Irish Names – Can you pronounce them?
Traditional Irish names are notorious for seeming difficult to pronounce. However just like the Emerald Isle itself, they’re all beautiful, mysterious and shrouded in mythology. Here are some of our native words and names to practice before you visit Ireland on your future travels –
Céad míle fáilte (“Kay-od mee-leh foyle-cha!”): A hundred thousand welcomes!
Irish Gaelic has an official status in Ireland and there are public titles and organizations with Gaelic names. These include Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Garda (police), and the Dáil (parliament).
Here’s a list of the top tongue-twisting Irish names – and a guide on how to pronounce them:
- Caoimhe – Meaning “gentle” in Gaelic. Pronounced “Kweeva”, not “Cam-he”.
- Dáithí – Meaning ‘speed’ or ‘agility’. “Dáithí Lacha” was used as the Irish translation for Donald Duck, but it is more often anglicized as David. Pronounced Daw-hee.
- Siobhán – Meaning “God is gracious”. Its a very old Gaelic name. Pronounced “SHIV awn” not “SEE o ban”.
- Oisín – Meaning ‘fawn’ or ‘young deer’. Name of an Irish hero and poet, son of Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool) and the goddess Sive. One of the most popular traditional names in Ireland. Pronounced “USH een”
- Sinead – A common girl’s name. Pronounced “SHIN ade” not “Sign aid”.
- Cillian -Meaning ‘Of the church’. St Killian is the patron saint for sufferers of rheumatism. The name is likely to become more popular now thanks to Irish movie star Cillian Murphy. Pronounced KIL-ee-an.
- Aisling – Meaning a dream or vision. Seen in “The Secret of Kells”. Proper pronunciation is “ASH ling”
- Tadgh – Meaning ‘poet or philosopher’. Pronounced “Tie-guh” as in the first three letters in Tiger.
- Saoirse – Meaning ‘freedom’. The name became popular after Ireland became an independent state in the early part of the 20th century. Say: seer-sha or See Or Shah” – See Saoirse Ronan helping here with the pronunciation of her name and others.
- Eoin – Meaning ‘well born’. The name is also one Irish form of John. Pronounced O-in.
- Niamh – Meaning ‘radiance or brilliance’. Pronounced “KNEE ve”.
- Ruaidhrí – Meaning ‘red king’. Rory O’Connor was the last High King of Ireland. Pronounced “Rue-ree” – Rory.
- Grainne – Meaning in Celtic lore the goddess of harvest and fruitfulness. Later a St Grainne emerged with a similar story. This sort of blurring between Celtic Goddesses and early Irish saints is common. Pronounced “GRAWN YAH” not “granny”.
- Cathal – Meaning ‘great warrior’. It was a common name in medieval Ireland. Irish version of Charles. Pronounced “Cah Hull” not “cattle”.
- Fiadh – A girl’s name of Irish origin meaning “wild” or ‘territory’. It’s the fastest-rising girls’ name in Ireland. Pronounced FEE-ah.
“How would you say Caoimhe? Or Oisín? Or Fiadh?! Watch as people from around the world try to pronounce some of our more unique Irish names! ☘️ #FillYourHeartWithIreland
After all of that you’ve probably worked up a thirst so enjoy a pint or two when the sun goes down or whenever takes your fancy. Remember to say SLAINTE (“slawn-che”): Meaning To your health – Most often used as a toast before drinking. For example like cheers, offer a “sláinte” as you begin to sip your pint of Guinness or glass of Irish whiskey.
To take a majestical tour around some of the Irish roads less traveled and to meet with Irish people along the way (Don’t worry some will have names that are easy to pronounce) why not contact us here at Specialized Travel Services by email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the Contact form
Ireland’s landscape will also cause your jaws to drop – Not just the Irish names.
Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is from the Gathering in Ireland © Tourism Ireland
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