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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Irish Slang and Accents

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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Irish Slang and Accents

Planning a trip to Ireland for your Working Holiday, but feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of the Irish accent? Don’t worry – you’re not alone! The Irish accent, though lovely, can be difficult to understand, especially when you consider the different dialects, slang, and occasional Gaelic thrown in! To make your life a bit easier on the Emerald Isle, here is our trusty guide to understanding the gorgeous lilt of the Irish accent.  


Unraveling the Quirks: Understanding Irish Accents 

Irish accents are unique, distinct from their English, Welsh, or Scottish counterparts. A key feature is rhoticity – a word that means that all "R" sounds are consistently pronounced. Just like us Canadians, expect to hear clear "R" sounds in words like "corner," "car," or "cork." Additionally, "T" sounds undergo a transformation, so instead of "Tuesday," you might hear "chews-day." Lastly, any “D” pronunciation sounds a bit more like the “J” to us! 

When you put it all together, you’ll hear something like “I’j like to orjer chew beers, please”! 


Regional Accents in Ireland 

Ireland is not only full of geographical diversity, but also linguistic diversity! In fact, there are over 30 total accents across the entire island! To keep it short, let’s zoom in on the top 3 regional accents that you should know: 


Northern Ireland & Ulster English 

Unsurprisingly, the Northern region of Ireland likes to do things their own way! Here, you’ll encounter a distinctive nasal-y type of speech that sets it apart. This region also developed their very own language, separate from Gaelic: Ulster English. This language is akin to Robbie Burns poems – in fact, there are lots of poetry and songs written in Ulster!  


West And Southwest 

In this region, you have the highest concentration of native Irish (Gaelige) speakers, which means that you may come across some of the most interesting slang in the country. A few characteristics to look out for: the TH sounds get lost (think “tuh” instead of “the”) and prepare for the rapid-fire speech of the locals, especially farther south! 



Dublin, the heart of the country, is a melting pot of accents with the highest concentration of English speakers! Here, you’ll find the archetypal Irish accent (think Oi sounds instead of I). There are two separate accents in the city: Local Dublin and New Dublin (also called D4 or Dartspeak). While the Local accent is more like the other Irish accents found on the island, D4 is very different and unique, full of English influence! 


Exploring Gaelige 

Gaelige, also known as Irish or Irish Gaelic, is a distinctive language, holding the status an official language in Ireland! If you’re wondering where some weird Irish slang comes from, a lot of it can be traced back here. While predominately heard in Ireland, particular in the Gaeltacht region, Gaelige is spoken across the globe, even reaching Canada! In fact, over 1.5 million people in Ireland speak Irish, and 70 000 of that group speak it daily! So, while English will suffice for your work and travel, you are sure to impress locals with your knowledge of Gaelige slang! 


Mastering the Lingo: Essential Slang in Ireland 

Ireland has a myriad of fun and cool slang words and phrases to use across the island! Here are a few of our favourites: 


English Slang 

  • Craic (pronounced crack) – this versatile word is used in many contexts and expressions in Ireland. Here are a few: “What’s the craic?” (how’s it going?), “The craic was ninety” (it was amazing), and “Minus craic” (it was not fun at all) 
  • Banjaxed – used when something is ruined or broken beyond repair (“He really banjaxed his leg”) 
  • Gas – similar to Canadian slang, this means funny (“That’s gas!”) 
  • C’mere to me – means “listen to me”, often used when you want someone to listen up and pay careful attention to you! 


Irish Slang 

  • Sláinte! (slawn-cha) – a common toast at a dining table, meaning “To good health!” 
  • Craic agus Ceol (crack agus cowel) – although Craic is used in popular English slang, it’s actually a Gaelige word! This expression means “fun and music.” 
  • Céad Míle Fáilte (kay-od mee-leh foyle-cha) – means “a hundred thousand welcomes.” Depending on where you are, you might hear this common saying a few times upon your arrival! 
  • Dia Dhuit (dee-ah gwit) – used as a common greeting to say “hello!” 


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