16 expressions you should learn before visiting Ireland

16 expressions you should learn before visiting Ireland

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“Would you ever stop acting the maggot?”

Most often said by one’s mother, it basically means stop doing what you’re doing right now, or suffer the consequences.

“What are you on about?”

Maybe you tuned out midway through the conversation. Either that, or you’re perplexed by whatever the speaker’s just said. The tone of your voice now dictates whether you’re asking them to clarify what they’re talking about, or sincerely questioning the person’s stance on the issue. Leaning your head in slightly and asking the question politely would indicate the former, while a sarcastic tone, head jerk backwards, and a significant shift of the eyebrows would suggest the latter.


Apologising for absolutely nothing is a fine art that’s been perfected by the Irish. More often than not, the phrase is used in preference to saying “excuse me” when passing by another person in a crowed area. A winced face accompanies the word, as if annunciating all two syllables is causing you excruciating pain.

“Did you get the ride?”

We don’t tiptoe around things in Ireland. There’s no need to waste time with small talk when interrogating a friend on gossip from the previous night’s antics. Promptly ask them this, and they’ll inform you whether they managed to have sex with the person they were spotted with at the club.

“Would you come on to fuck?”

This isn’t an invitation to participate in sexual acts, but rather a harsh manner of motivating someone to hurry up and finish what they’re doing. Throwing the occasional swear word into your sentences is a surefire way of legitimizing any statement.

“You’re sound.”

An Irish person’s equivalent of saying you’re cool. Whoever has bestowed this compliment upon you has nothing but good things to say and would definitely stop to have a good chat the next time a meeting should occur.

“I’m grand!”

The Irish definition of this word is a little different to the one you’ll find in the dictionary. To the rest of the world “grand” describes something pretty damn wonderful, whereas an Irish person uses the word to inform someone they’re just about alright. The expression is comparable to Goldilocks eating from Baby Bear’s bowl of porridge. You can be safe in the knowledge that declining an offer by saying “I’m grand” will cause no offense.

“Oh I will, yea!”

Your thought process is working like this: “I’m not 100% sure if I will do what you’ve asked of me, but if I say I will, hopefully you won’t ask me again!” We’re not the type to let others down, so to avoid this we tend to bend the truth from time to time.

“Christ almighty” / “Ah, Jaysus” / “Ah, for God’s sake”/ “Ah, the Lord” / “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”

There’s nothing like using the Lord’s name in vain to express your frustration, and we do it a lot! If you were American you’d shrug your shoulders, maybe stress it with “Oh God!” but with a whole host of Biblical characters to choose from, why not let them all in on the fun!

“I’m sickened/raging.”

Something good must have happened and you missed it, which in turn has annoyed you greatly!

“What’s the story?” / “What’s the craic?”

Despite being a relatively small country, most regions have their own way of saying just about everything. Both mean “How are you? Have you got any news?” In this case your geographical location may decide how much of the sentence you actually end up saying. The fast-paced city slickers of Dublin don’t have time to be completing sentences and would rather ask, “Story?” whereas a laid-back country dweller from Offaly has plenty of time to inquire, “What’s the craic?”

“How’s the head?”

The night before was spent drinking heavily; ask this question to find out how hungover your friend is.

“I am gee-eyed / locked / off my head.”

Just a selection of ways to say you’re intoxicated.

“Any fags?”

Not an offensive word here in the context of the sentence. The person is requesting a cigarette, if you happen to have one to spare.


Generally used as a substitute to saying hello. Complete the package with an upward nod and a raise of the eyebrows.

“I’d make bits of her/him.”

A crude way of saying you’d enjoy a night of passionate lovemaking with whoever the object of your desires may be at that moment in time. As well as this, the statement may also be used to express a craving for food when the individual is particularly hungry. Hearing someone utter the expression “I’d make bits of a curry” is not that uncommon on our fair shores.

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