Gaeltacht Minnesota


Our winter reading project is the classic "novel for adult learners" from the late 80's, Dunmharú ar an DART.




Back to Will's Class Page | Book & Project Description |Plot Summary & Notes

Note: I've put the plot summary in reverse order, so that you see the most recently translated excerpt first

Catch-up Resource

Use this page to catch up, using the summary in English, when you miss a class. Look, good intentions are admirable, but most of the time, if you've missed a segment, it is going to be pretty hard to read what you missed and read the next section that's coming up. So don't worry about it, use the English summaries below to keep you in the flow of the plot, and if you really are that virtuous, you can always go back and read what you missed later.

Book & Project Description

Dunmharú ar an DART, by Ruaidhrí Ó Báille, was published in 1989 and is one of the earliest "adult learner" novels. It is a very fast-paced, simple crime story or action novel, almost a camp classic at this point.

The Goal

Besides having some fun, the benefit of using something like this is that we won't spend all our time teasing out subtle meanings, as there isn't that much subtle stuff in this book. Students in my class can get most of the story on the first skimming, and after looking up a few things, everybody will know what happens in the story.

That frees up our attention, if you will to focus on details: stopping to look at genitives, or particular tenses, or genders, and knowing why those things, or mutations, are happening. So typically we'll check to make sure everyone gets what happened, and then creep through the text almost word by word to look at grammar and forms.

NOTE: pay particular attention to verb-preposition combinations (e.g., féach ar), as this was a topic several students mentioned as one they wanted to explore this year.

Buy a Book, Support Irish Publishing

The first few pages were shared in this handout to give the class a chance to see if they wanted to take this approach. But everyone signed on to the concept before they even read the excerpt!

Anyway, we'll ask everyone who participates to buy a copy of the book, naturally. They are on their way, I hope to have them for the Jan 30 class, and cost will be a whopping $6.40 each.

Plot Summary & Notes

As mentioned at the top of this page, count on using this plot summary to catch up if you don't happen to get to a particular week's reading. The summary is organized by class night:

#12, May 21 Class, pp. 49-51

The Plot

"Em, it's all there, and you made a good profit. We only took out what you spent, and our costs, 20,000 pounds. Is that all right?"

"I don't give a damn how much you took!"

Niall closed the case again and walked toward the door. Picard followed him, astonished.

When he reached the street again, the black car was parked across the road. Jan opened the door and Niall sat next to him.

They were on the road for twenty minutes when Jan opened his mouth for the first time. During this time, Niall was looking out the window, certain that they weren't on the airport road. They were going in the other direction.

"Open the case!'

"Niall opened it, and Jan started going through the money. "Is it all here?"

"Yeah, the money made good interest and ..."

He stopped. Jan had a gun in his hand, aimed at Niall. His eyes were on fire. He put the gun to Niall's ear.

"Now, you slippery devil, you foul thief, you school master who doesn't understand anything about anything."

They left the main road and wend up a rough rocky path.

"Where are we going?" said Niall.

To the city dump. That's the place for a rat like you that steals money from people you never met! I heard that the Irish love their prayers, well, here you are. You have about two minutes."

He knocked on the glass betweeen them and the driver.

"Hurry! I have a plane to catch!"

Suddenly, they heard a small explosion, and the car started shaking like a tractor and going from one side to the other.

Jan knocked on the glass again. "What's happening? What's happening?"

"One of the tires is punctured, one in back, I think", said the driver, "I have to stop, if I can ..."

He stopped. A big dump truck had just come out of a back road. It was bearing down on them, they heard the brakes screeching. Jan's driver started turning the wheel furiously, but he couldn't get any control over the car. They slid across the road and into the ditch, hitting one of the big trees growing on the sides of the way. Niall saw his chance. He opened the car door, out running as fast as he could.

"Stop, you lousy lout!"

He looked over his shoulder. Jan was running after him, gun in hand. He continued, his heart pounding in his ears. He looked over his shoulder again, Jan was gaining on him. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in his side. The strength left his legs, he flopped to the ground. He saw blood on his shirt, he was very light-headed. Somewhere above him, he heard a voice.

"Goodbye, Master!"

Jan was a couple of yards away looking down on him, his two hands on the gun that was aimed at Niall's head. Neal looked at the gun that was a couple of inches from his nose. He tried to to stand, but he was too weak. He started trying to think of some prayer, but he couldn't, his head was empty. He closed his eyes. He heard three quick gunshots and he waited for the terrible pain that he thought was coming, but he didn't feel anything. After a couple of seconds, he opened his eyes and he saw Jan stretched out on the ground next to him. His eyes were still open, but there was no doubt he was dead. Three bullets had just hit him, one in the back of the head. He heard a woman's voice telling him to stay where he was. It was Miriam. She had a gun aimed at Jan. She carefully walked up to the body without taking the gun off him for a single second. When she was certain that he was dead, she went down on her knees next to Niall. She looked at his side.

"You're not too bad, but an ambulance will be needed. You were lucky. We reached you (plural) in time."

"Who are you (plural)?" said Niall.

She took out a card and gave it to him. He read it out, "Mirima S., Major Crimes Squad, Amsterdam?" You are a police officer! What was up with you in the Marriot that morning? It is you that was there, no?"

"Yes. I was keeping an eye on you. You have fine Dutch!" He laughed.

Niall looked at her for a second. "How, then, what way were you with Jan? Henk said that ..."

"That I am his girlfriend?"

Notes of Interest

Top half of 49, notice trasna an bhóthair. Trasna is one of those prepositions that takes the genitive. However, I see no reason for ar an mbóthair, instead of mbóthar, in the next paragraph.

Bottom half: a ghadaí bhréin is a nice vocative, showing the change in the adjective. Near the bottom, the word conús is usuallly cunús. a gcuid paidreacha, cuid used because of the plural.

Bottom half p. 50, Lean sé air, he continued on, the air refers to the subject. De phleist, in a flop, there are a bunch of these de X experssions, and they all indicate the manner in which something was done or happened.

Big paragraph on P. 51, sínte, "stretched", used for people who fall down drunk, too. You expect some kind of adverb or preposition to help it, but it is fine alone. Ná, right after that in the middle of a compound sentence, really doesn't translate.

#11, May 14 class, from Middle of P 45 to bottom of P 48

The Plot

Niall was lying on the bed, half asleep, half awake. He heard the door being opened, and when he looked around, he saw Jan standing at the foot of the bed. He looked nervous, his eyes cold, without a smile. He had an electric razor in his hand.

"Here," he gave it to Niall. "Clean yourself up. And give me your pants and jacket so Miriam can iron them."

Niall took his pants off, and picked up his jacket from the floor. He gave them to Jan, and he went to the mirror to use the razor.

"Don't forget your head!" said Jan as he went out the door.

When he was finished, Niall sat on the bed. He knew that he was going to Zurich, but he wasn't sure whether he would be coming back. Good chance not! After a while, Henk came in with Niall's pants and jacket in his hand. He had a new shirt and tie, too.

"Put these on, Paul!" "Paul?"

"Here you go," and he gave a little red book to him. "Paul O Broin is you name now. You are still a teacher. That way you won't have any trouble if anyone asks you any questions."

"You got it!" Naill opened the fake passport. One of the pictures he got for Henk was in it, and a stamp saying he came to Amsterdam two months ago.

"We had to get it. The police are after you. That Greek officer is dead. The police don't like people killing their own. If they get you they won't be too nice to you."

"I didn't kill him. I was fighting with him ..."

"Tell it to the police."

Chapter 5: Three Quick Shots

On the way to the airport, Nialls stomach was sick with fear. He understood that he was going to Zurich to put an end to the one reason he wasn't dead. All he had to do was hand the case of money to Jan and he would be committing suicide.

As he was looking out the window of the taxi, the thought struck him that maybe he was saying goodbye to Amsterdam, and to this life, forever.He was sitting next to the driver, and Jan and Mirima were behind. Maybe he could jump out the door when the car was going around the corner? But he knew he wouldn't have a chance. Jan had his hand in his pocket, and a gun in that hand. He would be dead on the spot.

"Paul O Broin" didn't have any trouble with his passport, and at ten o'clock, they went on board the 747 jet plane. Mirima sat next to the window, Jan in the middle, Niall on the side. Neither Miriam nor Jan said so much as a word to him during the whole trip. Miriam was talking about shopping; she wanted a new coat, and she was going to get it when Niall and Jan were "doing their business." Jan was talking and laughing like anyone who was going on a trip with his love, but now and then Niall saw the crazy look in his eyes that was there when he kicked him in the belly earlier. At the Zurich airport, a big black car was waiting for them. Again, Jan put Niall in the front seat. He himself and Miriam sat behind. When they reached the bank, Jan gave his orders to Niall.

"Go in, tell them you want the money, that's all. Don't be trying anything smart, and maybe you'll see another day."

The three stood out on the street, and Miriam gave Jan a kiss, saying she was off to do her shopping.

"Fine, sweetie," says Jan, "Be at the airport at four. And don't spend too much money!" He laughed, and Miriam gave him another kiss. Niall watched her leave.

"Now," said Jan, "In with you."

Monsieur Picard was surprised when he heard what Niall wanted to do. "But, Mr. O Connell, why didn't you call me to tell me you wanted to take your money out? A couple of days are needed to arrange that sort of thing."

Niall looked at him." You have two hours. 'Bye," and he left.

Jan wasn't happy when he heard that, but there was nothing he could do about it. The two of them went to a restaurant and ate a meal. When the two hours had passed, Niall went back to the bank, and Picard gave him the case. Niall opened it.

Notes of Interest

Bain do bhríste díot, "Take your pants off!"

...arsa Jan ag dul amach an doras dó, "AS Jan was going out the door"

Leis an aon chúis amháin -- without the article, "one" or "any", aon chúis. With the article (but not in a prepositional phrase), an t-aon chúis amháin, a stronger form, "one and only". But leis an aon ...

Ag cur láimhe ina bhás féin (p. 47), committing suicide, this is a common way to say that.

scairdeitleán. scaird is a gush, or jet, or sort of burst. Scarid aithrí, scaird pheacái -- a "gush" of penance followed by a gush of sins.

sin an méid -- "that's all", more natural than "sin é" or "sin sin."

#10, May 7 Class, Middle of P. 41 to middle of P. 45

The Plot

It was dark. Niall was on a bed in some room, a terrible pain in his head. Slow, sad music was coming from the other room, he heard a woman laugh. The music stopped and he heard someone come in, the light was lit. Niall closed his eyes, the bright light was like a knife in them. He heard a soft sweet voice. When he opened his eyes at last, he saw the girl who cleaned his room standing next to the bed. He tried to say something, but she put her hand on his mouth. "Shhh!"

"But ... Who are you?"

He stopped, heard someone walking into the room. The girl leapt back. "In here, quick, Jan, he's awake."

"Good, good," said the man. "Well, friend, how's the head this morning?"


The other man laughed. Niall was looking at the face of the man who died on the Dart.

"I knew that I saw you that day in Athens. But you were dead. I saw you! How?"

The man interrupted. "Don't you understand yet, you poor fool?"

"What don't I understand?" asked Niall.

"You don't understand anything! Are you hungry? We can't let you die of hunger ... yet. Miriam, make breakfast for the master."

He looked at Niall, dark smile on his face.

"You brought me a lot of trouble. A million pounds! Did you really think I was going to leave you with my money?"

Niall looked at him with hatred. "My wife didn't do anything to you, why ..."

"Well, I didn't do it. I sent a man up to look around your room, but she was there. She started screaming and he hit her, too hard. That's life!"

This talk filled him with anger. Niall leapt on the man. The two fell to the ground and Niall started hitting him again and again. Suddenly Henk ran in and jumped on Niall's back. Niall kept kicking and fighting like an animal, but Henk took out a gun and put it to his head.

"Take it easy my friend. Don't make me nervous."

Niall stopped, Jan got up, suddenly he gave Naill a terrible punch in the gut. Niall fell to his knees, and the other man looked down at him.

"If you do anything like that again, friend, there will be another death in the family. Henk, tie him up!" He opened the door and went out.

Hank laughed a lont time, "Ho ho, my friend, you have spirit, that's for sure. I never saw anyone doing that to Jan. I thought you were going to kill him!"

"I thought he was already dead."

"You're talking about Gerrit, his brother. They are, well, they were, twins."

"What happened to him? When I saw him he was dying in his own blood."

"Jan killed him, he'd kill his own mother if he had a good reason. He stole the million pounds from him! Jan was selling guns to the IRA. He sent Gerrit to Dublin to collect the money but Gerrit took it for himself. Jan followed him to Dublin, caught him and there was a fight. They had guns and Gerrit shot Jan in the side. But before he fell, Jan put a bullet in his brother's belly. Gerrit ran inside the train station and caught a train, but the bullet had just severed an artery. He was dead in ten minutes. You came into the story then, I believe."

"If he killed his own brother, why am I still alive?"

"Because he wanted his money, you idiot. It isn't that he likes your face, you can be sure of that. We were after you from the time you came to Europe."

Niall was astonished. "You knew who I was when you met me in the Dam?"

"We have known who you are since you reached Greece. You picked the worst hotel in Athens to stay in. A good friend of ours is manager of the Acropolis. Jan had just put out the tale among his friends in Europe that he had lost the money, and how it happened. When you told the manager, Theo, that you had a big sum of money to put in the bank, he put two and two together. An Irishman who had a million pountds to put in the bank, but who wore a watch worth a couple of pounds? He sent a note to Jan here in Amsterdam, and we went to Greece to find you."

"Whey didn't you kill me in Greece?"

Henk laughed. "Well, you were lucky. When we reached Athens, it was too late. You had just opened those accounts in Zurich. That saved you. Without you, Jan could not get his money back."

The door opened, and the girl, Miriam, walked in. She had a pot of coffee, bread, and eggs. She put them on the table and left without a word. Niall watched her as she was going out the door.

"Don't be looking at that one!" said Henk, lauging.

"Why not? Who is she?"

"Jan's girl!"

Niall didn't say anything about that morning in the Marriot. But he was certain it was the same girl. He sat down at the table and started eating."

When Henk saw him throwing back the food like an animal, he said, "Damn! You're hungry!"

"I haven't eaten since lunch yesterday."

"Fill your belly, friend. I hear Jan say this morning that you and he are taking a trip to Zurich in the morning. You have a couple of bank accounts to close."

Notes of Interest

The word uafásach can be said without pronouncing the f.

There are a few autonomous past forms in this passage, and also some good examples of relative clauses starting with nuair. There are also some phrases like á dhéanamh being used basically as a passive construction.

Note that "ar maidin" can mean "this morning" or generally "in the morning" or even "tomorrow morning" without using sin or seo or any other modifier.

A amadáin bhoicht == vocative forms, that follow the pattern of the genitive, both for the noun and the adjective.

Cúpla refers to a pair of twins. One person, like Jan, who is a twin, is a leathchúpla.

Note that the Irish really do not have a way to say, "Why not?" as we do in English. But they use "Why that not", that is, Cén fáth nach/nár ..." to handle some of these situations. Still, in English, one person might say, "I didn't do the dishes" and another person could respond with, "Why not?" In Irish, the response would be "Why?", there is no "Why not?"

#9, April 30, Chapter 4 to middle of P. 41

The Plot

Given the length of this segment, I may compress this plot summary a little more than usual.

In Amsterdam, Niall woke and looked out on a sunny Day. He had slept in his shirt, so he put on his pants and searched for his socks. When he found them, he realized he needed new ones.

A knock at the door startled him, but it was the cleaning girl. It reminded him of his own days as a student in Amsterdam. Bu it wasn't in the Amsterdam Marriot that he cleaned, but bank offices. Those were dirty louts, fat Hollanders who enjoyed seeing Irish clean up after them.

The beautiful cleaning girl came in, saying nothing, and when right to work, making the bed, emptying the waste basket. Niall was very uncomfortable, and decided to try to use some of the broken Dutch he had from his earlier days there. He asked her what time it was.

She looked at him, and then at the big clock on the wall. Niall was embarrassed.

Without a word, the girl finished her work, walked to the door, and left.

Niall caught a taxi and went to center city, The Dam. He wanted to get a false passport. The Greek police were after him, and were going to give his name to Interpol. He knew you could get fake passports in certain bars, a friend of his did it when he was working there. A Corkman named Peadar, hooked on drugs, who owed a lot to his dealer. He got a couple hundred pounds for his passport. The Irish ones were worth a lot.

Well, if you can sell a passport, you buy a passport.

The Dam was just as it was the last time he saw it, full of young people sitting on steps laughing and talking. You couldn't take ten steps without someone trying to sell you dope. They always started with dope, but if you wanted anything else, coke, heroin, they'd be more than happy to get if for you.

A dark man, standing in his way, greeted Niall. The man looked at Niall with a smile, but his eyes were icy cold.

"I'm Henk, and I can make you very happy."

"What have you got?" asked Niall, cautiously.

The mouth was still smiling, the eyes still dark, soulless. "What do you want (or need)?"

"A fake passport."

The smile fanished for a second, then returned, and Henk said that maybe he could help Niall, that Niall should be there at 3:00.

Niall went into a cafe to get something to eat. A couple of times he thought of Mary, but he put her out of his head. The only way he was going to get through this in one piece was to close down his thoughts, there was no room for sadness.

At three The Dam was still packed. Niall looked everywhere without seeing the dark man. At half past three, he was just about to leave when he heard the man behind him: "Hey, where are you going?"

Niall complained that the guy was late, but Henk said it wasn't that easy to get a fake passport. They were silent for a couple of seconds, when the man proposed getting a drink.

They went to a bar across the road, ordered a couple of drinks, and the man started talking. He asked Niall if he was IRA, or a policeman, but Niall said no, and mentioned a couple of times that he was by himself, alone. He asked if Henk could get the passport, and Henk said he certainly could. Lighting a cigarette, he said it would be expensive, five hundred pounds Sterling.

Niall said that was fine, and Henk told him to come back to the bar that night and to go downstairs at 10 pm. He told Niall to do something to change his face, and to bring a couple of photos.

Niall went to the barber's and had all his hair cut off. Then he removed his moustache, which Mary had always hated, since the day they were married. Niall thought of Mary lying on the floor in Athens and broke down crying. When he stopped crying, he looked in the mirror and saw a different face. He thought that Niall O Conaill died when he found his wife's body.

At 10:00 he went to the bar, which was full. When he went down the stair, the heat and the smell of smoke and sweat was overpowering. A band was playing, a couple of people were dancing.

He walked right up to the dark man, who looked right through him, not recognizing Niall, so different was his appearance. Henk asked if Niall had the money and the photos, which he did, so Henk told Niall to follow him to his carr around the corner.

Niall was reluctant, saying that Henk's friend was supposed to come to them, but Henk said his friend couldn't come because the police were giving him a lot of trouble. Niall wasn't too happy about it, but he did it.

Henk stopped the car outside a house and told Niall to go up and knock on the door, he was expected. When Niall did so, the door was opened by a girl, the same girl who cleaned his room tha morning.

"Welcome" was the last thing Niall heard. Henk came up behind him and struck him in the back of the head. Niall fell without a word.

Notes of Interest

On P 34 we saw the phrase bastúin shalacha. Although there really isn't any gender in the plural in Irish, the adjective is lenited because it follows a plural that ends in a slender consonant. We also saw Ní dúirt, noting that dúirt is funny in that it isn't lenited, that's just an oddity of that verb. On the other hand, at least in the West, you sometimes hear Níor 'úirt.

P 35, notice the word speisialta, which is "special", don't confuse it with spéisiúil, which is "interesting". Cara leis, a friend of his, common expression, cara liom, a friend of mine. Also, darbh ainm, whose name was, from the construction X is ainm dom, etc.

P. 36, I still don't know why he uses i.

Top of 38, Niall is told to be in a bear (béar) rather than a bar (beár).

Oh, and we saw a plural ógá, but the last letter should not have a fada on it.

#8, April 16, Top of P. 30 to End of Chapter 3

The Plot

A taxi dropped Niall back at the hotel. He was hungry and went into the bar for some food and coffee. There was only one other person in the bar, playing pinball, drinking coffee, and smoking a cigarette. As Niall was eating his meal, the other man got up and walked toward the door. When Niall saw his face, he couldn't believe it. It was the man who died on the Dart. Niall leapt from his chair, threw money on the table, and ran after the other person. When he reached the straight, he looked but didn't see anything, the man was gone.

He ran into the hotel and straight up to the room. He couldn't get the door open.

"Mary, Mary, are you in there? Open the door, in God's name! They know where we are, we have to leave."

He stood back and threw himself against the door. He did this a couple of times and at last, he opened it. When he walked in, the sight before him struck him like the blow of a hammer. The room looked like a bomb fell on it. The bed was on its side, the dressers broken and torn from the walls, and even the carpet was all turn up.

Then he saw her. She was lying on the floor between the bedroom and the bathroom. He knew immediately she was dead. He dropped down on a knee. She was lying on her face, arms stretched out. Her hair was wet with blood where she was struck. It looked like one blow had done it. He put his hand on her hand, she was still warm. He got some water and washed her face. Then he lay down next to her, his arms around her, as if he were trying to keep her warm. He couldn't cry, his heart was too full.

When the police came, that's how he was. They had gotten a call from someone who didn't want to give his name, saying that a man and woman were fighting in room 244. An officer and a patrolman were there. The officer read him his rights in Greek. He didn't understand a word.

