Located in the Ulster province of Northern Ireland is Donegal, a vast county in Ireland with at least a dozen different areas located within it each with their own unique take on their county’s accent. It’s located between the Northwest of Ireland and the Lakelands. It’s a beautiful place to visit not just because of all its different tourist attractions, but its beautiful multi-lingual people. However, in the 1840s, you wouldn’t say that. This poor county has had its fair share of trial. In the 1840s it was the worst county affected by the Great Famine. This had caused many parts of Donegal to become uninhabitable and the result was that large parts of Donegal became depopulated as many people emigrated–most using the Foyle Port.
Now with a backdrop to the county of Donegal, let’s discuss its over a dozen different dialects. In the county of Donegal, it is a common fact that older people tend to have a stronger accent than younger people. The reason for such a strong Irish accent in Donegal is because, as opposed to English, their first language is Gaelic with English being their second language. While some of the accents in Donegal sound very similar, they are each very unique. Making this a beautiful and diverse county. All within one county.
Some of these dialects include Glenties meaning from “the Glens”, Killybegs meaning “fishing port” and Inishowen meaning the “island of Eoghan”. I’ll put a list where I mention a fact about each of them.
Because of the different accents, it actually makes it quite difficult to understand. Donegal county is considered to have the strongest Irish accent and can sometimes be mistaken for Scottish. This makes sense since both Scotland and Ireland have strong Celtic/Gaelic influence despite their current differences in culture and language. It’s also quite important to note that when speaking to someone from Donegal, you might find yourself needing to slow down as it is quite difficult to understand. The Donegal county is very highly rated among tourist attractions since it has such a diverse and interesting culture.
As I mentioned above each area, or sub-county I suppose you can call it, has their own distinct flavour to the Donegal accent. Below I will place a list of the more than a dozen different dialects within Donegal county.
Before I do, I thought I’d provide a video where you can hear the different dialects as well as their unique pronunciations.
- Glenties/Na Gleannta meaning “the Glens”
- Killybegs/Na Cealla Beaga meaning “fishing port”
- Inishowen/Inis Eoghain meaning “island of Eoghan”
- Buncrana/Bun Cranncha meaning “foot of the river”
- Ballybofey/Bealach Féich meaning “Fiach’s pass”
- Creeslough/An Craoslach meaning “the Gorge or Throat Lake”
- Gweedore/Gooth Dobhaire meaning, in the old Irish, “water”
- Finn Valley –Located in North-West Ireland and Lakelands. It stretches the northernmost than any part of Northern Ireland.
- Ballyshannon/Béal Átha Seanaidh meaning “mouth of Seannach’s ford”
- Kincasslaugh/The Rosses in Irish it is pronounced “Cion Caslach”
- Dunglo, Dunglow/An Clochán Liath is the largest area in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
- Cloughaneely/Cloich Cheann Fhaola is mainly coastal and is located in western Donegal
- Bundoran/Bun Dobhráin is the most southerly town in Donegal.
- Glen Colmcille/Gleann Cholm Cille is a southwest coastal district in Donegal.
- Letterkenny/Letir Ceanainn meaning “hillside of the O’Cannons’ ” and is nicknamed “the Cathedral Town”.
There are also many words that take on a different meaning in Donegal. Words such as “cut” (state or condition) and “hi” (simply a word to begin and end a sentence with; no actual meaning) do not mean the same thing as they do in other parts of the world. You’ll see below I have compiled a list of the words I came across in my research each with their own different pronunciation as well as meaning.
- “Card” is pronounced as “sim ceard/memory ceard”;
- “Brave” meaning “You have a brave (far) way to go”;
- “Wild” meaning “very” for example you would say, “It’s wild windy out”;
- “Foundred” meaning “cold”;
- “Lock” meaning “little bit”;
- “Rare man” meaning “a little strange” for example “he’s a rare man, that one”;
- “Cat” meaning “terrible or awful”;
- “Ware/Wain/Wee Uns/We’ans” all meaning “infant/baby/child”;
- “handlin’ ” meaning a bad or awful experience;
- “wile” meaning “very/strongly/alot is often used in a very negative light;
- “header” is someone who is a lot of fun.
All of the above, as I mentioned already, make this a beautiful and colourful county to visit, but it’s not just the culture or diversity that make it worth the visit. It also has many waymarked trails, local walks, mountain paths as well as beautiful rivers, lakes and beaches to visit. Should you ever find yourself in Ireland, make sure to visit Donegal county it is definitely worth the visit.
I’m near to finishing our trip through Ireland and am planning on maybe going across the ocean and heading for Scotland or maybe even further in to China or Russia. Those countries have a rich culture and I can’t wait to see what they have instore for us. For now, I hope you enjoyed this little article. You can like and share the post using Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest or even Whatsapp; also take a peek at my socials below.
Be safe and sound, my precious avidReaders. Write soon. God bless