Irish Cultural Heritage

Ireland | Irishisms

We’re a unique bunch us Irish and we like to put our own mark on things, especially when it comes to language and slang.  Yes we do speak English, so we should be able to communicate easily with the other 335 million or so people who also speak English.  Yet some people claim when they visit this fair isle that it’s like we’re speaking another language.  To be honest there are times when I can’t even understand my fellow Irish man.  Yes we speak too fast at times and yes our accent can be strong and difficult to understand depending on what part of the country you’re in (I’ve been slagged for being well-spoken, as a Mayo person who’s well-spoken is a rare breed πŸ˜‚).  But it’s the slang words and phrases we use that flummoxes (puzzles) visitors.  So I’ve put together a list of my favourite slang words and phrases to help you on your travels through Ireland.


Meaning/Context: Pronounced crack and can mean two different things depending on the context.

Example:  What’s the craic?                                                                                                                                                              (How are you?)

That was great craic!                                                                                                                                                       (That was great fun!)


Meaning: Broken

Example: The car is banjaxed!


Meaning: Boy

Example: You’re a great gason.


Meaning: Drunk

Example: I was locked last night!


Meaning: Be quiet or shut up!

Example: Whisht will ya!


Meaning: Very, really or strange; depending on the context.

Example: She’s a quare (strange) one.

That’s quare (very/really) funny lads!


Meaning: Thing

Example: Pass me that yoke there!


Meaning: Bad or awful

Example: The weather is cat.


Meaning/Context: Decent/dead on/good or can describe how you’re feeling.

Example: He’s sound!

“How are you?” “I’m sound!”

Stop the lights

Meaning/Context: Said in disbelief.

Example: “England lost the rugby match.” “Stop the lights!”

Sucking diesel

Meaning: We’re doing well at something or getting better at something. (I would often hear my granddad say this phrase ☺)

Example: Now we’re sucking diesel!

I will in me hole!

Meaning: No chance!

Example: I will in me hole get up and sing!

A great stretch in the evenings.

Meaning: The days are getting longer.

Example: There’s a great stretch in the evenings.

Ah here!

Meaning/Context: When something bad or stupid happens.

Example: “She lost her phone last night.” “Ah here!”

I’m scarlah (scarlet) for yah (you)!

Meaning: Embarrassed

Example: “Didn’t all of my clothes fall out of the suitcase!.” “I’m scarlet for you!”

Go on outa (out of) dat (that)!

Meaning: You’re joking me.

Example: “I spent the night stranded on a beach, I didn’t know where I was at first!” “Go on out of that!”

So I hope these little words and phrases will help you understand us better.  Do you have any favourite Irishisms?  Are there any I should add to the list?  Let me know!Marteen Lane (4)

A list of my favourite slang words and phrases used in Ireland. Do you have any favourite Irishisms?

178 thoughts on “Ireland | Irishisms”

  1. This is so funny! I’ve only been to Ireland once but this is all so true. Hoping to go back there later this year so am really pleased I’ve stumbled across this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are so many of these that I have never even heard of! Some don’t even make sense ha ha. This is a good guide for anyone who is heading to Ireland!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being Irish even I have a tough time understanding my own people. Some of us talk way too fast and have a very strong accent.


  3. I love language, and I have Irish heritage, so I found this SO interesting! I was in a bookstore yesterday and started reading a coffee table book called Speaking American. It talks about different accents and vocabulary used throughout the United States (and has maps to go along with it)–it’s fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I’ve never been to Ireland! My great-grandmother on my dad’s side was 100% Irish, and my grandpa was a red-head in his younger days. πŸ™‚
        So in the U.S….A popular one that most people here know about is what you call a carbonated beverage (like Coca-Cola). Depending on the region of the US, it is called pop, soda, or just coke (whether you want a Pepsi or Coca-Cola or ginger ale–they’re all called “coke”). Another one that was funny to me was what you call the weather when it’s rainy but the sun is shining. I’ve always called that a “sun shower” (makes sense) but in a lot of areas of the country, they just don’t have a word for it.
        This post has a bunch of the maps that were in the book–so interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s so cool! Do you know what part of Ireland your great-grandmother came from? Yes, we have a lot of American programmes on TV here in Ireland and I hear that a lot, ‘soda’, ‘pop’ etc. Carbonated drinks in general I call fizzy drinks, Coca-cola we call coke. Thanks for link, it was interesting to read ☺


