Irish Language Blog

Children’s Books in Irish by Gwyneth Wynn: References, Links, and Vocabulary (pt. 3 of 3)  Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Irish Language

 (le Róislín)

Bhuel, we’ve recently been looking at stories about ainmhithe (béar, madra, leon, broc, srl.), plandaí (crainn mhóra, crann beag), and an aimsir (an bháisteach) in books in Irish by Gwyneth Wynn.  What else makes the world go round?  How about draíocht (magic)?  The final book in our discussion will be Clíona Cailleach, with “cailleach” meaning “witch.”  As you may have already found out, “cailleach” is a fascinating word, which has at least 10 other meanings, among them:  hag (a word I consciously avoid using in English, btw), old woman, veiled woman (!), nun (normally “bean rialta” these days), midwife (normally “cnáimhseach” these days), precocious girl (also a “pramsóg,” “grabóg,” and even “caillichín“), stump, shriveled object (!), and somewhat mysteriously, “alcove.”  With “sean-” (old) as a prefix, it can mean “crone.”  As always, context is critical in determining how to translate the word “cailleach” these days.

Today we’ll briefly recap the background of the earlier books and move on to discuss Clíona Cailleach, which is Wynn’s most recent publication.

In  Micí ar an bPortach and Micí agus an Rí we  looked at some interesting vocabulary, like gróigeán (vs. cruach), and leite.  For the Beartla Broc (Beartla Badger) books, I mentioned that I can’t offer a detailed examination, since I yet been able to obtain copies, but I did include some links to library events featuring Beartla Broc himself (bhuel, i ndáiríre, duine éigin i gculaith bhroic, broc a bhí gléasta in éadaí daonna).  As I said before, I’d love to locate some copies.  An í Wynn an chéad Beatrix Potter eile?

The recent blog posts also covered a bit of biographical information about the author, based on page at  Amazon Authors (nasc thíos).  She mentioned coming to Ireland in 1992 to learn Irish (already being a Welsh speaker), and as we can see, staying, in the heart of the Gaeltacht no less, in Ros Muc.  Nach tarraingteach an teanga í an teanga Gaeilge!

Today we’ll look at Clíona Cailleach, and as we did with Lá Breá Báistí, the discussion is based mainly on blurba an fhoilsitheora, since I still don’t have my own copy.  If you haven’t read the previous blogposts yet (naisc thíos), please remember that no. 1 was An Crann Beag, no. 2. was Lá Breá Báistí, and today we’ll start directly with no. 3.

3) Clíona Cailleach (Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2015)

“Cailleach óg í Clíona agus tá sí an-mhíshasta. Tá a cuid múinteoirí i Scoil na gCailleach agus a cuid tuismitheoirí ag éirí an-mhífhoighdeach léi agus bíonn na gasúir eile ar scoil ag magadh fúithi.

“”Ina cuid ranganna draíochta caithfidh sí créatúir bheaga ar nós damháin alla, francaigh agus míoltóga a bhruth [sic] i bpota mór iarainn.  Ach is iad na cairde is fearr ar domhan aici iad na créatúir chéanna agus níl sé de chroí inti a leithéid a dhéanamh!

“”Dá mbeadh bealach éigin eile ann le tabhairt faoin draíocht . . . (

“”Clíona is a junior witch and she is very unhappy. Both her teachers at the School for Witches and her parents are getting very impatient with her and the other kids at school always make fun of her.

“In her magic classes she has to use spiders, rats and flies as ingredients and boil them in a cauldron. But they are the best friends she has in the whole world and she just can’t!

“If only there was some other way to practise magic…” (


(a) Scoil na gCailleach, a nice genitive plural, adding the l.c. “g” before “Cailleach.” Literally it’s “The School of the Witches” although it’s translated as “The School for Witches” in the blurb. Not really a big deal, except for the fact that there are at least 20 ways to say “for” in Irish, and by saying “Scoil na gCailleach” you don’t have to worry about picking which one.  Just use the genitive case.  As easy as, can I say, pióg?  Pick your poison, anyway — you can try picking of one of 20 ways to say “for” in Irish  or use the nice, simple, rule-abiding genitive case!  “Rule-abiding” because it’s a straightforward 2nd-declension noun — not all examples of the genitive case are exactly what I’d call “rule-abiding.”

(b) na gasúir eile, here, presumably, the Conamara usage of “gasúir” for “children,” not just “boys,” which would usually be the interpretation outside Conamara

(c) créatúir bheaga: another lenited plural adjective, this time after “créatúir,” because of the “i” inserted in “créatúr” to make it plural, so: créatúr beag, a small creature (usually implying pitiable as well), créatúir bheaga, small creatures)

(d) ar domhan: note that English usually says “in the world” but Irish literally says “on world”

(e) le tabhairt faoi: used here for “to practice,” maybe a little more like “to give (one’s attention) to”

Well, I hope this was fun and informative reading, and that you’ll have a chance to read this and Wynn’s other books.  I’d love to see them translated into Welsh, but I think it’s really cool that, at least so far, they’re not available in English.  Talk about motivation!  – SGF — Róislín

PS: do léitheoirí Meiriceánacha: bíodh cuimhne agaibh go ndeirtear “to practice” agus “a practice” i mBéarla Meiriceánach ach go ndeirtear “to practise” agus “a practice” i mBéarla Shasana agus na hÉireann.   Cosúil leis, ar bhealach: Meiriceá: to license, a license; Sasana, Éire, srl.: to license, a licence.  Vive la difference, I guess.  Just when you thought it was enough to deal with Irish spelling, the nuances of English spelling rear their “cinn ghránna,” to borrow an English idiom!

Naisc (in ord cúlaitheach):

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

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:

Cló Iar-Chonnacht (foilsitheoir an leabhair):

nasc do liosta (nach iomlán) de dhíoltóirí leabhartha Gaeilge:

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