Learn Ulster Irish – How To Perfect Your Ulster Dialect Without Stress!
– A Northerner runs through his advice!
Like many others, I spent the first few weeks of lockdown looking back – watching classic football matches, listening to all those Britpop albums I had forgotten about, and just looking back at the good old days. At summers spent in the Donegal Lár Gaeltacht where I really tried my best to learn Ulster Irish – (the native dialect of Irish spoken in the historic province of Ulster), with sunny days that seemed to last forever, and rainy ones that actually did.
It was there that I discovered Donegal Irish or the Ulster dialect of the Irish language. It was kind of like the Irish I was learning in school, but not really. It was spoken at breakneck speed, with an additional sixth gear found when the adults in the room didn’t want us to be able to piece together what they were talking about.
I’m 38 now, and I don’t really want to know how many brothers and sisters you may have, or about your hobbies, or the weather. I’m the sort of guy who feels that life should really be one really long Guardian piece. I’ve opinions on pretty much everything, mainly informed by the Twitter feed that I’ve just skimmed through. I recently achieved the grand slam of having every TV streaming service accessing my bank account in the same month, lest I be caught out not watching the hippest new show. I listen to all the mainstream podcasts, the football ones even though there tends to be the same lad talking about his book on tactics in every one of them. I like Dunphy’s podcast, as long as he isn’t talking about football. I might even stretch to a mindfulness podcast as long as Bressie doesn’t appear in it.
When I heard about fluentirish it was a revelation and gave me a new way to learn Ulster Irish (and work on my fluency)- and focus on the parts I am very poor at – such as Ulster Irish pronunciation, and native Ulster Irish phrases. It was a chance to rediscover my love for the Irish language (particularly the Ulster Irish dialect), but without the topics of conversation being the linguistic equivalent of fingernails running down a blackboard. These guys were talking about the things that I talk to the lads about in whatsapp groups, or in the pub, or while having a coffee. About politics, sport, music, pop culture.
See more detail here on the best Irish language podcasts.
Learn Ulster Irish – Ulster Irish definition
When you learn Ulster Irish – you will be able to understand all types of Irish – though it may be a bit tricky at the start. Irish is a dialectical language like German or Italian – and the pronunciatio, words used and grammar will vary in certain ways between geographic regions.
Ulster Irish dialect is spoken in Ulster – the 9 counties in the most northerly province.
Ulster counties in Irish are as below – which may be useful for any one of Ulster Irish ancestry to know:
Antrim / Aontroim
Armagh / Ard Mhacha
Cavan / An Cabhán
Derry / Doire
Donegal / Dún na nGall
Down / An Dún
Fermanagh / Fear Manach
Monaghan / Muineachán
Tyrone / Tir Eoghain
You can find out what each name means also here.
I want to rediscover the rudiments of the Irish language, and learn again about Ulster Irish pronunciations, and native Ulster Irish dialects, and accents (lots of Irish people will tell you that the Ulster Irish accent just sounds different – and may be more like a Scottish accent on first listen), but not by reducing the chat to an attritional contest, but by linking it all in with discussions on the things that really matter in my life.
The hosts are clearly on top of their subject matter, and are erudite and entertaining throughout. Rising above the banal that I would normally associate with language podcasts, I often find myself both nodding my head and vehemently disagreeing with the hosts, often in the space of two minutes. I like their coverage of politics, which I find a lot easier to follow than much of the coverage on RnaG or TG4. It’s certainly highly opinionated at times, but yet balanced.
I think that a lot of the subject matter will appeal to ex-pats looking to reconnect with home (maybe of Ulster Irish heritage or ancestry – seeking to get in touch with their history and learn Ulster Irish), and not just with the language as they learned it in school, but also to tap into the issues of the day to twenty and thirty-somethings.
I am delighted with the content of my subscription thus far, and would love to see a move towards more regular podcasts each week. I also look forward to the potential for live shows to meet the guys in person.
If you’re also curious about Munster Irish, click this link to read about it.