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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

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

Irish Sayings and phrases

Useful Irish sayings and phrases to know:


Meaning: Cheers!
Used: when clinking glasses


Yer woman/yer man

Meaning: when referring to an unnamed guy or girl
Sample Sentence: “Did you hear what yer man was saying?”


Grand (adjective)

Meaning: ok/good
Sample Sentence: “How are you?” “I’m grand thanks.”


Craic (noun)

Meaning 1: Fun Meaning 2: Hello
Sample Sentence“We had the best craic last night.” “What’s the craic?”


Cheers (noun)

Meaning: Thank you
Used when a ‘thanks’ might be in order


Slán (noun)

Meaning: Goodbye
Used occasionally to say ‘goodbye’


Irish Sayings and phrases

Giving out (verb)

Meaning: chastise, scold, complain, moan, rant

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


Bold (adjective)

Meaning: Naughty
Sample Sentence“That child is so bold.”


Gas (noun/adjective)

Meaning: funny/fun
Sample Sentence“We went to show last night – it was gas!” or ” St Patrick’s Day was gas craic!”


Bawling (verb)

Meaning: Crying hysterically
Sample Sentence“She hasn’t stopped bawling since we left the house.”



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

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


Gawk (verb)

Meaning: Look/stare
Sample Sentence“That lad won’t stop gawking at me.”


Brutal (adjective)

Meaning: Bad
Sample Sentence“That soccer match was brutal.”


Bike hire or car hire

Meaning: Bike or car rental
Sample Sentence“Where is the car hire at the airport?”


Jumper / Geansaí

Meaning: Sweater
Sample Sentence“Where’s me jumper?”


The Guards/Garda

Meaning: Police
Sample sentenceThe Guards had to redirect traffic. 



Meaning: Soft drinks
Used in place of soft drinks. 



Meaning: Thin slices of bacon
Sample Sentence“I’ll have a rasher sandwich”

Some Irish sayings and phrases you may hear:

Act the maggot

Meaning: Naughty


I am in my shite

Meaning: You must be joking


Slag someone off

Meaning: Jeer or make fun of someone

Lose your rag

 Meaning: Throw a tantrum


Fair play to ye

Meaning: Well done


Irish Sayings and phrases

Learn some Gaelic Phrases!

Ceol agus Craic

Translation: Music and fun



Translation: Irish speaking area


Thit on toin as an speir

Translation: The arse fell out of the sky

Meaning: It rained heavily


Póg mo thóin

 Translation: Kiss my arse


Déan deifir!

Translation: Hurry up


Maidin mhaith

Translation: Good morning!


Gabh mo leithscaal

Translation: Excuse me


Dia linn

Translation: Bless you

Want to practice these Gaelic phrases and Irish sayings? Head to the Aran Islands on Ireland’s West Coast!

The rugged Aran Islands were once important trade centres in ancient Ireland. Today, they are one of Ireland’s cultural holdouts – a living museum where the Gaelic language is still widely spoken.

Greetings: Hello and how are you?

  • How ya doin’?
  • How’s she cuttin’?
  • How’s it goin’?
  • Howaya?
  • How are ya keepin’?
  • What’s the craic?


  • Feck off – Go away
  • Eejit/gobshite – idiot

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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