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Learn Irish with songs

songs in irish tips for learning irish

Songs are a great way to learn Irish. 'Tá mo chleamhnas déanta' is a very well-known traditional Irish song. Watch the short video above to hear the first verse and read on for an explanation of the words and a link to the full version. But first of all...


Why are songs such a good way to learn a language?

Listening to songs in another language is a great way to learn for a couple of reasons. In the first place it helps with vocabulary building through bringing new words and phrases to our attention. Not only that, but the rhythms and repetitive patterns of the music then help in retaining these new words and phrases. 

Teastaíonn GO LEOR athrá / A LOT of repetition is needed when learning a new language. If you don't hear new words in context often enough they simply will not be there for you to pull from your memory when needed in conversation. Listening to songs is a great way to memorise new words and phrases.

Another great benefit of listening to songs in another language is that it will helps with pronunciation, by listening to the correct sounds and intonation of the language.

Mar sin, bí ag éisteacht le hamhráin i nGaeilge!

So, listen to songs in Irish!


Tá mo chleamhnas déanta

'Tá mo chleamhnas déanta' is a great song to get you started. This is a song about someone who has a match made for him, but isn't one bit happy about it, and instead wants to go in pursuit of his true love!

('Cleamhnas' is the Irish for 'arranged marriage'. Arranged marriages were not uncommon in Ireland  fadó/long ago!)

This well-known traditional song has been recorded by many singers over the years. You can find a version by the Chieftains and Van Morrisson; and a fabulous version by Máire and Étain Ní Churraoin here. (You will also find them on Spotify, using the name of their band: An Chéad Ghlúin Eile).

Máire and Étain are from the Ráth Chairn Gaeltacht in Co. Meath and their version has verses in both Irish and English. Read the words below and then have a listen.


Words of the song

Tá mo chleamhnas déanta ó arú aréir / My match it is made since the night before last
S'ní mó ná go dtaitníonn an bhean liom féin / And I don't like the woman one bit
Ach fágfaidh mé i mo dhiaidh í / But I will leave her behind me
Is imeoidh mé liom féin / And I'll head off with myself
Ar fud an domhain mhóir seo / All around this big world


My match it was made here last night
To a girl I neither love nor like
But I'll take my own advice
And I’ll leave her behind
And go roaming the wild woods all over

Shiúil mise thoir agus shiúil mise thiar / I walked east and I walked west
Shiúil mise Corcaigh 'gus / I walked Cork and
Sráideachaí Bh'l'áth Cliath / the streets of Dublin
Ach samhail de mo chailín deas / but the likes of my lovely girl
Ní fhaca mise riamh / I never did see
'Sí an bhean dhubh a d’fhág mo chroí cráite / she's the dark woman who left me heartbroken


I roved up and I roved down
I walked Cork, Dublin, and Belfast towns
But no equal to mo chailín deas could I find
She's the wee lass that's
Left my heart broken


D'éirigh mé ar maidin dhá uair roimh an lá / I got up this morning two hours before day
is léigh mé litir ó mó mhíle grá / and I read a letter from my true love
Chuala mé an lon dubh is an spideoigín a rá / I heard the blackbird and the little robin say
Gur éalaigh sí uaim thar sáile / that she escaped from me overseas


I got up two hours before dawn
And I got a letter ó mo mhíle grá

I heard the blackbird and spideoigín a rá
My love has crossed the ocean


Ardóidh mé mo sheolta is gabhfaidh mé ina diaidh / I will hoist my sails and I will go after her

Sa tóir ar mo chailín a dtug mé mo mhian / in pursuit of my girl whom I gave my love to

Beidh muid le chéile le cúnamh breá Dé / we'll be together with the help of God

Ag taisteal an domhain seo le chéile / travelling this world together


If you listen to the song a few times notice how easily the words and phrases start to come to you. There are lots of great songs in Irish that you can use in this way. If you have Spotify you can create your own playlist, and listen to songs in Irish as often as you can.


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