Irish (Gaelic) and English are the two official languages of Ireland. Although Irish, recognised as a proper language by the European Union, is the native language of Ireland, English is spoken by everyone and only a few people use it regularly, mainly in the areas called "Gaeltachts". These regions include the provinces of Connacht, Ulster and Munster, where the three major dialects are spoken.
Some Irish elements can be find in names of towns and villages:
Baile (bally) - town
Caisleàn (cashel) - castle
Cill (kill) - church
Cnoc (knock) - hill
Dun (doon) - fort
Inis (inish) - island
Mòr - big
Sliabh (sleeve)- mountain
In County Mayo people speak Connaught dialect but it is possible to recognise some differences: in the northern part of the county the dialect of Erris and Achill is very similar to the dialect spoken in Ulster in many aspects of vocabulary and in pronunciation (probably due to the immigration of dispossessed people following the Plantation of Ulster); in the area around Lough Corrib and Lough Mask the pronunciation is quite similar to that of south Connemara, while the dialect spoken in the rest of the county is much closer to the common Connaught Gaeltacht.
Official documents, street and road signs are bilingual and some Irish words are often encountered such as Fir (gentlemen), Mna (ladies), Gardaì (police), telefòn (telephone), Siopa (shop) and Oifig an Phoist (post office).
Here are some phrases in the Irish language useful if you are visiting Mayo and want to speak some Irish to the locals:
|Hello||Dia duit (deea gwit)|
|Hello (reply)||Dia is Muire duit (deeas moyra gwit)|
|Good morning||Maidin mhaith (mawjin wah)|
|Good night||Oiche mhaith (eekheh wah)|
|Goodbye||Slàn leat (slawn lyat) when leaving, Slan agat (slawn agut) when staying.|
|Thank you very much||Go raibh mìle maith agat (goh rev meela mah agut)|
|Excuse me||Gabh mo leithscèal (gamoh lesh scale)|
|I'm sorry||Tà bròn orm (taw brohn oruhm)|
|My name is Sean||Sean is ainm dom (Shawn is anim dohm)|
|Nice||Go deas (goh dyass)|
The Irish government promote the preservation of the Irish-language: in fact Irish is a mandatory part of the curriculum for all Irish school-children and all civil servants have to pass examinations in Irish.
Several radio stations and a television station such as Raidiò na Gaeltachta and TG4 promote the interest in the Irish language.
Clo Mhaigh Eo is a Publishers of books in Irish for children and young people, the company is based in Claremorris, County Mayo. Many Irish language learners throughout the world make extensive use of books from Clo Mhaigh Eo particularly their beautifully illustrated childrens' picture books.