Irish Language Blog

Téarmaí Ginealeolaíochta: Genealogical Terms in Irish Posted by on Jun 20, 2009 in Irish Language

Are you working ar do chraobh ghinealaigh (on your family tree)?  Are you interested i nginealeolaíocht (in genealogy)?  If so, these terms could be useful.  They are shown as vocabulary items and with sample phrases or questions. 


ainm (name): Cén t-ainm atá ort?  What’s your name? 


sloinne (surname): Cén sloinne atá ort?  What’s your surname?


sloinne (…)  roimh phósadh (maiden name): Cén sloinne a bhí ort roimh phósadh?  What was your maiden name?


céile (spouse, partner, mate, plus many idiomatic uses):  Bhí sé i bhfad óna dhaoine céile.  He was far from his own people.   


bean (woman, wife):  Seo í bean Liam.  This is Liam’s wife.


bean chéile: wife (a slightly more formal term):  Seo í bean chéile Liam.  This is Liam’s wife.


fear (man, husband): Seo é fear Aoife.  This is Aoife’s husband.


fear céile (husband, a slightly more formal term).  Seo é fear céile Aoife.  This is Aoife’s husband.


dáta breithe: date of birth.  Cad é dáta breithe do mháthar?  What is your mother’s date of birth?


clann (one’s own children, clan, sept, offspring, descendants):  Is iad Clanna Mhic Ruairí iad.  They are the McRorys.


treibh (tribe, clan, people): Cérbh iad treibheanna na Gaillimhe?  Who were the tribes of Galway?  Seo na sloinnte a bhí orthu.  Here are their surnames: Átaoi, de Bláca, Bóidicín, de Brún, Ó Dorchaí, Ó Déin, Fant (Fónt), Frinse, Seoigh, Ó Ciarubháin, Ó Loingsigh, Ó Máirtín, Ó Muiris, Sciréid.


Did you recognize the tribal names of Galway?  Here they are in English, but guess what, the order is scrambled – just for a little more dúshlán (challenge): Bodkin, Joyce, ffont (de Fuente), D’Arcy, Skerrett, Lynch, Martin, Blake, Morris, Athy, Deane, Browne, ffrench, Kirwan.


Leideanna fuaimnithe (pronunciations tips):

dúshlán [DOO-hlawn, the “s” is completely silent]: challenge

craobh [kreev]: this word usually means “branch” (not “tree”)

do chraobh [duh khreev; after the word “do” (your), craobh changes to chraobh] your tree

ginealach [GIN-yal-ukh, that’s “gin” as in “begin,” not as in “gin and tonic”]: genealogy, pedigree

ghinealaigh [YIN-yal-ee]: of genealogy

craobh ghinealaigh [kreev YIN-yal-ee] family tree, lit. tree of genealogy


Tuilleadh téarmaí ginealeolaíochta, le do thoil!  More genealogy terms, please!  If that’s do mhian (your wish), just let me know in the “comments” box.  Those of you reading this in your email may have to go to Transparent’s website to get to the “comments” box.  You can just cut and paste that request, or be more specific, if you like (like “How do I say ‘the wife of my great-great-great-great-grandfather?”).  Slán go fóill (goodbye for now). 

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  1. Megan:

    I would really like some more of these terms! And thank you so much for everything you’ve presented so far.

    I’m running into problems with immigration ports. (Is that the right word?) Also, boat manifests. How do I ask about those?



  2. Megan:

    Do you Twitter?

  3. Megan:

    Nevermind. Long day. LOL

  4. Róislín:

    A Megan, a chara,

    I’ll post a blog about these and other immigration terms soon. Ach smaoineamh amháin (one thought), if you’re looking at records kept in Ireland during the peak of emigration, I doubt there’ll be much actually written in Irish. But for current research purposes, or writing to cartlanna (archives) today, it could be useful. Go raibh maith agat as a bheith ag cur suime sa Ghaeilge. Thank you for your interest in Irish! – Róislin

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