A spellchecker is an application that checks the spelling of words as they are being written, or after they have been written. It can provide suggestions for what it considers to be misspellings. Spellcheckers exist for many languages and they have been available for the Irish language for a few years.

There are two spellcheckers available for Irish: Gaelspell and the Microsoft Irish Proofing Tools.

In order for a spellchecker to work it has to run within a program, for example Microsoft Word, OpenOffice.org Writer, or run as a standalone program.


Kevin P. Scannell (in St. Louis University, Missouri, USA) released the first version of Gaelspell in the year 2000 (Version 0.1). He has updated it 18 times since then, so the database is very complete and up to date. New words and phrases are constantly being added to it. Version 4.4 is the most recent available version.

The basic version of Gaelspell is available free of charge under a GPL license, which means that people can use that spellchecker within various computers and programs without the need to create a new vocabulary each time. That has been done in the following cases:

> For Windows

This is available from Cruinneog (www.cruinneog.com). Information on the spellchecker is to be found on the following website: www.cruinneog.com/GaelSpell.html

Even though the original spellchecker is free of charge, Gaelspell for Windows is a commercial product (i.e. it is not free) but it is well worth the cost. According to Cruinneog, there are over 300,000 entries in the latest version, agus it operates on English as well as on Irish (so there is more to it than in the basic Gaelspell spellchecker).

It can be downloaded from the world wide web or it can be bought as a CD-ROM. Technical support is provided as part of the purchase.

When Gaelspell is operating, a red line shows up under any word spelled incorrectly in Irish or English. All in all, it is a great spellchecker.

> Mac OS X - MacLitriú

Recently James Pelow from Snasta created a version of Gaelspell that works on Mac OS X computers. It can be found here:

MacLitriú works in every application that uses Mac OS spelling. Take note that MS Office for Mac can not use this spellchecker yet. This may change in the future.

> Mozilla Firefox & Mozilla Thunderbird

If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can install Gaelspell. Firefox competes with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, an application that is not available in Irish and that does not have an associated Irish spellchecker.

When you install Firefox in Irish, you are asked if you wish to install Gaelspell, and if you agree to accept it (it is available for free), it means that the spellchecker works anytime you are writing in Irish on a web page. It is a great feature (and is being used in the editing of this website).

This is how to install Gaelspell in Mozilla Firefox:

Go to the Mozilla Addons page. Type Gaelspell into the search box. When it is found, click the ‘Add to Firefox’ button. Another window will open immediately. Click ‘Install Now’. It will install automatically. Once installed, you are advised to restart Firefox to make it operational.

Gaelspell can be installed as an extension in Mozilla Thunderbird too (an email client available free of charge), as follows:

Go to the Tools menu of Mozilla Thunderbird. Select the Extensions Manager. A new window will pop up. Select the link to find new extensions. It will open on this page:


Enter Gaelspell in the search box. You will find this page:


Download the extension and save it to an easy to find location e.g. your desktop. Using the Extensions Manager find the file you just downloaded, and click on it. It will be installed into Thunderbird.

If you install this feature, you will able to use it when drafting email messages, just as you may currently do in English.

If you are composing an email in another language, you can disable the Irish spellchecker and use another suitable spellchecker. There is also the option not to use any spellchecker at all.

> LibreOffice

There is a Gaelspell extension available for LibreOffice, which is available for free. If you want a great office software package with a quality spellchecker, at no expense, LibreOffice is your best option.

Gaelspell for LibreOffice

> OpenOffice.org

There is a Gaelspell extension available for OpenOffice.org, which is available for free.

Gaelspell for OpenOffice.org

Remarks regarding Gaelspell’s dictionary

The same dictionary is used in all the various versions mentioned above. The base Irish dictionary is available free of charge for any person or company who wishes to integrate the Irish spellchecker within other programs, even for commercial applications.

Here is Kevin Scannell‘s link to the project:

Gaelspell - An Bunfhoclóir

Microsoft Spellchecker

Microsoft released an Irish spellchecker in 2002. It was a good start, but not having been updated since, the few original errors and the original lack of comprehensiveness are still features today. This spellchecker can be downloaded from the following website:


No subsequent development has been done on the Irish vocabulary from the time Microsoft published it. It is not known if Microsoft plan to update it but they could use the Gaelspell database, at no cost.

The Microsoft spellchecker can only be used with Microsoft products e.g. Office.

Final Remarks

Gaelspell can be used on various operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux), often in the form of a commercial product. It is our opinion that it is the better spellchecker.

LibreOffice - The Choice for Irish

An Foclóir Beag (Dictionary)