The two policemen grabbed him.

"Let me be! This is my wife. She's dead!"

The grief and fear made him strong, and he threw them off. He gave the officer a kick in the belly, and he thre the other person against the wall, where he hit his head and fell in a heap. The officer pulled out a gun.


He aimed the gun at Niall.

Niall looked at the gun. He understood now that they were trying to take him. They thought that he killed Mary. The thought filled him with anger and he threw himself on the officer.

"You fool! I loved her, you hear me?"

He tried to take the gun from the officer's hands. The two of them fell on the floor. The officer was young, but strong. They fought like two dogs, rolling from one side of the room to the other.

Suddenly, Niall heard an explosion. The gun gave a little leap in his hands and the officer fell on his back. A bullet had gone through him. Niall looked on him in horror. For a frozen second, he did not believe his eyes, but when he saw the bright pool of blood growing on the floor next to the young man, he understood what he had done. The other man was coming to now. Niall ran over and hit him in the back of the head with the gun. He ran out the door and down the stairs. A group of students was at the desk looking for rooms. No one looked at him. The noise was so loud in the lobby that no one hear the shot. Niall put the gun in his pocket and walked slowly out the door.

He went across the street as if sleepwalking. He didn't see or hear anything. He didn't even have a thought in his head, it was empty. Suddenly, a long screech of brakes woke him up. The taxi stopped a couple of inches from him. The driver jumped out and started yelling at him in Greek. All Niall did was stand in the middle of the road. The driver threw his hands in the air and went back to his car. He looked at Niall in amazement when he walked to the passenger door. He opened it and sat inside the car.

"The airport. Hurry!"

Nall knew he didn't have much time. When he reached the airport, he went to the desk and looked at the list of flights going out. London … Barcelona … Amsterdam!

Niall knew Amsterdam of old. He spent every summer there to earn money to buy his gooks when he was in college. He knew how to make his way around the city, and he know how to go into hiding ...

Notes of Interest

We went along picking up genitives, especially, along the way. A pattern we hadn't mentioned was nouns ending in -each turning into -igh in the genitive singular.

The expression béaldorais for "next door" is a nice one.

I was mystified by the use le n-ithe, and I though the phrase ag ól cupán should have been cupáin, genitive.

We also encountered lámh and láimh a few words apart. The second spelling is a dative, an object of a preposition, although it is used more in this story than I would expect. (More discussion in class.)

Some of the sentences in this block took some unraveling, but as mentioned, figuring out where the é is, and what it refers to, often helps.

April 9: Chapter 3, p. 27 to break at top of p. 30

The Plot

The hotel was very nice, and everyone treated the "rich tourists" very well. Niall put his briefcase in the safe, and the manager's eye's lit up when he changed £1000 into drachma.

The first week Mary wasn’t happy and couldn't sleep because she thought danger was around every corner. But when nothing happened, her fear lifted. They got up each morning, went down to breakfast, and then out to the beautiful swimming pool in the gardens. She was thinking that maybe Niall did the right thing. They saw the Acropolis, and they were settling down and starting to enjoy life.

"I'd love to stay here forever!" she said.

The two of them were lying next to the swimming pool, each with a drink. Niall looked at her with a quiet smile.

"Sorry, but we can't. We have to go out to the Islands like I said. We have to be careful for a while. First I have to fly to Zurich and open a bank account there. I can't do that hear with out questions, and I won’t be able to break Sterling notes in the Islands too easily."

"'Zurich? But …"


Suddenly, Niall stood up. The drink fell from his hand, breaking into smithereens on the ground. He started running to the hotel. Mary was frozen with fear. She saw Niall stopping out side the door, he was looking around and asking people questions. When he came back, his face was red and he was drenched in sweat. Mary saw from his eyes that he was very disturbed.

"I saw him! I saw him! He was next to the door of the hotel."

Mary sat him down at a table. Every part of his body was shaking.

"Take it easy! Now, whom did you see?"

He looked at her, terror in his eyes.'

"The dead man!"

That night, Mary and Niall left the Acropolis (hotel). They went across town to another hotel and got a room. Niall had a seat on the 9 a.m. flight to Zurich. He was going to open a numbered account and when he got back to Athens, the two of them were going to get a boat from Piraeus out to the islands.

"But where will you open this account? You don't know anything a bout Zurich, you've never been there."

"I got the name of a bank from the manager. I had to give him 100 pounds!" In the morning, Niall got up early, took the bus to the airport. Mary stayed in bed, unable to sleep. The fear was back again. She was sure that Niall was wrong when he said he saw the dead man, but sill what happened at the pool left her nervous.

When he reached Zurich, Niall got a taxi to the bank. He was there in half an hour. He was afraid as he went in, but he didn't have any trouble. He had a letter from the manager of the hotel, and when he showed it to the girl at the counter, he was taken immediately into a room at the back.

A small thin man came to talk to him. (exchange of greetings)

Niall opened the case; "There's almost a million pounds there. I'd like to open an account. I'll be traveling around Europe and I'd like to be able to draw on money when I need it."

"No problem!"

The whole thing amazed Niall. Inside of an hour, he was on the street again with a check book, travelers' checks, money cards, and ten different individually numbered accounts. He didn't stay in Zurich any longer than was necessary. He went back to the airport, and he waited for the flight back to Athens.

Notes of Interest

Both the spellings aerfort and aerphort are used, one practically next to the other. Either spelling will work.

We had several good examples of how pronouns like í and é tend to end up toward the end of the sentence.

