Irish Language Learning Resources

75 days ago

In case I die tonight, you should know these things. Learning Irish is never easy, but it is easier, when you have the right tools. It is the twenty first century for crying out loud! The only thing that remains is the investment of time. Your time.

“Pota Focal is a collection of Irish dictionaries built from” several sources. Pota Focal is able to suggest alternative spellings and shows examples in the “Bilingual glossaries from all the articles ever published in the webzine Beo!”


Irish articles on contemporary topics with an option for inline glossaries (translations of phrases which appear in parenthesis in the sentence).

“Foras na Gaeilge’s New English-Irish Dictionary… is available free of charge, and has been adapted to work both on desktop computers and on mobile devices.” This is a proper English-Irish dictionary with cases, tenses and example phrases.

“ the on-line Dictionary and Language Library, which is being developed by Foras na Gaeilge in parallel with the New English-Irish Dictionary project. The aim of the site is to provide users of the language with free, easy-to-use access to dictionaries and to grammatical and pronunciation information relating to words in the Irish Language.” This is a proper Irish-English dictionary with cases, tenses and example phrases. There is a grammar database and a pronunciation database, speaking spoken pronunciations of thousands of words in Ulster, Connacht and Munster dialects.

It’s not a curse word, its a dictionary. “This is the National Terminology Database for Irish, developed by Fiontar, DCU in collaboration with An Coiste Téarmaíochta, Foras na Gaeilge.” Precise spellings must be entered and alternatives are not suggested. The content tends toward computer, legal and government terminology.

Place Name database for Ireland with spoken pronunciations. “Placenames Database of Ireland, developed by Fiontar (DCU) and The Placenames Branch (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht).”

“There are 1,715 biographies on this site. All of the featured lives, from 1560 to the present day, had a connection to the Irish language. The contents of the site are based on the series Beathaisnéis by Diarmuid Breathnach and Máire Ní Mhurchú.”


“dú is a project to digitize the National Folklore Collection of Ireland, one of the largest folklore collections in the world. There is 80% (c. 64,000 items) of the material from four counties in the Schools’ Collection available on this site. New material will be made available on a phased basis.”

Verbix Irish (Gaelic) Verb Conjugator

Database of verb conjugations with a subsection for Ireland. The ‘Go’ button on the main search widget seems to be broken.

Forvo – Irish

“All the words in the world. Pronounced.” Database of spoken pronunciations with a subsection for Irish. You can create an account and record word pronunciations if you are a native speaker.

Nuacht 24

Irish language news with an emphasis on the arts and culture.

…and of course, the old standbys,

RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta

Live radio, radio on demand, and (occasionally) podcasts of Irish language shows. Largely focused on officially Irish speaking areas, but national and international news coverage as well. Hint: ‘Éist anois’ next to the ‘play’ triangle means ‘play now’.


Mostly Irish language television, often with subtitles. Not all shows are available outside Ireland.

First Steps in Irish

By the Christian Brothers
One example of the numerous online Irish language courses. “The following are MP3 files, which will play in most browsers, or may be downloaded and played using
computer applications or in a stand-alone MP3 player. “

Vóta 2014

Shannon Ware


Comment [1]


Irish Democracy Today

82 days ago

Local and EU parliament elections are about 15 days away; May 23 to be exact. Kate and I are registered to vote, and we intend to do so. I was born and raised in the United States. As Americans, we feel particularly proud of our democracy. It bears saying that democracy in 2014 has marked differences from what it was in 1776. Democracy is a peculiar thing: if it does not evolve, it does not exist. It never evolves in accordance with the vision of one man, or else it is not democracy. It must evolve in accordance with the aggregate will of all the people. It is therefore, in a sense, always out of control.

One of the themes I have seen in the current election is that of ‘eDemocracy’. I have not taken the time to research it, so I don’t know the technical definition, but I think it has to do with some of the things I will share here.

‘You must be on the electoral roll’

I took a bus trip with the local Men’s Shed last Wednesday, and we heard a lecture from the EU Parliament satellite office in Dublin about the EU. What it does, how it works, where it is going. On the coach ride there I saw an electronic billboard that said, basically, ‘Vote’, and ‘make sure you are registered to vote by visiting’. So, upon returning home, I did. It turns out we did not come up in the search on, but a phone call confirmed that Kate and I are in fact registered to vote. The reason being that we are on the supplemental register, since the main register is only updated once a year.

