Evelyn Adams - August 15, 2018
Ireland: Language and Legend
English may be the most widely-spoken language throughout Ireland, but did you know they also speak an older language as well? Read on to discover more details and learn some very useful Gaelic sayings! Slainte!
Why is Gaelic important?
Some CIE Tours travelers may be interested in travelling to Ireland partially because it is an English-speaking country so you believe it will be easier for you to travel around and of course, you’re mostly not wrong, folks, BUT real “Irish” (or Gaelic) doesn’t look or sound like English at all! Though it’s mostly taught to children in schools and then not regularly used again after graduation, you’ll notice it on signs, in traditional Irish blessings, and even in folk songs throughout the country and appreciating this old language brings you to the roots of the Irish people…as do the Irish myths!
I’ve collected a handful of these expressions and legends that I learned during my short few days touring this lovely country and share them below.
- Fáilte: You’ll see this on all sorts of store signs, houses, and restaurants because it means “Welcome.” The Irish are a very welcoming people and it’s easy to meet people and have casual conversation – or you can get caught up in a deep conversation about European politics in your hotel’s sauna, as i did. Be open to new perspectives and show them the same kindness that they show you!
- Slainte: the need-to-know word after you’ve ordered yourself a Guiness, it means “Cheers!” When in Ireland, make a toast to the friends you’ve made on your CIE tour and all the adventures you’ve been having!
- Craic: This one is probably my favorite word I’ve learned on this trip. It means “fun.” As an example, you might say that visiting the Merry Ploughboy Pub in Dublin was a bit of good craic. It’s pronounced as “crack!” so be careful using this one when you return home. Your friends and family members might be a little concerned if you tell them you had a lot of good craic in Ireland.
- Wee: You’ll hear this one a lot throughout your travels. It is a synonym for “little” but the two words are sometimes used together so when explaining the day’s itinerary to the group, my tour guide, Patrick Smith, would often say “we’ll be seeing __ in a wee while.” A very sweet wee little word and one which I think we should bring over to the US.
- Liquid sunshine: as you’ll notice in both Ireland and Scotland, people tend to be (or try to be) pretty optimistic about the weather – and this word is just a nice way of saying “rain.” The weather can change a lot in Ireland over a short period of time so make sure to bring both your sunglasses for sunshine and umbrella for liquid sunshine.
- Leprechauns: These creatures are one of the first things that come to my mind when I think of Ireland. Their name translates to “shoe mender.” Legend has it they are the protectors of the gold that the Vikings buried long ago. So if you catch one, you can’t take your eyes off it or it will vanish in thin air. Be careful! They are known to be tricksters and will do whatever they can to escape!
- Galway Girl: She is the subject of several famous songs (most recently, one done by the pop singer Ed Sheeran.) Traditionally considered to have long black hair and blue eyes, a Galway Girl is a complete heartbreaker! Watch out for these girls, fellas.
- Witches: Legends of witchcraft are alive and well in Ireland. At Blarney Castle, a witch has been taking wood from the grounds for hundreds of years. In return, she grants wishes.Try this: Close your eyes. Walk down and back up the Wishing Steps. Concentrate on your wish. It might just come true! The Blarney Stone itself supposedly gained its magic through supernatural intervention.
- By Evelyn Adams
Evelyn was one of our 2018 Social Media Concierges.
Want to learn more?
- Get the skinny on lots more fun Irish slang here!
- Need to know how to pronounce these wonderful phrases? CIE Tours has got you covered, click here!
- Take a deep dive into the colorful history of Ireland’s original language Gaelic
- Languages not your thing? Our other award-winning Ireland tours and Britain tours are just a click away!