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Irish Phrases and Sayings: Your Essential Pocket Phrasebook

Posted on Nov 07, 2017 by Eimear Quinn

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!

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:

  • Sláinte
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 ‘good bye’

Irish Sayings and phrases


  • Giving out (verb)
Meaning: chastise, scold, complain, moan, rant “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.”


  • Lock in
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 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 sentence: The Guards had to redirect traffic. 


  • Minerals
Meaning: Soft drinks Used in place of soft drinks.  


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

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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


  • Gaeltacht
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!


  • Conas ata tu?
Translation: How are you?


  • Gabh mo leithscaal
 Translation: Excuse me


  • Dia linn
 Translation: Bless you

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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 kn0w a few Irish sayings, you’re ready for your next trip to Ireland!

About 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.

Read more articles by Eimear | View Eimear's Profile

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