Counting to Twelve and Telling Time in Gaeilge (Irish Language)

by | 6 Aug, 2023 | Cúpla Focail (Irish Words and Phrases)

Mastering Irish Numerals: How to Count to Twelve and Tell Time an Gaeilge!

Dia dhuit (Hello)! If you’re an aspiring Irish Language enthusiast or planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, understanding the basics of counting and telling time in Gaeilge will undoubtedly enhance your experience. Fear not, for we’re here to guide you through the enchanting world of Irish numerals and the art of telling time with a sprinkle of wit and charm. So, let’s embark on this delightful journey together!

Counting to Twelve in Gaeilge

1. A haon (A hayn) – One: Let’s start at the beginning, where all good things do! A haon is the foundation of Irish numerals, and you’ll find it’s as warm and inviting as a cosy pub in Dublin.

2. A dó (A doh) – Two: Just like that, we’re a pair! A dó stands strong beside a haon, ready to take on the world with its playful nature.

3. A trí (A tree) – Three: Ah, the magic number three! A trí brings a touch of charm to the counting party.

4. A ceathair (A kah-her) – Four: Steady and reliable, a ceathair is the solid cornerstone of Irish counting, like the ancient stone walls that dot the countryside.

5. A cúig (A koo-ig) – Five: We’ve reached the halfway point! A cúig adds a touch of fun to the mix, akin to the lively spirit of traditional Irish folk music.

6. A sé (A shay) – Six: Now, we’re on a roll! A sé brings a sense of balance and harmony to the count, much like the breathtaking cliffs of Moher.

7. A seacht (A shakht) – Seven: With a little luck of the Irish on our side, we’ve made it to seven! A seacht carries a mysterious air, much like the ancient ruins scattered throughout the land.

8. A hocht (A hukht) – Eight: The number eight marches on with a sense of determination and purpose, akin to the resilient spirit of the Irish people.

9. A naoi (A nee) – Nine: A naoi’s charm lies in its simplicity, like the humble beauty of a thatched-roof cottage.

10. A deich (A deh) – Ten: Double digits, here we come! A deich stands tall and proud, much like the majestic peaks of the Irish mountains.

11. A h-aon déag (A hayn yayg) – Eleven: A h-aon déag adds a dash of whimsy to the count, much like the playful folklore creatures that roam the countryside.

12. A dó dhéag (A doh yayg) – Twelve: And finally, we’ve reached the pinnacle of Irish numerals! A dó dhéag embraces the beauty of completion, like the satisfying feeling of a perfectly poured pint of Guinness.

Telling Time in Gaeilge

Now that you’ve mastered the art of counting to twelve, let’s dive into the poetic realm of telling time in Gaeilge.

1. AM and PM: In Irish, we use “r.n.” (rishníocht) for AM (before noon) and “i.n.” (iarnóin) for PM (after noon).

2. The Hour: To express the hour in Irish, you would say “uair” (oor). For example, 1 o’clock is “a haon a chlog” (a hayn a khlog), and 6 o’clock is “a sé a chlog” (a shay a khlog).

3. Minutes Past the Hour: When telling minutes past the hour, we use the word “tar éis” (tar aysh) before the number of minutes. For instance, 3:15 is “a trí tar éis a dó” (a tree tar aysh a doh).

4. Minutes To the Hour: To express minutes to the hour, we use “chun” (khun) before the number of minutes. For example, 4:40 is “chun a ceathair déag a chlog” (khun a kah-her yayg a khlog).

5. Half-Past the Hour: Half-past the hour is represented by “leathuair” (lah-oor), which translates to “half-hour.” For example, 7:30 is “leathuair tar éis a seacht” (lah-oor tar aysh a shakht).

6. Quarter Past and Quarter To: To denote quarter past and quarter to the hour, we use “ceathrú fiche tar éis” (kah-roo fikhe tar aysh) and “ceathrú fiche chun” (kah-roo fikhe khun), respectively. So, 9:15 is “ceathrú fiche tar éis a naoi” (kah-roo fikhe tar aysh a nee), and 2:45 is “ceathrú fiche chun a dó” (kah-roo fikhe khun a doh).


Congratulations! You’ve now embraced the whimsical world of counting to twelve and telling time in Gaeilge. As you immerse yourself in the melodic cadence of the language, remember to savor each pronunciation and revel in the rich cultural heritage that accompanies it. The Irish language is a treasure trove of history, folklore, and enchantment, and by mastering these fundamental aspects, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the true magic of the Emerald Isle. Slán go fóill (Goodbye for now)!

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