Irish Language Blog

The Word ‘Picnic’ in Irish and the Mysterious Insect ‘Créachadóir na bPicnicí’ Posted by on Aug 22, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín),_Brooklyn_Museum_IMG_3787.JPG, A Pic-Nic Party (The Picnic), by Thomas Cole (1801-1848), public domain; lipéad Gaeilge le Róislín, 2018

It’s not hard to figure out how to say ‘picnic’ in Irish – it’s “picnic”!  The only thing that’s a bit tricky is to figure out what slight changes might occur to the word when we use it in different phrases and sentences.  After we work through those, we’ll don our entomological caps (ár gcaipíní feithideolaíochta) and check out “Créachadóir na bPicnicí”.

Depending on the exact text in which the Irish word “picnic” is used, we might add a ‘b,’ an ‘h,’ an ‘e,’ or an ‘í’ to the spelling.

Let’s start with the basics:

picnic, a picnic

Now the changes start:

an phicnic, the picnic, we add the “h” because “picnic” is feminine in Irish, a language in which all nouns have grammatical gender (as in Spanish, French, Latin, German, etc.).  Remember “ph” is an “f” sound. The same rule of adding “h” (called “séimhiú“) applies to thousands of other Irish words like “bean / an bhean” (woman, the woman) or “cathaoir / an chathaoir” (chair, the chair).

ag an bpicnic, at the picnic (the “b” is pronounced but not the “p,” so it sounds like “bic-nic”).  We can also say “ag an phicnic” in Northern Irish, with “ph” instead of “bp.”

bia na picnice, the food of the picnic (remember, Irish has no silent final “e’s” like English does, so this is pronounced more or less like “PIC-nik-yeh”).

Plural forms:

picnicí, picnics

na picnicí, the picnics (adding the “-í”) for the plural ending.

ar phicnicí, on picnics; ag dul ar phicnicí, going on picnics

And one more change, if we want to say, “of the picnics,” adding initial “b” plus the plural ending:

na bpicnicí, of the picnics, as in “séasúr na bpicnicí” (the season of the picnics, the picnic season) or “tar éis na bpicnicí” (after the picnics), which can also be expressed as “i ndiaidh na bpicnicí.”

And here’s a link to a more whimsical example of the phrase “na bpicnicí”:, leathanach 12.  In 2007, the artist Bill Fallover created a series of humorous posters of “míolta bruscair” (litterbugs), made from discarded objects and bits of trash.  The Summer 2012 edition of the online publication Líon an Dúlra offers some fun Irish translations of the captions, including “Créachadóir an bPicnicí” (The Picnic Predator, lit. The Predator of the Picnics).  The creature even has an official-sounding Latin taxonomic name – Cibus praedator.  There are five more litterbugs in the Irish series, a fun translating challenge, even though the rest of them don’t have to do with picnics: Míol Fola na Trá, Míol na bhFálta Sceach, Míol Tionsclaíoch, Míol Slíoctha na gCosán, Míol Greamaitheach.  Can you translate them?  Freagraí thíos.

Hope you found some time this summer to “dul ar phicnicí” (go on picnics).  Does anyone have an especially fond memory of a “picnic iontach”?  If so, please write in and let us know where you were, and what made it “go hiontach.”  SGF – Róislín

Freagraí:  the official version, plus a literal translation:

  • Míol Fola na Trá, Bloody Beach Bug (lit. bug of blood of the beach)
  • Míol na bhFálta Sceach, Hedgerow Hopper (bug of the hedgerows)
  • Míol Tionsclaíoch, Industrial Waster (lit. industrial bug)
  • Míol Slíoctha na gCosán, Sneaky Sidewalker (lit. sleek bug of the sidewalks/footpaths/footways)
  • Míol Greamaitheach, Wriggley [sic] Bug (lit. sticky bug)

The English versions are available at

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