An Tinneas Fiacla – The Toothache

Here is a transcription and translation of the story that appears here. There are some comments at the bottom, along with a vocabulary. As usual, I have attempted to transcribe exactly, so any spelling errors in the original will remain.


Do bhí ministéar ann aon uair amháin agus do bhí sé marbh le tinneas fiacla. Do bhuail fear uime ar an mbóthar agus d’iarraidh an ministéar don fhear an raibh aon leigheas aige do thinneas fiacla. Acht sé dubhairt an fear leis, “Suidh annsan go fóil agus tabhairfidh me urra na fiacla duit.”

“Séid at fhiacal agus pianta nimhe innte, agus na fágaidh an pian seo do fhiacal coidhche.


There was a minister once and he was racked with toothache. He met a man on the road and he asked the man if he had any cure for toothache. But what the man said was, “sit there for a bit and I’ll give tooth strength to you.”

“Blow at your tooth when there are awful pains in it, and won’t this pain leave your tooth forever.”


  • The verb “buailim” is used with the preposition “um” to mean “meet”. It can also be used with the preposition “le” in this sense.
  • We have “d’iarraidh” used here instead of “d’fhiafraigh”. Normally in Irish forms of the verb “iarraim” (with the preposition “ar”) are used to make demands/requests of people and forms of “fiafraím” (with the preposition “de”) are used to make inquiries. What we are seeing here seems to be a blending of the two, as you’d expect “d’iarr” rather than “d’iarraidh” for the past tense of “iarraim” and “d’fhiafraigh” for the past tense of “fiafraím”. We find “do” rather than “de” as the two prepositions are somewhat confused.
  • The “na” in “na fágfaidh” should probably be “ná”, which is used instead of “nach” outside of copular constructions (where “nách” is used).
  • “an pian” should probably be “an phian” since this word is feminine, unless this differs in Cléire.


As usual, (pre.) indicates a pre-reform spelling and (dial.) a dialectical spelling or variant and I have enclosed the modern “Standard Irish” equivalent in brackets.

acht (ach) – but (dial. now, but also pre.)
annsan (ansin) – there. The modern dialectical spelling is “ansan”. (pre., dial.)
at (ag do) – at your (“ag do” becomes “at” before a vowel or f) (dial.)
choidhche (choíche) – ever/never, when used with the future tense (pre.)
do bhí (bhí) – was/were. Munster Irish often still prefixes the old past particle “do” to verbs. It is this particle which causes the lenition of the past tense and it is still visible in Standard Irish before vowels and f (d’ith, etc.). (dial.)
dubhairt (dúirt) – said (pre.)
fiacal (fiacail) – tooth. This spelling is also used in Músgraí/Muskerry, but there the word is masculine whilst here it is feminine, as in the Standard. (dial.)
fóil (fóill) – in “go fóil”, yet, still (pre.)
innte (inti) – in it/her. (pre.)
leigheas – cure
suidh (suigh) sit (pre.)
tinneas – sickness
urra – strength

Comments and corrections are welcome!

I make use of this source with thanks to Dú, under the conditions of the CC BY-NC 4.0 licence.