Irish Language Blog

Irish Words for ‘Potato’: Práta, Fata, Préata Posted by on Jul 8, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

By Scott Bauer (United States Department of Agriculture (link)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;

You may have heard the tune, “The Garden Where The Praties Grow”.  Ever wonder why it’s not, “The Garden Where The Spuds Grow,” since “spuds” is another  popular nickname for potatoes in Ireland?

We may not have the answer to the “spuds” aspect of the question, but we can at least discuss the term “praties” and its precedents in Irish.  A few pronunciation tips are also given.  Three typical words for “potato” in Irish are:

práta (standard, i.e An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, and Munster-dialect Irish, e.g. Cork, Kerry, etc.)

fata (Connacht Irish, e.g. Gaeilge Chonamara)

préata (Donegal Irish, although I have heard “práta” there also)

In this blogpost, we’ll look at using these three words in sentences and phrases such as “I like potatoes” or “the taste of the potatoes.”  Each of the three forms mentioned above has several different spellings and pronunciations, depending on exactly how it’s being used.

práta, potato

an práta, the potato

an phráta, of the potato, blas an phráta, the taste of the potato

prátaí, potatoes, Is maith liom prátaí, I like potatoes, lit. “Potatoes are good with me)

na prátaí, the potatoes

na bprátaí, of the potatoes, blas na bprátaí, the taste of the potatoes

So those are the forms most learners will learn.

But if you’re in Conamara, you might want to try these:

an fata, the potato

an fhata, of the potato (remember, the “fh” is silent)

fataí, potatoes; Is maith le muintir Chonnachta fataí, Connacht people like potatoes.  

na  fataí, the potatoes

na bhfataí, of the potatoes (remember, the “bhf” is pronounced “w” here)

Up north (Gaeilge Uladh, i.e. Ulster Irish), you could use the following:

an préata, the potato

an phréata, of the potato (remember, the “ph” is pronounced “f”)

préataí, potatoes; Is maith le muintir Uladh préataí, Ulster people like potatoes.

na préataí, the potatoes

na bpréataí, of the potatoes

So that’s three sets of choices.  Take your pick!

As for the tune, “The Garden Where The Praties Grow,” the pronunciation is obviously closest to the Ulster version of the words for potatoes.  Offhand, though, I don’t know if this tune has a known geographic origin.  If any, reader here does know, it would be great if you could write in and let us know. Scríobh isteach, más mian leat má tá eolas ar bith agat faoi sin.

As for any food topic, we could close with, “Bíodh goile agat” (Have an appetite, lit. Let there be appetite, or “a stomach,” at you) or simply, “Bain sult as do bhéile” (Enjoy your meal, lit. “Strike enjoyment out of your meal”).  Slán go fóill – Róislín

PS: “The usual word for “stomach” in Irish is “bolg,” but “goile” is sometimes used, especially it seems in more clinically medical situations.

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