The Irish Political Landscape

Today on the Irish Times I saw a video advertising a,

state-of-the-art, EU-wide voting advice application for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament. The purpose of EUVOX is to help citizens to select the political party that best matches their own policy preferences

After clicking buttons to quickly answer thirty questions, I could see not only where I stood on the major electoral issues of the day, but also where the six main Irish parties stood. Here is a graphical overview:

EU vox party spread

The Future of Democratic Government

Wednesday saw the shock resignation of Ireland’s Minister for Justice. Thursday saw the appointment of his replacement. And with that, the last piece was placed of a puzzle picture that reveals a surprising new reality: “Ireland’s justice system is now completely headed by women.”

Having been raised by my ma and my grandma, I don’t expect this to be a bad thing. I remember reading once someone saying that as democratic institutions become more established, we will see more of them headed by women. Women (speaking in broad terms, which of course don’t always apply) tend to be oriented toward dialogue, consensus building, complex thinking that takes multiple viewpoints into account. This could be that. Time will tell.

Heads of the Irish Justice System

Attorney General Máire Whelan, SC
Claire Loftus, Director of Public Prosecutions
Chief Justice Susan Denham
Noirín O’Sullivan, Interim Garda Commissioner
Eileen Creedon, Chief State Solicitor
Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice
Source: RTE News

Shannon Ware




Update on our Fight to Remain in Ireland

104 days ago

Hello everyone. This is Shannon. I would like to update you on our fight to remain in Ireland as of today, 15 April 2014. Thank you very much everyone for your support. Many people have stopped me on the street and asked me how things are going, so I thought it would be good to provide a summary for everyone.

Bearwakers In Ireland


Our solicitor has informed us that the Humanitarian Leave to Remain (HLTR) application was lodged on time. The original time forecast for a final decision is a broad ‘between a couple of months and up to six years’. This is because the Department of Justice has no statutory requirement to make a decision on our application within any period of time.

Practically speaking, if we were from a war-torn country, they might put off the decision on our application as long as possible. Because we are from North America, they might want to execute judgement sooner rather than later. So the fact that we have not had a judgement for or against us as of yet I count as good news. Time is on our side, and I believe that with each day that passes, the chances of us being here another day go up as well.

In September 2012 we applied for a change of status from a Stamp 3 to a Stamp 4. This time our solicitor has informed us that the previous application was handled under an ‘ad-hoc administrative procedure’, but our current application is under a ‘statutory procedure’. Which is to say, when the government gets applications like our previous change of status request, they handle them as they see fit. But the HLTR application which we have in now is designated by law; by law the Minister of Justice must review it, and by law all of the representations made on our behalf (all of your letters of support), must be acknowledged and taken into account.


One of our supporter-advisors has recommend that being able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the Irish language would be in our favour during this process. In response, I have taken up the study of Irish more or less full time. Éistimid go leor leor leis Radio na Gaeltachta, et cetera. We approached a couple of Irish language tutors about private tutoring, but with Leaving Certs just 50 days away (!!!) they are too busy to take us on. Perhaps this summer, God willing.


We got a call from our lawyer this morning. The fact that the Irish Region Authority (Údarás na Gaeltachta) said they would support our business of mobile app development back in 2012 is a big deal now. I have asked them to reiterate their support in writing. If they do, it may mean a quick judgement in our favour.

Also, we had interfaced with Enterprise Ireland, Bank of Ireland, and South Kerry Development Partnerships, and they let us know what they want to see from our business (basically, jobs). So if we do get status (leave to remain and permission to register the business), we will do our best to provide quality employment for those willing live in rural Ireland.

The Department of Justice is concerned that if they give us status, we will go on the dole right away. Proving that we can and will support ourselves in the state is secondary to the girls’ integration into the school, but very important nonetheless.


It is a crazy mixed up world where people under threat of deportation would have the right to vote. Welcome to my world. Kate and I have registered to vote in the May elections, and we intend to do so. And you should vote to; not because it will make a difference, but because it is the first step in exercising all of your democratic rights.


In conclusion, as I said, I feel that every day that goes by in which we are here, in a real and practical way increases the likelihood that we will be here yet another day. The discussion seems to have changed from whether or not we should be allowed to stay, to how we would support ourselves should we be allowed to stay. We are enjoying each day that we have, in this beautiful land, with these beautiful people, and taking the opportunity to foghlaim na Gaeilge which we have been given.

