For Learners D'fhoghlaimeoirí


The Gaelic Placenames of Belfast

by Aodán Mac Póilin and Róise Ní Bhaoill

This brochure explores the Gaelic origins of  Belfast placenames. Some are mythological - the old name for Belfast Lough was Loch Lao ' the lough of the calf', a reference to a bovine deity. Others recall the tribes that lived in the area - Taughmonagh is Tuath Monach 'the tribe of Monaigh', a Cruthin people originally from Leinster.  Many describe features which have been lost, e.g. Belfast is Béal Feirste,  'the approach to the sand-bank ford', a ford which once crossed the River Lagan.

The brochure is free of charge. Printed versions are available from the Visitor Centre at Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Welcome Centre and the Ultach Trust.

To download the PDF version, please click here.

To find the meanings of townlands in Ulster, please explore http://www.placenamesni.org/


Taisce Focal

These are additional notes to this publication for learners. They will increase your understanding of Donegal Irish.

Taisce Focal: Translation

This English version is not intended to be an exact word-for-word transliteration but is intended to convey the meaning of the text. I assume that readers will have Irish-English dictionaries and can make their own literal word-for-word translations. The dialogues are translated into a type of Hiberno-English with which I am familiar, for example I have translated ‘Tá sé dearg millte agat’ as ‘You have him spoilt rotten’ which is far more commonly heard in Ireland than the more standardised ‘You have spoiled him rotten’. As such, the Hiberno-English replicates the flavour of the Irish original, and hints at the relationship between the two (Gordon McCoy).

Réamhrá An Babaí Úr An Sceanadh agus an Feannadh; An Chéad Lá sa Phost; Ar an DrabhlásAg An Chóisir;  Cuairteoirí Lá NollagAn Mháthair Chleamhnais;  Doimhneacht na hOíche;  Ag Ullmhú don tSaoireAn Goirín;  Dinnéar san Árasán;  San Otharlann;  Pronntanas Aindí;  An Fiaclóir An Chéad Lá Ar Scoil;  Lá Fhéile Vailintín.   

There are 59 articles in the Taisce Focal series. You can download them from the beo.ie archive at:


Dialann Dí

Gordon McCoy's guide to drinking in Irish is available here 


Frequently-Asked Questions on the Irish Language


A History of Protestant Irish Speakers (by Gordon McCoy) 


A Pronunciation Guide to Ulster Irish


A Pronunciation Guide to Irish Names


Gaelic Surnames in English (by Aodán Mac Póilín)


Irish Language Literature in Belfast (by Aodán Mac Póilín)



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