Irish Language Blog

Lá na nAmadán…na nGamal?…na nÓinseach?…na bPleidhcí?…na bPleotaí? Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

We may be well accustomed to calling April 1stLá na nAmadán” in Irish, but couldn’t there be some other possibilities as well?  Irish has many words for “a fool,” so what would happen if we tried some of the others?  And, grammatically speaking, how do we work backwards from “fools” in the genitive plural to the nominative singular form, in other words, to the form you would use to say, “He is a fool” or “She is fool.”  Just before you duck, that is!

Let’s start with “amadán,” since it’s probably the most familiar.  First declension, masculine, eclipsis (urú) for the genitive plural (na n-amadán).  So reverse engineering it and including the definite article for good measure, we have: na n-amadán, na hamadáin, an amadáin (cóta an amadáin), and an t-amadán Is amadán é.  Is é an t-amadán ar an gcnoc é (gotta find a definite article example somewhere to work that “t” prefix in, brón orm, a Bheatles!)

Although “gamail” (fools) are not honored in the name of the holiday, what would happen if they were (na ngamal, of the fools)?  First declension, masculine, eclipsis in the genitive plural: na ngamal, na gamail, an ghamail (hata an ghamail), an gamal.  The nominative singular (aka common) form is “gamal.”  Is gamal é.  Cá as an gamal a bhí ar an gcnoc?

I’ll jump now to “pleidhce” and “pleota,” saving “óinseach” for last, because of the extra discussion involved in discussing male and female fools.

Na bPleidhcí (of the fools).  Got the routine?  Fourth declension, masculine, eclipsis and “-í” ending for genitive plural: na bpleidhcí, na pleidhcí, an phleidhce (caipín an phleidhce), an pleidhce.  So “pleidhce” is the basic form.  An pleidhce a bhí ar an gcnoc nó amadán (Is it a “pleidhce” or an “amadán” that was on the hill?). Nó pleidhce amadáin (or a “silly fool”)?  And, for an example with the definite article: “Féach an pleidhce amach romhainn,” translated by Learaí na Láibe (hey, there’s mud, láib/láibe, again – shoulda known, it’s the Mudcat site!) as “Look at the messer in front of us) from the “Langer” song (

Na bPleotaí (of the fools).  Fourth declension, masculine.  Undo the eclipsis,  Nominative plural is “na pleotaí.”  Genitive singular has lenition, as in “Beany Copter an phleota.”  Nominative singular: an pleota.  Is pleota é.  And with “an” (the), here’s a sample: “Agus tá na gnáthfhadhbanna fós á ciapadh: an Pleota sa bhaile agus Bean Uí Bhatamór ar scoil” (from a “blurba” for the children’s book “Cailitín” by Caitríona Ní Mhurchú,  Further description tells us that “an Pleota” is the main character’s “silly brother.”  Ní nach ionadh!

And finally we have “na n-óinseach” (of the female fools).  Second declension, feminine, eclipsis (of the vowel) in the genitive plural.  Working backwards, we get: na n-óinseach, na hóinseacha, na hóinsí (fear na hóinsí), an óinseach.  Is óinseach í.  An raibh an óinseach ó Charraig na nÓinseach ag caint leis an amadán a bhí ar an gcnoc (Was the female fool from “the Rock of the Female Fools” talking with the male fool that was on the hill)?  You might be wondering, where’s that “t-“ for “amadán”?  Gone, because now “amadán” is in a prepositional phrase and the rules change.  Where’s Carraig na nÓinseach, for that matter?  Tá sí i gContae Phort Láirge, where it is also known as “Carrignanonshagh.”

By the way, I checked “Lá na nÓinseach” online to see if it has been proposed, to give us “equal opportunity” fooldom, and found cúpla sampla, which was about what I anticipated.  Most were mixed with “na nAmadán” as the “she/he” approach sometimes recommended for English usage:

Johnny (on “Nárbh fhearr dúinn “Lá na n-Amadán is na n-Óinseach” a thabhairt ar an lá áirithe seo sa lá atá inniu ann- ceartas polaitiúil, ionadaíocht 50/50, 7rl, 7rl, 7rl….. 😉

Agus freagra do Johnny ó “Mhíshásta”:

Míshásta: “Níl aon ghá le ‘La na nÓinseach’ mar léiríonn na hÓinsigh [sic] a nÓinseachas tríd an mbliain go léir.  Anois, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil an ráiteas san an-PC ach an oiread. 😉

And “Gael” also answered Johnny, perhaps a little more diplomatically or, at least, self-deprecatingly:

Gael: “B’fhéidir gur cheart, ach tá mise ró-leisciúil chun é sin go léir a scríobh. :P”

All of the above from: (3-6 Aibreán, 2006)

And also equal opportunity:

Austin Stacks GAA Hurling & Football Club, Ladies Club News, 26ú Márta ‘012 (as they write it themselves):

“Our next game is away to Na Gaeil on April 1st…Lá na nAmadán is na nÓinseach” (

So bottom line, the phrase for the holiday uses “na n-amadán,” but there are many other ways to say “fool” in Irish.  Putting them in the genitive plural (to say “of the fools”) requires various amounts of mutation and changes to the ending.  The process is actually fairly predictable, once you get the declensions straight.  Which suggests that soon might be a good time to review the declension series introduced some time ago, starting with (April 8, 2011).  So after a little more pleidhcíocht, pleotaíocht, and maybe even mental piollardaíocht, we’ll get back to the nitty-gritty and decline some nouns.  Go dtí sin, SGF, Róislín

P.S. And btw, a final word of warning re: Google translate (for all its sometime merits):

All Fools’ Day came out as “go léir [+] a amadáin [+] lá”.

April Fools’ Day (plural) came out as “fools [+] Aibreán [+] lá” (that’s right, it didn’t translate “fools” – and there are so many choices!)

April Fool’s Day (singular) came out as “Aibreán [+] amadán [+]  lá”

April Fools Day with no apostrophe at all (grrr!) came out as “Aibreán [+] amadáin [+]  lá”

And a deliberately mistyped phrase, “April Fool’s’ Day” came out as “Aibreán [+] amadán [+] ar [+] “ ‘lá ” (yes, it put an apostrophe before the word “lá” – hunh??).

As you may have guessed, I added the plus signs, to break up the flow, so the non-grammatical Irish doesn’t get read as a legitimate phrase.

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