Irish Language Blog

Lá na nAithreacha – Father’s Day (An Tríú Domhnach i Mí an Mheithimh) Posted by on Jun 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

This blog will be a round-up of terms connected to fathers, in honor of Lá na nAithreacha (Father’s Day, lit. Day of the Fathers).  We’ll start with the basics (athair) and the less formal forms “Dad” and “Daddy,” and continue with more specialized phrases, like “godfather” and “Father Christmas.”

athair [AH-hirzh], father

How about the possessive form?  You’ve probably already seen it in the blessing, “In the name of the Father.”  Note that the spelling and pronunciation are slightly changed (-ar, not –air) because it’s sa tuiseal ginideach:

In Ainm an Athar [in AN-yim un AH-hur], In the Name of the Father

More forms of the same word:

an t-athair [un TAH-hirzh], the father

aithreacha [AH-hrzhukh-uh], fathers

na haithreacha [nuh HAH-hrzhukh-uh], the fathers

na n-aithreacha [nuh NAH-hrzhukh-uh], of the fathers

For “Dad” or “Daddy,” there are several choices: Daid, Deaid, Daide, Daidí, and Deaidí.  “Daidín” is also an alternative to “Daid” et. al. but less commonly used.  “Daidín” gives us “Na Daidíní,” a old term for the Cladach fishermen of Contae na Gaillimhe

And, of course, there are many related terms, of which just a sample are shown here:

 atharthacht [AH-hur-hukht, note silent t’s] paternity 

 athair altrama, foster-father

 athair céile, father-in-law. 

 athair faoistine [… FWEESH-tchin-yeh], father confessor

 Athair na Nollag OR Daidí na Nollag, Father (or Daddy) Christmas

Aithreacha na hEaglaise [… nuh HAG-lish-eh], the Church Fathers

Aithreacha na Cathrach [… nuh KAH-hrukh, silent “t”], the City Fathers

ionadaí athar or samhail d’athair, father-figure: note the two different ways these are constructed: ionadaí athar is literally “a father’s representative” whereas the “samhail” construction uses the preposition “de” with “athair,” typically contracted to “d’athair.”  So what difference does it make?  Well, using an tuiseal ginideach, for one – “father’s, i.e. of a father” expressed using the genitive case (athar) has no “i” but “of a father” using the preposition “de” keeps the original “i.”  Now isn’t that special?  Or at least interesting to lucht na mionrudaí (the detail-oriented).

athair baistí, godfather (in religious sense), lit. “baptismal father.”  That’s as opposed to Mr. “Lionheart,” úúps, I mean Mr. Corleone, who was a “seanóir,” or to be more specific, “seanóir coirpeachta.”  Of course, given the tight family connections (an understatement), he was probably an “athair baistí” as well.  “Seanóir” has a fascinating and wide range of meanings besides “godfather”: alderman, elder, elder statesman, and senior citizen.  “Coirpeacht” means “crime.”  Makes one wonder — if Mario Puzo had originally written the novel in Irish (yeah, a stretch, I know), what would have the title have been?  The double entendre would have been trickier to construct in Irish, at least with this set of words.  In general, of course, Irish lends itself to all forms of imeartas focal, as much as any other language. 

I’m not going to really tap into the terms for “grandfather” sa bhlag seo, but will when we return to the theme of Grandparents’ Day, in mid-September.  But a quick reminder, in case you really need to know: seanathair, athair mór (especially in Donegal), athair críonna (especially in Munster Irish), and familiarly, “daideo,” “daid mór,” and “daid críonna” (Grand-dad, etc.). 

If there’s not a lot of fuililiú about Father’s Day in Irish, at least not traditionally, we should remember that even in America, the holiday itself is barely céad bliain d’aois.  The date for the first Father’s Day in America is variously reported as 1910, 1916, 1924, 1966, and 1972, depending on how one defines “first” and also on what constitutes a “permanent national observance” as opposed to a “celebration” in general.

Gluais: baistí [BASH-tchee]; Domhnach [DOH-nukh], Sunday; fuililiú, hullaballoo; na Gaillimhe [nuh GAL-yiv-eh] of Galway; samhail [SOW-il, with “ow” like “ouch” or “now”] likeness, semblance; seanóir [SHAN-oh-irzh]; tríú [TRzhEE-oo], third; tuiseal ginideach [TISH-ul GyIN-udj-ukh], genitive case

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