Irish Language Blog

Logainmneacha Ceilteacha agus Náisiúntachtaí a Dó: Celtic Place Names and Nationalities – Ireland and the Irish Posted by on Apr 24, 2009 in Irish Language

  We recently discussed the place name “Albain” (Scotland) and now will turn to ”Éire” (Ireland)..  Here are some examples of the nationality, the place name, and related phrases:   


  Éireannach, an Irishman or person.  This can be made feminine, “Éireannach mná,” but, the same as my experience with “Albanach mná,” most people don’t seem to bother.  The feminine form basically means “a woman Irishman.”


  an tÉireannach, the Irishman.  Remember the lower-case “t” from “an tAlbanach”?  Same thing applies here.  There is no dash as there would be for a lower-case generic noun like “an t-éirí “(the take-off, or literally, rising).  Note how the use of the dash is governed by capitalization, not by what the word means, since the dash disappears in the phrase “an tÉirí Amach (the Rising, as in the 1916 Easter Rising).  The full name for this event is, of course, Éirí Amach na Cásca (the Rising of “the” Easter), where both the definite article and the prefixed “t” have disappeared.  Why?  Irish only uses one definite article per phrase, so “na” covers both “Éirí Amach” and “Cásca.” 


  Likewise, we say, “an tÉireannachas” (the Irishness, Irish characteristics) but “Éireannachas na nGael-Mheiriceánach” (the Irishness of the Irish-Americans), with no “t.”  Of course, with another angle, we could say “Gaelachas na nGael-Mheiriceánach” but the difference between “Gaelachas” and “Éireannachas” will have to be ábhar blag eile (the subject of another blog). 


  The forms of the place name are:


  Éire: used as the subject or direct object of a sentence


  Éirinn: used after most prepositions, be ready for prefixes! 


  Éireann  or hÉireann: the possessive or genitive case form, for phrases like Banc na hÉireann (The Bank of Ireland). 


Seo samplaí (guess what that means!):


  Is Éireannach é an t-amhránaí Daniel O’Donnell.  The singer Daniel O’Donnell is an Irishman.  . 


  Tá mé ag dul go hÉirinn ar mo laethe saoire.  I’m going to Ireland on my holidays.

Same prefixing of “h” after the preposition “go” as we saw with “go hAlbain.” .


  Cá bhfuil Baile Átha Cliath? Tá Baile Átha Cliath in Éirinn, ach tá naoi “nDublin” i Meiriceá freisin.  Where is Dublin?  Dublin is in Ireland, but there are nine Dublins in America also.  The phrase “in Éirinn” used to be written “i nÉirinn,” (and sometimes still is), showing more clearly that the “n” of “in” is an addition to the basic form “i.”  As for the nine American Dublins, I think I’ll coin an acrainm (acronym) for all these future topics: Á.B.E (ábhar blag eile).  Of course, I’ll check the acronyms lists online to make sure that isn’t already in use, but it seems unlikely.  And if so, I’ll just add to its úsáid (usage).


  Gaeilge na hÉireann (the Irish or Gaelic of Ireland).  This phrase would most likely be used to contrast with “Gaeilge na hAlban.”  Normally, when speaking Irish, just to say “Gaeilge” is enough, without qualifying it.  Here “Éire” has been changed to the possessive form, “na hÉireann.” The ending is now “-eann.”  As with “na hAlban,” a lower-case “h” is prefixed, again, because, this word starts with a vowel and is possessive.  The word “na” here means “of the.” 


  As with the Scottish example, you might wonder, “Where did the ‘the’ come from?”  Same explanation as for “na hAlban.”  “The” isn’t used in the basic form of the country’s name, Éire, but is added for the possessive.  Remember “muintir na hAlban” and “muintir na hÉireann”?  More on the other Celtic place names and nationalities i mblag eile sa tsraith seo.. – Bhur mblagálaí, Róislín

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