Home Language HacksIrish 99 Useful Irish Phrases and Words Perfect for Travellers

99 Useful Irish Phrases and Words Perfect for Travellers

by Michele
2 comments
99 Irish Gaelic Phrases and Words for Travellers
The Intrepid Guide contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I will earn a commission which helps reduce the ever-increasing costs of keeping this site active. Thank you for your support.

If you’re new to learning Irish or are travelling to Irish speaking (Gaeltacht) parts of Ireland, this useful Irish travel phrase guide is the perfect resource.

Just like all my other phrase guides, this Irish travel phrase guide gives you a well-rounded set of practical phrases and vocabulary which will help you have meaningful conversations and interactions with the locals. For ease of use, I’ve included the transliteration for each phrase which means you can read as if you were reading English, but you’ll be magically speaking Irish!

Want to have fun whilst learning Irish? Struggling to find decent Irish language resources? I recommend getting uTalk. Available as a desktop site and app, uTalk is awesome for learning key words and phrases in Irish, especially if you want to use it for travel purposes.  It’s great for beginners getting started in a language and invaluable for intermediates looking to fill in gaps in their vocabulary and pronunciation. 

What I love most about uTalk is that you can jump around their extensive library of topics and choose what you want to learn, when you want, and at your own pace.  Because I believe in uTalk so much, I reached out to them and we’ve teamed up to offer you an exclusive 30% OFF reader discount across all of uTalk’s 140 languages! This offer isn’t available anywhere else! Click here to claim your exclusive 30% discount.

Let’s take a closer look at the Irish language. Here’s what we’ll cover:


Table of Contents


A Quick History of Irish (Gaeilge)

Irish Gaelic Phrases and Words for Travellers - History of Irish LanguageIrish Gaelic, or Gaeilge, is one of the oldest surviving languages of Europe with evidence of written sources on stone dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries. An earlier and simplified form of the Irish alphabet known as Ogham has also been found which dates back to around the 5th and 6th centuries.

Irish was spoken well before these written records on stone appeared and it is believed that the language reached Ireland around 500 BC.

What is the Irish language called?

When speaking English, the correct name for the language is “Irish.” When speaking Irish, the language is referred to as “Gaeilge.” You may also hear people say Irish Gaelic which is said in order to make it clear they aren’t talking about Gaelic, which means Scottish Gaelic and is spoken in Scotland along with Scots. Both, however, are related but still maintain considerable differences. 

How many people speak Irish?

According to this 2016 census, there are 73,803 people who speak the Irish language on a daily basis in the Republic of Ireland. A further 111,473 speak it weekly; 586,535 speak less frequently, and the rest rarely speak it. Which gives us a total of 1.76 million speakers of the Irish language.

Where is Irish spoken?

Irish Gaeilge sign in Temple Bar, DublinIrish (Gaeilge) is spoken in mainly Ireland (Éire), predominantly in areas known as Gaeltacht (pronounced Gale-tokht) where Irish is the working language of the area. However, every city and large town will have its own Irish language schools and Irish-speaking community.

Gaeltacht areas include northwest Donegal and Tory Island, parts of west Mayo and the islands of Inishkea and Achill, Connemara in south Galway and the Aran Island; the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry; Muskerry and the island of Cape Clear in County Cork; An Rinn (the Ring) in Waterford and Ráth Cairn and Baile Ghib (Gibbstown) in Meath.

Outside of Ireland, Irish speakers can also be found in the UK (Ríocht Aontaithe), the USA (Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá), Canada (Ceanada) and Australia (an Astráil).

Irish Alphabet

Here are the letters of the Irish alphabet and their pronunciation.

Irish Grammar

Unlike English, has a word order of Subject Verb Object, the Irish word order is quick unique in that it is, Verb Subject Object. Only 9 per cent of the languages in the world use this word order. Let’s take the phrase, “I drank a Guinness”, in Irish it would be “Drank I a Guinness.”

How to Say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in Irish (It’s not how you think!)

A special characteristic of Irish is how there is no one word for saying “Yes” or “No”. Instead, the verb in the question is repeated in either it’s affirmative (yes) or negative (no) form. This system is found in all modern Celtic languages, except Breton (which is a special case).

So for example, the answer to the question “Can you speak Irish?” would be either “I can” or “I can’t” instead of “yes” or “no”.

How to count in Irish

Using numbers in Irish can be a complicated business. Irish has three number systems, one for counting numbers or referring to dates and times, another one used for people, and one for things. For example, the number two is “a dó” (a daw), but two coats is “dhá chóta” (kghaw khota), and two boys is “beirt bhuachaillí” (berch vookallee).

To keep things simple, this guide includes the numbers used in counting.

Useful Irish Phrases and Words for Travellers

Irish Gaelic Phrases and Words

Want the infographic to take with you? Scroll to the bottom of the page and save it.

P.S. If you’re reading this on your phone and can’t see the pronunciation column, turn it to landscape mode. For some reason, tables aren’t mobile friendly. Sorry!

English Irish Translation Pronunciation

Greetings

   
Hello (greet someone) Dia dhuit Dee-ah qwitch
Hello (in response to a greeting) Dia ‘s Muire dhuit Dee-ah smurra qwitch
Good morning Dee-ah dhuit ar maidin Dee-ah gitch er modjin
Good night Oíche mhaith agat Ee-hah wah agut
Goodbye (to someone leaving) Slá leat Slawn lyat
Goodbye (when you leave) Slán agat Slawn agut
How are you? Conas atá tú (Connacht) / Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú (Munster) / Cad é mar atá tú? (Ulster) Kunass ataw too / Kayne kwee ah will too / Guh jay mar ata too
I’m very well, thank you Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat Taw may guh mah, guh row mah agut
Good, thank you Go maith, go raibh maith agat Guh maith, guh row mah agut
What is your name? Cad is ainm duit? Kad iss annyim ditch?
My name is… … is ainm dom … is annyim dum
It’s nice to meet you too Tá sé deas bualadh leat Taw shay sjay jass boola lyat
     

Essentials

   
Please Le do thoil Leh duh hull
Thank you Go raibh maith agat Guh row mah agut
You’re welcome Tá fáilte romhat Taw fawl-cha rowat
OK Ceart go leor K’yart guh lore
Excuse me Go mo leithscéal Guh muh leshkayle
I’m very sorry Tá mé buartha Taw may boor-ha
I don’t understand Ní thuigim Nee higgim
I don’t speak Irish Níl Gaeilge agam Nyeel Gayle-ga agum
Please repeat that slowly Abair arís é go mall, le do thoil Obber areesh ay guh mawl, leh duh hull
     

Questions

   
Where? Kaw
How? Conas Kunass
Where is/are…? Cá bhfuil Kaw will
How much? Cá mhéad Ka vayd
Who? Kay
When? Cén uair Kayne oo-ir
Why? Cén fáth Kayne faw
What? Cad é / céard kad ay / kerd
Which? Cé acu Kay acoo
How much is this? Cá mhéad atá air seo? Kaw vayd ataw er shuh
How much does that cost? Cá mhéad atá air sin? Kaw vayd ataw er shin
Where is the toilet? Cá bhfuil an leithreas Kaw will un lyeh-riss
Can I have… An bhféadfainn Un vayd-hinn
I would like… Ba mhaith liom Buh wah lyum
     

Eating Out

   
The menu, please An biachlár, le do thoil Un bee-akhlore leh duh hull
Two beers, please Dhá bheoir, le do thoil Gaw vyore leh duh hull
A bottle of house red wine, please Buidéal fhíon dearg an tí le do thoil Bujayle een jar-ig un chee leh duh hull
Some plain water, please Gnáthuisce, le do thoil Graw-ishka leh duh hull
I’m allergic to… Tá ailléirge orm le Taw awlergeh orum leh
I’m a vegetarian Is feoilséantóir mé Iss f’yowle-shine-tore may
Can we have the bill, please? An bhféadfaimis an bille afháil, le do thoil? An vayd-fameesh un billya a awl leh duh hull
What do you recommend? Cad a mholfá dom? Kodd a vulfaw doo
The meal was excellent Bhí an béile ar fheabhas Vee un bayla air owwass
     

Getting Around

   
Left Er clé Er klay
Right Er dheis Er yesh
Keep going straight ahead Gabh díreach ar aghaidh Do djeeragh air ay
Turn left Cas ar clé Koss er klay
Turn right Cas er dheis Koss er yesh
Entrance bealach isteach / slí isteach bal-akh iss-chah / shlee iss-chah
Exit bealach / slí amach Bal-akh / shlee amah
I’m lost Tá mé ar strae Taw may er stray
     

Numbers

   
0 náid nawje
1 a haon a hayne
2 a dó a daw
3 a trí a tchree
4 a ceathair a kyehir
5 a cúig a koo-ig
6 a sé a shay
7 a seacht a seacht
8 a hocht a hocht
9 a naoi a nee
10 a deich a deich
11 a haon déag a hayn yayg
12 a dó déag a daw yayg
13 a trí dhéag a tchree djayg
14 a ceathair a kyehir djayg
15 a cúig-déag a koo-ig djayg
16 a sé-déag a shay djayg
17 a seacht-déag a seacht djayg
18 a hocht-déag a hocht djayg
19 a naoi déag a nee djayg
20 fiche fihha
30 tríocha tchree-okha
40 daichead die-hayd
50 caoga kayga
60 seasca shasska
70 seachtó shakhtoe
80 ochtó okhtoe
90 nócha no-ha
100 céad kyayd
1000 míle meela
     

Time

   
Today inniu inn-yoo
Tomorrow amárach amar-akh
Yesterday inné Inn-yay
What time is it? Cén t-am é? Kayne tam ay
It’s … Tá sé… Taw shay
     

Days

   
Monday An Laun / Dé Luain An loon / djay Looin
Tuesday An Mháirt / Dé Máirt An loon / djay Looin
Wednesday An Chéadaoin / Dé Céadaoin An warch / djay Vorch
Thursday Déardaoin Djare-deen
Friday An Anoine / Dé hAoine An eena / djay heena
Saturday An Satharn / Dé Sathairn An sahharn / djay Sahharn
Sunday An Domhnach / Dé Domhnaigh An down-akh / djay down-ee
     

Emergencies

   
Help!    
I need a doctor Tá orm dochtúir a fheiceáil Taw urm dokh-ture ah eckawl
I’m ill Tá mé tinn Tay may teen
Call the police! Cuir fios ar na Gardaí Kur fiss er un Gordee
There is a fire Tá tine ann Taw tinna unn

Useful Irish Phrases and Words for Travellers [Infographic]

Like it? Pin it for later!

Irish Gaeilge Phrases and Words for Travellers


Sources / Irish Phrasebook / Omniglot


Going to Ireland?

Want to know more about learning languages? Start here!


Over to you!

Which of these Irish phrases did you find the most useful? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.
Like what you see? Subscribe using the form below to have all of my posts delivered directly to your email.

2 comments

Danica Watson March 7, 2019 - 06:41

Very much excited to visit after looking at these scenarios!!

Reply
Michele March 7, 2019 - 13:30

Yay! I’m so happy to hear that 🙂

Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.