How to say Hello in the Irish Language

Written by Ryan Grace on 12/09/2022

Irish people are famous for being warm and welcoming to their visitors, greeting strangers as though they are well known friends. This talent for making people feel comfortable is often started with an Irish greeting, setting the tone for a warm and friendly conversation.

Contrary to many films and depictions of Irish people, it is rare to hear an Irish people exclaim “top o’ the morning”. So how do Irish people greet one another?

In this article, we will take a look at popular Irish greetings and learn how to say hello using the Irish language.

How common is an Irish ‘Hello!’?

Most people in Ireland speak English as their first language due to the islands past as a colony of Britain. Today, the Irish language is considered endangered by UNESCO, spoken only in small parts of the country. These areas of the country where Irish is the mother tongue of its inhabitants are called the Gaeltacht.

In these places, the residents are bilingual and learn English as their second language. These areas lie in more remote parts of the country, such as on islands like the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway and Cape Clear off the coast of Kerry.

Greeting someone ‘as Gaeilge’

One of the foundations of learning any language is to learn how to greet others. Here’s how to say hello in Irish:

Dia duit (dee-ya gwit). This is how to open a conversation in Irish and means hello. Literally, the phrase translates to “god to you”, reflecting the influence that Christianity has had on the people of Ireland. If you are greeting multiple people, the last word duit would change to daoibh (deev). To reply to someone after they have greeted you with dia duit, you would say dia is Muire duit (dee-ah ’s mwire gwit) Rather than repeating the phrase offered to them, Irish people add to the phrase. Literally translated, this response means “God and Mary to you”.

After your initial greeting, you may wish ask how the other person is doing. To do this in Irish, you might say “conas atá tú?” (How are you - cun-ass a-taw too) or simply aon scéal (ay-on shkayl) “any story?”.

Irish sentiments, English language

Even when speaking English, the way in which Irish people greet one another is different to any other English speaking country. One of the most common ways to greet a person in Irish-English is to simply say “well”. Any Irish person will instantly recognise this greeting and reply with “well, how are you?”

Another way of saying hello in Irish-English is to open a conversation with the phrase “What’s the craic?”. Craic is an Irish word and refers to the idea of fun and entertainment. Greeting someone by asking what’s the craic is the equivalent of asking “what’s new with you?”.

With these colloquial phrases, you’re sure to impress an Irish person and kick off a warm and comfortable conversation.

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