Blog by Gifts of Ireland

15 Common Irish Phrases and Their Meaning

15 Common Irish Phrases and Their Meaning

Hi Folks! Aidan here again from Gifts of Ireland. Summer is really showing its colors here in the Emerald Isle. As the country begin to open again, we expect that many of you will hopefully get the chance to make the trip to visit Ireland.

If you do, or if you know Irish people where ever you are, then you will impress them so much if you have some Irish phrases in your pocket. But, you need to know in what context to use them. So I thought I'd make an attempt to help! Read on and enjoy.



Cobblestone Pub


1. "I'm Happy Out"

This is always a great one to use when you are feeling a little serene at that moment. For example if you're sitting back having the pint of Guinness, Irish music playing away and surrounded by friends. Happy out!


2. "Ah go on"

This is where you have just said you don't need any more tea, but the host insists on pouring out another cup! And a word of warning, don't refuse a cup of tea because rest assured the host will never give up. My own mother being an example!

The legendary Mrs. Doyle on Fr. Ted 


3. "Ah sure look it"

This is a well used phrase when you just feel like you want to get on with things, shrug the shoulders and accept the situation. No stress. If you want to be very impressive then you can follow it with "sure what can you do about it?". Sometimes it is a great way to politely but an end to the topic of conversation. Because we can sometimes talk too much. So I'll move on to the next phrase.


4. "It's Grand"

This can be related to "It's alright. It's fine". If you're in the queue for the bus, ready with your luggage to head off to the West of Ireland perhaps, then you'll be so excited you wont want anyone in your way. But there is a chance that someone will smash their bag into yours. So, you might want to just say "it's grand" if the person apologises. 


5. "Grand weather"

We use it when we have little to say. The thing about us Irish is that we hate silences and we get uncomfortable. We can't shut up. So, the weather is always there to comment on. And on the occasions that the weather is lovely and warm (believe me we pray for those days) then we will say "grand weather" for sure. No matter where you travel in Ireland, have this one ready!


6. "Ah feck off"

A way to jokingly dismiss someone or their comments. Some might use it as a way to say F*** off but its usually used casually and jokingly. So, I'm not sure I can assure you to use this one because it might come out the wrong way! I will leave it to youself not to cross the line.


7. "Great Craic"

Say this when you've enjoyed yourself. "It was great fun". I can assure you that this will make you become a true spoken authentic Irish gent or lady. How was your trip to Clonmacnoise? It was great craic. Or, how was the night out in Temple Bar? It was great craic, or even use "savage craic" if you want to. The Irish will love you!



8. "Ah would ya stop"

If you are talking too much, or losing the interest of the other person, or saying something they just don't believe then this is a good one to use. 'I think you should stay, drink the rest of the whiskey and call in sick tomorrow'. 'Ah would ya stop!'


9. "Slainte!"

If you visit any pub, no matter where in Ireland, or if you have a drink in your hand, you should also have this phrase in your mind. Slainte is like Cheers! translated into Gaelic.


10. "Acting the Maggot"

This does not mean you are on the ground wriggling around like a maggot. We use it when someone is being a nuisance. When I was a child, messing around on the farm, or throwing stones, then I'd be hearing an earful of that!


11. "Divil a bit"

When someone asks you have you any news you will reply with this. But generally when you are probed again for news, you'll have a great chat. 


12. "On me tod"

If you're on your own at the bar, just with your pint of Guinness, and the barman asks you is anyone else with you or are you on your own, you should say "I'm on me tod" if you are alone. But in Ireland, you are never on your own in a pub because it won't be long till someone comes up to say "Story horse".


13. "Story Horse"

I've used this above so there you go! It's always a great way to casually say hello to someone. It is more common in Dublin.


14. "Suckin Diesel"

If you are finding success then this is a great one to use. If you are getting more energy, more momentum and feeling good, then you're certainly suckin diesel. When you have been walking around the Aran Islands for a day, you'll certainly be suckin diesel when you get to eventually sit down in a nice local bar (there is only a couple there) with that beautiful pint in front of you! A pint of water or a pint of Guinness - it's your own taste that matters.


15. "State o'you"

You can use this in many situations. Say, you've just seen your friends walk in and join you for breakfast at the hotel you are staying at in Dingle, and its been a long tiresome day the day before, then there is a chance that your friend may look like she's in an awful state. If that is the case, and he or she looks terribly shattered or hungover then you can shout out "The state o'you"!


If you are interested in the meaning behind Irish names, why not check out our family crests which explain the whole story.

Ah sure look it why don't you let me know about any other phrases you know in the comments below. Or better still, I'd love to see you attempt writing a sentence with some phrases in it. I also have a video blog called Common Irish sayings where I have videos of myself talking in Irish slang if you'd like to watch it!

Slán for now,



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