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Lonely Planet's "Irish Language and Culture" by Francesca Cole (Ed.)

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Lonely Planet's

The Bottom Line

The Irish do not speak a form of English generally understood in New York or York - the language barrier has been constantly raised by Hiberno-English becoming a language in its own right. Lonely Planet's "Irish Language and Culture" wants to help you overcome this barrier. By immersing you in the local lingo, giving you some history and culture and nudging you even towards Irish (as in gaeilge). Is all this necessary for a vacation? Not really, but it is mighty craic. Might just be the best read on a plane heading for Dublin - though flight attendants and sky marshals may get curious about your quiet giggling ...
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  • Comprehensive, largely truthful and irreverent look at Ireland's language and culture.
  • A perfect primer for those suffering from other varieties of English as a mother-tongue.
  • Audio downloads available online.
  • Made me laugh out loud several times.


  • May tempt you into imitating the local lingo - just cease and desist.
  • Just ignore the list of public holidays.


  • Thematically arraged chapters give you a glimpse of Hiberno-English.
  • It is not generally advised to actually learn phrases and attempt to "fit in".
  • Some basic Irish is included.
  • Most of all the book is a good laugh - especially when you know Ireland and the Irish.

Guide Review - Lonely Planet's "Irish Language and Culture" by Francesca Cole (Ed.)

"Sometimes Ireland's mistaken for the northern province of Outer Mongolia because the public transport is so bad" Any book that starts its chapter on public transport in this way can’t be all bad. Though the truth of this statement might be disputed (by the Irish transport community and Mongolia, both seeing it as slander), the tone is exemplary. For this book at least. If you wanted the undiluted truth about Ireland, here it is - just take it with a pinch of salt.

Like you should take the list of public holidays, that confuses more than it explains.

But generally you get a usable tour de force through everything Irish. With sensible advice (to not utter the dreaded begorrah) as well as plain comedy (like in the explanation of superstitions regarding itchy palms). You will also find out who the "Candy Stripes" are, who the original "Tribesmen" were and who is called Pat the Plank.

Some notable omissions include "yellowbellies", the "Emergency" or the "Battle of Saipan" ... but then you can’t have everything, can you?

Recommended? Yes, for travelers wanting to really understand the Irish. With a sense of humor. Just read it and laugh!

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