Which dictionary should I get?

Here are reviews of some of the more popular dictionaries used by students of the Irish language, translators, and native speakers. If you're a beginner, consider starting with Foclóir Poca or the Collins. Eventually you'll want Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla, but you can use it in combination with the English-Irish half of Foclóir Poca, Foclóir Scoile or the Collins. Also, you may find this set of tips for using an Irish dictionary helpful.

Note: I don't sell these products, I simply review them as a service to other learners. A list of online shops is available in the "Resources for Learners" section.

Foclóir Poca

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Includes both an English-Irish and an Irish-English dictionary. It's very inexpensive, and the small size ("poca" means pocket) is convenient. This is one of the very few dictionaries that includes pronunciation, a handy feature for beginners. You won't outgrow this dictionary until you're well advanced in the language. The print is very small, so anyone over twenty may find it difficult to read. However, there is a slightly larger edition, Foclóir Scoile, which uses a larger font and is much easier to read. Both Foclóir Poca and Foclóir Scoile are published by An Gúm.

Sample definition:

gnách gna:x a1, gsm ~ customary, usual; ordinary, is ~ (le) it is customary (for), mar is ~ as usual

ISBN: 1-85791-047-8 (Foclóir Poca)
ISBN: 1-85791-121-0 (Foclóir Scoile)

Collins Pocket Irish Dictionary

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I haven't used this one myself, but the people I've spoken to (both beginner and advanced) who have it have been quite satisfied. It includes both an English-Irish and an Irish-English dictionary, and is priced similarly to Foclóir Poca. A bit larger than Foclóir Poca, it contains tables with useful grammar information.

Sample definition:

gnách adj habitual, normal, usual; mar is gnách as usual; ba ghnách léi á a dhéanamh she used to do it

ISBN: 0-00-470765-6

Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (Ó Dónaill)

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This dictionary is popular with advanced students of Irish. This is an Irish-English dictionary; you can look up an Irish word to learn the meaning in English, but not vice-versa. The entries are far more complete than those in Foclóir Poca, and usually include several examples of common phrases and idioms using the word in question. The entry for ceann, for example, is two and one-half pages long. This can be intimidating to beginners, but the advanced learner will find the information very valuable. Another feature of this dictionary is that entries for nouns and adjectives list the plural and genitive forms; no need to refer to the front to check how m1 nouns decline, as required with other dictionaries. Similarly, entries for verbs list the verbal noun and verbal adjective forms.

Sample definition:

gnách1, a (gsm. ~, gsf. & comp. -áiche, npl. -a). Customary, usual; common, ordinary. 1. Teachatire ~, ordinary messenger. Féile gnách, customary hospitality. Ár mbeatha gnách, our ordinary lives. Na daoine ~a, the common people. 2.(With copula) Is ~ (le), it is customary (for). Is ~ leo cuairt a thabhairt orainn, they usually pay us a visit. Níl sé chomh haigeanta is ba ghnách leis, he is not as cheerful as he used to be. Mar is ~, as usual. Thar mar is ~ leis, more than he is wont to do. 3. Go ~, ordinarily.

gnách2 = GNÁTH1.

ISBN: 1-85791-037-0 (paperback)
ISBN: 1-85791-038-9 (hardback)

English-Irish Dictionary (De Bhaldraithe)

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This dictionary is also popular with advanced students of Irish, although perhaps not quite as essential as Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla. This is an English-Irish dictionary; you can look up English words to get the Irish translation, but not vice-versa. English-Irish Dictionary is published by An Gúm in both paperback and hardback. This dictionary is showing its age; some of the entries don't reflect modern usage, so you should always cross-check any unfamiliar words in another dictionary. Despite that drawback, it's indispensible for anyone who does much translation.

Sample definition:

customary a. (a) Gná. It is customary to... is íondúil go... (b) Jur: Customary clause, clásal gnáthaimh. -ily, adv. Go coitíanta, etc.

ISBN: 1-85791-035-4 (paperback)
ISBN: 1-85791-036-2 (hardback)

An Foclóir Beag

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This is an Irish-only dictionary, but the definitions are fairly simple, so this dictionary can be used by intermediate-to-advanced learners. This dictionary might be ideal for young students who are native speakers. The online dictionary at http://www.csis.ul.ie/focloir/ uses the definitions from An Foclóir Beag.

Sample definition:

damhsa f4 rince, gluaiseacht in am le ceol; ócáid shósíalta mar a mbíonn daoine ag damhsa; léimneach le háthas (uain ag ~); -sóir f3

ISBN: 1-85791-364-7