve been following the most recent blogposts (na blagmhíreanna is déanaí, naisc thíos), then you’ve followed our discussion of Micí, Teidí, Beartla Broc, agus An Crann Beag, in books by Irish- and Welsh-speaking author/illustrator Gwyneth Wynn.  Today we’ll briefly recap the background and move on to discuss one or two of her other books.

We started with Micí ar an bPortach and Micí agus an Rí, and looked at quite a few vocabulary words from those.  One of the most interesting, I think, is “gróigeán” (a small stack of footed turf, stacked almost vertically for drying, not the big stack that would eventually be stored near the house, which would typically be called a “cruach“).  In fact, how many ways are there to say “a stack” in Irish?  I can think of about ten, but that’s definitely ábhar blagmhíre eile.  Another fun and useful word, from Micí agus an Rí, is “leite” (porridge), fun partly because it shows up in one of my favorite Irish phrases, “lámha leitean” (porridge-hands, used like “butterfingers” in English).  Not that “lámha leitean” as such shows up in the Micí books, but it’s always good to expand one’s vocabulary through the extended word family.

For the two Beartla Broc (Beartla Badger) books, I can’t offer as detailed an examination, since I haven’t found them for sale online anywhere, but the last blogpost did include a few links to photos of someone in a Beartla Broc costume reading to kids.  As I said before, I’d love to locate some copies.

The last blog also mentioned that I had finally found some biographical information about the author, thanks to her Amazon authors page (nasc thíos).  I had always been intrigued as to how such delightful Irish books had come to be written by someone with such a distinctively Welsh name, some of whose family members (mentioned in the “tiomnaithe” at the beginning of the books) also have distinctively Welsh names.   Wynn mentions coming to Ireland in 1992 to learn Irish, and apparently she stayed!

In today’s blogpost, we’ll look at another one of her books, based mainly on blurba an fhoilsitheora, since I don’t actually have a copy yet.  But even a book blurb can give us some food for vocabularian thought.  If you haven’t read the previous blogpost yet (nasc thíos), please remember that no. 1, from the previous post, was An Crann Beag, so this post will start directly with no. 2.

2) Lá Breá Báistí (An Gúm, 2004)

“Ag gearán agus ag cnáimhseáil a bhí na daoine fásta. Agus cúis mhaith acu mar lá gruama báistí a bhí ann. Ach bhain cailín óg aonair, Síle, an-sult go deo as tráthnóna an lae sin. Is iontach an rud an óige!

“A rainy day in Connemara doesn’t do much for adults but for a lonely young girl, Sí­le, the afternoon turned out to be one of sheer unadulterated enjoyment. ” (


a)) ag gearán, complaining, sometimes also “accusing”; ag cnáimhseáil, complaining, grumbling

b)) the English blurb and the Irish are pretty different in that the Irish ends by saying, “Is iontach an rud an óige!” (lit. “Youth is a wonderful thing”), while the English concludes by saying that the girl had an afternoon of “sheer unadulterated enjoyment.” If we took the phrase “sheer unadulterated enjoyment” literally, we’d have:

(i) sheer: “fíor-“ (lit. true) or “amach is amach” (lit. out and out); this is, of course, “sheer” used for emphasis, not for transparency, which would be “tréshoilseach,” kind of like saying “through-light-ish”

(ii) unadulterated: could also be “amach is amach” — interesting how “amach is amach” could be translated as “sheer” or as “unadulterated,” depending on context. In fact, “amach is amach” may be one of the most flexible phrases in Irish, since it can be translated about 50 different ways. Ach sin ábhar blagmhíre eile!

Or we could go with “iomlán” (complete, completely) or “críochnaithe” (finished, confirmed, all-around, etc.).  It’s clearly not “unadulterated” in the sense of “pure,” which would be “gan truailliú” or “íon” or “gan mheascadh” or “neamhthruaillithe.”   Fun, though, that by describing the fun as “unadulterated,” the blurb writer (an “*blurbadóir,” to maybe coin a word?) also subtly suggests that part of the girl’s fun was that adults weren’t involved!  Intentional?

(iii) enjoyment:  “sult” is probably the most basic here, but there other options (aoibhneas, pléisiúr, sásamh, só, suáilce, and taitneamh).  And you know I always enjoy it when there are at least five ways of saying something in Irish!

So, somehow we could combine these and say “fíorshult amach is amach” (or some other combination), but it just doesn’t seem to have the same panache as the catchy Irish phrase “Is iontach an rud an óige!”  This looks to me like another case where a literal translation back and forth wouldn’t do full justice to either language.  If the English had simply translated “Youth is a wonderful thing!” I don’t think it would have resonated the way the Irish does.  Irish has a whole slew of expressions that start out with “Is maith an …” or “Is iontach an …” or even negatives (“Is olc an …“), so using “Is iontach an rud an óige” is the perfect focal scoir.

There’s an additional write-up, with a little more detail about the story at: [sic]

And it does look like it will take one more blogpost to finish this overview of Wynn’s books.  Ag súil leis an gcéad bhlagmhír eile a scríobh.  SGF — Róislín


Children’s Books in Irish by Gwyneth Wynn: References, Links, and Vocabulary (pt. 1) Posted by róislín on Apr 22, 2017 in Irish Language

Leabhar Eile le Gwyneth Wynn: Micí agus an Rí (Another Mini Irish Glossary) Posted by róislín on Apr 19, 2017 in Irish Language

An Irish Vocabulary Guide for Gwyneth Wynn’s ‘Micí ar an bPortach’ Posted by róislín on Apr 16, 2017 in Irish Language

leathanach údair Wynn:

nasc do dhíoltóir leabhartha Gaeilge:

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