No Béarla, is a four part series in which Manchán Magan attempts to live his life (eat, travel, socialise, find accommodation, shop, etc) through Irish. It is a journey to find out whether the 1.6 million people who claim they can speak Irish in the national census really can and whether one can survive in Ireland today without speaking a word of English.

In the course of his travels Manchán gets kicked out of bars, served the wrong food, given the wrong directions, the wrong clothes, the wrong haircut. He gets abused, insulted, treated as an imbecile. When his car breaks down he finds he can’t get a mechanic - directory enquiries simply laugh at him. Likewise, he gets jeered at trying to chat up girls in a nightclub in Donegal. On the Shankill rd, he is warned that he’ll end up in hospital if he continues  speaking the language. In Galway he tries busking, singing the filthiest, most debauched lyrics he can think of to see if anyone will understand - old ladies smile and tap their feet merrily as he serenades them with filth. In Killarney he stands outside a bank, promising passers-by huge sums of money if they help him rob it, but again no one understands. He may as well be speaking Kling-on.

 In short, No Béarla is a thousand mile road trip around Ireland involving a lot of pointing, miming and desperate gesticulation. It casts a cold eye on the state of Ireland’s first official language - watch it and weep, or laugh . . .

A Dearg Films production for RTÉ/TG4
January 2007

This website should, and would be in Irish except that it seems no one would understand it. 
Ba cheart go mbeadh an suíomh seo as Gaeilge ach . . .

2. No Béarla: Singing foul songs

Manchán sees if people on the street know the Irish words for simple things. He goes out busking, using the filthiest, most debauched lyrics he can think of to see if anyone will understand . . .

(For a translation of the lyrics click here BE WARNED they are offensive.)

© Dearg Films RTÉ/TG4 Director Brian Reddin
Producers B. Reddin, M Magan

3. No Béarla: Chatting Up Girls in Irish

Manchán tries buying condoms and chatting up girls in Donegal. He ends up trying to phone a sex line.

© Dearg Films RTÉ/TG4 Director Brian Reddin
Producers B. Reddin, M Magan


The four programmes in the No Béarla series have been posted on You Tube. 
Each is in three seperate sections, and should be watched in the following order.


No Béarla, Clár a hAon, Cuid a hAon 08:30

No Béarla, Clár a hAon, Cuid a Dó 07:36

No Béarla, Clár a hAon, Cuid a Trí 09:21



No Béarla, Clár a Dó, Cuid a hAon 08:34

No Béarla, Clár a Dó, Cuid a Dó 08:22

No Béarla, Clár a Dó, Cuid a Trí 08:27



No Béarla, Clár a Trí, Cuid a hAon 08:25

No Béarla, Clár a Trí, Cuid a Dó 08:33

No Béarla, Clár a Trí, Cuid a Trí 08:20


PROGRAMME FOUR (Sorry, not currently available)

No Béarla, Clár a Ceathair, Cuid a hAon 06:51

No Béarla, Clár a Ceathair, Cuid a Dó 08:59

No Béarla, Clár a Ceathair, Cuid a Trí 09:57




Gaelic? What Gall by Manchán Magan
LA Times, Mon 17th March 2008

Cá bhfuil na Gaeilgeoirí? by Manchán Magan, The Guardian, Fri 5th January 2007
(An edited version of this also appeared in the Irish Times on the same day, under the title  'Where are all the Irish Speakers?'

Smaointe Mhancháin faoin dteanga, 
Lá, 17th Eanair 2007 

No Béarla  Reviews - Sunday Times, Sunday Tribune, Sunday Business Post

Around the world for Lazarus

The Irish Times, Oct 24th 2006
Manchán Magan recalls his first attempts at filming in Irish for TG4 in 1996, at a time when he thought they might all be flogging a dead horse.


Extract on Gaelscoileanna from David McWilliams’ The Pope’s Children

Gaelscoileanna were once seen as too Catholic, too nationalist and too old-fashioned. Today, they are the school of choice for the sophisticated elite . . .  Read More


Interesting article on Irish Language by John Waters,  Irish Times June 2006 . . . Read

 'The Sound Within' an article by Kate Fennell. 'When I was uprooted from Conamara, the world of sounds that I knew vanished almost completely. I started to make new sounds . . .' Read More 

NO BÉARLA 2 -  4 part series

First shown: March 2008, TG4 


In No Béarla (2007) Manchán Magan journeyed round Ireland trying to survive through Irish alone, in No Béarla 2 (2008) he looks more deeply at why it was so difficult for  him.


Sraith nua 4 clár


Tosú: Dé hAoine, 28ú Marta, 7.30pm TG4 (Athchraoladh Domhnach 8pm)


Anuraidh i No Béarla chuaigh Manchán Magan timpeall na tíre ag déanamh iarracht maireachtáil trí Gaeilge amháin. I mbliana i No Béarla 2 déanann sé iarracht fáil amach cén fáth a raibh sé chomh deacair air.

Féachann Manchán ar stáid na teanga agus ar an gcúis a bhfuil rudaí mar atá. Déanann sé iarracht freagra a fháil ar cad a tharlódh dá:

·        gCuirfeá lucht na Gaeltachta faoi scrúdú polygraph le fáil amach conas a réitíonn siad le foghlaimeoirí Gaeilge.

