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Irish Gaelic Greetings (with Video pronunciation!)

Irish Gaelic Greetings

The Irish language, An Ghaeilge, (sometimes called Irish Gaelic) is a rich and ancient one, and no where is that better demonstrated than in the many ways it has for greeting people!

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Learning how to greet people in another language also offers real insight into how the people who speak that language think as well as a glimpse into their history and culture.

Hello! in Irish Gaelic

The most basic way to greet people in any language is by using its equivalent of “hello.”  And this is where we get our first look at how Irish history and culture have influenced the language.

The formal way to say “hello” in Irish, is literally to say “God to you“:

  • To one person: Dia dhuit JEE-uh Gwitch
  • To multiple people: Dia dhaoibh JEE-uh YEE-iv

The correct response to being greeted in this way is, literally, God and Mary to you”:

  • To one person: Dia is Muire dhuit JEE-uh iss MWIR-uh Gwitch
  • To multiple people: Dia is Muire dhaoibh JEE-uh iss MWIR-uh DEE-iv

The Catholic identity is so deeply ingrained in Gaelic history and culture that even non-religious people, or people of other faiths, use these greetings as a matter of course.

It’s a little like saying “Goodbye” in English (which was originally “God be with you”) or “Adios” (“to God”) in Spanish…people just use it, religious or not, without worrying about what it actually means.

How are you?

The Irish don’t stand much on formality, however, and a much more common way to greet someone is to ask how he or she is. There are several ways to do this, but among the more common are:

In Munster (the southern part of Ireland):

  • To one person: Conas ‘tá tú? KUN-uss TAW too?
  • To multiple people: Conas ‘tá sibh? KUN-uss TAW shiv?

This literally means “how are you?”

In Connacht (the western part of Ireland):

  • To one person: Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? Kayn hee uh WILL too?
  • To multiple people: Cén chaoi a bhfuil sibh? Kayn hee uh WILL shiv?

This literally means “what is the way/manner that you are?”

In Ulster (the northern part of Ireland):

  • To one person: Cad é mar atá tú? Kuh-JAY mar uh-TAW too?
  • To multiple people: Cad é mar atá sibh? Kuh-JAY mar uh-TAW shiv?

This literally means “what/how is it like being you?”

Regardless of which greeting is used (and all three are understood all over Ireland), In the cities, or with someone you just know casually, this can be answered simply with:

  • go maith, go raibh maith agat guh mah, GUR-ev mah uh-GUT

Literally “I’m well, thank you”.

But be prepared! The Irish are generally both less hurried and more sociable than Americans, and if this is a friend who’s greeted you, he or she may well expect a chat rather than just “fine, thanks.”

In other words, when they say How are you? they often really want to know!


As you might expect, there’s also a short and sweet way of greeting a friend:

  • Aon scéal? Ayn shkayl?

This literally means “any news?”

If you have news to share, than you would, by all means, share it, but probably more often you’d be likely to answer:

  • Diabhal an scéal! JOW-ul un shkayl!

This literally means “devil the news!” (there’s a religious figure working its way in there again!). “Devil” is often used to mean “no/nothing at all,” in both Irish and Hiberno-English.

Good morning!

The classic Irish way to say “good morning” is:

  • To one person: Dia dhuit ar maidin: JEE-uh Gwitch air MA-jin
  • To multiple people: Dia dhaoibh ar maidin: JEE-uh DEE-iv air MA-jin

This literally means “God to you this morning.”

You will also hear:

  • Maidin mhaith MA-jin vah

This is literally “good morning,” but is considered by some to be “BéarlachasBAYR-luh-khuss — in other words: Anglicized.

One thing you won’t hear, though, in English or Irish, is “top of the morning.” That’s “stage Irish,” straight from Broadway and Hollywood, and not something actual Irish people say.

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Before you read this, did you have a different idea as to how Irish people might greet one another, in English or in Irish Gaelic?  Post your thoughts below!

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37 thoughts on “Irish Gaelic Greetings (with Video pronunciation!)”

  1. In the video, you pronounce dia dhuit correctly. But it shouldn’t be written jee-uh gwitch. Gwitch is a terrible pronunciation…

  2. In the video, you pronounce dia dhuit correctly. But it shouldn’t be written jee-uh gwitch. Gwitch is a terrible pronunciation.

    1. Rob, a chara
      There used to be a fourth regional dialect — Leinster Irish, spoken in the eastern part of the island but Leinster Irish has died out as a distinct dialect.

      Le beannacht

  3. Marjorie Westmoreland

    Dia dhuit!

    Marjorie Westmoreland here. I just want to say “go raibh mile, mile maith agat!” — thank you very, very much. These videos are helpful to me, as I find listening quintessential to learning. Listening helps train my ears to catching the pronounciation. This was exactly what I was hoping for, and all of you are the answer to a prayer!
    I am just beginning to wade in and take slow steps, but down the road, my level of intensity will rise a notch at a time.
    To Siobhan, when I watch you pronounce the words and I see them show up on the screen, I try to do exactly with my mouth and throat the way you do. I simply adore that!
    To Emma, thanks for getting through to me. I am grateful for your help!
    To all of you at Bitesize Irish — I cannot possibly thank you enough! My gratitude.
    Lots of love and respect,

    Marjorie Westmoreland

  4. Could I please have clarification on the following?
    *Which is the more common of the three dialects?
    **I have always considered Connacht or Western Ireland ‘Irish’ to be the ‘real or true Irish language’? ***What is the purpose of ‘Bitesize’ showing phrases in the three dialects?
    ****I was of the opinion that if I rejoined ‘Bitesize’, I would be learning the Connacht dialect exclusively?

