An phaindéim trí Gaeilge: Database of Irish Covid-19 terminology launched at DCU

Kasey Leigh McCrudden

A new collection of Irish language phrases surrounding the subject of coronavirus has recently been launched by researchers at DCU.

Research group Gaois at DCU’s Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge are responsible for creating the database, with hopes of making public discourse on the topic of Covid-19 more accessible for Irish-speaking communities.

“Just because Irish is ‘old’ and isn’t our primary language in most of the country anymore doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place,” said Gráinne Caulfield, Head Editor of Trinity News’ Irish language supplement.

“As someone who does speak Irish in my daily life, I think it’s so important that I’m able to communicate what’s going on at the moment. It’s crucial for the vitality of the language that it can adapt to the changing circumstances of the world,” Caulfield said. 

The glossary includes popular new terms such as gruaimscrolláil (doom-scrolling), covid marthanach (long covid) and eannú uillinne (elbow bump).

“We hope that this resource will be of benefit to translators, journalists, educators and anyone wishing to discuss technical aspects of the pandemic through the medium of Irish,” a spokesperson from Gaois said in a press statement.

The research group has stressed the fact that the database is not definitive, but simply part of an ongoing collaboration to develop the language. 

The collection may include various translations of the same term, for example, the word ‘cocooning’ can be translated in multiple ways; clutharú, cocúnú and neadú all share the same meaning.

“We believe that the Covid-19 collection is pretty comprehensive as it stands,” said Dr Gearóid Ó Cleircín from Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge.

“We’re also aware that we may have overlooked certain terms or concepts that should have been included and we’d welcome suggestions from the public,” he said.

The glossary was compiled with assistance from the Terminology Committee at Foras na Gaeilge, Ireland’s national body for the promotion of the Irish language.

Chief Terminologist at the organisation, Donncha Ó Cróinín, spoke to The College View about the importance of standardised language for the health and wellbeing of Irish speakers:

It is important that an Irish-speaking doctor dealing with an Irish-speaking patient is able to discuss their case with confidence, and that they are using the recommended terms,” he said.

“Obviously we’d hope that this crisis will be a short-term one,” he added, “but as long as the demand is there we support the effort to provide the required terminology.”

It is essentially up to the nation’s ‘Gaeilgeoirí’ to decide what works best in real life contexts.  As the saying goes, “Beatha an teanga í a labhairt” (The life of a language is to speak it.)

The collection is available to view at

Kasey Leigh McCrudden

Image Credit: