Learn The Irish Language Before St. Patrick's Day - My Challenge

  • Donovan Nagel
    Written byDonovan Nagel
    Donovan NagelTeacher, translator, polyglot
    🎓 B.A., Theology, Australian College of Theology, NSW
    🎓 M.A., Applied Linguistics, University of New England, NSW

    Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator. Founder of The Mezzofanti Guild and Talk In Arabic.
  • Read time3 mins
  • Comments3
Learn The Irish Language Before St. Patrick's Day - My Challenge

UPDATE: I successfully finished this language mission, becoming fluent in Irish over 9 months. I travelled to the Irish Gaeltacht for it. Check it out here.

Also make sure to visit this post of mine where I share the best resources for learning Irish.

Well… after years of wanting to learn the Irish language and talking about it incessantly but never actually doing it, I’m finally jumping into it this week.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities over the last few years to take it up including having lived and worked in Cork, Ireland but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened yet.

Learn Irish Language

I feel like my motivation’s high enough now to finally tackle it.

Why I want to learn Irish

Unlike every other language I’ve ever studied, Irish has been of special significance to me for a number of reasons:

  • When I did my Master’s degree a few years ago I wrote a paper on Irish bilingualism and the gaelscoileanna (Irish medium schools) along with historical developments in Irish bilingual education. I developed a keen interest and passion for it during my research.
  • I’m passionate about saving dying languages and Irish is becoming increasingly endangered (thankfully it’s not nearly as bad as Scottish Gaelic where less than 1% of native Scots know their own language).
  • When I was living in Ireland it really shocked me to see how many of the indigenous Irish – especially the younger generation – have no interest in their language.
  • You probably guessed by looking at my name that I have Irish ancestry. I had an amazing opportunity to meet a distant relative of my grandmother in County Cork, Ireland recently and to visit villages where my family lived before heading to Australia.

Learning Irish the hard way

Irish Language

Unfortunately and sadly I don’t have any native speaker friends or contacts (plenty of Irish friends but none of them speak Irish). I’ve made multiple inquiries about Irish language teachers here in Brisbane with no luck and I haven’t been able to find a language exchange partner online yet.

I haven’t given up on finding fluent native speakers to help me learn but for the meantime I’m going to teach myself using the limited online resources that are available.

If you’re a fluent native Irish speaker with time to spare drop me an email!

I’m setting St. Patrick’s Day (17th of March, 2012) as my target for being able to converse well in Irish and hopefully I’ll be able to find speakers by then to use it with.

My ideal dialect would be that spoken in Munster but due to extremely limited resources I have to settle for what I can find online (most of which seems to be the Connacht and Ulster dialects).

Keeping track of my progress

I’ll be using the forum to list resources that I’m using to teach myself as well as brief notes to record the activities I’m doing and the progress I’m making for anyone who’s interested in following my learning style.

Just remember – I’m teaching myself using only freely available (very limited) online resources. No paid products and no travel for this endeavor.

Click on the Forum link in the menu above and scroll down to the section on Irish. There’s an RSS feed there you can subscribe to as well.

Feel free to comment in the forums or here if you want to suggest any links or methods that might help me pick up fluent Irish.

🎓 Cite article

Share link Grab the link to this article
Copy Link
The Mezzofanti Guild



Who is this?The Mezzofanti Guild
Cardinal MezzofantiCardinal Guiseppe Mezzofanti was a 19th century polyglot who is believed to have spoken at least 39 languages!Learn more
Support me by sharing:
  • Reddit share
  • Facebook share
  • X / Twitter share

Let me help you learn Irish

Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek


Comment Policy: I love comments and feedback (positive and negative) but I have my limits. You're in my home here so act accordingly.
NO ADVERTISING. Links will be automatically flagged for moderation.


A great book, if you’re interested in Irish usage is A Grammar of Modern Irish. You can buy it at the website, www.teangaleanga.com It’s a companion guide to Graimear Gaeilge na mBraithre Criostai. Not sure though what the postage and handling is for international mailing. The paypal page only has the price of postage to U.S. destinations.
But if you can get it, it’s worth it. Every page is loaded with information about the language!



Have you found any good resources? I am planning on visiting Ireland in a little less than a year and I thought it might be fun to know a few phrases or maybe even be semi-decent at speaking some of their language. I’m not exactly sure which part we’re visiting, so I’m not sure which dialect or anything I should attempt. Best of luck!



Thanks Leslie!

I’ve found Daltaí na Gaeilge to be a good source for Irish. Other than that I’m just using videos and podcasts that people have put up for free on Youtube and iTunes to get me started.

Honestly, unless you’re planning to stay in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking areas of Ireland) most people you meet won’t speak Irish which is sad.

The largest Irish-speaking population is in Connacht so that’s the most popular one to go with.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
© The Mezzofanti Guild, 2024. NAGEL PTY LTD. All Rights Reserved.
Join The Guild

Let Me Help You Learn Irish (Gaeilge)

  • Get my exclusive Irish content delivered straight to your inbox.
  • Learn about the best Irish language resources that I've personally test-driven.
  • Get insider tips for learning Irish.


No spam. Ever.