Irish Language: The Clare Dialect


Irish Language In County Clare 🗣️: What dialect did those who lived in County Clare speak? Are they similar or quite different from its neighbouring places? Discover more by reading this blog.


It is always quite a blast exploring every single detail – no matter how big or small – in learning the Irish language. I, in particular, love studying and talking about various Irish language dialects. I never get bored whenever I talk about Irish, after all!


Of course, we have already discussed three of the most common and primary Irish dialects today, which I will enumerate below:

Ar ndóigh, phléamar cheana féin trí cinn de na canúintí Gaeilge is coitianta agus bunscoile inniu, a áiritheoidh mé thíos:



In this blog, we will first talk about interesting facts and information we should know about County Clare. We will also talk about spoken Irish in County Clare. And finally, in particular, we will cover which of the dialect above County Clare mostly resembles. Read on to learn more below.



>>Check out the latest podcasts on – and start improving!


Irish language in County Clare: everything you need to know


First, let us talk about the place they call County Clare before delving deeper and discovering its spoken Irish language dialect.

Ar dtús, déanaimis labhairt faoin áit a dtugaimid Contae an Chláir sula ndéanaimid iniúchadh níos doimhne agus a chanúint labhartha Gaeilge a fháil amach.


Of course, County Clare is one of the numerous counties found in Ireland. This county is located in the Mid-West region and the province of Munster, surrounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. In the 2016 census. County Clare had a population of 118, 817 at the time. There, Ennis (the county town) has the most amount of people.  Additionally, we can call the local authority there as Clare County Council. That is a lot of Cs!


An interesting fact you need to know about Co. Clare


Did you know that County Clare (or Co. Clare – both referring to the same county) houses the earliest evidence of human activity recorded in Ireland? There, historians and researchers found the patella of a bear subjected to butchering around the time of its death a very long time ago in the Alic and Gwendoline Cave near the Edenvale House, Clarecastle.


“How old is it?” you ask? Well, the answer: very! The features of the bones and cuts were dated to around 10,500 BC, from the Paleolithic era.


Now, back to the main discussion: talking about Irish language in County Clare, more specifically its dialect.

Anois, ar ais go dtí an príomhphlé: ag caint faoi Ghaeilge i gContae an Chláir, go sonrach a chanúint.


Irish language in County Clare: dialect resemblance


Which dialect resembles Count Clare Irish language dialect the most?

Cén chanúint atá cosúil le canúint Gaeilge Count Clare is mó?


Some argued that it is a mix between Kerry And Conamara Irish. Others, however, says that dialect spoken in Clare closely resembled Munster dialect. Irish was especially common there back then. It was widely spoken in West Clare, which, of course, includes areas such as Doolin that were close to the Aran Islands.


In Northwest Clare, we can find two of the last native Irish speakers and discover their dialect as reported by poet, playwright and accomplished broadcaster Liam Ó Muirthile. He went to the Burren where, as mentioned already, talked to the two remaining native Irish speakers.


By that time, there were only a handful of speakers of that particular dialect left and by recording two of them Liam Ó Muirthile preserved for us a little piece of socio-linguistic history.


The speakers he recorded lived along the coast between Murroogh (Muiriúch) and Fanore (Fánóir), the terminus of the dialect continuum of the Gaelic language, which once covered all of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.


Liam spoke first to Tomás Irwin from Gleninagh (Gleann Eidhneach), who told him that there were three people in his immediate area with whom he still spoke Irish.


He then went to visit Maggie Howley (Mairéad Ní Uallaigh) who was living in Fanore, in a tin-roofed house with no electricity or running water –  a desolate place as Liam called it.


The dialect?


Other excerpts from the report/documentary mentioned the dialect:

Luaigh sleachta eile ón tuarascáil / clár faisnéise an chanúint:


Dialectologist Prof Brian Ó Curnáin of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies says that the Irish of northwest Clare is a north Munster variety. He says it belongs to the dialect belt ranging from Tipperary at its centre,  eastwards into Kilkenny and Waterford and westwards into Clare.


Prof Ó Curnáin says that although northwest Clare is geographically very close to south and east Galway and the Aran Islands, due to historical socio-political circumstances the Irish dialect there resembled more the Irish of Waterford.


Liam Ó Muirthile had hoped to record more of the Clare Irish speakers but the batteries in television cameras in those days had a short lifespan. Nonetheless, he left us a very valuable snapshot of the linguistic variety and diversity that once existed in Ireland.


Learn Irish through FluentIrish


Now that we have shared with you everything you need to know about the County Irish and its own Irish language dialect, we also want to discuss with you how we can help you in everything Irish-related.


ba mhaith linn plé leat freisin conas is féidir linn cabhrú leat i ngach rud a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge.


If you can understand simple Irish, you will want to improve. FluentIrish is here for you. Listen every day to get on with Irish.

Má tá tú ábalta Gaeilge shimplí a thuiscint – beidh tú ag iarraidh biseach a dhéanamh. Tá Fluentirish anseo faoi do choinne. Bí ag éisteacht gach aon lá chun a bheith ag gabháil ar aghaidh i nGaeilge.

We provide informative blogs and helpful podcasts that can help in your quest to learn the Irish language.


>>Which level?: Find out which level of spoken Irish you understand!