About that Irish Pascha Greeting

You’ll find a number of versions on the Web… also Scottish Gaelic (called just Gaelic in the Commonwealth, where Irish is often Irish Gaelic). I was given this version:

Ta Criost aiseirithe! Aiseirithe go fior!

or with fadas (long-vowel markings, as your browser may support them):

Tá Críost aiséirithe! Aiséirithe go fior! (I could’ve sworn fior had a fada, but I don’t find it so on the Web just now. For pronunciation, see below.)

by Fr. Serge Kelleher, the Irish-American Eastern Catholic priest in Dublin (Baile Atha Cliath!), Ireland.

My Collins Gem Irish-English dictionary says eiri, without the ais- prefix, means rise in the common sense, like to go up in the air (hence eirithe, the adjective you usually see on Orthodox websites). Aiseiri means resurrect, (also resurge, as in resurgence. The use of aiseirithe in connection with the Lord can be seen in a number of Latin and Anglican Church websites in Ireland, in Google; the one for the Tuam [say TOO-um, “with a trace of the mists and the bog” as Fr. Greeley would say!] Archdiocese is from a Latin diocese in the West of Ireland.). Like the Creed says, “On the third day He rose again” – not a second time, that’s just the way many languages express resurrection as opposed to rising up in the air. (In fact, resurrection itself, from Latin, is even like this, re- plus surrexit.) Although in Irish they call His Ascension Deascabháil, which seems to be a completely religious term, for which I can’t find any derivation (ascend in normal Irish, referring to normal ascending, being yet another completely different word). And I am not aware of either Scripture or Tradition testifying that the Lord floated above the ground after His Resurrection, as often depicted in Western and Western-inspired images! 😉 Though possibly in disagreeing sources’ defense, I just checked the Irish RSV (strangely, the only Irish Bible offered by the official Catholic bookstore chain over there a decade ago was a New Testament translation from the U.S. Mainline Protestant RSV [though now they have added the whole Bible, though not information about the translation]), and it seems to most often – though not exclusively – use eiri rather than aiseiri – though it seems to have been translated by an Irish Anglican canon whose first name is not a saint’s name!!!

For further understanding, ta is is, Irish being one of those languages (like Hebrew) which puts the verb first. Pronounced by itself, ie, not in conversation (or greeting), it’s pronounced TAW. (With short A, without a fada – it’s NOT an accent or emphasis mark – it would be TAH.) Otherwise, you don’t drag it out so much, so it’s almost a TAH or TUH, completely unemphasized.

Criost is obvious! You don’t say the O, and long I is pronounced EE, so the whole word is KREEST, with a slight roll to the R like in Spanish and many other languages. (But only a slight one!) Think of the first syllable in Greek Christos, except it’s definitely a K sound rather than that Scottish/German/Hebrew CH (loch, buch, Chanukkah).

That aiseirithe, I gather from these folks, is most commonly uh-SHAY-ruh-huh. The first E is long, hence AY (rhymes with bay, stay, bray, lay, cay, fey[!]) – but shorten the EE sound at the end of the diphthong, especially if you’re American; ie, it’s not AEE like we usually say those words (think of the Fonz!), but more like ‘longer’ E’s in Spanish and other Latinate languages. OK? Since the S is between the “slender” vowels I and E, it’s pronounced SH as opposed to S. The middle I is silent, and the vowel sounds in the unemphasized syllables are de-emphasized, almost schwas in most pronunciation. And a slight roll to the R again. TH sounds like H, because as Fr. Greeley’s Nuala Anne McGrail – whose first language is Irish – tells us, no civilized language has a TH (ie, theta) sound! Though, the truth (“de troot”) be told, many Irish pronounce D like a voiced TH, like the TH in the, this, that, these, those!! (The discussion mentions an alternative pronunciation for aiseirithe, from a West-of-Ireland dialect, because that one is often studied by non-Gaeilgeoiri [non-Irish-speakers], being one of the few areas of the Island where the language may still be heard relatively commonly – though all Irish today also speak English.)

That go fior – indeed or truly – I’m not so sure of, now without the long I which I thought it had – either guh-FEER or guh-FYOOR. Usually they say in a vowel duo like that you emphasize the first, but not always. And often before an R any vowel is long, no fada needed… implying not emphasizing the I here. It’s a common expression, it just didn’t show up on the tapes of my first 5 lessons – which is as far as I got! – so I can’t say for sure. But for certain, the go is a very-unemphasized particle, hence the guh. And don’t forget the slight roll to the R.

Therefore, it’s pronounced:

taw-KREEST uh-SHAY-ruh-huh! uh-SHAY-ruh-huh guh-FYOOR!

Happy greeting! And I remind myself it’s not about showing-off, but celebrating the once-and-future (and growing!*) Orthodoxy of Ireland… and the Lord’s Resurrection!

(*–At least 9000, with 1200 claiming Irish nationality/origin, and a total of at least 20 pct personally from outside traditional Orthodox countries [Powerpoint page]. Biggest Orthodox country representation: Romania [Powerpoint page: click down twice on that “slide” to see Romania], who interestingly, sometimes call themselves “Latin Orthodox” because of their Latinate language and traditional part-Italian ancient ancestry.)


  1. Karen

    Hi Peter,

    Ta Chriost aiseirithe!

  2. me

    Aiseirithe go fior!


  3. Felix Randal

    This is the last thing I was expecting on an Orthodox blog! I would alter the pronunciation guide though… aiséirithe is more like ASH-eye-ree-he (or -ha).

    Bail ó Dhia ar an obair! (God’s blessing on your work!)

  4. me

    A Chonchubhair, a chara,

    God and Mary’s blessing on your work!

    A Galway man at Cambridge, are ya? You have my sympathies! And I’m hardly in a position to argue with you, now am I! But is it said that way in all dialects, provinces, and regional pronunciations, including with emphasis on the first syllable? And is your -eye- pronounced like an English long letter I or a long letter A?

    Go raibh mile maith agat! (Thank you very much!)

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