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Learn Irish with Father Ted

easy grammar tips

Father Ted….surely one of the best comedies ever!

If you have never seen it then it’s time to get familiar with one of the main comedy shows of the 90s!

Father Ted is based around the lives of three priests living on an island off the west coast of Ireland. 

But what has that got to do with learning Irish?

Well, to be honest, not a whole lot…

but you can use it as a little trick to remember how to deal with masculine nouns in Irish.


Nouns in Irish are either masculine or feminine

Does this matter?!

Yes, for a variety of reasons, but here’s just one-

It explains why we say:

‘Fear beag’ but ‘bean bheag’ for example.

or ‘Lá maith’ but ‘oíche mhaith’.


Putting the definite article ‘an’ (the) before a masculine noun

Well, here’s another little matter concerning nouns…

when the word ‘an’ (the) is placed before a noun it may cause a change.

Whether a change happens or not, and what that change will be, will depend firstly on whether the noun is masculine or feminine, and secondly on what the initial letter of the word is.

We need to know if the noun is masculine or feminine (you can check this in the dictionary), and then whether the noun begins with a consonant (apart from ‘s’); with the letter ‘s’; or with a vowel.


And, finally, here’s the Father Ted bit…

It just so happens that ‘bád’ (a boat); ‘sagart’ (a priest) and ‘oileán’ (an island) are all masculine nouns - and give us an example of a word beginning with a consonant; with the letter ‘s’; and with a vowel.

Watch what happens when ‘an’ comes before them:

Bád ………an bád (no change)

Sagart… sagart (no change)

Oileán… t-oileán (t- is added)


Remember these three words and apply the same pattern to all masculine nouns

The following sentences contain only masculine nouns. Can you translate them into Irish? The answers are below the picture.

  1. The man went home

  2. The girl ate the apple and the bread

  3. I went there last summer

  4. He swept the floor

  5. He spent the money


  1. Chuaigh an fear abhaile

  2. D’ith an cailín an t-úll agus an t-arán

  3. Chuaigh mé ansin an samhradh seo caite

  4. Scuab sé an t-urlár

  5. Chaith sé an t-airgead


How to learn Irish

Use one of my online self-study courses to get to grips with the structure of the Irish language. All of the courses are carefully structured and cater for beginner level to advanced level. The Beginner Irish is a comprehensive course which will set down a solid foundation for all future learning. Beyond Beginner and Learn Irish Through Conversation are designed to build vocabulary and are perfect for intermediate level learners. If you want to set yourself a challenge and sit an exam in Irish then check out the TEG A2 preparatory course. Finally, the Learn Irish Through Literature and Learn Irish Through Poetry courses are a great way to learn more about literature and poetry in the Irish language while improving your Irish at the same time. If you're not sure which course is for you then contact me here. Courses are available through a free app, or on your computer, and are yours for life. Plus there is a 14 day no questions asked refund policy, just in case the course you have chosen is not the right level for you. 

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