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    Irish Phrases and Sayings: Your Essential Pocket Phrasebook

    7 min read

    This short phrasebook will teach you a few Irish sayings and phrases that are potent mix of slang, swearwords and Gaelic.

    In Ireland, we speak the language of English – but in our own, unique way!

    See more below!


    By Eimear Quinn, Adventure Co-ordinator
    More by Eimear

    Useful words & phrases in Irish


    These Irish sayings and phrases will have you befriending the locals – or even simply helping you follow a basic conversation!

    Here are some basic useful words and phrases in Irish. It’s important to note that how these are pronounced will differ throughout the country, so we have provided some links to help with pronunciation!

    Dia duit

    Translation: “Hello” and with a literal translation of “god be with you”



    Translation: “Goodbye” with a literal translation of “safe”


    Craic agus Ceol

    Translation: Fun and music


    Le do thoil

    Translation: “Please” with a literal translation of “with your will”



    Go raibh maith agat

    Translation: “Thank you” with a literal translation of “may you have goodness”




    Translation: Literally translated as “health”

    How it’s used: An equivalent to “cheers!”, it is commonly as a drinking toast in both Ireland and Scotland



    Translation: Yes




    Translation: No


    Maidin mhaith

    Translation: Good morning



    Translation: Welcome!



    Oíche Mhaith

    Translation: Good night



    Gabh Mo Leithscéal

    Translation: Excuse me



    Déan deifir!

    Translation: Hurry up




    Meaning: Refers to a primarily Irish-speaking region


    Ádh mór ort!

    Translation: Good luck to you!


    Céad Míle Fáilte

     Translation: A hundred, thousand welcomes



    Póg mo thóin!

     Translation: Kiss my arse!



    Is fearr Gaeilge briste, na Bearla cliste

    Translation: Broken Irish is better than clever English


    Irish Sayings and phrases

    Things you will hear in Hiberno-English

    In Ireland, our version of the English language – known as Hiberno English – is just that wee bit different! You’ll encounter a vast array of slang on your travels so here are you few that might come in handy.


    Meaning: News, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation
    How it’s used: “What’s the craic?” or “We had great craic last night” 


    Meaning: Ok/good

    How it’s used: “How are you?” “I’m grand thanks” | “I’m sure it will be grand” | “The weather is grand today”


    Cute Hoor

    Meaning: Someone who’s wiser than they appear or who quietly engineers things to their own advantage
    How it’s used: “Don’t be fooled, he’s a real cute hoor” 


    Giving Out

    Meaning: Chastise, scold, complain, moan, rant

    How it’s used: “Don’t be giving out to me – it wasn’t my fault!” | “I had your mother in the kitchen giving out about the weather!” 



    Meaning: Naughty
    How it’s used: “That child is so bold”


    Gas / Geg

    Meaning: funny, fun, humorous
    How it’s used: “That show last night was gas craic!” | “That man at the pub was a geg!”



    Meaning: When occupants remain inside a pub after closing time and continue drinking. It’s illegal and we obviously don’t encourage this.

    Sample Sentence“There was a lock in the pub last night”


    Meaning: Soft drinks
    How it’s used: “Will you grab me a mineral at the shop?”



    Meaning: Thin slices of bacon
    How it’s used“I would murder a rasher sandwich right now”

    Act the maggot

    Meaning: Naughty, messing around, being silly/stupid

    How it’s used: “That fella was acting the maggot on the street last night” | “Ah now, don’t be acting the maggot!”



    Meaning: Bad, terrible, awful
    How it’s used: “That soccer match was brutal”



    Meaning: Amazing, brilliant, awesome

    How it’s used: “The weather is savage today!” or simply, “That’s savage”


    Slag off

    Meaning: Jeer or make fun of someone

    How it’s used: “Don’t be slagging her off behind her back” | “Ah sure, it’s only a big of slagging”

    Lose your rag

     Meaning: Lose your temper, throw a tantrum

    How it’s used: “If I hear that song once more, I’ll lose my rag”


    Fair play to ye

    Meaning: Well done

    How it’s used: “Thanks for doing that, fair play to ye” | “I hear you came first in the race, fair play to ye”

    Cop on / Catch yourself on / Wise up

    Meaning: Be wise, become aware of something, come back to your senses

    How it’s used: “You’d think he would have some cop on” | “Would you ever catch yourself on and wise up!


    Eejit / Gobshite

    Meaning: Idiot, fool

    How it’s used: “He was a real eejit that fella” | “You’re acting like a gobshite!”


    Are you well? / How’s the form?

    Meaning: How are you?


    Not a loss on me

    Meaning: I’m well or I’m grand

    How it’s used: “How are you?” “Ah, not a loss on me” 


    Irish Sayings and phrases

    No one in Ireland ever says...

    • Top of the morning to you
    • To be sure, to be sure
    • Anything about leprechauns or pots of gold…unless of course, it’s in the National Leprechaun Museum.

    … so please don’t use these stereotypes!

    Now that you know a few Irish sayings, you’re ready for your next trip to Ireland!

    Meet the Author: Eimear Quinn

    “Originally from Northern Ireland, Eimear is particularly interested in gardening from a Permaculture perspective, exploring the Irish landscape, understanding the rich and wonderful world of Irish mythology, legend and folklore, and preserving Irish language, tradition and music.”

    View profileMore by Eimear

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