  4. “Fizzy drinks”–I like it! πŸ™‚ And no, I’m not sure where she came from. I don’t know that she herself immigrated actually–might have been her parents or grandparents. I have a cousin who did our family tree, but I think he only traced back the paternal side (which was mostly English) to when they came here–before the Revolutionary War. Maybe one day I’ll get to visit, though. I’ve been told I’d “fit right in” with how I look. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love family history, I find it so interesting. You’ll always be welcome Naomi. Yes you’d fit right in with your red hair ☺


  5. This is so funny, and just reminds me why I love the Irish and their humour! I always heard craic when I was there, but I would have killed to hear ‘I will in my hole!’ Just brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha these are so funny and cute (yes, cute!). And I haven’t heard of most of them actually! Loved reading this post, I’m sure it’ll help me look less stupid and fit in much better when I travel to Ireland next year, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This slang list is so hilarious AND informative! I couldnt stop giggling at some of them. I live in UK and hopefully visiting Ireland next year and i am sure your blog will come very handy. Happy travelling πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is great! I seriously cannot understand Irish and Scottish and people always try to have the longest conversations with me to which i have to like smile and nod because i never know what they are talking about lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. These would be useful if I’d plan to travel to Ireland. I was once in London, and it was a lot harder to understand English there than in any other European capital city I’ve been to. I guess it comes from speaking fast and using not the most proper words in the conversational language.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved your post a lot! Probably because I also write a lot about interesting details in different languages.
    I loved the meaning of CAT, seems so funny!
    Also, I have an Irish friend whose English is quiet difficult yo understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I laughed all the way reading through this post, it’s true you Irish are a rare breed but we love ya for it πŸ˜€ – Being English and having the bants with the Irish just comes natural but some of the words you guys use even stumps me sometimes. Having lived and made friends with so many Irish people over the years I’ve got accustomed to most of the words you’ve listed and some others, I noticed you left off ‘grand’ …you guys use that in every sentence πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it made you laugh Amit 😊 Haha yes most of us stick in the word grand but I don’t find it as funny as the others we use 😊


  12. omg loved this posts so much! Irishnish sounds really cool πŸ™‚ When I visited earlier this year, I had some trouble understanding everything locals say haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What part of Ireland did you visit Ella? I have problems sometimes understanding what people from Kerry or Cork are saying 😊


  13. LOL, classic. I was in a pub in Dublin a few months ago and we were all enjoying the craic when a girl came up to get into the bar area, we all started chatting and asked her where she was from. She hung her head and said Mayo. Everyone howled with laughter and it took me a while and some explaining to figure out the joke. Ah the Irish language…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. OH MY WORD, I need to save this as a glossary! My best friend from high-school recently had a child with an Irish man, and I swear I understand about 30% of what he says! And now she’s started to pick up the phrases and even a touch of the accent… I’ve spent about 6 months pretending I understand when she said something was “good craic”. “Yoke” was pretty much the only familiar entry here, I picked it up from a Marian Keyes novel I read yonks ago… so I pretty much owe you a huge debt of gratitude right now πŸ™‚ Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ahhhh I love this post so much! I used to date an Irish guy, and he said “craic” all the time, it rubbed off on me and I started saying it too. I am actually off to Ireland on Friday in fact, visiting a friend over in Bundoran – she’s from Scotland, so lets see how her accent has changed! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha that’s funny! Oh Bundoran is a lovely spot 😊 Hope you have fun and that your friend’s accent hasn’t changed much. I love the Scottish accent 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  16. How funny are these Irishisms! I kept on thinking, as I was reading, “Where did these come from? How did they come about? Go on outa dat!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s amazing how many different places speak English….but different English! We are currently in Australia and occasionally having to pull out our phones to translate!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That’s why I could never understand my Irish mates in college!πŸ˜„πŸ˜„ Gason seems to come from “Garcon”, French for boy. I love Irish lilts and landscape and have to go there. Schooled in England but only did Wales.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜‚ I can believe it. Yeah I heard that about gason and garΓ§on before. Although the Irish for boy is buachaill pronounced boo-a-kill 😊


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