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Cead mile failte! Welcome!

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Stephen Stephen | 17:44 UK time, Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Cead mile failte or a hundred thousand welcomes as we'd say in Gaelic to my first blog post for BBC Learning English.

I'm one of the newest members of the team so I thought I should finally say hello! I've been chatting to a few people on the message boards and working away on the website over the last 2 1/2 months. As an Irish addition to the team, I thought you might like to have a quick look at where I'm from.

The next few photos were taken at Easter this year when I was driving through County Clare which is on the west coast of Ireland. It was a great road-trip with friends of mine on what turned out to be a gloriously sunny day. They say Ireland looks so green because it rains all the time. It does rain an awful lot but Easter was wonderful and bright. The jagged cliffs in this picture emerge high above the waves crashing against the shore below.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Burren in Ballyvaughan, Clare, Ireland

As you can see from this picture, the rain clouds are never too far away. In case you're wondering, the big solid rock formation you can see at the top of the photo, is part of The Burren. It's a rocky, limestone pavement with deep grooves or gaps in between the rock in places so you have to be very careful where you're walking. On a windy, rainy winter day it can be desolate and bleak, while on a sunny day it is undoubtedly one of the most stunning sights you will ever see. Some of the ancient monuments and tombs in the Burren are older then the pyramids in Egypt!

Did you know that Irish (Gaelic) is the official first language in Ireland and English is the other official language? You can read more about it here.

If you've listened to British English and American English, you'll have heard some small differences in the words people use. Someone speaking British English will say "tap" where in American English, you'd say "faucet". In Hiberno-English, the kind of English commonly spoken in Ireland, we have some phrases you might find unusual. I'll do a longer blog on these later, but for now, here are a few to get you started:

It can get confusing sometimes!

IRELAND: Stop shouting out loud, please! You're very bold
UK: Stop shouting out loud, please! You're very naughty

IRELAND: I've washed my cup and I'm going to place it back in the press.
UK: I've washed my cup and I'm going to place it back in the cupboard.

Before you ask, I'll have to do some more investigating to find out how Irish people have come to have these variations when speaking English.

And finally today, here's a view of the village I'm from in Ireland. It's called Castleconnell, which would be Caislean Ui gConaing in Irish (Gaelic), which would translate literally as Gunning's Castle. Gunning is the name of the family associated with the castle as you walk or drive towards the village. I'll have to take some photographs of it when I'm back home to show you another time.

I don't know what the winter was like where you come from, but last winter was certainly one of the coldest I ever remember. There were a few mornings where I was driving to work and I think my car was travelling at around 5 miles per hour so I didn't skid on the ice or snow. Grim.

So while it made for difficult driving and pedestrians slipping and sliding, it did look spectacular in photographs, like the one below.

Let me know what you think of how people from Ireland use English.Go dti an cead uair eile, slan - until the next time, bye!


a view of the River Shannon at Castleconnell in Ireland

A frosty view of the River Shannon in Castleconnell

Irish: someone from Ireland
road-trip: a long car journey
an awful lot : you can use "awful" to emphasize how large an amount is


  • Comment number 1.

    Welcome. Thanks for your introduction of Ireland.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi there!
    Thank you for your first post. This is definitely a good start.
    Honestly I am charmed by Irish traditional music. When I hear Irelend I always think of bagpipe music. However I am shure that there are more intresting traditions and things in Irish culture than just a bagpipe music. But as I have mentioned already, I looove a bagpipe music; when I hear it,I get goosebumps!
    Thanks once again for the interesting post and nice pictures, especially for the last one with a little duck at the left bottom corner.:-)

    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Stephan , Please accept my warm welcome to BBC le and this Blog . Hope to read more Blog from your side in near future . It was nice to know more about Ireland and hear about some differences between English and Irish languages . It 's the same for Turkish , too . What people speak in Turkey is by far from what people speak in Azerbayjan and it 's different with what people speak here in Iran , north west provinces . By he way the clouds color in the first shot was really beautiful .
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Stephen,

    Nice to meet you! I've joined to BBC LE just in this month so I'm also a new member here :).
    Thanks for introduction of Ireland and the nice pictures. When I think about Ireland the picture that comes into my mind a landscape whit green grass and an old castel that's been standing alone in the fog for more hundred years:). If I know well, there're lots of old castles there. So the Irish land looks so mysterious for me. Unfortunatelly I've never been to Ireland but it's one of my favorite countries where I'd like to go.
    So thanks again and I'm looking forward to reading your next post and I hope you'll tell about Ireland more.

