It makes me cringe every single St. Patrick’s Day.
At some point during the morning, either on TV, on the radio, or in person, I know I’m going to hear someone say it.
“Say what?” you ask. What else but…
Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!
(Makes me shudder just to think about it!)
No, not even in English
I don’t know where that particular bit of “Stage Oirish” came from, but it is NOT how Irish people say “good morning.”
In fact, if you use it in Ireland, be prepared for, at best, a heavy sigh and rolled eyes (they really do get VERY tired of these stereotypes, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. No one likes to be stereotyped, especially when the stereotype is dead wrong).
In English, an Irish person will most likely greet you with plain old “good morning.” Or maybe a “hello,” “how are you?” or even “hiya.” But they will not wish you the top, or any other portion, of the morning.
Saying “good morning” in Irish
If you really want to sound Irish (on St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day) how about saying “good morning” IN Irish (sometimes referred to as “Irish Gaelic“)?
Here are a few ways to say “good morning” in Irish:
The simplest: maidin mhaith
Maidin mhaith, which is the simplest way to say “good morning” in Irish, is a direct translation of the English phrase.
(In Irish, the adjective comes after the noun, much as in Spanish or French).
Pronunciation for this varies a bit among the three main Irish dialects:
Ulster (Including Counties Donegal, Monaghan, and Cavan, as well as the six counties of Northern Ireland): Maidin mhaith: MA-jin why.
Connacht (Western Ireland): Maidin mhaith: MA-jin wah.
Munster (Southern Ireland, particularly Clare, Kerry, and Cork): Maidin mhaith: MA-jin vah.
NOTE: Some purists dislike “maidin mhaith” because it is a direct translation from English, and thus could be considered “Béarlachas” (an English idiom that doesn’t really work in Irish).
It’s widely used, however, particularly in Donegal. It may have originated as Béarlachas, but it’s come to be accepted, and will be understood in any Gaeltacht.
It’s a handy one to know, both because it’s easy, and because you don’t have to worry about whether you’re addressing one or more people, which can be an issue with other greetings (as you’ll see in a second).
A little more formal (and traditional)
There’s a slightly more formal way to say “good morning” in Irish…one that appeals to language purists because it’s a traditional Irish idiom:
Dia dhuit ar maidin (JEE-uh g(w)itch air MA-jin): “Good morning” said to one person.
Dia dhaoibh ar maidin (JEE-uh YEE-uv air MA-jin): “Good morning” said to multiple people.
This literally means “God to you this morning,” but would be more idiomatically translated as “Hello/greetings to you this morning.”
(Many Irish greetings are religious in origin, but they are used by all Irish speakers, whether religious or not, much as “Goodbye” (“God be with ye”) and “Adios” (“with God”) are in English and Spanish, respectively.)
Finally, the (likely) culprit!
Another traditional Irish morning greeting is PROBABLY the one that gave us the infamous “top o’ the mornin‘”:
Móra na maidine duit (MOR-uh nuh MA-jin-uh ditch): “Good morning” to one person.
Móra na maidine daoibh (MOR-uh muh MA-jin-uh DEE-uv): “Good morning” to multiple people.
It’s likely that a mistranslation of this greeting gave rise to the “Stage Oirish” greeting. Mór (of which “móra” is a variation) has a variety of meanings, including “big,” and “great.” Possibly someone mistook this greeting to mean “the bigger/greater part of the morning too you.” From there, it’s not hard to see it becoming “top.”
In this case, however, móra simply means “good.”
How to say “Good Morning” in Irish Gaelic (VIDEO)
You’re all set!
Next time you want to say “good morning” in a traditional Irish style, you’re all set! Any of these will be understood and appreciated by most Irish speakers.
(And if you’re NOT talking to an Irish speaker, it will give you a good opportunity to educate people about that whole “top o’ the mornin'” thing!).
27 thoughts on “How to say “Good Morning” in Irish Gaelic (VIDEO)”
When defining good I would remove the seimhiu as one may think that’s how the word is normally spelt
Athair go deo i mo chroí
I would like to translate to Irish Father forever in my heart
Evelyn, a chara
That would be
‘a athair, i mo chroí go deo’
Even though I have a polish surname, my great grandfather came from county Tipperary. I would love to learn the language.
I’m sure you are not ignorant of the traditional greeting ““barr na maidine ort” which literally means the tip, the top, or the best of the morning to you. The phrase was already in use in England by 1796. In “Theodore Cyphon, or, The Benevolent Jew”: a novel, Volume 3 of that year, by George Walker (an English novelist), when the protagonist lands on the shore of Essex, he is greeted with “Halloo, you teney! The top of the morning to you!” At that time Dublin was the British Empire’s second great city, it is not surprising that the phrase in translation would have been used in England. Perhaps it is time to give up cringing and reclaim the old phrase.