We spent some time looking at some very typical genitive patterns, including the "strong plural" that you get with those -oir endings.

The phrase don gcailin just seemed very weird, I'd expect don chailin.

#6, March 19 class, Finish Chapter 2 through p. 26

This is a huge chunk and I'm short of time, so I'm going to give only the bare outlines of a plot. If you are catching up and have questions about anything, e-mail me!

The Plot

We pick up the happy couple o the plane to Greece. Niall, who has been pretty erratic, settles down, keeping a sharp eye on everyone, and a close grip on his briefcase.

Mary dozes off and awakes to find him gone. She panics, but then finds him at the back of the plane with his new friend, Liam O Duinn. Niall is in a cheerful mood, being drunk.

Liam invites her to have a drink, but she abruptly refuses and drags Niall back to his seat, where he falls asleep. When they get to Athens, he tells the taxi to take them to a nice place, money no object, but they don't have any drachma so there's a little problem with the payment.

The scene shifts to Biggles's office, where he is on the phone explaining to one student's father that Billy Brean broke the kid's nose. During that conversation, the police come in asking about Niall.

Biggles hangs up (thinking they are there about Billy, at first), and proceeds to bad mouth Niall (and almost the Garda, too!) big time. He tells the police that when they catch up with Niall, they can tell him he's in for some bad news from Biggles.

"If he's alive," says the Garda. On further questioning, the sergeant says that if Niall isn't dead, he soon will be unless the police find him (first).

The police leave, the student's father calls back, but Biggles pretends he is out.

Notes of Interest

We saw "that's it!" as Sin é é!, but you can just as easily say, Sin é!, either version will work.

We ran into a few plural genitives in this one, some of them disguised as singular nominatives (which are idential in form for many nouns).

We talked about the fact that banóstach, stewardess, was a masculine noun, and in fact many nouns that are feminized with a ban- prefix remain masculine. Others have become associated with feminine roles, such as banaltra. Although that is literally woman-nurse, altra being the basic form of nurse, it has become a feminine noun as that profession is dominated by women.

We also had a discussion of uair, referring to "time" as an incident or event, the number of times you do something, compared to uair a chloig, "hour" or clock time. If you don't see the second construction, assume that the first meaning, of just "one time" or "occurrence" is the one that is intended, unless you have very strong contextual reasons for thinking otherwise.

5, February 27 class, Chapter 2 to break, bottom p. 20

The Plot

Saturday came. The snow and ice were gone and in their place, heavy rain fell without stopping on the dirty streats of Dublin. Mary had gone to her mother's house for the day. Niall sat in his car. He put the dead man's briefcase on the seat next to him. He waited a couple of minutes, looking out the window, then he went out on the road slowly, carefully.

He stopped the car next to the police station. He looked at the people who were going by for a couple of minutes. There was a bus stop a hundred yards from the station, and there was a group of people drenched with rain waiting for the 84 to Bray, that was a couple of miles down the road. He saw Billy Brean standing there, his two hands in his pockets, his big dog J.R. next to him. A day from a couple of weeks ago came into his head. The boy had just brought the Rottweiller to school "for fun." When Niall came in to teach the English class, the dog leapt on him. Niall fell on the floor and his glasses were broken. There was frozen silence in the class for a couple of seconds, then the boys all started laughing. He picked up the broken glasses and ran out of the room. Niall was scared that day. Scared and embarrassed. When he spoke with (Billy) O Ruairc's father on the phone, looking for the money from him to buy new glasses, it wasn't a very nice answer he got.

"You dirty lout! I don't believe you. He's a good boy, my son, do him any harm and I will do a job on you!"

He didn't get any great help from "Biggles" either.

"The poor lad, Niall, he doesn't know what's going on. The home, you see, mother's gone, father doesn't have work."

"But that dog broke my glasses. I ought to get the police on him, with the way that man was talking to me on the phone ..."

Biggles's little eyes looked at Niall slowly.

"Well, I wouldn't like to see the police come into the business, Niall, you know? The school's name is bad enough without the police."

"Then, who is going to going to buy me new glasses?" He was angry now.

"Yeah, well, come see me next week and I will talk to you about it." There was silence for a couple of seconds. Biggles saw the ornery look in Niall's eyes.

"You heard that Patrick will be retiring, probably? We'll need a new person in his place. It doesn't seem likely that the Board will be too happy to give a job like assistant headmaster to a person who gets the police every time he has a little trouble in class."

Niall understood well what Biggles was saying. He left quietly, his heart on fire.

Down at the bus station, J.R. was scaring a tired little old lady to death and his father's "good boy" was breaking his heart laughing at the poor thing. Niall looked at the police station again. He looked at the briefcase that was still on the seat next to him. He started the car.

When he reached Bray, he stopped on the main street. He didn't know what brought him into McGuire's Travel, but he opened the door and went inside.

"Yes?" said the small woman who was sitting at the bright orange table.

"Someplace warm!"

"Excuse me?"

"I would like to go someplace warm."


Mary didn't believe her two eyes when she came home from her mother's house. Every light in the house was lit, and every door open. Clothes were strewn everywhere, and Niall was running around like a crazy man.

"What .... What happened? Did someone break in? Get the police! Niall, listen to me, what happened?"

"No one broke in!" said Niall. "You and I are breaking out. I have the tickets. I got them this morning. We are going to Athens early in the morning."

"What is it that you are saying?"

"We can get a boat at Piraeus and go to the islands. No one will know where we are!"

