Leagan FuaimeDr. Marcus Ó Conaire Oct 03, 2010

A Fealsún is born…

Fealsún was devised as a free online resource aimed primarily at those interested in learning Irish (Irish Gaelic, ISO 639-3, gle) but also general language-learning. The idea started in 2007, but is only now in 2010 being web syndicated.

It was pitched as an idea while I was working in the University of Missouri...as a post doctoral researcher in Theoretical Physical Dynamics group.

Bear with me…it seems like a bit of a stretch…

I was thinking all day on, and as a result, inescapably dreaming about small hydrocarbons (the smallest denominations of oil such as methane and ethane), when I had an epiphany: why not devise a system where Irish is broken into its constituent phonemes? Like in chemistry, when something is very big, you can see everything clearly when you view it in its constituent groups rather than elemental form.

And so, the National Lottery in Ireland kindly gave me a small grant, enough to give me time to devise this model. So, here we are finally: the project now has a life of its own. I aim to make this grow and grow, so that in time, it can become in time a valuable resource to those accessing language learning and those learning Irish…if anyone of you know (or are!) a Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) speaker who might be interested in teaming up with me to create something unique and parallel, PLEASE don’t hesitate to contact me!

How does this differ from other courses?

Well, first of all, it’s not a course. It’s a phonetic model: using the standard alphabet, Irish is nowhere near a phonetic language. In fact, learning how to read it can seem quite daunting, which is a shame, I think, because, it has regular phonemes (sound groups that are defined by letter groups). So I decided to create a phonetic model, so that adult newcomers to the language could get to grips very quickly with the phonetic system.

It’s free! There is a lot of junk out there that is not very helpful!

It’s extensible: this is by no means a course—this is merely a resource. It aims to fill in the gaps that other courses, especially textbooks cannot fulfill. It will expand by a chapter every month. At the moment we have merely 3 chapters, but patience, it will get bigger and better!

It’s an e-Companion. This means that you can listen to a sound to keep you on the right track. No more CDs, no more looking at an indecipherable International Phonetic Alphabet.

We’re open to suggestions. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how this nascent project can be improved, please feel free to fill in the contact form. I would love to hear from you!

So, we have a phonetic model…what next?

The next step is to present the numbers system: it is, in my opinion the singularly most complicated part of the language. Really! It doesn’t get any more complicated that this, and it may be complicated as European counting systems go, but it is not so bad, in fact, I think that is probably as complicated as it gets.

After this, I will add a new chapter, hopefully every month and an RSS feed at a later stage, as well as videos every now and then. I will be aiming subsequent chapters at specific goals, be it mechanics or language learning tips or vocabulary help.


Thanks for your interest!


Marcus and the Fealsún Support Team.