Irish Language Blog

If You’re Not a ‘Tuíodóir’ (Thatcher) by Trade, How About …? Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

In the last few blogs, we’ve been looking at tuí, tuíodóirí, and tuíodóireacht (thatch, thatcher, thatching).  It’s an interesting topic in this day and age, both as an occupation and as a springboard for further discussion of Irish vocabulary (like “cíor thuí” and “sáiteoir,” or their intriguing English equivalents, “leggatt” and “spurtle”).

But somehow, I doubt that many of our readers here earn their living as tuíodóiríDuine ar bith agaibh?  In fact, that does raise an interesting question, how many professional thatchers are there today in Ireland, in Britain, in the Irish Diaspora?  That’s too big a ceist to work into an blag seo, but I’m working up roinnt réamhfhigiúirí for an chéad bhlag eile.

Anyway, back to more mainstream occupations.  There are actually lots of occupation terms that follow a similar pattern to tuí/tuíodóir/tuíodóireacht, where we start with the physical object connected to the trade or activity  and add a suffix to indicate the person or device involved (here, “-óir,” similar to “-or” or “-er” in English).  In many cases, we add a longer suffix (-óireacht) to indicate the activity, often equivalent to the English “gerund.”  Or we could think of “-eacht” as a second suffix, added to the “-óir” agent ending.

Some the terms formed with the “-óir” suffix refer to devices, machines or tools which perform a specific functions.  For example, I hope that the term athpholladóir ([AH-FOL-uh-doh-irzh] reperforator) is limited to a machine, not a person with “athpholladh ([AH-FOL-uh] lit. re-piercing)” as a job.  It sounds rather aontonach as jobs go.  For today’s blog I focused on words where the form ending in “-óir” will be a person’s job.

Some terms might easily apply to a person or a machine, for example, a “cutter” could be “gearrthóir,” as a person’s job, probably in a clothing factory, or it could be “gearrthóir” as a tool that cuts.

Note that while most of these terms involve actual jobs, some are more likely hobbies or avocations, but the pattern is still the same (core subject, person, activity).  I’ve listed 10 terms in that sequence below, with 10.  Below them, you’ll find the English for the occupation to match, and the freagraí for the meaitseáil below that:

1.  adhmad, adhmadóir, adhmadóireacht

2. aer-ghrianghraf, aer-ghrianghrafadóir, aer-ghrianghrafadóireacht

3. ambasáid, ambasadóir, ambasadóireacht

4. bád, bádóir, bádóireacht

5.  ceap, ceapadóir, ceapadóireacht

6.  dreap, dreapadóir, dreapadóireacht

7. garraí, garraíodóir, garraíodóireacht

8.. grianghraf, grianghrafadóir, grianghrafadóireacht

9. seol, seoltóir, seoltóireacht

10. sleá (or “sleán”), sleádóir, sleádóireacht

Now can you match the occupational term with the group above: a) photographer, b) climber, c) sailor, d) ambassador, e) woodworker, f) gardener, g) aerial photographer, h) shaper/inventor/composer (also, these days, “outfielder”), i) turf-cutter,  j) boatman (hmm, these days, I guess we should use “person,” giving us “boatperson” but that could suggest a singular form of “boat people,” which would have an entirely different connotation … boater, perhaps, but then that could be a hat, and there has already been enough mistaking of people for hats, ever since Oliver Sacks classic study has spawned an opera, at least two dramas, an indie pop album, and other pop culture characters and catchphrases )

In some cases, the main noun and agent combination are used but there’s little or no evidence of the “gerund” form, basically due to the nature of the work:

airgead, airgeadóir (cashier)  There is a concept of “cashiering,” of course, but it’s completely different from operating a cash register; “cashiering” in the military sense of “breaking” (dismissal with disgrace) an officer would be “briseadh” in Irish, just like the “briseadh” in “ag briseadh na fuinneoige.”

Another exceptional example is “basadóir” (match-maker or go-between), which is based on the word “ambassador.”  So there’s no root noun, since “ambasáid” wouldn’t really apply.  I also don’t see any evidence of the “-eacht” suffix being added, for “match-making,” although it seems like a likely enough combination.  A variation of this word, “basadaeir,” exists, but again, I don’t seen any evidence of it having a verbal noun, with the “-eacht” ending, despite the seeming usefulness of such a word.   The same is true for yet another word for matchmaker, “babhdóir,” which also seems to lack an “-eacht” form, at least in typical sources.  So what do we do for the verbal noun, the activity of match-making?  Change gear altogether, and use the phrase “déanamh cleamhnais.”   But going further into that would definitely be ábhar blag eile, perhaps touching base with Barry Fitzgerald’s iconic depiction of the role, in The Quiet Man.

Whatever the occupation, you can easily practice the word in short dialogues like the following:

A: Cén post atá agat?

B: Is adhmadóir mé.  (Note the word order: “is,” the verb, first; then the occupation; finally, the subject)


A: Cén post a bhí ag Richard Avedon?

B: Grianghrafadóir a bhí ann.

There’s probably an infinite number of job titles out there, and not all of them end in “-óir,” by any means.   Other typical endings for job names are “-eoir” (múinteoir), “-aire” (iascaire), and “-aí” (rúnaí).  But a lot of them do end in “-óir” and so today’s blog has featured a representative sample.   If you didn’t find your job listed, please write in either to add it to the list or to inquire as to what it would be.   SGF, Róislín

Freagraí: 1e) adhmadóir, woodworker; 2g) aer-ghrianghrafadóir, aerial photographer; 3d) ambasadóir, ambassador; 4j) bádóir, boatman; 5h) ceapadóir, shaper/inventor/composer/outfielder; 6b) dreapadóir, climber; 7f) garraíodóir, gardener (NB: the series is based on “garraí,” which means “garden” or “small field,” not “gairdín,” another widely used word for “garden”); 8a) grianghrafadóir, photographer (based on the word “grianghraf,” literally “sun-graph”);  9c) seoltóir, sailor; 10i) sleádóir, turf-cutter (based on “sleán,” a turf-spade or slane, originally spelled “sleaghán” and based on “sleá,” originally spelled “sleagh” and meaning “spear,” ” lance,” or “javelin.”

Nóta maidir le “bádóir”: “Bádóir” can also be the insect “water boatman,” which in and of itself has two meanings.  In the US, it’s an insect of the Corixidae family, which swims right-side-up.  In Ireland and Britain, it’s an insect of the Notonectidae family that swims on its back (a “backswimmer”).  Bhuel, sin ábhar do na feithideolaithe ar an liosta.  What I’d really like to know though, is what do we call a female water-boatman, in English or in Irish.  Bádóir baineann?  Ban-bhádóir?  Water-boatwoman?  Or is there no special term, even for those studying átairgeadh na bhfeithidí seo? 

Nóta  eile maidir le “bádóir”: The Irish for a “boater” (the straw hat) is more specific than the English.  It’s “hata bádóireachta.”  Not that I’m aware of the boater (hat) being particularly prevalent in Ireland, let alone sa Ghaeltacht.  AFAIK, it’s mostly associated with Sasasa (geallta bád agus scoileanna poiblí, is mó), An Afraic Theas, An Astráil, An Nua-Shéalainn, agus, sna Stáit, Ollscoil Princeton (an banna ceoil) agus Ollscoil Pennsylvania (le haghaidh “Hey Day”).


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