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Where to go to learn the mother language of Ireland

No stay in Ireland is complete without sampling its magnificent language, mother tongue to thousands across the island. Areas where Irish is the first language are known as Gaeltacht (Gayl – tockt)and can be visited most notably in Counties Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Cork. However, a few common phrases are easy to pick up and go a long way in the pubs!

Outside of the Gaeltacht, the vast majority of Irish people use English in daily life, however.

Banter, Plamas and Craic.

In everyday interactions Irish friends and relations engage in a style of conversation often surprising if not alarming to unprepared tourists. The insult, putdown or sideswipe, known as ‘banter,’ is a highly nuanced art-form for showing affection or endearment. So a man may introduce his wife of twenty years as ‘my current partner’ and she might casually reply ‘oh dear god, is that bald creep still stalking me’.

It’s all in the timing and tone and not to be attempted unless you are visibly in a good mood. Plamas is the inversion of Banter where you would highly exaggerate someones good qualities (real or imagined) for example somebody orders you a beer and you announce ‘You know you are the Mother Teresa of thirsty people everywhere..except taller and maybe better looking’. If you join a group of people for a few beers and the Banter and Plamas is flowing and wicked, you are having ‘the Craic’, high spirited and witty friendly teasing, and just know you can’t be anywhere else except Ireland. Be careful though, if your Irish host really likes you then your looks, nationality, attributes and views are all subject to Banter and Plamas.

Written by The Travel Valet

Photo courtesy of Fáilte Ireland

By Sandy Karwacki-farber, BA about Ireland

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