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Labhair Gaeilge liom / Speak Irish to me

irish literature poems in irish seanfhocail

This is a short poem praising the Irish language, written by an unknown poet. Given that Irish went from being a majority language in Ireland to being almost wiped out during the nineteenth century it is no wonder that poems such as this came to be written. Have a read of the words below, and then listen to the poem.


Labhair an teanga Ghaeilge liom

Ó labhair an teanga Ghaeilge liom / Oh speak the Irish language to me

A chuid mo chroí is a stór / My treasure and my darling

An teanga a labhair mo mháthair liom / The language which my mother spoke to me

In Éirinn ghlas fadó / In green Ireland long ago


'Sí teanga bhinn ár sinsear í / It's the sweet language of our ancestors

An chaint is milse ghlór / The sweetest sounding speech

Ó labhair an teanga Ghaeilge liom / Oh speak the Irish language to me

Agus bain dem' chroí an brón / And lift the sorrow from my heart


Ó labhair an teanga Ghaeilge liom / Oh speak the Irish language to me

'Sí teanga cheart na nGael / It's the proper language of the Gaels

An teanga bhinn is ársa 'tá / The sweet most ancient language there is

le fáil ar fud an tsaoil / To be found on the earth


A stór mo chroí is beannacht ort / Delight of my heart blessings on you

A chailín óig gan cháim / Oh young girl without blemish

Cá bhfuil sa saol aon teanga mar / Where in the world is there any language like

Ár dteanga féin le fáil? / Our own language to be found?


Áibhéil / Exaggeration

In a dán moltach /flattering poem like this there is, of course, going to be some áibhéil / exaggeration! Irish is claimed as an teanga is ársa / the most ancient language in the world.


Teanga bhinn ár sinsear

There is no doubt that Irish is the language of ancestry of many people who live both in Ireland and outside of Ireland today. The major decline of the Irish language happened largely in the nineteenth century, but prior to that Irish was a majority language in Ireland. That Irish still exists is a testimony to the tenacity of those who continue to speak and learn it!


Beatha teanga í a labhairt

Have you heard this seanfhocal / proverb:

Beatha teanga í a labhairt

The life of a language is to speak it

Unless a language is spoken it is no longer alive. It's easy to get in the habit of saying 'slán' instead of 'goodbye' and 'go raibh maith agat' instead of 'thank you'; and in this way you'll also be helping to keep teanga cheart na nGael / the true language of the Gaels alive!


How to learn Irish

If you want to learn this teanga bhinn / sweet language then have a look at the online Irish language courses that I offer. My online Irish courses are available from Beginner Irish right up to Intermediate level Irish and beyond. For more advanced learners, or anyone with an interest in Irish literature or poetry, make sure to check out my Learning Irish Through Literature and Learning Irish Through Poetry courses. Finally, if you're considering taking the TEG (Teastas Eorpach sa Ghaeilge) exam then my TEG A2 preparatory course is bound to be of interest. Read all about it here.

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