Mary went into the kitchen. There were two suitcases on the table, and one of them was half full of Niall's clothes.

"You take the other one. Don't take too much. It will be warm in Greece, and anyway, we have plenty of money."

"But what about the school? ..."

"I am finished with the school. I'm not a teacher anymore. I'm free of all that. My life is starting over today."

She looked at him with fear and wonder.


On the way to the airport, Niall didn't stop talking for more than 30 seconds. He was like a person who had just taken drugs. He kept coming back again and again to "this great chance"! He had wonderful plans. They were going to buy a big house someplace; they were going to get new names; they were going to spend a fine life doing what they liked. Mary listened to all this without saying a thing. She was now certain that Niall was going out of his mind. His eyes were like two panes of glass. Even his voice was different. She thought he was going to break out crying a couple of times, but he didn't. Instead, he made a thin laugh, as a child does when he knows he has done something wrong, and he started again.

"I would love to see Biggles's face when he hears that I am gone! The slimy devil. I know what he can do with his job! And with the Board."

Notes of Interest

Shuigh Niall isteach sa charr. (P. 17) I'm not sure about the isteach in that sentence, doesn't seem like the implied motion is needed. (Sa charr is standard, rather than the Connacht sa gcarr.)

... an duine mhairbh = genitive of adjective

Variations: cúpla vs. cupla. Also, stad bus vs. stad na mbus (and why not mbusanna?)

Notice how isteach sa and amach as work together, but that suas or similar direction adverbs alone may often drift toward the end of the sentence. fiú also tends to end up much later in the sentence in Irish than it does in English.

Not sure about an fhéachaint dána (vs. dhána), P. 18

4, February 13 class, middle of p. 13 to end of chapter (p. 15)

The Plot

"Seanchill Station"

"Hello, is this the police stations?"

"Yes. Can I help you?"

"Yes. I am Niall O'Connell. I'm a teacher in Dun Laoghaire school. I was going to school on the Dart and a person died and ..."

The officer broke in on him.

"You're the man who left his briefcase behind?"

"Uh, yeah, but ..."

"Well come down to the station any day, and you can get your briefcase back. 'Bye"

"But, but ..."

The officer was gone. Niall waited there like a fool for a minute. The police did not know he had the other briefcase. Maybe they didn't know the man who died had a briefcase at all. Maybe. That night, he went around the corner to the station, and after they had asked him a couple of questions, the big fat sergeant gave him his own briefcase back.

Niall sat up in bed. It was past two o'clock in the morning. He was tired, but he couldn't sleep. The one time he closed his eyes, he saw the face of the dead man. He looked at Mary sleeping comfortably next to him. He was just saying to her at suppertime that he gave the money back to the police when we went to the station.

"And what did they say?"

"They said, 'Thanks!' What else?"

She gave him a kiss. "I'm glad!"

In the end, he fell asleep. But it wasn't a sound sleep. His head was full of pictures that frightened him. He was on the Dart again. The dead man was there, too. But this time, it was Niall that was on the floor, his coat open, his shirt red with blood, and the sergeant was looking down at him: big red face laughing, laughing, teeth like a wild animal ..."

"Aaaaaaaaaaaagh! Stop!"

He woke Mary with his screaming. She leapt up, her heart in her mouth.

"In the name of God! What's wrong with you? Hush! The neighbors will be getting the police!"

Niall opened his eyes. He was drenched in sweat, and his mouth was as dry as sandpaper.

"Get me a glass of water! Quick! I'm thirsty!"

When Mary came back with the water, she looked at Niall for a minute without talking. Then ...

"You did not give that money back! That's the reason you cannot close your eyes for two minutes. You still have it. I'm right! You can't even look me in the eye. You're crazy! Do you think you will be able to keep that money?"

She stopped for a moment. Then she put her hand on his shoulder.

"Niall, I know that you are not happy these days. I know that you are tired of life (the way things are). But this is not the way to put yourself on the right road. Listen to me. Help is available, there are doctors who understand ..."

"Damn you and your doctors! I don't need any help. Good night!"

He spent the rest of the night looking into the darkness like a person who was looking for some light, a light that was not there.

Notes of Interest

We have been seeing lots of singular genitive nouns, but in this section we bumped into genitive forms of adjectives and genitive forms of plural nouns.

We had a nice discussion about the difference between cúinne, which is often the inside corner (e.g., a nook), and coirnéal, which is often the outside of a corner (e.g., exterior of building), but the distinction is not a strict one.

And we also had a little discussion about the word éis and the phrase tar éis. Here's a short handout on that.

#3, February 6 class, top of p. 11 through middle of p. 13

The Plot

When Niall told Billy to sit down, the boy looked at him with a dirty grin on his face and said, "Go home, Master, you are too old. Go home and die!" Too old at 42! A dark look game over Niall's face. Billy had just put a cloud over the joy he felt coming out of the school. He was tired of this work. Billy was half a fool. He was at least 17 and he hadn't done the Junior Cert exam yet. He was still at school because he didn't have anyplace else to go. But even if we was a halfwit, he was right this time. A teacher's job was a job for a young person.

Niall spend the whole day reading the paper and watching TV. The cloud was gone now and he was well satisfied with himself again. At three, he heard the telephone ringing.

"Mary, answer that!"

"Answer it yourself!"

It was Biggles. "Niall, do you have a list of the students who are going on the trip to Londan?"

"Yes, it's in my briefcase. Do you need it now?"