    All the best,
    Ditta, Hungary

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Stephen! Fairy land means Ireland, for me sure, and Irish tee is only thing I´ve ever tasted from there. What it feels like using such ancient language, Gaelic, to sound from one´s lips? On the contrary, first steps to create a literary slovak language dated to 1780 and than the most appropriate variety from middle-slovak region was codified in 1843. Oh and WELCOME! marianna, Slovakia

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Stephen,

    Nice to meet you. I am also new to BBC LE.

    Thanks for your blog. It was very interesting to read about Ireland as well as look at its wonderful nature. Hope you keep writing about Ireland, Irish people, Irish culture, traditions etc. I don't know much about Ireland except for St.Patrick's Day and Irish stepdance:)))

    Best wishes,


  • Comment number 7.

    Hi, Stephan! Welcome to the blog! Really interesting to know about Ireland. I like the idea of more information and photos from there. But I can´t think of how Irish people use English. I haven´t enough knowledge of English. I didn´t know Irish was official. Beautiful the view of the River Shannon in Castleconnell. I associate your land with Wilde, Joyce, etc. Thanks for all and I look forward to your next post. The best for you. Beatriz. B.A. Argentina.

  • Comment number 8.

    Welcome Stephen and thanks for your introduction about Irish English and the place where you are from!
    The landscape is stunning but, as you said, it's better looking at it than experiencing the everyday life in winter.
    Fortunately, where I live is not too cold in winter. The average temperature can be 10 ºC in winter, while in Autumm and Spring 18 ºC
    But the most important characteristic is that it's sunny most of the time.
    I didn't know that the English spoken in Ireland was so different.
    Hope to hear from you again.
    Take care,
    Cris from Argentina

  • Comment number 9.

    welcome stephen too..
    ı am intereting ın ıreland,ı wıll be really appreciated to read about ıreland.by the way can you ıntroduce about yourself more..


  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Stephen,
    welcome to the group! I have heard that in Ireland it`s so much difficult to understand English you confirm that, though. But Gaelich sounds difficult as well.
    Go dti an cead uair eile, slan ----- The first thing came into my mind as translation ..."I love Irish beer"
    see you

  • Comment number 11.

    Hello Stephen!
    Nice to meet you! Firstly, I like your name very much. It’s my son’s name either. He is your namesake. Though in Russian Stephen sounds a bit differently. We say [Ste’pa:n]. Secondly, I’m very fond of your country; honestly I consider Ireland and Scotland two of the most beautiful countries of the world. The spectacular scenery, breathtaking landscapes… To visit Ireland and Scotland someday is my dream. About Gaelic. I’ve read a book recently in which the main male character is from the 18 century Scotland, the author of the book has devoited many pages to his native language – Gaelic. She has stated that Gaelic is not so common nowadays in Scotland. And since then I’ve been under an impression that Gaelic is a gradually disappearing language. I can see from your post though that the situation in Ireland is different. Or maybe I get something wrong… I’m confused, Stephen, please help me to understand.
    I’m looking forward to reading more about your beautiful country and youself, and of course, about English.

    Best wishes,
    Svetlana, Russia

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for your really nice comments so far. I'll try and reply to some of what you've said in the next few days. I've been on holidays for a few days so I'm trying to read lots of email and catch up on my work!

    Talk to you soon,

  • Comment number 13.

    Hello Stephen and welcome as new BBCLE team member! I don't know much about the English spoken in Ireland but as most commentators said, I've also heard that it's a bit on a difficult side. Would love to know more about it and in the mean time, I will be browsing through the website shared by you.

    The pictures you've shared are beautiful. Since I am from a coastal city, so have never experienced frosty mornings in winter and the minimum temperature is 9-10 degrees and a bit more on the average. Have never felt snow in real so just love it even see a photo of it. The picture of a frosty morning is so lovely!