    1. Thank you for your questions, Keith.
      1) All three main dialects are common. It’s difficult to pinpoint one as being more common than the others.
      2) There are some speakers of each dialect who see their dialect as being the superior form of Irish. All of the traditional dialects undoubtedly qualify as being real Irish. The reason Bitesize often shows the three dialects is because many learners may have a preference for one particular dialect and also because it is important to understand a speaker of a dialect other than your own.
      3) Bitesize continues to teach Irish mostly in a standardised form. The main material of the course contains pronunciations in a broadly Munster dialect, but also includes videos in a broadly Connacht dialect. We also publish learning material on our site from a speaker of Ulster Irish. Our teaching approach is to help learners to get a grasp of the Irish language and then specialise in one particular dialect. Dialects in Irish tend to be much more specific than the general terms of Munster, Connacht and Ulster and are tied to a limited geographical area.

      Hope that answers your questions. If you have any more queries, don’t hesitate to ask.

      1. I just started getting the email lessons … only the first one so far … but I really like learning the language of my true heritage and this blog helped a lot as well. I am looking forward to receiving further lessons. Thank you so much for doing this. God bless you. (How would I say that in Irish?)

        1. I’m so glad you’re finding it helpful Linda, and you’re very welcome!
          There are many ways to say God bless you, one of them is Beannacht Dé leat (which is pronounced banokt day latt)

          1. Paraic Sean MacOscar

            Hi Aisling. I am keen to learn Irish. I was brought up in Co Armagh and currently living in Coventry.

          2. Dia dhuit Aisling/Siobhán, I’m only 2 days in and enjoying relearning my native tongue! I loved learning and speaking Irish in national school, but unfortunately fell into the hands of a horrible teacher in secondary school! I always wished to pick it up again but found it very difficult to source anything even half as good as “Bitesize” thank you for making my wish a reality!! 🙏🏼🧚🏼‍♀️

  5. Thank you. I find it very helpful to hear the words. I am also learning phrases etc in Irish with Duolingo, but they do not have much in listening exercises. Obviously the letters in Irish do not match the normal English pronunciation eg D in Irish does not equal the D sound in English..

      1. why is neamhspleách ok but
        ruari isn’t? Is the second r really slender? r at the beginning of a word is always broad and this is just two words juxtaposed.
        This should be a shoo-in for Siobhan

        1. The reason neamhspleách is allowed is because “neamh” is a prefix which means non- and “spleách” is a separate word which means “dependant”. Therefore, it literally means “non-dependant”.

          The first r is broad in “Ruairí” as it is followed by the broad vowel u. The second r, however, is followed by the letter i and therefore is slender, causing it to also have a slender vowel before the r.

          1. Hi. We are planning a trip to Ireland next year and want to learn at least some phrases of Irish. This site is so helpful! We have a question of when to try to greet people in Irish. Should we use it only if they speak it to us? Thanks for a wonderful site ! Joe

          2. In reply to Joe – you pretty certainly won’t have an Irish person in the Gaeltacht speaking Irish to you. In my experience, the default if you’re not a local is always English. So use your words of Irish proactively!

  6. It would be nice if you could add some sound files so that people can get a true feeling for the language. Thank you very much

  7. Absolutely loved the pronou ciation of good morning…I’m choosing a third language to learn… And I’ve just chosen it., thank you again

    1. Hi Charlie,

      That is so nice to hear that you are learning a third language.

      If you have any questions regarding Irish Gaelic, feel free to contact us at any time 🙂

      Le meas,

  8. You wrote: “You will also hear:

    Maidin mhaith MA-jin vah
    This is literally “good morning,” but is considered by some to be “Béarlachas” BAYR-luh-khuss — in other words: Anglicized.”

    I don’t know why this would be considered Anglicised, as it’s actually lifted straight from the scottish Gaelic, which as I am sure you’re aware, is a different language! In Scottish Gaelic, it’s pronounced “may-thin mah”!

    Please consider amending your otherwise excellent page!

    1. I think by “Anglicized”, it means an English phrase that when translated literally is not a phrase that would be used or heard said without English language influence.

      Whilst Scottish Gaelic is a separate language “maidin mhaith” is the Irish Gaelic too. There are similarities in the written languages, enough so I can understand the jist of either (and I’d only have my leftover school knowledge of the Irish Gaelic from 20 years ago!).

      Excellent page – found it as I’d recently been asked at an international evening to say good evening in Irish gaelic and I was at a complete loss as I thought it was a phrase that did not exist… thought I’d check out my thoughts and this page appears to confirm that.

        1. So happy I ran across your page. I’m 75 and so glad I was able to share with my sister Sheila in California.
          Very nice page.

    2. It’s not a different language at all Scotts Gaelic is a dialect of irish nothing more. Scotland means land of the Irish.

      1. Hi Kieran,

        Thank you for your comment.

        Though Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are very similar in many ways, a speaker of one language cannot understand the other. It is similar to the difference between French and Italian. In Scottish Gaelic, nouns are pronounced very differently from how they’re pronounced in Irish, for example.

        Scotland was once a part of a Gaelic kingdom that also included the north of Ireland and would therefore have shared the same language at one stage.

        Le meas,

        1. Nevertheless it is the same language. The differences are dialectical that’s all. Italian and French are both Romance languages but separate from each other. Native speakers from Scotland and Ireland are mutually understandable after a few days exposure to each other. My grandmother was a native speaker from Donegal she went to Scotland every year to stay with her cousins in Inverness who were Scotts Gallic speakers.

          1. Hi Kiran,

            Thank you for your comment.

            It’s not surprising that an Ulster Irish speaker could communicate with Scottish Gaelic speakers as Ulster dialect is the closest dialect to Scottish Gaelic.

            Linguists, however, consider them to be two different languages.

            Le meas,