"No, I didn't know where it was, that's all. Oh, and the school will be closed again tomorrow. Talk to you Monday."

When Niall said goodbye to Biggles, he went to get his briefcase. He wanted to be sure that he had the list, he went into the parlor and got the briefcase and opened it. He screamed.

The briefcase fell from his hand, hitting a vase on the coffee in the middle of the room and smashing it into smithereens.

When Mary heard the scream, she ran down the stair like the wind and into the parlor.

"In the name of God, what ...?"

She saw Niall sitting on the coffee table, his eyes as big as clocks. He was looking at the floor. The briefcase was open, and bank notes were everywhere. 50-pound Sterling notes all over the parlor!

"Where did you get that money?" she said. Her eyes were as big as Niall's.

"It was in the briefcase!"

"But you told me this morning that 3G copybooks were in the briefcase!"

Niall fell weakly into a chair. His face was as white as the snow that was still falling outside the window.

"The man!"

"What man?"

"The man on the Dart, he had a briefcase that was like mine."

Mary became frightened. She was certain that her husband was losing his mind. She knew he wasn't happy being a teacher. The job was breaking his heart. It was broken already, broken by Billy Bréan and his confetti.

"I'm going to get a doctor."

She went out in the hall and picked up the phone. Niall ran out and stopped her, laughing.

"Don't do anything, I'm not crazy. A man died on the Dart this morning, I must have taken his briefcase instead of my own. That's it. Damn! I've never seen that much money!"

"What will you do now?"

"I will talk to the police on the phone and tell them the whole story."

"Why didn't you say anything about this when you came home?"

"Well, it wasn't very nice, there was blood everywhere."

"Blood? Oh, Niall, I'm scared. Get the police right now and give that briefcase back to them. I won't be able to sleep until it's gone!"

Notes of Interest

The phrase den bhfuinneog popped up again, and I can't make sense of that, it should be den fhuinneog.

Several examples in this stretch of genitives that look just like nominative forms, so you might miss them. These are words like vása and caife, and many nouns that end in a vowel do not have a different form in the genitive.

as a mheabhair, "out of his mind", good, and common, phrase. An bhfuil tú as do mheabhair?

#2, January 30 class, bottom of p. 9 to top of p. 11

The Plot

Niall was right that the school would be closed. He met the headmaster ("Biggles") in the teacher's room, and Biggles laughed to see him. "Fair play, you are the only one to come in. The roads are very bad."

Nial reported that he came in on the train, which the headmaster acknowledged were goot in bad weather.

Niall was pleased no one else was around because it made him look good. He was angling for an assistant headmast job and needed Biggles on his side. It was his only escape from the classroom, and that was what got him out of bed that morning.

Niall sucks up a little more, but the headmaster is heading home and tells Niall to do the same.

Niall was very happy with himself -- no work to do, good impression on the headmaster, now headed to a big breakdast and a nice rest. He was working too hard and his class was giving him a lot of trouble. In the old days he could quite the room with one good scream, but today Billy "Bréan" started throwing confetti on mary and Tomas.

Notes of Interest

We had some discussion about le deanamh, vs. rud a dhéanamh type constructions, we'll want to keep watching those.

We also thought that in the last paragraph on 10, most of the sentences used bhí, but some of them probably would have worked well starting with bíonn, and others with bíodh.

#1, January 23 class, pp. 7-9

The Plot

We meet Niall Ó Conaill as he dashes out the door because he is late to catch his Dart (transit) train. He doesn't live far from the station, but there's a layer of snow and ice on the ground that morning. He's running (and "skating") when suddenly his fee go out for under him, his briefcase flies in the air, and he lands on his bottom. He's just grateful no one was around to see it.

He gets up and starts walking more slowly , but then he hears the train approaching and starts to run again. But he's too late. As he reaches the platform, he sees the doors closing and the train pulling away. He utters a curse (not for the first or last time in this segment).

When another train comes, Niall has no trouble getting a seat. He talks to himself about how everyone else probably stayed in bed, because of the weather, and that he's a fool to go out that morning. "The school will be closed," he says to himself.

At Deilginis, the train stops, a couple of people leave, but no one is waiting. Niall figures that no one would be going to work. But then he heard something outside the window, looked around, and saw a young man with a black briefcase in his hand running to get the train. The man's face was red from running and he did not look good at all.

The man opened the train door and got on board. Niall noticed that the man's briefcase was exactly like his own. "Another teacher?" he wondered, but decided, "No, he's too dirty." It annoyed Niall when this guy sat down right next to him. Niall tried to start a little conversation but got no response. In fact, the fellow's head slipped on to Niall's shoulder, provoking more grumbling from Niall.

But when Niall moved away, the man fell on the seat, then on the floor. A woman screamed, "He's dead!" and when Niall looked at his open coat, he found a red patch on the man's shirt. Niall's own hands came away wet with blood.

The woman pulled the emergency cord and stopped the train. The driver, a little fussy man, came grumping along, but when he saw what was up, he announced that they would stop in Dún Laoghaire where there was a hospital, and there the man was taken away on a stretcher.

Niall looked at his watch, figured there was nothing more he could do, snatched up his case, and left.

Notes of Interest

Mostly past tense, lots of genitives. Odd use of den bhfuinneog, would expect lenition. Johana nicely pointed out, nearly at the end of this section, that she expected Déanaigí spás! rather than Déan spás! in that situation.

We are seeing both lámh or láimh. The latter version is a DATIVE, object of a preposition. We'll discuss this in class, but it is used more widely than I would expect, in this story.