10 Irish Words You Should Know When Traveling Around the Emerald Isle
One of the great things about traveling to Ireland is that the Irish people speak English. Or at least most of them do! In fact, over a half million Irish claim to speak Irish, the native language, often referred to as “Gaelic” by visitors.
Normally, you do not need to know any Irish language words in the course of staying at hotels or B&Bs, eating in restaurants, going shopping, or taking part in the conviviality of pubs.
However, it is useful to know some Irish words when traveling around the countryside – because there are certain areas in Ireland where Irish is the everyday spoken language and signs on the roads are all in Irish. Here are the top 10 words you should be able to recognize, if not actually pronounce. (Most Irish words are not pronounced the way they look).
- Gaeltacht – Region or district in Ireland where Irish (Gaelic) is the predominant language. There are Gaeltachts in Donegal, Meath, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Waterford, and several other pockets around Ireland. Place names and road signs in Gaeltacht areas are usually in Irish, so it is wise to carry a map that lists places in both Irish and English. Otherwise, you can get lost pretty fast!
- Fáilte – Word you’ll see and hear over and over again. It simply means: Welcome. You’ll also see Céad Míle Fáilte which means 100,000 Welcomes.
- Sláinte – The toast you will hear in the pubs. It means “To Your Health!”
- Céilí – A traditional social dance event or party. You will see signs in pubs and tourist offices announcing a local céilí – and everyone is invited to join in. (pronounced Kay-lee)
- Craic – This word, pronounced “crack,” causes lots of consternation when you hear it first. No, it has nothing to do with drugs. It is an Irish word that simply means music, good times, entertainment and conversation – all in good fun. You’ll hear people say “Where’s the craic tonight?”
- Garda síochána – The police. The words mean “guardian of the peace.” Usually people just use the first word, Garda.
- Géill Slí – A road sign meaning “Yield right of way”
- Stad – A road sign saying: “Stop”
- Téigh – A road sign telling you it is safe to “Go.”
- Go Mall – Anther important road sign if you are tempted to go speeding on twisty roads – it means “Slow.”
TWO MORE TO ADD TO YOUR LIST from our editors…
There are two words we’d add to the list as well… they are often used to label the “toilets” (the Irish don’t usually use the word “bathroom”)
Mná = Women & Fir = Men
We wouldn’t want you walking into the wrong “restroom”!
By Patricia Preston from www.IrelandExpert.com and author of several must-read books on Ireland and Irish Travel. (May 2011 – Sadly, Pat passed away this month – She will be terribly missed… our farewell to Pat)