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Quiz: Test yourself with a few Words of Irish!

Although Irish is an entirely separate language from English, many Irish words have made their way into English, whether in general vocabulary, personal names, or placenames. Most of the following words fall into one of those categories, so hopefully they won’t seem too  unfamiliar! So, see if you know a cúpla focail (couple of words) and let us know about your experience below 🙂

If you like this quiz, be sure to check out my 99 Amazing Quizzes on a Wide Variety of Topics! – “Guaranteed to make you smarter!” 

  • Question of

    The Irish phrase go leor means…

    • A lot
    • A very small amount
    • It belongs to the widow up the road, but she doesn’t mind me using it now and then
  • Question of

    Cailín has been borrowed into English as a girl’s name, Colleen. But what does the Irish word mean?

    • Beautiful
    • Girl
    • A Spanish princess that was rescued when the Spanish Armada sank off the Kerry coast in the 16th century. Or more generally, any Spanish princess.
  • Question of

    Clann means…

    • A rare and expensive kind of tobacco that grows wild in the Blackstairs mountains in Kilkenny
    • A clan chief who smokes the above-mentioned tobacco incessantly
    • Family
  • Question of

    What’s a gob?

    • The beak of a bird
    • The point at which a pointed object, which has been so finely crafted by a craftsman of great skill, that its ultimate point is too narrow to be perceived by the naked eye, becomes imperceptible.
    • Any man who can claim ancestry from such a craftsman
  • Question of

    Uisce is an Irish word that has made itself very much at home in English. It may help to know that the letter C is always pronounced as a K in Irish.

    • A whisk for whipping cream, etc.
    • A general term for the kind of talk you hear in and around a railway station
    • Water
  • Question of

    What’s a bróg?

    • A shoe
    • A box for capturing loud noises, for subsequent transmogrification into light. Often seen in railway stations in the west of Ireland.
    • A transparent raincoat, popular among middle-ages women among Dublin’s prosperous and leafy suburbs southern suburbs
  • Question of

    Samhain (pronounced sa-win) means…

    • A collective term for animals with curly tails, such as husky dogs, pigs, curly-tailed lizards etc.
    • The month of November
    • A left-handed poet
  • Question of

    In the mouth of an Irishman, what’s a Sasannach?

    • An assassin
    • An English (or Saxon) man
    • The tail-end of a Caribbean hurricane, usually somewhat diminished by the time it has crossed the Atlantic
  • Question of

    Cill (pronounced ‘kill’) has been borrowed into many placenames. But what does it mean?

    • Murder
    • Abattoir
    • Church
  • Question of

    Craic means…

    • Red-light district
    • The sixteen-week period following Christmas, during which eating and drinking (especially drinking) to excess is socially encouraged.
    • Fun
  • Question of

    Póitín means…

    • A small patch of land, hidden away from normal access, and used for the cultivation of certain plants not strictly acceptable to the law
    • The way the smoke from a peat fire smells to you, when you return to Ireland after a long exile
    • Illicitly produced whisky
  • Question of

    Seamróg is…

    • A heavy jumper worn by fishermen
    • Clover
    • Green beer served on St. Patrick’s Day (only in America!)
  • Question of

    Bealtaine   means what in modern Irish?

    • The month of May
    • A special dance around the Maypole
    • A secret language used by blacksmiths to take advantage of ordinary folk
  • Question of

    Abhainn   is another Irish word that has been freely incorporated into English placenames and geographic features. What is its meaning?

    • Mountain
    • Valley
    • Headland
    • Estuary
    • River
  • Question of

    Lastly, what’s a síbín? You’ll know for sure if you’re South African!

    • An unlicensed pub
    • A special type of pantomime performed exclusively by one-legged men at Halloween
    • Nothing at all!

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