The focus of this post, as is clear from the title, is Connemara Irish. Today, in honor of that, we’re going to look at what the sources for Connemara Irish. These sources will include a mix of things, between material to learn Connemara Irish, as well as reading material (mostly a list of authors, in this case), as well as linguistic and audio material that can be useful to a learner or someone doing a deep dive into the topic. As we know, there are several subdialects of Connacht Irish, so getting material from the one you want to learn is an imperative. Thus we will discuss the stuff for Connemara Irish now.

Sailboat at Sea, Connemara Irish

Linguistic Sources

We’ll start with the linguistic sources for Connemara Irish. Without a doubt, perhaps the most important person in the study of Connemara Irish is Tomás de Bhaldraithe, ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. He is the author of two indispensable works (I say, owning neither) on the Irish of Cois Fharraige: The Irish of Chois Fhairrge, Co. Galway: A Phonetic Study (1945) and Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge: An Deilbhíocht (1953) (Cois Fharraige Irish: Morphology). Both of these works are still in print and available from DIAS for a reasonable price, and are among the strongest linguistic works in the dialect.


There have also been several useful monographs written dealing with various aspects of Connemara Irish outside of de Bhaldraithe’s work. Among these are several dictionaries of various subdialects (or even of a specific book), as well as Dr. Brian Ó Curnáin’s The Irish of Iorras Aithneach County Galway (2007), a massive four-volume set detailing many of the phonological and morphological structures in the Irish of Iorras Aithneach. These are all available freely online, with some of the audio samples Ó Curnáin studied.  A further work dealing with the Irish of Iorras Aithneach is the two volume work edited by Hartmann, de Bhaldraithe and Ó hUiginn: Airneán: Ein Sammlung von Texted aus Carna, Co. na Gaillimhe. This is the text from Carna collected by Wigger and Hartmann for the Caint Chonamara corpus (discussed below), and one of the volumes has linguistic descriptions of the Irish of the area. Unfortunately, it is all but impossible to find a copy of it anymore outside of a library, and my email to Ó hUiginn, the only living editor, enquiring about it went unanswered.

One last super useful book, written entirely in Irish, is An Teanga Bheo: Gaeilge Chonamara (1998) by Séamas Ó Murchú. This gives a brief, good overview

On top of all of this, there are many other one-off articles about Connemara Irish to be found in the various journals. The main journals where information can be found are Éigse, Ériu and Zeitschrift für celtische PhilologieThere is, of course, material to be found in others, but these are the most common.

Textual Sources

We now turn to textual sources for Connemara Irish. In this we are blessed, as Connemara has gifted us with many fabulous authors. However, that blessing comes at a cost, in that most have written in whatever standard existed at the time, unlike such authors as Peadar Ua Laoghaire and Séamus Ó Grianna (Máire). Thus we have a variety of material, but a lot of the spelling and grammar has been standardized.


Before mentioning any particular authors, I want to focus on the absolute wealth of material in the journal Béaloideas. There is a lot of material here, often collected pre-Caighdeán days (there still was an informal standard), that can give a lot of information about the dialect. It’s well worth having a look-through, though you should be comfortable with the seanlitiriú and seanchló (both of which are nice, and the seanlitirú gives more dialectal information).

Turning to authors, we’ll start with perhaps the most famous Irish language author of all: Máirtín Ó Cadhain. A native of Cois Fharraige, he wrote the famous novel Cré na Cille (1949), called by some as the ‘Ulysses of Irish’. While this was pre-Caighdeán, it does use a more standardized spelling, even in the first edition, but gives a wealth of information into the natural speech of Connemara, as the characters are all locals. It’s a beautiful piece of work and a great source of information on the dialect and phrases. Other works of his, mostly short stories, include Idir Shúgradh is Dáiríre agus Sgéalta Eile (1939), An Braon Broghach (1948) and Cois Caoláire, among others. You could spend a lifetime studying Cois Fharraige Irish simply from the works of Ó Cadhain. He also collected a dictionary, which recently launched online. All in all, Ó Cadhain is the exemplar of good Connemara authors, and a lot can be gleaned from his works.


Another famous author, rightfully associated with Connemara, is Pádraig Ó Conaire. He has several collections of short stories and wrote what is termed the ‘first modern Irish novel’, Deoraíocht (1910). That said, I recommend avoiding Ó Conaire at first, as he moved to Ros Muc later and didn’t acquire Irish in his youth, and he moved out again shortly after. He’s a great Irish language author, and he left an indelible mark on the literature of the language, but his Irish isn’t necessarily entirely reflective of Connemara Irish or, in some cases, even entirely grammatical in any dialect.


