A Rómáin agus a chairde eile
This is a very short description of some of the main differences within West Munster. It is still lacking the a-allophone description since that difference is not as clear-cut as the others and requires a somewhat more detailed description. I'll get back to it.
Munster was for long the real stronghold of Irish, at least in terms of number of speakers. Almost the whole of Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare, as well as large parts of Waterford remained Irish-speaking throughout most of the 19th century. Language death was, however, swift here once it started and the Gaeltachts of Munster in which Irish is actually used as a living language is in the west of Corca Dhuibhne
Having said this, I now turn to the heartland of Munster Irish, that of Counties Cork and Kerry. The most striking thing about this area is that it’s Irish is unusually homogenous; compared to the rather huge differences that exist between various parts this Irish is essentially the same. Even a beginner would hear the difference between the two Connacht-Irish dialects spoken in Gaeltacht Erris (North Mayo) and Cois Fairrge (South Galway). He would find it much harder, though, to detect any clear differences between the Irish spoken in Múscraí (West Cork) and Corca
Dhuibhne (West Kerry). There are however some aspects that differ the Irish spoken in these areas. 1. –lt-
In Dun Chaoin one would hear the sequence –lt- pronounced as such, while it would be pronounced /lh/ in Cúil Aodha. This development (lt > lh) seems to have been characteristic for the inland of Munster, being used throughout Co.Cork east of Cork City, as well as throughout inland Kerry. The retention of /lt/ is found on the Kerry coast (Dun Chaoin and Ballinskelligs)as well as in the east of Cork (Ballymacoda). It was also the form used in Clare and Waterford
/fa:l´hi/ in Cúil Aodha, Clear Island, west Cork and inland Kerry
/fa:l´t´i/ in Dún Chaoin, An Rinn, Ballinskelligs, Co. Clare 2. slender –nn-
In a large part of Munster a slender –nn was realized as /ng´/. This happened in Co. Waterford and in Co. Cork (excepting the coast of West Cork) as well as in parts of eastern Kerry. It remained as /n´/ in Kerry (except the eastern part), the coast of West Cork and in County Clare. A particularly interesting example is the word cinn (heads) because it shows some of the most distinct aspects of the living Irish in Corca Dhuibhne, Múscraí and An Rinn; both the nn / ng aspect as well as the lengthening / diphthongization are shown here: cinn
Dún Chaoin /k´i:n´/ (lengthening of i and retention of nn)
Cúil Aodha /k´i:ng´/ (lengthening of i and change of nn)
An Rinn /k´aing´/ (diphthongization of i and change of nn) 3. final –adh in past passives
A change which is much more seldom encountered in normal speech is the treatment of final –adh in past passives. The norm in most of Munster seems to have been to pronounce this as /-@g
/, with various exceptions in different places. The /-@g
/ seems to have been used in Co. Cork (except the western coast), Co.Clare, Co. Waterford, southern Tipperary and Eastern Kerry.
/ in most of Kerry, as well as in the area around Bantry, Skibbereen and Clear Island; also as an option in Corca Dhuibhne
/ as an option in Corca Dhuibhne, and perhaps the northern coast of Uíbh Ráthach
/ the coast area immediately to the east of Skibbereen 4. -abhar
The ending of the second person plural (sibh) in the past tense is pronounced differently. Most of West Munster has /u:r´/ but the Corca Dhuibhne villages where Irish is still the first language have /(@)v@r
´/ Corca Dhuibhne
/v´i:u:r´/Múscraí Differences within Corca Dhuibhne
Even within the Gaeltacht of Corca Dhuibhne there are some difference between the eastern and western part 1. ó in pronounced /u:/ when next to a nasal
This is almost exclusively a feature of Dún Chaoin Irish within Munster, although it also occurs in Waterford. The rest of the Corca Dhuibhne villages have the same pronunciation as Múscraí.
It takes place in almost every word in which an original /o:/ neighbours a nasal. In the Dún Urlann villages closest to Dún Chaoin, An Ghráigh, Cloichear, Tír Abhann and Baile an Chalaidh, there is free variation between /o:/ and /u:/ so that the same speaker can be heard using both sounds in the same words on different occasions. The rest of Dún Urlann and Márthain, Cill Maolcháidear and Cill Chuain all retains the /o:/ sound.
word Dún Chaoin Other Parishes
móin /mu:n´/ /mo:n´/
fuinneog /f´n´u:g/ /f´n´o:g/
There are some exceptions in both directions. The word mór is always pronunced with an /u:/ while it’s comparative /mó/ is pronunced with an /o:/. At least I’ve never heard any other pronunciation myself
word Dún Chaoin Other parishes
mór /mu:@r/ /mu:@r/
mó /mo:/ /mo:/ 2. –lt- is pronounced /lh/.
This phenomenon is the same as already described when comparing Munster dialects. The /lt/
is retained in Dún Chaoin and in Dún Urlann, while it becomes /lh/ in Cill and Cill Chuain. I’m not familiar with Márhtain in this case, but it should be on the “border”. Judging from this we can see that the change lt > lh which normally is associated with Cork reached almost the whole of Kerry, stopping only west of Dingle.
Apart from these two changes there is not much difference within the fíor-ghaeltacht of Corca
Dhuibhne. There seem, however, to have been a different pronunciation of broad l on the Blasket, which spread to the mainland of Dún Chaoin as well as An Ghráigh in Dún Urlann.
In this pronunciation /l/ is pronounced a bit like a gh /y/. Thus I’ve heard an old Blasket islander talk about /@ se:y kru:ig´/ (an saol cruaidh) on the island, while another one has talked about /@ ya: s@n
] (an lá san) I’ve also heard my friends in An Ghráigh use this occasionally, but only as an option. For an
interesting discussion of the origin of this phenomen, as well as other aspects of the differences within Corca Dhuibhne I can recommed Diarmuid Ó Sé’s article in “An Teanga”.