New Irish language translation of Missal

I am not a fluent Irish speaker,
but I like to use my Irish to the best of my ability. I am one of a group of priests who take turns once a month for the Mass in Irish in Ballinteer on the south side of Dublin.

The first sight I had of the new irish translation was about Wednesday 23 November, when I received a copy of the Mass leaflet. I never find it easy to read aloud directly from the leaflet, so I wanted to get the official Veritas publication. This, however, did not arrive into the Veritas store in Dublin until Friday 25th; I went there that day to get a copy of Ord an Aifrinn (the Order of Mass), and the booklet with the initial part of the approved Proper of the Seasons, which covers Advent and Christmas. Further parts are still to come.

Unlike the new English translation of the Order of Mass, which was available on the website of the National Centre for Liturgy from early in 2011 (also on US and E&W websites), the Irish translation was not to be found. It is now on

A few reflections so far:

  1. Changes seem not to be as extensive as in English.
  2. Longer sentences, some difficult, have been implemented. As in English, the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent is unwieldy; the original translation flows much more freely.
  3. Some changes seem so insignificant as to be unnecessary and/or disconcerting. Almost change for the sake of change?

    For example, one word is changed in the Confiteor: “Guí ar mo shon chun ár Tiarna Dia” in place of “an Tiarna Dia.”

    In the Nicene Creed, “secundum Scripturas” is now translated “mar a d’fhógair na Scrioptúir” in place of “de réir na Scrioptúr”.

    At the start of Eucharistic Prayer II, we have “chun go ndéanfar díobh inár gcomhair” in place of “go ndéanfaí díobh”.

    In EP II, following the Institution Narrative, we have “Iarraimid go humhal go n-aontófar le chéile” in place of “go n-aontófaí le chéile”.

    In the prayer following Ár nAthair, we have “le cúnamh do thrócaire” in place of  “le cabhair do thrócaire”.

    It almost seems as if the translators were looking for words to change in order to satisfy Rome that Liturgiam Authenticam was being taken seriously.

  4. One I like is the “Orate fratres”, which is now translated “A phobal Dé, guígí go ..”

I have not yet had a chance to get to grips with other parts of the Irish translation. It was not easy to cope with two new translations on the one day!

Pádraig McCarthy

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  1. Anthony Mc Mahon says:

    Thanks Padraig for your observations. The 1975 Irish translation has stood the test of time. Many of the phrases now in English have long been in the Irish. Two significant phrases in the new Irish translation. The response to the greetings ‘go raibh an tiarna libh’ is now ‘agus le do spiorad fein.’
    It seems Our Lord’s blood is no longer shed for the race. ‘..doirtfear i ar bhur son agus ar son an chine dhaonna..’ but is now as in English for the many, ‘doirtfear i ar bhur son agus ar son morain.’ This seems more a theological point than a linguistic/ translational one to me. It is ‘la multitude’ in French – more hopeful, inclusive, divine? In An Biobla Naofa (An Sagart 1981) in Revelation 7:9 the word used for the enormous crowd was ‘mathshlua mor’. PS Apologies for lack of fadas: I can’t find them in this script.

  2. Gerard Flynn says:

    “Ar son móráin” is a weak translation of “pro multis.” It sounds as if the Lord’s blood was shed for a lot, which is a mean-spirited and disedifying interpretation. “Ar son an mhóráin” communicates the sense of “pour la multitude” better.

    Having been subjected to “dewfall,” yesterday, one wonders whether any one reminded Bishop John McAreavey that dew doesn’t fall.

    When Jesus took the precious chalice in his hands, was he wearing a chasuble and were there corporals and purificators on the “altar”?

  3. Of course there were corporals and purificators, all laid out by the Carmelite nun who made the gluten rich hosts…

  4. I see Cardinal Brady is still paying for his act of conformism in 1975. The Irish bishops as a whole have committed a much graver act of conformism in not resisting the new translations in Irish and English.

  5. As someone who is broadly pro-the revised English translation and who does speak Irish, I can’t resist the temptation to throw in my two cent. The 1975 Irish translation was both literal and literary. No translation is ever going to be perfect, but it seems to me that the new guys were trying to pick holes in the old to justify their jobs. I’m a little amazed at replacing ‘Guígí a bhráithre…’ with ‘A phobail Dé, guígí…’ this seems to be at odds with the whole raison d’etre of the revised translation was to be more literal and sacral?

    Pro Multis was always going to be problematic in Irish. Father Benedict’s Latin-Irish Missal which was used by Irish-speakers before the liturigal changes used ‘Ar son na sluaite’, which means ‘for the hosts’, which seems to anticipate the French ‘pour la multitude’. ‘Ar son móráin’ is used in the extremely rarely used Irish translation of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

  6. Gabriel L. Gore says:

    A Pheadair, a chara,

    Ní fhéadfainn aontú níos mó leat. Nó leat féin! Cén fáth go bhfuil an “féin” sin sa fhreagra “le do spiorad féin”? Botún atá ann. Agus is scanalach an “pobal Dé” sin, ach go háirithe nuair a smaoiníonn tú gur leis an chléir abháin a dúradh an “orate fratres” ó thús, ní leis an bpobal.

  7. Gerry Sóna says:

    A chairde
    Bhí gaol laidir ag na Gaeil leis an aifreann nuair a bhí an t-aifreann i nGaeilge i lár na sleibhte agus na ngleannta fadó. Sílim féin go bhfuil rud den spioradaltacht caillte againn leis an aifreann i mBéarla ar fud na tíre den cuid is mó. Tá sé scanallach nach bhfuil roinnt paidreacha i nGaeilge san aifreann, go háirithe in áit ar bith ina bhfuil Gaelscoil lonnaithe i.e. an cuid is mó den tír faoi lathair.
    Luaígí seo leis na hEaspaig in bhur ndeoísí féin.
    Le meas Gerry

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