Get Your Gael On!
There’s an interesting site with some fun games for Irish language learners at Digital Dialects. The vocabulary seems correct and so far I’ve not seen any mistakes. It’s all very simple but something for some enterprising gaelgoir to build upon…?
For more online Irish lessons I’d highly recommend the award-winning Talk Irish, a popular new kid on the block that has so far gained nothing but praise (and nearly 12,000 members!). It’s a very comprehensive site largely aimed towards those with little or no Irish, and it utilises the latest technologies to bring Irish language learning to a truly global audience in a fun and easy manner. However, unlike some other online educational courses, there is no lessening in academic quality and the materials on the site are carefully drawn up and vetted. In other words it is a site you can trust. Money well spent!
Another professional site is Ranganna, though one aimed at the slightly more serious online learner with a more academic tone overall. It has courses geared towards second and third level students in Ireland, as well as specialist courses for teachers, civil servants, IT specialists, lawyers, etc. However its general Irish language courses are highly recommended by experts and it has the added advantage of linking to live courses in venues around Ireland run by Gael Chultúr, as well as the Irish language book group Club Leabhar and the online Irish language bookshop Siopa.
A more traditional site is Bitesize Irish Gaelic, which though lacking the glossiness and comprehensive nature of Talk Irish or Ranganna has gained a loyal following. It is run by the same company that hosts the similar Learn Irish Gaelic, the travel group Gaeltacht Travel, and Irish Gaelic Translator. The latter is a well regarded online Irish language forum with over 65,000 members (mostly from Britain, continental Europe, North America and Australasia) though the level of fluency varies greatly. In recent years it has become better known for providing free Irish language translations for tattoos, children’s names and people’s houses though it retains its very active – and at times fractious – message boards. In recent years the site has helped found and drive the collaborative online Irish dictionary, Irishionary.
However the “official” online Irish language dictionary remains Focal, which is funded by the Irish state and is the result of an ongoing academic program. This is the one favoured by most enquirers because of its professionalism and government status. It is also linked to Logainm, the official list of placenames in the Irish language across the island of Ireland (and a hugely popular site for visitors), and Ainm, the national biography of historic figures in the Irish language.
For general enquires and help with the Irish language the now famous online discussion board Daltaí na Gaeilge is second to none. It has been helping people learn Irish since 1981 and was probably one of the first Irish language groups to go online. An incredible feat for an organisation that is in fact based in the United States and Canada and not in Ireland! Its forums are a legendary and any enquirers generally receive a warm welcome. It also has the added advantage of providing information on language courses throughout North America and beyond.
For more learning materials the web-based retailer Litríocht (the “Irish Amazon”) is generally regarded as your “one-stop-shop” for books, CDs, DVDs, etc. with low-cost shipping available to a host of international destinations. You can also try the excellent Udar, another major online shop, or the Irish publishers Futa Fata, Cló Mhaigh Eo, Cló Iar-Chonnacht and Cois Life all of whom sell direct to the public as well as through online retailers and highstreet stores.
For more Irish language resources please try these sites:
Finally, if you want to experience the real thing, then Gael Saoire is the travel service for the Gaeltachtaí or Irish-speaking regions of Ireland, with a host of information and links for visitors.
My own personal bit of Gaeltacht heaven? Now that would be telling!
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