Knowing Munster Irish – A Dialect In Ireland 🍀


Munster Irish Language 🍀: The quest to know Fluent Irish continues. Now, it is time for us to learn Munster Irish – or Gaeilge Na Mumhan.


We will talk about Munster Irish language today – an Irish dialect. If you did not know, Modern Irish has three main dialects. These are Western (Connacht), Ulster, and of course, Munster Irish. Corca Dhuibhne, or the large part of the Dingle Peninsula, accommodates a large number of Irish speakers. In other words, it is the only place in Munster wherein you will hear a majority of people speak the native Irish language.


Watch this interesting video here for useful information:


Beimid ag caint faoi Ghaeilge na Mumhan inniu – canúint Éireannach. Mura raibh a fhios agat, tá trí phríomh-chanúint ag Nua-Ghaeilge. Is iad seo Iarthar, Uladh, agus ar ndóigh, Gaeilge na Mumhan. Freastalaíonn Corca Dhuibhne, nó an chuid mhór de Leithinis an Daingin, ar líon mór cainteoirí Gaeilge. Is é sin le rá, is é an t-aon áit ina gcloisfidh tú tromlach na ndaoine ag labhairt na Gaeilge ó dhúchas.


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The counties of Munster


Munster is divided into 6 counties, 3 of which are Gaeltacht (i.e., predominantly Irish language speaking place) areas. Notably, these counties are ClareCorkKerryLimerickTipperary, and Waterford.


The three Gaeltacht counties are Cork, Kerry, and Waterford. Let us expand further in the following sections.


County Cork


You can find four communities in County Cork considered Gaeltacht areas. These are Baile Mhúirne (Ballyvourney), Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh (Ballingeary), Cúil Aodha (Coolea) and Oileán Chléire (Clear Island). The Cork Gaeltacht, called Múscraí in local tongue, has a population of around 3,500 people. This equates to roughly 6% of the total Gaeltacht area.


Is féidir leat ceithre phobal i gContae Chorcaí a mheas mar cheantair Gaeltachta. Is iad sin Ballyvourney, Ballingeary, Coolea agus Clear Island. Tá daonra de thart ar 3,500 duine i nGaeltacht Chorcaí, ar a dtugtar Múscraí sa teanga áitiúil. Is ionann é seo agus thart ar 6% d’achar iomlán na Gaeltachta.


The Cork Gaeltacht itself is a little bit over a hundred square miles – comprising of 4% of the total Gaeltacht area.


Additionally, the Cork Gaeltacht mainly consists of two areas – Múscraí (Muskerry) and Cape Clear Island. Notable things in Muskerry mainly include Gougane Barra (Guagán Barra), a settlement in Cork. You can also find a forest park there 142 hectares in total size.


As for Cape Clear Island, it is a known host of an international storytelling festival every year. It was founded on 1994 by Chuck and Nell Kruger. This is a way to keep the Irish tradition of storytelling.


Continuing our discussion on Munster Irish language… County Kerry


The next County we will discuss is Kerry. This particular Munster county is located south west of Ireland. It has two Gaeltacht areas – west Corca Dhuibhne and a part of the Uíbh Ráthach peninsula.


Also, something noteworthy about it is its popularity. It is a renowned tourist destination mainly popular for its eye-catching landscape. It is also known for its “rich history in music” – not to mention the Irish language, hence it being called Gaeltacht.


In this area, you can also find the highest mountain of Ireland up above the sky – Carrauntoohil. Along with the highest mountain, you can also find the longest beach on the Wild Atlantic Way – namely Brandon Bay.


One more notable thing to associate County Kerry with is the well-known Skellig Michael. You might know this place from the Star Wars film. But you may not have known that this beaut of a scenery is located in nowhere but Ireland.


Finally, we reach Waterford


Now, we have reached the last of the three Gaeltacht counties: County Waterford. This county is located on the southern coast of Ireland, approximately 6 miles west of Dungarvan. 


A notable Gaeltacht area here is called Gaeltacht na nDéise, which has a population of 1,816 people (tallied 2016). It has a geographical area of 62 square kilomteres and comprises of 1% of the the total Gaeltacht area.


Fun fact: did you know that the Irish Tricolour flag was first put and flown in Waterford city by Thomas Francis Meagher? This was fairly a long time ago, dating back to 1848.


Fíric spraíúil: an raibh a fhios agat gur chuir Thomas Francis Meagher bratach na hÉireann Tricolor i gcathair Phort Láirge ar dtús? Bhí sé seo tamall ó shin, ag dul siar go 1848.


Munster Irish pronunciation


Now that we have talked about the background of Munster Irish language, let us study its pronunciation.


There are some typical features in the Munster Irish dialect. Here are they (quoting 101 Languages):


  1. The use of personal endings instead of pronouns with verbs, thus “I must” is in Munster caithfead , while other dialects prefer caithfidh mé ( mé means “I”). “I was and you were” is Bhíos agus bhís in Munster but Bhí mé agus bhí tú in other dialects.
  2. In front of nasals and ll some short vowels are lengthened while others are diphthongised.
  3. A copular construction involving is ea is frequently used.
  4. Stress is often on the second syllable of a word, e.g. bio-RÁN (“pin”), as opposed to BIO-rán in Connacht and Ulster.


Watch this video to learn more about Munster Irish pronunciation:


To conclude the Munster Irish Language blog – Blag Gaeilge na Mumhan a thabhairt i gcrích


So this concludes our discussion on Munster Irish. Munster itself is an amazing place that we encourage everyone to visit to get a better background of. Not only that, but this province is also home to the great Irish language and dialect that many still speak up to this day in modern times.


Mar sin críochnaíonn sé seo ár bplé ar Ghaeilge na Mumhan. Is áit iontach é Cúige Mumhan féin a spreagaimid gach duine chun cuairt a thabhairt air chun cúlra níos fearr a fháil. Ní amháin sin, ach tá an chúige seo ina baile freisin don mhór-theanga agus canúint Ghaeilge a labhraíonn go leor fós go dtí an lá inniu.


We will be producing many blog in the upcoming days, weeks, and months tackling everything you should at least know while trying to study the Irish language. Stay tuned on Fluentirish!


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