    Best wishes,

    Naheed (Pakistan)

  • Comment number 14.

    Dia Dhuit Stephen! On my way to Galway I got a chance to visit the Cliffs of Moher and I found them astonishing!! I really liked Ireland and I hope to visit it again soon. I enjoyed reading your first post and I cannot wait to read the next one! Best of luck with everything and cheers!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello Stephen,

    Thank you for your post and for the beautiful pictures you added. I went to Ireland last June and your pictures are exactly what I saw even if I went more in the North. I did a road-trip for one week around the coast: Glens of Atrim, Giant’s causeway, Inishowen. Folks, if you really wanted to see some beautiful landscapes in Ireland, you should go in those places. Oh and I disagree: It doesn’t rain all the time in Ireland. I had a sunny week without any raindrop.

    Stephen, could you explain in one of your next post the history of the county, especially the split between Eire and Northern Ireland ?

    Thanks a lot.
    I am looking forward to reading your next post.

    Best wishes.

  • Comment number 16.

    I´m Spanish, and I´d always been told that I should stick to England if I wanted to be quite sure that people would speak the kind of English that I´d been taught, with the kind of pronunciation I was used to.
    Well, when I finally visited England, London to be exact, it turned out not to be completely true, probably because there are lots of people from all over the world there.
    Anyway, the rest of the UK has always been appealing to me, and landscapes and people have a lot to do with it. I`m from Galicia, and we have as well Celtic roots, music and traditions. ´
    I´d like to know more about those differences in the use of English, though. Your two examples, Stephen, were really funny.
    As for the pictures, they´re very beautiful, though quite freezing. Winters around here are not so hard, at least in my area, but these days we´re suffering strong storms, and quite a few constructions on the coast have been wrecked by the sea waves.
    I´ve just joined the blog, but I hope I´ll learn a lot and will have news from you soon.
    See you.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Stephen and everybody,

    Ireland has been quite a lot talked about recently - though I'm afraid not because of its natural beauty or its interesting language. Let's hope the country will get itself out of these financial troubles somehow.
    I'd much rather concentrate on the positive aspects, however. I totally agree with Alban and Filippo above. Ireland is the most wonderful country to visit, with phantastic landscapes and friendly people all around and not ONLY rainy days.
    A number of favourite places have already been mentioned; I'd just like to add a few more which I love very much: the ancient monasteries of Clonmacnoise and Glendalough, which I thought were very - well, atmospheric, if that is the word; and the breathtaking scenery of Connemara. I remember driving along that inland road from Galway to Clifden and forever wanting to stop and stay and enjoy....

    Looking forward to more posts about Ireland,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi there!
    It's nice to have you here. I think that a bit of 'Hiberno-English' will do us all good, for a change!
    Thank you for the lovely pictures. It made me feel really nostalgic!
    The Burren area, together with Donegal, are for me the most spectacular areas in Europe, and I strongly recommend visiting them.
    They are simply areas of stagering beauty, and so relaxing that whenever you are stressed out, back at work anywhere else, only the thought and memory of that landscape will make you feel at peace and instantly better.
    I lived in Ireland for some time and I remember wondering why people used sentences like 'I'm just after having lunch' (instead of the more English expression 'I've just had lunch').
    My question to Stephen is 'Where does taht come from?' and Are there any other examples of usage of that sort that you can think of?
    Thanks a million and congratulations on this extremely useful website!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Sthepen,

    How are you doing?

    Thanks for your help, and if you have time, please take a glance on my last post. Ok.

    Cheers - Natanael - Brazil

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Stephen!
    Could you believe me that to participate on these blogs is one of my resolutions for this year? Yes, it is. It's amazing and so interesting to read about Ireland! I've never heard "Hiberno-English", but now if someone mentions it I can comment something, thanks to your article which I loved it!
    Stephen, I'll be looking forward to your next post.
    Best Wishes,

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi everyone and Happy New Year!
    I posted a new blog entry on Friday with answers to some of your questions so I hope you'll read and comment when you have time. I've included some nice seasonal photos from London too!


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