Online Irish lessons
Welcome to machnamh.com, an online resource offering free multimedia lessons for learners of Irish.
These lessons were designed for improvers rather than complete beginners so to get the most out of them you really need to have made a start with the basics of reading, writing and speaking the language. They're primarily aimed at students engaged in formal study at third level, so there's a certain emphasis on the rules of grammar as set out in Caighdeán Oifigiúil na Gaeilge, the official standard for the written form. There's also an emphasis on the native spoken Irish of the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area of South Conamara; naturally enough as that's where we're based and where the lessons were developed.
However, machnamh.com also provides a great deal of additional information drawn from the richness of the living language as spoken every day throughout the Gaeltacht — in the north, west and south of Ireland — and it is intended that both academic and non-academic learners should be able to cherry-pick this according to their specific needs and preferences. Feel free to follow links, open pop-ups and play sound clips as you please.
Regarding the sound clips, all the actors who contributed to the recordings are fluent native speakers of the South Conamara dialect. By design, their delivery of the material is not entirely naturalistic but reflects a trade-off between emulating real-world speech and accomodating learners unfamiliar with the sound system of Irish. However, the prosody of their delivery — intonation, stress, rhythm ⁊rl… — is very faithful to the naturalistic speech of the area.
And because learning is ultimately a self-driven and ongoing journey, the lessons occasionally raise questions to which they don't provide answers. This is also by design. There are plenty of sources of information in print and online; students are encouraged to engage in further and varied study.
Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim
Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim,
Roisín na Mainiach,
Contae na Gaillimhe,
+353 91 494 656
machnamh.com is developed and maintained at Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim, a Gaeltacht outreach campus of National University of Ireland, Galway and part of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, the University's Irish medium education unit.
The Áras is situated about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Galway City in Roisín na Mainiach, Carna; a village at the western edge of the South Conamara Gaeltacht, on the Iorras Aithneach peninsula. This region is famed historically for its cultural richness. As the noted Irish folklorist Seán Ó Súilleabháin observed in Folktales of Ireland (1966):
It is generally conceded that the parish of Carna, in West Galway, had more unrecorded folktales in 1935 than did all the rest of western Europe.
Sorcha Ní Ghuairim
Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, in whose honour the Áras was named, was a native of the area who did significant work, as a scholar, teacher and journalist, for the promotion and revival of the Irish language during the mid-twentieth century. She was also a highly respected traditional singer. Irish is, of course, the Áras' working language.
Learning ⁊ research
Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim offers a range of full-time, part-time and occasional university programmes and courses. Among the undergraduate courses offered are courses in computing, business administration, folklore and applied Irish.
Research interests in the Áras include linguistics, folklore, language learning, broadcast audience research (Fios Físe) computer science, user interface localisation for Windows and Linux) and digital archiving (Bailiúchán Sheáin Mhic Ghiollarnáth, Cartlanna Joe Éinniú, Glórtha na Réabhlóide ar RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta).
The ancient and extremely rich cultural environment in which Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim is so fortunate to be based is reflected in the numerous traditional cultural festivals and social events that are run in the locality throughout the year. Notable among these are Féile Mhic Dara (16th July each year, with Mass celebrated by pilgrims at mid-day on Oileán Mhic Dara (Saint Mac Dara's Island), followed by boat races and music in the afternoon) and Féile Chomórtha Joe Éinniú (the Seosamh Ó hÉanaí comemorative festival, which has been enticing artists, scholars and lovers of Irish singing, music, dance and culture from all over the world for more than thirty years).
Further information about an tÁras and an tAcadamh
Find out more about Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim and Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge.