Each year, when March 17 rolls around, loads of “Irish” folks come out of the woodwork to celebrate the old sod’s patron saint, Patrick. A great excuse for donning green and drinking outrageous amounts of whiskey and Guinness, St. Paddy’s Day is also the perfect time to show off your knowledge of the country’s mother tongue-Gaelic (Irish). After all, the ancient language is spoken throughout Ireland (particularly in the West); all street signs are in both English and Gaelic (e.g., Dublin/Baile Atha Cliath); governmental titles and political parties are referred to in Irish (their prime minister is called taoiseach); and Irish is compulsory in schools.

Erin go bragh probably is the most familiar phrase heard on St. Patrick’s Day, which is fitting since it means “Ireland forever.” The following are a few other handy Irish words for your repertoire.

  • Happy St. Patrick’s Day: Beannachtai na Feile Padraig (pronounced Ban-ockt-tee Nih Fail-eh Pawd-rig)
  • Pint of Guinness: Pionta Guinness, le do thoil (Pyunta Guinness leh duh hull)
  • Kiss me, I’m Irish: Tabhair pog dom, taim Eireannach (Too-irr pogue dum, toyme Ay-ron-ock)
  • Dublin: Baile Atha Cliath (Ball-yeh Aq-hah Klee-ah)
  • Are you drunk? An bhfuil tu ar meisce fos? (On will too air mesh-ka fowss?)
  • Whiskey: Uisce beath (Ish-ka ba-ha)
  • Good health: Sl¡inte (Slahn-cha)
  • A hundred thousand welcomes to you: Cead mile failte romhat (Cade meelah foyle-ta row-ott)

Here’s wishing you a happy St. Patrick’s Day. Slan agus beannacht leat! (Slawn og-us ban-ockt lyat!) Translation: Goodbye and blessings on you!


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