Míle buíochas (many thanks),

Shannon Ware




Tá Mé ag Fhoghlaim Gaeilge, Aríst!

132 days ago

Tá mé ag fhoghlaim Gaeilge.
Ba mhaith liom Gaeilge a lathairt.

TEDx talk by Chris Lonsdale.

Things that don’t matter in language learning:

  • Talent
  • Immersion (per se)

“A drowning man cannot learn to swim.”

What does matter:

Language modeling

  • Attention
  • Meaning
  • Relevance
  • Memory

Five Principles of Rapid Language Acquisition

  1. Focus on language content that is relevant to you.
    We master tools by using tools; we learn tools fastest when they are relevant to us.
  2. Use your New Language as a Tool to Communicate, right from Day 1.
  3. When you first understand the message, you unconsciously acquire the language. “Comprehensible input”; comprehension works; comprehension is key. Language learning is not about accumulating lots of knowledge. In many ways it is about
  4. Physiological Training. “If you can’t hear it, you won’t understand it, and if you don’t understand it, you are not going to learn it. You have to be able to hear the sounds… Speaking requires muscle; if your face is hurting you are doing it right.”
  5. Psychophysiological States matters, and you need to be tolerant of ambiguity.

Seven Actions for Rapid Language Acquisition

Action 1: Listen a lot. “Brain Soaking”
Action 2: Focus on the meaning first. Get the meaning first before you get the words. Use body language. (Understanding through comprehensible input.)
Action 3: Start mixing. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work.”
Action 4: Focus on the core (high frequency content). For English, 1000 words is 85% of anything you are going to say in daily communication; 3000 words gives you 98% of anything you are going to say in daily conversation.

Week 1 Tool Box (in the target language):

  • What is this?
  • How do you say?
  • I don’t understand…
  • What does that mean?
  • Repeat that please.

Week 2-3 Pronouns, Common Verbs, Simple Nouns

Week 4 Glue Words: and, but, therefore, even though

Action 5: Get a Language Parent. Language parent creates a comprehensible input environment.
1. Works hard to understand what you are saying
2. Does not correct mistakes
3. Confirms understanding by using correct language (feedback)
4. Uses words the learner knows
Action 6: Copy the Face
Action 7: “Direct Connect” to Mental Images

Shannon Ware




Take Action: STOP the Deportation of Kate and Shannon

144 days ago

This is the letter which I sent off to RTE News today.

RTE News,

I am writing to inform your news organization of a community action meeting we are conducting 7pm this Monday, 10 March 2014 in the Ballinskelligs Community Hall, Dun Geagan, County Kerry. I am sure it would be worth your while to have your local correspondent on hand to cover the event.

The Irish Government has begun legal proceedings to deport my wife, my three daughters, and myself. Living in South-West Kerry since 2010, we have only sought to support the local community. Now, we are being told to leave Ireland never to return.

We entered the State in July 2010, and have been well received by the community since then. We were originally on a Stamp 3 Visa, but were required to apply for a change of status in 2012. Having had our Change of Status Application refused in September of 2013, we received a Section 3 Notice on 21 February 2014. We met with and engaged the services of an immigration solicitor on 28 February 2014, who will be making a HTLR Application on our behalf this week.

We have launched a facebook campaign page (Stop the Deportation of Kate and Shannon) to galvanize community support and provide a central point of information. We will also be holding an information meeting at 7pm this Monday 10 March 2014 in the Community Hall, Ballinskelligs (Dun Geagan) to provide updates and hear further ideas from the community. This meeting is taking place within the Gaeltacht, but will be conducted in English in as far as I am still a ‘beginner’ at Irish.

Take Action

The reason given by the INIS for refusing our application for a Stamp 4 Visa was insufficient finances. Although I have brought about €22,000 into the State year-on-year for the past three years, when I provided my bank balance to INIS we had just paid a number of yearly expenses, and our balance was at a low (€1,500). I mistakenly thought that INIS would look that the year’s income in context, but they chose to only look that the final balance. We currently have about €21,000 on account, and are well able to support ourselves in the State without recourse to public funds.

As a native English speaker I am also fluent in Japanese, and I know that I can benefit the State by working with the many Japanese companies which want to set up their European bases in Ireland. I also have software development skills. My daughters are fluent in Irish, love the country, and would be heartbroken if we are made to leave. We are appealing to the public for assistance because time is of the essence.

Kind regards,

Shannon Ware

Shannon Ware




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