A Cupla Focal – The Top Gaelic Survival Words

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What would you do without the means of language? It is such a wonderful invention that has been around since the dawn of mankind (correct me if I am wrong!). However, there does exist a place where even the brightest of beings are found wandering dazed and confused after an encounter with a strange species we call globally and affectionately, the Irish.

A long, long, long time ago, us Irish, decided unanimously (meaning one person) that if we were not going to conquer the world through having a well-organized army (us Irish don’t believe in being organized) we would instead just create global pandemonium with our choice of language and sayings. Not content with expressing joy, sadness, happiness in a usual way we decided for a bit of CRAIC (here we go folks) to really confuse the rest of the world with our arrangement of colourful words and expressions in both Irish English(yes there is a difference from English English) and our own native tongue, Gaelic. So to help you in your hour of need (generally 2am in the morning after a couple of pints and holding a packet of chips i.e. fries) I have put together the Essential Guide to Communication with Irish Wild Folk.

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight, we are not born ventriloquists but we do however have an amazing ability to speak with our mouths shut. This leads to considerable confusion in a pub environment for the innocent visitor to our shores as they are left to decipher who are earth is really speaking and should I nod in agreement or shake my head in disagreement.  Don’t fear as most of the time we are just:

  1. ‘Talking Shite” – making entertaining stories up
  2. “Taking the piss” – implies you’re being made fun of … not something else (which is a forbidden act on this island you will be glad to hear).
  3. Looking for a bit of “Craic”hold on now! Let me explain. It’s pronounced ‘crack’ like the illegal narcotic but the meaning is vastly different i.e. where’s the fun, music and good times – nothing illegal about that.

Now you all know that us Irish love nothing more than social interaction so if you happen to find yourself stranded in a pub (usually a self-inflicted situation) or you bump into a cross eyed Irish man who is hell bent on teaching you Gaelic but can’t seem to remember any words as he unfortunately left them in some classroom when he was 15 years old then quickly whip out this vital piece of kit – The Top Gaelic Survival Words which I have broken down into 3 small but manageable headings (just in case you are having difficulty focusing due to consumed liquids).

  1. Pub Survival Nights
  2. Everyday Greetings and Niceties
  3. Feed Me – Food and Drink

Pub Survival Nights:

  1. Sláinte – Cheers (Slawn-che, the literal translation means Health.)
  2. Pionta Beor – A pint of beer (Pee-un-ta byor)
  3. Gloine Uisce – A glass of water (Glin-eh ish-ke)
  4. Gloine Fuisce – A glass of whiskey (Glin-eh f-wish-ke)
  5. Airgead – money (ari-gid)
  6. Leithreas – Toilet (Le-hris)

Everyday Greetings and Niceties:

  1. Dia dhuit– Hello (Dea dit)
  2. Conas atá tú? – How are you? (Cun-ass a-taw two)
  3. Tá me go maith – I’m good. (TAH may guh MAH)
  4. Aon Scéal? – What’s up? (Ay-n Sh-kay-L)
  5. Más é do thoill é – Please (Moss ay duh hull ay)
  6. Go raibh maith agat – Thank you (Guh rev mah awgut)
  7. Slán – Bye (Slawn)

Feed Me – Food and Drink:

  1. Cupán Tae– A cup of tea (Cup-awn tay)
  2. Cupán Caife– A cup of coffee (Cup-awn Caff-ay)
  3. Bainne– Milk (Bon-ye)
  4. Siúcra– Sugar (shoe-kra)
  5. Bia– Food (Be-ah)

Hopefully these words will come in handy one day for you and just in case they don’t I will leave you with one of my favourite sayings in Irish “Tóg go bog é” (not to be confused with “póg mo thóin” – its meaning I am happy to divulge if you ask me politely in Killarney) – meaning take it easy.  On a road sign it means just as such, but also think of it as a reminder to “chill out”, explore the sites, enjoy the views and experience the real beauty of Ireland – its people.

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