Is úar gáeth
i ndorus tige na lláech;
batar inmaine laích
bítis etrainn ocus gaíth.
The wind is cold
in the doorway of the warriors’ house;
beloved were the warriors
who stood between us and the wind.
(This elegiac verse is recited by Rónán in the tragic tale “Fingal Rónáin”.)
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr! Athbhiain Faoi Mhaise! Blein Vie Noa! Happy New Year!
fI’ve plenty of things I can recommend, so I’ll list here the resources I find best to use (programmes you can buy, a few free online things), plus some that will help you along with the learning process. Good goal by the way.
TeachYourself: Irish (by Diarmuid O Se); this is a good foundation to start with. You can buy either just the book, or the book plus three CDs to go along with it. The pronunciation on the CDs is good, and the whole programme focuses mainly on An Caighdean Oifigiuil (the standard dialect), but throws in some of the three others here and there. It lets you know when it’s using the others, and explains a few variations in grammar between them. I always recommend this as a starting point as the foundation it provides is pretty solid; keeping things simple and to the point, but expanding on grammar and explanations in a way that isn’t too heavy or overbearing for someone just starting out (which can be a negative for those who want or need in-depth grammar studying). Also a good refresher for one who has some Irish but is rusty.
Learning Irish (by Michael O Siadhail); More advanced than Teach Yourself: Irish. Very grammar heavy, work intensive, and focuses on a Cois Fharraige (Connemara) dialect. One of the hard parts in this book is conjugation; it will give you verbs to conjugate, but will not conjugate them for you. That’s sort of the model for the whole thing, it’s a lot of work, but you come out of it all the better for it so this is one of my favourites.
Speaking Irish: An Ghaeilge Beo (by Siuan Ni Mhaonaigh & Antain Mac Lochlainn) Far more advanced than the other two. This focuses on a “street level” of spoken Irish, meaning that the speed and inflection of the conversations in the audio are not slowed down or edited at all, it is just as you would hear conversation spoken between two native speakers in an everyday situation. The speakers are all from various regions as well. The DVD is all in Irish with no subtitles, but the book includes the conversations transcribed in both Irish and English for one to use.
Turas Teanga (by Eamonn O Donaill) Again, more advanced than the first two. This is a DVD set with Sharon Ni Bheolain and she goes around interviewing people across the country in Irish. The exercises in the book are geared toward what is on the DVD, and it’s really focused on your speaking and listening rather than any grammar (just like the Speaking Irish programme).
Two smaller, less-expensive, but popular, books would be Buntus Cainte and Progress in Irish. Both have been around for a long time and are widely used in classes. They’re very simple, for beginners, and the learning is done through repetition in them. There are no pronunciation keys, though I think that Buntus Cainte does have CDs now, but I have yet to listen to one myself so I couldn’t tell you anything about the nature of it). They’re very good for leaning vocabulary and phrases though.
Two free online sources: Erin’s Web Irish (http://www.erinsweb.com/gae_index.html): well-structured lessons with pronunciation keys. Follows a model fairly similar to the Teach Yourself book. No complaints about this one, afterall, it’s free.
And also: Learn Irish with Liam O Maonlai, on the Independent’s website (http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/education/features/learn-irish-with-liam-o-maonlai-692551.html) free PDFs and Audio files to go along with them.
Other resources that will help you along the way: Book dictionaries: An Focloir Gaeilge Bearla by Niall O Dhonaill (Irish to English only), and it’s counterpart English-Irish Dictionary by De Bhaldraithe (English to Irish only). The bibles.
Focal.ie is a free online dictionary run by Trinity college. Potafocal.ie is another free online dictionary that uses multiple sources and includes the words in phrases
Listen to a lot of stuff on Raidio na Gaeltachta and TG4. If you’re not in Ireland, you can go to their respective websites and stream the music or shows for free. Ronan Beo @ 3 has a free podcast that is updated about once a week (mass updated; so once a week you get five different new podcasts from that week to download). He’s from Gweedore so has that accent, and he speaks quickly so it can be intimidating at first, but I cannot stress how important it is just to listen to the language whether you can understand it or not. It will help tune your ear and you will pick things up before you know it, and it will also help with your pronunciation.
Also when you’re getting stuck, pick up a few books to translate. I have some recommendation for those if you want any as well (it gets tricky to weed through the crappy or overly difficult books from the good ones when you don’t know what you’re looking for), or even books from English to Irish. It can take a while and be frustrating, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get, obviously.
*Avoid Rosetta stone. Unless you can get it for free, it’s just not worth the money.
So, sin agat anois. I hope that something in there will help! Very good resolution, by the way. Adh mor ort (sorry, fada-incapable laptop I’m on at the moment.) Good luck!
Lá an Dreoilín shona daoibh! Happy wren day everyone!