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    Learning Irish

For the interested student or scholar there are a variety of textbooks which can be used when learning Irish. Among the most popular are the following:


The above book, Teach Yourself Irish, was first published by Myles Dillon, an established scholar in Irish and Celtic Studies, and Donnacha Ó Cróinín. It was reorganised and a revised edition was produced by Diarmuid ó Sé and Joseph Sheils in 1993 (left-most image). This edition was in its turn revised and published again in 2001 (centre image) and sound files were supplied on the accompanying CD. A third edition appeared in 2004 (right-most image). The accent provided on the CD is a southern one from Corca Dhuibhne (the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry).

In the same series there is now a (short) book (with 3 CDs) Teach Yourself Irish Conversation by Máire and Dónall Mac Ruairí, published in 2007 by the American publisher McGraw Hill. A similar book on grammar appeared in 2005.


The second major textbook is Learning Irish by Mícheál Ó Siadhail, published originally by the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, but later marketed by Yale University Press (rightmost image below). This work appeared originally in 1980 with an accompanying set of 3 audio cassettes on which the author read the exercises for each lesson. The grammar is based solely on the dialect of Connemara. The author has taken liberties with the spelling, attempting to reflect the features of western Irish by altering the Irish orthography, something which is well likely to confuse users of the book unacquainted with the differences between standard Irish grammar and the dialect of Connemara.


In the past few years, a number of educational publications for Irish have either appeared or are in the process of being published. The following book (left) is intended for the market of beginners in the language. A multimedia course is also available (below right) in the Teach Me! series (see


The following book contains a large amount of audio material and explains the differences between the dialects to intermediate learners of the language. The book contains interviews with native speakers which are then explained from the language point of view.

A further multimedia course for Irish was produced by Radió Telefís Éireann with a DVD containing the complete series from Irish television (see

A two-volume work is about to appear (in early 2008) with the English publishers Routledge written by the American linguist Nancy Stenson. These books are designed to be used by beginners (volume one) and intermediate learners (volume two).


Apart from the above books, there is a considerable amount of material published in Ireland and intended for the Irish market. Some of these are textbooks consisting of sets of lessons and others are more of a reference nature. Both types are illustrated by the following two books.


The books published in Ireland are frequently in Irish (as with the above left example, the title means ‘A new course in Irish’) and are frequently aimed at pupils and students. The following are examples of these.


Aids to acquiring vocabulary and idioms are also available, often published by departments of the Irish government, notably An Gúm.

In addition to works on grammar, there are some which deal with more specific aspects of language, such as phonetics or language history as shown in the following two examples.


Lastly, a work should be metioned which is now more of historic interest but which did stimulate interest in the language in the 1960s at a time when instructive material on Irish was hard to come by. The following textbooks result from the television series of the same name which ran for some considerable time on Radió Telefís Éireann, the national television network. Audio cassettes were also available for the series.