Handbook of the Tyrone Gaeltacht

Gaelic reading Sluggerites will recall I blogged a while back on a new book Padaí Láidir Mac Culadh agus Gaeltacht Thír Eoghain, a comprehensive work which could well be described as a handbook of the Tyrone Gaeltacht. It is a large volume which covers a wide variety of topics, profiles of native speakers, a small folklore collection and a summary of Irish medium education in the county to the present day. Learners of Irish in Tyrone will also be interested in the accompanying cd of recordings of native Tyrone Irish speakers recorded in the last century.

It is an essential purchase for anyone interested in Ulster Irish and in the language of Tyrone in particular.

Heres some details from today’s Irish News … “Padaí Láidir Mac Culadh agus Gaeltacht Thír Eoghain” was written by Dr Pádraig Ó Baoighill from Ranafast in the Donegal Gaeltacht, a full-time Irish writer and broadcaster who has written 14 books since 1993. This 540-page edition is the first comprehensive coverage of the Irish language of Tyrone since Eamann Ó Tuathail’s “Scéalta Muintir Luinigh” in 1933. The story of Paddy Láidir Mac Culladh of Curraghinalt, Rooskey, is well covered. Other profiles of the last native speakers include Johnny Bán McAleer; Helen Devlin (Eibhlín Mháire Bhidí) and Máire Ní Mhianáin, Cnocán Buí; Padaí Mac Culadh (Mhicí Briain) Seascán Siúil, Jane Mac Ruairí (Jane William Pheety), Peadar Ó Brolcháin (Peter Pat Roe), Glenlark, Áine Mhic Craith, Glenhull and Seán Ó Cairealláin, Glenelly. There are 25 profiles of native speakers of the Munterloney and Termonamongan areas, as well as profiles of 20 people from the Donegal Gaeltacht who were hired in the Badoney, Glenelly, Castlederg areas of Tyrone in the early 20th century. The author could only meet 10 native speakers in 1956 although there were 6,000 native speakers in the Tyrone Gaeltacht at the start of the 20th century. A CD included with the book covers eight native speakers from County Tyrone and six stories which the author recorded from Padaí Láidir Mac Culadh in Mossey’s Tavern in Gortin in 1956. Professor Mac Mathúna decribed Mr Ó Baoighill’s latest work as the most important and valuable he has written so far. “There is more information compiled here than was ever collected before,” he said. “This book is the most diverse and comprehensive ever written on the native speakers of this area.”

  • Ulster McNulty

    Thanks for drawing attention to this GGN – where can I get the book? Is it in Irish or English

  • Ulster McNulty

    Rite – it’s in Irish, I just saw your July 12th piece – a translation would be of wide general interest also.

  • Nordie Northsider

    This is just more Tyrone triumphalism. They have the best Gaelic football team in Ulster and now they’re laying claim to the best extinct Irish dialect. Where will it end?

  • GGN

    It is in Irish.

    There is a case for a translation into English of course, the problem is is that publishers are Irish language or English language publishers, not bilingual.

    The main folklore collection from Tyrone, Scéalta Mhuintir Luinigh, and it certainely is a gem, is being reprinted I understand but without translation.

  • Greenflag

    I’d never have thought there were 6,000 Irish speakers in Tyrone circ 1900, but then when one realises that at the time of the famine at least half the population of the island was irish speaking mostly in the rural areas I suppose it’s possible .

    Great work by Dr Pádraig Ó Baoighill . There is a case for translation for those people who may be interested in the folk lore and who may have enough Irish to carry on a basic conversation but not enough to read a full tome 😉

  • Ulster McNulty


    “I’d never have thought there were 6,000 Irish speakers in Tyrone circ 1900”

    They were probably all over the age of 40. It would be interesting if someone was able to pull the statistics out of the 1901 census.


    Scriobh tú;

    “Seolfar sa Chultúrlann an tseachtain seo chugainn (18ú) leabhar…”

    Ní thuigim go direach an focal “seolfar” sa chas seo. An feidir liom an leabhar a cheannacht sa Chultúrlann anois?

  • GGN

    Seolfar = ‘will be launched’ agus ar ndóigh, seoladh anois é – it has been launched.

    Tá sé sa Chultúrlann go cinnte. Deirfinn go bhfuil sé i Siopa an Chairn fosta.

  • Ulster McNulty


    Tuigim, go raibh maith agat.