Opposite of this is his relation Pádraig Óg Ó Conaire. Pádraig Óg was born and raised in Ros Muc, and his pre-Caighdeán works, at least, contain dialectal features, especially in the dialogue (for instance, tiúrfaidh instead of tabharfaidh). Some of his works include Éan Cuideáin (1936) and Solas an Ghrádh (1935).


Another author is Tomás Bairéad, who comes from a different part of the Gaeltacht than the others we’ve discussed and can shed some light on differences in word use and pronunciation (using earlier works). Some of his works, mostly short stories, include An Geall a Briseadh (1938) and Ór na hAithne (1949)


The folkloric works of Seán Mac Giollarnáth are not to be forgotten either. He collected several good stories from Iorras Aithneach as well as the book Peadar Chois Fhairrge (1934). Other folkloric books include Peadar Ó Direáin’s Sgéalaidhe Leitir Mealláin (1926) (note: if anyone finds a copy of this for sale, please please please let me know!) and Sgéalta na n-Oileán (1929) as well as Pedersons Scéalta Mháirtín Neile: Bailiúchán scéalta ó Árainn (1994, but based on earlier work).


This last one gives us cause to turn to Árainn, where we can find the works of several important Connemara authors. One is, of course, Liam Ó Flaithearta, who, despite being an excellent author in both Irish and English, only has one collections of short stories in Irish, Dúil (1983). There is also the great works by Ó hEithir, specifically Lig Sinn i gCathú (1976), as well as the poems by Máirtín Ó Direáin.


Turning to more modern authors on the mainland, everything would be amiss without mentioning perhaps the two most prominent: Mícheál Ó Conghaile, a master short story (among other works) author and founder of Cló Iar-Chonnachta, and Joe Steve Ó Neachtain. Works by the former include An Fear a Phléasc (1997) and Sna Fir (1999) while works by the latter include the novel Lámh Láidir (2001) and the short story collection Idir Neamh is Talamh (2014).


One final great resource is the Main Manuscript Collection from the IFC, particularly those collected by Liam Mac Coisdealbha. Liam was a collector ahead of his time, as he transcribed everything he heard in the dialect itself, as you can see from several of my posts where I have transcribed pieces of his writing, giving dialectal notes. If you can read the seanchló, you’re in for a treat reading these stories, as you’ll get super authentic native pronunciation of words in written form.


Needless to say, there are many other authors from Connemara, most of whom I’ve found quite good even if they don’t write dialectally enough for me. The authors I’ve listed above also have quite a few more works out there, and there is plenty to keep you busy for a lifetime. Even if you don’t get full on pronunciation and grammar of authentic Connemara Irish from all of these, it still gives you a flavor of word choice and word usage, and all are highly recommended.


At last we turn to aural material. The material here is great for just listening to and practicing, repeatedly. It features good speakers of Connemara Irish, and shadowing it and listening to it can give you a good understanding of the dialect. Some include textual components that can help you relate pronunciation to spelling as it pertains to Connemara.


The first thing to mention are the Doegen recordings. These are recordings made by Dr. Wilhelm Doegen and his associates in the years between 1929 and 1931. In some cases, they include the only recordings and examples we have of terminal speakers of a dialect. The audio quality is poor, but can easily be cleaned up with Audacity. The recordings linked above are from all over Galway, so you will have to filter out the Connemara specific ones. They are great resources to see how truly traditional Connemara Irish (I mean, these people were old in the 1920s!) was spoken.


Next we turn to the Caint Chonamara, corpus, collected by Dr. Arndt Wigger and Dr. Hans Hartmann. This corpus is, to put it bluntly, a God-send. For only €32.00, you get 90 hours of audio material from a variety of speakers and locations across Connemara. The information used to make the subdialectal differences post was all found in this corpus. What’s more, you don’t just get audio, but you get 10 pdfs of 400+ pages of transcriptions for the audio. This makes it absolutely perfect to match up how something is said natively to how it is written in the Caighdeán. This is an indispensable tool to anyone wanting to learn the dialect.


Another audio reference that is indispensable is Bríd Eilís’s recordings on Forvo. There are over 11,000 words and phrases recorded by her, a native speaker currently living in An Cheathrú Rua in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht.

Finally, we come to radio. Iris Aniar is the main radio show reflecting Connemara Irish, though it also reflects Mayo and general Connacht Irish (as well as Meath, which is a dialect of Connemara Irish nowadays because the town was formed by transplants from Connemara). The host is based in Casla and is a native speaker, and most of the guests have quite good Irish. Always useful. And, even though he’s retired, you can always listen back to Máirtín Tom Sheáinín’s Ardtráthnóna. Máirtín is one of the best Irish speakers in the media, and something of an icon, and the show is worth a listen. He also hosts Comhrá on TG4, which is still going on; another show well worth a listen just for Máirtín’s Irish, and you can often find guests from Connemara.


The last audio reference I’m going to give is the famous radio drama, Baile an Droichid. This was a radio drama penned by Joe Steve Ó Neachtain which ran for 10 years on Raidió na Gaeltachta. They are currently re-airing it, and there are archived episodes online too. All speakers are native Connemara speakers, and it makes for wonderful listening. A radio drama by natives for natives is absolutely perfect in a world where so much material is geared towards learners anymore.




And, lastly, that brings us to how does one get a start learning Connemara Irish? The material I’ve presented above is all great, but it can only do so much without a structured approach to learning the dialect. Thankfully, such an approach does exist. It’s the book Learning Irish by Mícheál Ó Siadhail. This book is specifically designed to teach Connemara Irish as spoken in Cois Fharraige. Ó Siadhail even sometimes uses a unique spelling just for that. The book itself is quite dry, but if you work through it, you will easily be able to move on to the other material listed here without much problem at all. It is, quite honestly, the best resource for learning Connemara Irish and anyone who is serious about the dialect should learn from it.


However, it is not alone as a learning resource for Connemara Irish. Another good one is Handbook of Irish by Alfred Bammesberger. There are three volumes in this series, and, while I have not used them myself, I have been told they are good for picking up natural Connemara Irish. They are harder to come by than Learning Irish, but if that’s what you can find at your library, you’re set. There is also the Colloquial Irish  and Colloquial Irish II books by Tomas Ihde et al. The nice thing about these is that the audio files are available free of charge, as with all Colloquial books. They can be found on Routledge’s official website, along with a link to buy the book.



That concludes my rough overview of some of the sources available for Connemara Irish. Please remember that this is only a very rough overview, and there is a lot of stuff out there, between linguistics and textual especially, that I was unable to cover here. To those ends, I also have a resource guide dealing specifically with resources for Connacht Irish (of which Connemara is a subset). Please check this out and add anything you might know of that’s not already on the list and feel free to send me any corrections. I’m always wanting to add more material and make it easier for people to learn this wonderful dialect.


Dónal Leader · 02/12/2021 at 4:40 pm

Just to say how much I appreciate this extraordinary resource you have compiled. My acquaintance with Gaeilge Chonamara goes back to 1960 when I was in the first batch Gael-Linn scoláirí who arrived In An Spidéal. I read Reics Carlo mainly but I also found a copy of M’Asal Beag Dubh in the house where I was staying. After three months I arrived back at my old school with Gaeilge Chonamara and no knowledge of the Caighdeán! My Irish teacher, a Kerry native, spilt red ink all over my obair scríofa! However, I visit Cill Chiaráin regularly. Purchased a copy of Cré na Cille last Summer.

    davissandefur · 02/12/2021 at 4:49 pm


    Go raibh míle maith agat as do theachtaireacht. Thank you for your message. Connemara truly is a unique and special place, and I’m glad to be able to share some of the resources I’ve found for the Irish of the area. Cré na Cille is an amazing complex and great work; I actually managed to pick up a first edition of it at a reasonable price (no dustjacket, sadly, which is why the price was reasonable!). If you’ve a connection to the Iorras Aithneach area, you might also like a book that just came out Ón Dumhach go dtí an Plantation: Stair Peile Iorras Aithneach agus an Chaisil, 1928 – 2021 by Colm Ó Neasa. Or any of the stuff Seán Mac Giollarnáth collected from the area (though Annála Beaga ó Iorrus Aithneach is a devil to find).

    And here’s an interview from Colm on Iris Aniar from last week about the book:

    Anyway, again thank you for your comment and I’m glad to know someone is interested!

Sadelle · 10/12/2021 at 11:59 am

Go raibh míle míle maith agat as do chuid acmhainní seo! Thanks SO much for all this… I’m constantly collecting sources, especially audio with transcripts to learn from. Do you know about this resource from Univ. of Mass, Boston?*/field/identi/mode/all/conn/and/order/title/ad/asc

    davissandefur · 10/12/2021 at 12:17 pm

    I have not, thank you for brining it to my attention! I’ll have to dig into it a lot more but could be very useful. Lots of Connemara speakers in Boston.

      Sadelle · 10/12/2021 at 5:45 pm

      I think you’ll find it another treasure… I was listening to a one hour interview today on the site that also has separately available transcripts and translations. Pretty amazing resource.

Quinton · 13/12/2021 at 6:56 pm

Ba cheart duit ‘Colloquial Irish 1 + 2’ a chur leis an liosta de rudaí ar féidir a bheith a foghlaim leo. Gaeilge Chois Fharraige amháin atá iontu (‘colloquial’) agus tá na taifeadtaí (ar fáil ar líne) iontach freisin.

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