Speak Irish, Will Ye?

The Irish are known for their colorful language and artful turns of phrase. They’re famous for vivid storytelling, proverbs and blessings — and having a bit of fun with strangers. On this most Irish of days, we thought we’d arm you with a few key Irish words and phrases.

We’ll start by pointing out that there is an Irish language — Irish Gaelic – that is spoken in Ireland, along with English. It’s a tough language for the average American to master, but there are a couple of phrases that are popular, and appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day:

Ireland Forever is Éirinn go Brách in Irish. There are several regional pronunciations, but most Americans say it as “Air-in guh braack” or “Erin guh brawk.”

Cheers, or Health is Sláinte, which is pronounced as “sloynta” or “sloyn-tche.”

If you’d like a sound clip to help with your pronunciation, try this site. Now, if you go there, you’ll find another, very popular, saying in Irish that begins, (innocently enough) with the word “kiss.” It goes on to form a phrase that is not suitable for a family publication. Be warned.

Now, here are some Irish phrases, in English, that you might enjoy using:

May the cat eat you and the devil eat the cat (Meaning: be well; good luck to ye!)

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.

It is better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money!

Are Ye Startin? (Meaning: Let’s fight!)

Full of the Blade (Meaning: I’m good, life is going well.)

Sling Yer Hook (Meaning: Get lost, go away.)

Give Ma Head Pace (Meaning: Give my head peace; Leave me alone)

You’re a Sandwich Short of a Picnic (Meaning: You’re not the brightest lad, are ye?)

I’m as Sick as a Plane To Lourdes (A reference to the famous French place of healing. Useful the morning after.)

Chat the Hind Leg Off a Dog (Meaning: chatty, talkative)

Done Up Like a Dogs Dinner (Meaning: dressed to the nines, fancy and over-the-top)

You’ve Got a Face On Ye Like a Well Slapped Backside (Meaning: “You’re angry, aren’t ye?”)

The Wheel’s Turning, But the Hamster’s Dead (Another way to describe someone who isn’t very bright)

For more of these fun sayings, go here.

That should get you goin’ at least. If you can master these phrases, (with nonchalance, and a twinkle in your eye), you’re well on your way to being Irish – or at least Irish enough for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!

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