·        gCuirfeá daoine faoi hiopnóis leis an Gaeilge atá iontu a scaoileadh amach.

·        gCuirfeá iachall ar Gaeilgeoirí Tír Chonaill éisteacht le canúint Corcha Dhuibhne gan stad ar feadh tréimhse fada. An rachadh sé i bhfeidhm ar a n-intleacht? A ndéanfadh sé maitheas nó olcas?

·        Múinfeá an ceacht Gaeilge céanna chuig rang Polannaigh agus rang Éireannaigh (atá tar éis Gaeilge a dhéanamh ar scoil ar feadh deich mbliana). Cé acu a bheadh an bua i scrúdú?

·        n-Iarrfá ar mic léinn ollscoile idirdhealú idir an Gaeilge agus Kling-on (an teanga a cumadh do Star Trek). An mbeadh siad in ann an difríochta eatarthu a mheas?

·        Scrúdófá daltaí rang ardteiste faoi a n-eolais ar an Gaeilge i gcomparáid lena n-eolais ar na Simpsons. Cé acu a mbeidh breis eolais acu faoi?

·        gCuirfeá scrúdú foclóra ar phobal na Gaeltachta le fáil amach an raibh téarmaí Gaeilge acu ar ghnáth rudaí ar nós: snot, batteries, dandelions, daddy-long-legs?

·        nDéanfá iarracht amhrán popcheoil a chumadh, a bheadh chomh maith, nó níos fearr ná, aon rud atá ar fáil as Béarla. An éireodh leat?

·        nDéanfá iarracht an meon réabhlóide a thabhairt ar ais chuig gluaiseacht na Gaeilge, agus feachtas a bhunú ag cur brú ar daoine mór le rá a síneadh fada a úsáid?


In a humorous exploration of the Irish language, Manchán sets out to find out WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF:

·        You submitted the Gaeltacht people to a lie detector test to find out how they actually treated learners of Irish.

·        You hypnotised people to find the hidden Irish inside.

·        You subjected Donegal speakers to a sustained  assault of heavy Munster Irish for prolonged periods. Would it effect their IQ? Make them cleverer or dimmer?

·        You taught the same Irish lesson to a group of Poles and a group of Irish people who had studied 10 years of Irish at school. Who would fair best in an exam?

·        You challenged the students of an Irish University to differentiate between Irish and Kling-on (the alien language from Star Trek). Could they tell them apart?

·        You examined Leaving Cert Honours Irish students on their knowledge of Irish versus the Simpsons. Which would they know more about?

·        You submitted members of the Gaeltacht to a vocabulary test to  find words for basic things like snot, batteries, dandelions, daddy-long-legs.

·        You set about writing a pop song in Irish that was as good, if not better, than English songs. Could it be done?

·        You sought to bring revolutionary fervour back to the language struggle, mounting a series of campaigns, including getting celebrities to start using their síneadh fadas.


Clip 1: Dáire Ó Briain confesses his sin.
Manchán asks Dara Ó Briain to own up to his 'síneadh fada' (Irish accent)  . . .  Click here

Clip 2: Would you recognise Klingon from Irish?
 Irish university students try to differentiate between Irish and Klingon . . .  click here

Clip 3: Making a pop song in Irish.
Manchán sees if it's possible to create a hit pop song in Irish .  . . click here

©Brian Reddin/Manchán Magan, Dearg Films/RTÉ

DOWNLOAD POP SONG - DÉAN DO ROGH/ B'FHÉIDIR FÉIDIR-  Manchán sees can he write an Irish pop song as good if not better than anything in Engllish. CLICK THE ARROW below to hear it.  (To download at MYSPSACE click here OR Else try INTERNET ARCHIVE. Music by Steve Lynch. Sung by Aoife Scott.

Déan Do Rogh. Amhrán popcheoil  . . .Clic ar an saighead thios nó 
Download here

Bribing people to speak Irish

Trying to buy a shirt

Chatting up a girl

Singing filthy songs

Trying to find a mechanic

Looking for Irish speakers on the Shankill Rd.


Handy Vocabulary in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

Shopkeeper, be merciful and please try to understand me! – a shiopadóir bí trócaireach agus dean iarracht mé a thuiscint!

No, I’m not choking, I’m speaking Irish - Nílim ag tachtadh, táim a caint as Gaeilge

Jackass - Pleidhce

Don’t be so catty, I’m only asking! - Ná bí chomh binbeach, nílim ach ag iarraidh ort!

Get your ass in gear –  Ardaigh do thóin chun oibre.

A skinny latte, please – Caife le bainne bearrtha, led thoil

What’s bugging you, have you never heard Irish before – Cad tá ded crá, nár chuala tú Gaeilge riamh?

Get a life! – Faigh beatha duit féin!

May you hang high on a windy day - Go crochfar ard ar lá gaoithe tú.

You're a total schmuck – Is gamal ceart tú!

Shut your mouth and listen, I beg you! - Dún do chlab agus éist liom, impím ort !

Help, I'm alone, I'm so alone - Fóir orm, táim im aonar, im cadhan aonair


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