Irish Language Blog

Téarmaí Oíche Shamhna: Cineálacha Cultacha (Halloween Terms: ‘Kinds of Costumes’ in Irish) Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)



By early October, the maisiúcháin and cultacha are already in full force sna siopaíCéard atá pleanáilte agatsa faoi choinne Oíche Shamhna?

We’ve talked about cultacha (costumes) previously in this blog, but this would be a good time to review some of the traditional ones.  And to find out if you’ve got any zany or off-beat costume ideas up your sleeve for this year.

By the way, the Irish for “sleeve” is interesting — “muinchille.”  Totally unlike the English, clearly, but not so far from  the Latin “manica” and its derivatives like “manche” in French, “manica” in Italian (unchanged from the Latin), and ” màniga” in Catalan.    Actually browsing through some dictionaries in a variety of languages, it looks like there are about 50 terms for types of sleeves and a good handful of expressions about them.  Can we find them all in Irish?  Bhuel, ábhar blag eile!  But just a reminder here that Irish vocabulary is sometimes closer to Latin than to English.

And now, back to “Oíche Shamhna,” with traditional costumes and a “banc focal” to match them with.  The freagraí are thíos, with a few pronunciation tips.

 a. superhero  b. skeleton  c. ghost  d. vampire  e. wizard
 f. princess  g. cat  h. pirate  i. devil  j. gangster


  1. cat
  2. taibhse
  3. diabhal
  4. draíodóir
  5. sárlaoch
  6. pioráid
  7. vaimpír
  8. drongadóir (go minic le todóg sa bhéal, todóg chandaí, is dócha, más amhlaidh go raibh páistí i gceist)
  9. cnámharlach
  10. banphrionsa

Of course, to judge by a lot of the costumes for young girls today, it would be 1) banphrionsa, 2) banphrionsa, 3) banphrionsa, 4) banphrionsa, 5) banphrionsa, 6) banphrionsa, 7) banphrionsa, 8) banphrionsa, 9) banphrionsa, and 10) banphrionsa.  Bhuel, sin é an saol!

Maidir le cultacha neamhghnácha (as for offbeat costumes), I remember someone once who went as a night-table (cóifrín cois leapa, lit. bedside table), complete with lamp.  The table part was fitted around the waist, and had a few night-tabley odds and ends fastened to it:  clog, leabhar, spéaclaí, agus rudaí mar sin.  If it were today, there would be a fón póca, no doubt.  Bhí scáthlán lampa mar hata ar cheann an duine.  Sin ceann suimiúil amháin.

Bliain amháin rinne mise culaith “mac tíre in éadaí caorach,” or as the slightly more traditional Irish expression goes, “i gcraiceann caorach.”  In my case, though, it really was more like “éadaí,” since the outer part of the costume was a cóta craiceann caorach (bréige, ar ndóigh, ní maith liom cóta fionnaidh de shaghas ar bith).  Bhí éifeachtaí fuaime (glamanna mic tíre agus méileach chaorach) san áireamh, ar chaiséad.

Céard fútsa?  An mbeidh culaith Oíche Shamhna ort i mbliana?  Más amhlaidh go mbeidh, cén sórt?  Céard í an chulaith Oíche Shamhna is aistí nó is greannmhaire a bhfuil cuimhne agat uirthi?  Ag tnúth le d’fhreagraí  — Róislín

PS: We’ll return to the “ainmneacha plandaí” (luibhainmneacha) series, at some point, but October does give us a lot of nice Halloween and related topics to discuss. 

Gluais:  cnámharlach, skeleton; craiceann, skin; fionnaidh, of fur; fuaime, of sound; glam, a howl; méileach, bleating; maidir le, regarding; más amhlaidh, if thus; san áireamh, in the account, in the counting, here the sense is “complete with” (complete with sound effects); todóg, cigar

más amhlaidh go mbeidh, if it is thus that there will be (i.e. “if so”), a longish phrase since we can’t link “” (if) directly with “b(h)eidh” (will be)


1g. cat, cat

2c. taibhse, ghost [say “TYV-shuh,” with the “TYV” like “drive” or “thrive,” not like “give”)

3i. diabhal, devil [say “DJEE-uh-wul, there’s no “b” sound as such]

  1. e. draíodóir, wizard [DRrree-uh-dohrzh, with a flapped “R” in the “draí-” part, i.e. lightly and briefly trilled, and a slender “r” in the “-dóir” part, like the “R” in the composer’s name, Dvořák.

5a. sárlaoch, superhero [say “sawrrr-laykh” or “sawrrr-leekh,” that’s “aw” similar to English “paw” or “law,” not, for any Welsh speakers, like Welsh “awr” or “llawr”]

6h. pioráid, pirate [say “PIRrr-awdj”]

7d. vaimpír, vampire

8j. drongadóir, gangster

9b. cnámharlach, skeleton

  1. f. banphrionsa, princess, lit. “woman-prince” [say “BAHN-FRINSS-uh, with the “ph” like “f”]
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