14.5 million people have used Foclóir.ie in the last ten years

The New English-Irish Dictionary is celebrating its 10th anniversary

It has been ten years since President Michael D. Higgins launched the New English-Irish Dictionary in January 2013 in the National Gallery. At that time, the first 30% of the dictionary’s final content (7,000 entries) was available at www.focloir.ie. Since then, the dictionary team has added another 41,000 entries to the site. There are now 48,000 entries and 145,000 sense units available on the site.

In the last ten years, 14.5 million people have visited Foclóir.ie. Those people viewed 193 million pages during 38.5 million sessions. The dictionary’s busiest day ever was 26 January 2021, a day when almost 34 thousand people visited the site. The average amount of time people have spent on the site per session over the last 10 years is just over 7 minutes. That means that people have spent approximately 4.6 million hours in total on Foclóir.ie since it launched. Ireland accounted for 70% of the site's users over the past 10 years, America accounted for 16% (2.3 million people), and Britain accounted for 6%. The dictionary users aren’t confined to Ireland, America and Britain, however. Over 40,000 people in India have used the dictionary over this ten-year period, as well as 6,000 in Qatar, 700 in Jamaica, 500 in Palestine and 100 in Sierra Leone.

Cormac Breathnach, Foras na Gaeilge’s Dictionary Project Manager, said this week: "We keep an eye on the usage figures every few months, so these figures do not come as a big surprise to us. We are very pleased that so many people are using the dictionary. Irish-language lexicography was allowed to fall into neglect after the publication of An Foclóir Beag in 1992 but it was kickstarted again when Foras na Gaeilge was established in 1999. Great progress has been made since then and the main result of that progress is the New English-Irish Dictionary. We are very happy that the language community has clearly accepted Foclóir.ie as one of their main sources of reference. We are particularly encouraged by the use of the dictionary in schools and 3rd level institutions."

The President launched the dictionary on 24 January 2013 during a formal event in the National Gallery of Ireland. In a speech he gave that night, he said: “It was a huge challenge to complete this project, especially in light of how important and critical such a facility is for the general public, including learners of Irish, fluent speakers, teachers, students, translators and the media. Since the dictionary is based on the language as it is spoken today and since it covers contemporary usage in both English and Irish, you could say that this New Dictionary provides a social insight into today's practice in both languages.”

In the same speech the President acknowledged the importance of dictionaries in general: “They are critical tools for any language community. They facilitate good practice in the language – on the one hand, they enable the language community to handle the language effectively and confidently, and on the other hand, they provide a strong foundation for the richness and accuracy of the language. A major national dictionary gives the language a particular status and prestige among its own community.”

The editor of the dictionary, Pádraig Ó Mianáin, said at the time: "This dictionary adheres to international best practice in the field of lexicography, where language usage guides the contents of the dictionary. Accordingly, the English-language content of the dictionary is a reflection of the way in which English is used in Ireland nowadays. As well as that, the team has tried to present Irish as it is spoken today in the dictionary. We wanted to make the Irish language as it is spoken in the Gaeltacht available for users. One of the main tools we used to do that are the sound files that allow users to listen to the pronunciation of words in the three major dialects.”

Among the 'modern' words that were included in the dictionary at the time, which give some insight into the stories that were popular in 2013, were: app (aip), bondholder (sealbhóir bannaí), cloud computing (néalríomhaireacht), cyberbullying (cibearbhulaíocht), exit strategy (straitéis éalaithe), ghost estate (scáileastát), live streaming (beoshruthú), nanotechnology (nanaitheicneolaíocht), negative equity (cothromas diúltach), podcast (podchraoladh), retweet (atvuít), toxic debt (fiachas bearnaithe), tweet (tvuít).

As part of the 10-year celebration of the New English-Irish Dictionary, Foras na Gaeilge intends to commission a short documentary this year which will focus on the dictionary project, the state of play as it was before the project and the current landscape.

The cross-border organisations will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2024. Lexicography was one of the statutory responsibilities assigned to Foras na Gaeilge when it was founded under the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. The urgent need for an English-Irish dictionary was identified at that time, especially considering the time that had elapsed since the publication of de Bhaldraithe dictionary in 1959 and the Ó Dónaill dictionary in 1977. The New English-Irish Dictionary project was the first dictionary project undertaken by Foras na Gaeilge.

Contact: to arrange an interview or to get more images, contact:

Cormac Breathnach, Foras na Gaeilge

Email: CBreathnach@forasnagaeilge.ie


Anna Davitt, Foras na Gaeilge

Email: ADavitt@forasnagaeilge.ie


*more information and figures below



Basic figures

  Over the last ten years In 2022
Users 14,568,699 1,819,950
Sessions 38,581,661 5,546,412
Pageviews 193,010,615 27,929,888
Average time per session 07:08 07:23
Total amount of time spent on the website 4,586,931 hours  



  Over the last ten years In 2022
Ireland 70% (10.2 million people) 75% (1.3 million people)
America 16% (2.3 million people) 15% (160,000 people)
Britain 6% (900,000 people) 6% (95,000 people)



  Over the last ten years In 2022
Mobile phone 57% 59%
Computer 34% 38%
Tablet 9% 3%


The most searched words

  Over the last ten years In 2022
1 for for
2 app go
3 go be
4 be play
5 play to
6 love experience
7 to help
8 do do
9 experience get
10 get show