Irish Language Blog

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Posted by on Mar 11, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

As we prepare to celebrate Lá Fhéile Pádraig, this might be a good time to review some phrases from previous St. Patrick’s Day blogs and to add some new ones.

Ar dtús, let’s go back to the very first blog in this series (, which introduced quite a few terms, among them:

glas vs. uaine, both meaning “green,” with “glas” used primarily for natural items, like féar (grass) or duilleoga (leaves) and “uaine” used primarily for man-made items, like geansaithe (ganseys or sweaters or jumpers or pullovers, abaamBaa).

Cad is ciall le “abaamBaa”?  Féach ar an nóta thíos.

béigil uaine, green bagels (man-made), not sure if these are actually available in Éirinn, but they can be found i Meiriceá, at least ar an gCósta Thoir,

beoir uaine, green beer, also man–made; pionta beoir uaine, a pint of green beer, even though we say “pionta beorach” for just a plain pint of beer.  The trend these days in Irish is to drop the use of the tuiseal ginideach (here “beorach” instead of “beoir”) when the phrase is indefinite (“a pint,” not “the pint,” “my pint,” “your pint,” “your man’s pint,” or “thon man’s pint”!) AND an adjective is involved in the second part of the phrase (in this case, “green”).  Not an absolute rule, but it does make life simpler.

abhainn ghlas, green river: searching around the Internet revealed a tendency to refer to green-dyed rivers as “glas” even though the dye is man-made.  Maybe because the river itself is natural.  One could make a case for either adjective, I suppose.

naomh vs. san, with “naomh” usually used for Irish saints and “san” for non-Irish ones (Naomh Pádraig, San Nioclás)

The Irish term for Saint Patrick’s Day doesn’t include the word “saint,” just the term for “feast-day”: Lá Fhéile Pádraig (day of the feast-day of Patrick).  It’s conventional NOT to lenite “Pádraig” here, even to show possession; it’s an exception primarily made when discussing saints.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ort (oraibh), Happy Saint Patrick’s Day on you (on you, pl.).  Literally, “the blessings of the feast-day of Patrick on you.”  This is the traditional greeting.  Soon I’ll make my annual cruise through the latest St. Patrick’s Day slogans online, and see if anything blogworthy comes up.  Moltaí?

SGF, ó Róislín

Nóta: abaamBaa: it seems that if we’re going to do so much txtg while talking about possible translations, we might as well have an abbreviation to stand for “ag brath ar an mBéarla atá agat” (depending on which English is at you, depending on your English).  I say this here because in US English, a jumper is completely different from a gansey, sweater, or pullover, and most Americans, at least most non-Irish-Americans, aren’t familiar with the term “gansey.”  So, an maith libh mo théarma nua, “abaamBaa”?  Sounds fairly catchy to me, we’ll see if it takes.  Kinda singable, too!

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