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The Irish For: The word Tory comes from the Irish word tóraí meaning a bandit or outlaw

If you’re doing your Irish oral exam next week – you’ll need to know how to say ‘confidence and supply agreement’ and ‘frictionless border’, writes Darach Ó Séaghdha.

Darach Ó Séaghdha Writer

This the latest dispatch from our columnist Darach Ó Séaghdha, author of the award-winning and bestselling Motherfoclóir. Every week, Darach will be regaling (re-Gaeling?) us with insights on what the Irish language says about Ireland, our society, our past and our present. Enjoy.

I’M NOT SURE if it happened by accident or design, but the end of Seachtain na Gaeilge coincides with the beginning of the Leaving Cert Irish oral exams.

I’m sure those words will stir memories for some older readers – the anxiety beforehand and the relief afterwards. Followed immediately by the l’esprit d’escalier sensation as you remembered all the prepared phrases you had that you didn’t fit in.

When I was doing the Leaving, I remember talking in my oral exam about the Peace Process (dar liom, tá an próiseas síochána i mbaol), the Oscars (d’éirigh leis an scannán Braveheart cúig Oscar a fháil) and music (is maith liom Janes Addiction ach is fearr liom na Pixies).
Today’s Leaving Cert candidates are more likely to read about Braveheart, the Pixies and the Peace Process in history class than in Irish.

Barring the odd repeat student, the class of 2019 were born after 9/11, that means that they have never used a non-smartphone mobile and have only heard about the floppy discs that represent the ‘save’ action on their computers.

So what might they talk about?

There are a few Irish words and phrases for new and contemporary things including current affairs, which I’ve gathered from the brand new tearma.ie website, which is run by the Gaois research group in Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge (DCU) in partnership with Foras na Gaeilge’s Terminology Committee.

Comhaontú Muiníne agus Soláthair : This means a Confidence and Supply Agreement, such as is in place in Ireland between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael but also in the UK between the Conservatives and the DUP.

If you are following this line you might like to mention that the word Tory comes from the Irish word tóraí (a bandit or outlaw).
PAD: The Irish for DUP would be PAD (an Páirtí Aontachtach Daonlathach). So does that make them PAD-dies?

It’d be best to use the full name in the first instance before dropping acronyms.
Teorainn Réidh: A frictionless border. Réidh can mean smooth and easy… but it can also mean finished.
Athrú Aeráide: Climate change is an all-too hot topic that Brexit has drawn political resources away from but you may as well bring it up before your examiner does.

You could drop a line like “tá an fharraige ag fiuchadh” (the sea is boiling) into the conversation. Even better, delight your examiner with “tá an fharraige fhiáin ag fiuchadh” (the wild sea is boiling) which uses the classic three-word alliteration that made Peig Sayers so popular.
Ospidéal/Otharlann: If you want to chat about the news, you might like to mention progress with a proposed hospital.

This gives you the opportunity to show you know both words for it – “dúirt mé ‘ospidéal’ ach is fearr liom an focal otharlann”.
Lucht Leanúna na Simpsons in Éirinn: How do you segue from talking about the news to your favourite TV shows or memes?

By mentioning Ireland Simpsons Fans, of course. This will also free you to mention liamháis ghalaithe (steamed hams).

While personal names aren’t generally translated, it’s worth noting that bua means victory but bú means “boo” – are you saying bú or bua-urns?

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Aisling: Fans of the Oh My God What A Complete Aisling series of novels will find plenty of appropriate Irish terminology in this recent piece in Nós. 

Cailín tuaithe being a country girl, bróga compordacha being comfortable shoes.

Note that “bootcut jeans” isn’t translated because the concept is so alien to the true Gael. 

Darach’s book, ‘Craic Baby: Dispatches From A Rising Language’ is published by Head of Zeus and available in bookshops now.

He runs @theirishfor Twitter account and the @motherfocloir podcast.

About the author:

Darach Ó Séaghdha  / Writer

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