  • picador

    Ca bhfuil Siopa an Chairn?

  • Big Maggie


    What is left of the Tyrone Gaeltacht today? Has it vanished? That would be very sad.

  • milo

    Where can I buy this book? What’s the RRP?

  • GGN




    Not much.


    An Chultúrlann

  • I have a book somewhere in the house named something like ‘Tyrone Folk Quest’ (1973) or something like that and it focuses on the Gaeltacht area of Tyrone….the author was a Murphy from Armagh.

  • Jer

    nice post.

    Can I ask whether any nod is made to the Tyrone dialect or actually any of the central or east Ulster dialects in the schools in ulster. Is it the cadhain ofiguil (forgive the spelling)thats taught up your way.

  • Danny

    In some ways, Tyrone in the 19th century was a microcosm of the rapid language shift which was already underway (or almost complete in some areas) at the time.

    Some of the strongest Irish speaking areas in Ulster in the 19th century were to be found in Tyrone. Obviously Donegal was tops, with some baronies as late as 1851 having a monoglot (Irish-only) majority.

    According to the data from the Census of 1851, 24.1% of the population of the Barony of Upper Strabane was Irish speaking. This included a few hundred monoglots. Other baronies in Ulster where 20%+ of the population were Irish speakers in 1851 include Farney in southeast Monaghan (25.7%, almost all bilingual) and Upper Orior in south Armagh (29.2%). Compare this to the language situation in other parts of the country at the time. 70% of people in Galway were recorded as Irish speakers. Indeed, one quarter of the population in that county could speak no other language. English was largely unknown by the populace in the Baronies of Ross (north Conamara), Moycullen (south Conamara), Ballynahinch, Aran etc. Much the same in large swathes of northwest Mayo, west Kerry, southwest Clare and to a lesser extent in south Waterford, west Cork and remoter parts of Sligo.
    On the other hand, a grand total of 135 Irish speakers were recorded for the county of Wicklow in 1851. Less than 0.1% of the population. 0.4% in Wexford and Down, 0.2% in Laois, 0.5% in Kildare and so on. A look at the data really illustrates how the island was divided, almost down the middle, between a heavily anglicised east half and a predominantly Irish speaking western half in the middle of the 19th century. Fascinating stuff imo.

    Going back to Tyrone, in a survey from the year 1802 Munterloney was noted for being a region where English was not widely known.

  • ggn


    Almost all Irish taught in the Six Counties is a standarised form of North-West Donegal Irish, specifically based on the dialect of Rann na Feirste.

    No East Ulster dialect is taught at any level outside of private institutions and local groups.

    The only area I think that you what hear traces of East Ulster Irish are in South Derry where the sounds are relatively preserved in the English dialect and in South Armagh where the song tradition preserves some of the dialect.

  • Gaeilgeoir

    RE: GGN. Ar an 13ú scríobh tú “seoladh anois é” agus d’aistrigh tú é sin mar “it has been launched”. Gan a bheith ag iarraidh cur as do chuid Gaeilge nach é “tá sé seolta anois” an leagan is fearr sa Ghaeilge den abairt “it has been launched”?

  • GGN

    A Ghaeilgeora,

    Do bhíos ag déanamh comparáid ar an bhfocal ‘seolfar’.

  • picador


    Taobh amuigh de Béal Feirste ca bhfuil lucht na Gaeilge is láidre sna sé contae i do bharúil?

    ‘do bhíos’ – wtf?? Ni thuigim. Arbh fhéidir leat leirigh an leagan le do thoil?

  • GGN

    “Taobh amuigh de Béal Feirste”

    Hmmm, níl mise 100% fá sin, is tábhachtach bolscaireacht agus is tábhachtach gan do bholscaireacht féin a chreidbheáil. Tá láidreacht ag an Ghaeilge i mBéal Feirste ach tá laigí ann fosta.

    Do bhíos – bhí mé.

    Tá an Ghaelscolaíocht láidir i dTír Eoghain mar shampla cé go bhfuil na scoileanna iontach beag, ach tá siad bunaithe i sráidbhailte beaga.

    Ó thaobh an Ghaeilge mar theanga phobail, deirfinn go bhfuil Doire Theas láidir.

    Ó thaobh líon na gcainteoirí líofa, tá cuid mhór Gaeilgeoirí thart ar an Iúr.

    Tá trean obair le déanamh i mBéal Feirste go fóill a dhuine uasail.