Irish Lesson 43


The numbering system in Irish differentiates among simple cardinals (either stand-alone numbers, such as occur in mathematics, or numbers giving the quantity of some object) and ordinals, which put objects in some order. This will become clear when you study this lesson.



These numbers are used in counting, telling time, and when the noun to which they refer goes before them.

a haon


a trí

a ceathair

a cúig


a seacht

a hocht

a naoi

a deich

a haon déag

a dódhéag

a trídéag

a ceathair déag

a cúig déag

a sédéag

a seacht déag

a hocht déag

a naoi déag



Examples of use:

Counting to start a race: a haon, a , a trí.

Serially numbered objects: seomra a seacht, bad a sédeag.

Arithmetical work: a tríagus a naoi, sinéa dódheag.

Giving quantities of some object, with the number preceding the noun:

aon bhóamháin, one cow

dhábhó, two cows


ceithre bhó

cúig bhó


seacht mbó

ocht mbó

naoi mbó

deich mbó

aon bhódhéag



ceithre bhódhéag

cúig bhódhéag


seacht mbódhéag

ocht mbódhéag

naoi mbódhéag



In this use, as you can see, aon, one, aspirates, "two" becomes "dhá" and aspirates, "four" has changed slightly, and from 11 on, there is a "dheag", similar to English "teen", added on. From 1 to 6, the number causes aspiration (where possible), and from 7 to 10, the number eclipses (where possible).

It all sounds complicated, but if you will practice on the lists above, and then try to use the numbers several times a day, say in counting or in reading license plates, one numeral at a time, you will be pleasantly surprised at your facility.

Now for a simpler and often-used help: telling time.

one o'clock -- Táséa haon a chlog

two o'clock -- Táséa dóa chlog

three o'clock -- Táséa tría chlog

four o'clock -- Táséa ceathair a chlog

five o'clock -- Táséa cúig a chlog

six o'clock -- Táséa séa chlog

seven o'clock -- Táséa seacht a chlog

eight o'clock -- Táséa hocht a chlog

nine o'clock -- Táséa naoi a chlog

ten o'clock -- Táséa deich a chlog

eleven o'clock -- Táséa haon déag a chlog

twelve o'clock -- Táséa dódhéag a chlog

What time is it? Cén t-amé?

a good morning, maidin mhaith

good night, oíche mhaith

mid-day, meán lae

mid-night, meán oíche

in the morning, ar maidin

in the afternoon, tráthnóna

at night, san oíche

Days of the week

Monday, An Luan

On Monday, DéLuain

Tuesday, An Mháirt

On Tuesday, DéMháirt

Wednesday, An Chéadaoin

On Wednesday, DéChéadaoin

Thursday, An Déardaoin

On Thursday

Friday, An Aoine

On Friday, DéAoine

Saturday, An Satharn

On Saturday, DéSathairn

Sunday, An Domhnach (DOW-nahk*)

On Sunday, DéDomhnaigh (DOW-nee)