Sounds like it helpful
Hello!! I am a newbie romance author of Irish descent. I try to use Irish (Irish Gaelic) words and phrases in my writing. I have noticed, upon doing research, that many words/phrases I wish to use have different meanings. Such as the word “diabhal”; devil/damn. I intend to use the correct spelling for the expletive “damn”, ie.: “Damn! That’s so sexy!”
Can anyone help me with which word/phrase (and how to properly pronounce said word/phrase) to use??
Well fictitious or not, I think it’s hilarious and long may people perpetrate the myth. We have an Oirish colleague where I work and we are forever saying things like “Ah beejeesus”, “To be sure”, “Feck”, “Oy wouldn’t start from there if oy were you” and the old favourite “Top O’ The Mornin’ To Ya”. She loves is (although she is only half-oirish).
Thank you for commenting.
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Jacksepticeye said top of the morning
I think the other 50% of her Irishness would be disgusted at that phrase as most real Irish people would
thanks for sharing.
You are welcome 🙂
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One more thing, what it means is may God be with you ! And that’s what they say. let’s just be clear on this they don’t say good morning they say may God be with you. And the word is what people……………diaghuit ! yeah, you got it ! Now that we’ve got that cleared up, what you would say in return is diasmeraghuit ( not sure of the spelling) which in turn means may God and Mary be with you.. By the way happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone !!
diaghuit I believe this is the correct spelling and what true Gaelic people say in the morning as far as saying good morning look it up let me know what you find out..
It’s spelled “Dia duit” or “Dia dhuit” (exact spelling varies by dialect), and is simply “Hello,” not “good morning.” Irish speakers will say “good morning” by either saying “maidin mhaith” or “Dia duit ar maidin” (again, the difference appears to be regional).
Duit: to you
Wow! Sounds like a kinda snobbish reply to a friendly greeting. And the rest of the day to you!♥
Thank you for your insight and your helpful newsletter. I appreciate it very much! Peace, Arielle
I certainly appreciate your perceptive comments.You are “right on” with your explanations. I have had the same reaction when an American says “TOTM.” It is especially embarrassing when said in Ireland. Thanks very much for your input.
Agreed, “top of the mornin’ to ya”, said in anything but jest, is a bit cheesy 🙂
I unreservedly respect the authority of the author in saying that is not what Irish people say now.I am after humbly asking though if we should dismiss it as entirely baseless, or a misunderstanding/translation? The slight glimmer of doubt i have comes from an old book i have about the Isle of Man, From memory: in a story about old Nance’s bargain she makes with one of the island`s fairy folk, in return for a “Hollintide Farin” (a sweet from the baker at Hollintide) the fairy will make sure the price of butter will rise to “the top of the horns of the cow” for that day. The day old Nance is goin to Hollintide to sell her butter.
Not sure if i am pullin on too finer thread hear, but i’m after thinkin that the term “top of ……..” at one time , might have been an expression in common use meaning something like “the best of” , or “the best possible”? I can imagine a time most have forgotten , when country folk possibly used it in a variety of circumstances including wishing someone the best possible morning. I am aware that the Isle of Man is NOT Ireland, but anyone who doubts its Irishness doesn’t the place. [or at least the place that was]
All that said i feel the same cring when people use the expression to me but there is worse. I have this stupid occasional acquaintance who when ever he sees or phones me will introduce himself wit dat and “Fiddel-de-de Potatoes in an appalling attempt at an Irish Bough.This despite the fact taht i have taught him a basic “how are you” in Irish.
Ahhhhhhhh! he means well…
is mise mehull `
The bottom line, though, is that “top of” would never be used as a legitimate translation of the Irish expression. It’s a little like “éirigh le,” which “literally” means “rise with,” but actually means “succeed.” An overly literal translation of that is what gave us the ridiculous “may the road rise with you” expression…which makes absolutely no sense in either language.
There are a lot of mistranslations from Irish to English mainly due to the fact that Irish is an entirely different construct and thought process to English and literal translations never work. Living in Ireland for 45 years and i have never heard the phrase “top of the morning to ya”. Some phrases like “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin” meaning “there is no hearth like your own hearth” which signifies that the hearth of the fireplace that you own yourself is the best , was mistranslated to mean “heart” instead of “hearth” and the English translation “Home is where the heart is” arose from this , as a misunderstood translation from the Irish version.
Thank you for commenting and for your input.