10 Irish Phrases to Learn Posted March 15, 2023
for St. Patrick’s Day
On St. Patrick’s Day, people the world over celebrate all things Irish with parades, festivals, “the wearing of the green,” and dyeing everything from beer and bagels to the entire Chicago River to the color green. And while some of our traditions here in the U.S. might not be authentically Irish, they’re part of the joyful spirit that prevails on St. Patrick’s Day.
In honor of the holiday, we invite you to take a moment to learn about the Irish language, known as Irish Gaelic or just Gaelic – which is in danger of going extinct, with only some 73,000 native daily speakers using it as their primary language.
Gaelic was the dominant language in Ireland until the 19th century, when English became more commonly spoken. Now, only a few small areas in certain Irish counties primarily speak the Irish language: Cork, Donegal, Galway, and Kerry, as well as even smaller areas within Mayo, Meath, and Waterford. UNESCO’s Atlas of World Languages in Danger lists Irish as “definitely endangered” and it is one of the 12 most at-risk languages in Europe. Many experts estimate that Irish will most likely vanish completely over the next 100 years.
There is a bright side: major efforts have been made in recent decades to bring Irish back into the common vernacular. In 2010, the Irish government launched a 20-year strategy to revive Irish that focuses on further integrating it into education and media to nurture future first-language Irish speakers.
If you’d like to learn a bit of Irish yourself, see our list of Irish phrases to learn this St. Patrick’s Day below.
Pronounced: dee-ah gwit
Meaning: “Hello!” or literally, “God be with you.”
Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!
Pronounced: laa ey-lu paad-rig soh-na ghit!
Meaning: “Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!” or literally, “Happy Day of the Festival of Patrick to you!”
Pionta Guinness, le do thoil.
Pronounced: pyunta Guinness leh duh hull
Meaning: “A pint of Guinness, please.”
Cad is ainm duit?
Pronounced: coad iss annim dwit?
Meaning: “What is your name?”
Níl agam ach beagáinín Gaeilge.
Pronounced: kneel ah-gum ock byug-aneen gayle-geh.
Meaning: “I speak only a little Irish.”
Meaning: “Cheers!” or literally, “health”
Tabhair póg dom, táim Éireannach!
Pronounced: too-irr pogue dum, toyme ay-ron-ock!
Meaning: “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”
Erin go Bragh
Meaning: “Ireland forever” (a popular expression of loyalty to or affection for Ireland)
Go n-eirí an t-ádh leat!
Pronounced: guh nah-ree on taah-laht!
Meaning: “Good luck!” or literally, “That luck may rise with you!”
Slán or slán leat
Pronounced: slawn or slawn lyat
Meaning: “Bye” (informal) or “goodbye” (formal, literally “may safety/health be with you”)
If St. Patrick’s Day inspires you to experience Ireland this year or next, we’d love to welcome you on our Enchanting Ireland small group tour.