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How to Say “Thank You” in Irish Gaelic

“Thank you” is an important phrase in any language. Saying “thanks” for something someone has done for you is (or should be!) common courtesy.

Saying “thank you” in the language of the country you’re visiting is beyond common courtesy…it’s a bridge between two cultures!

Even if you don’t know how to say anything else in the language, the fact that you’ve made an effort to thank someone in his or her native tongue is sure to get you a smile and an “A” for effort!

Thank You in Irish Gaelic

“Thank you” in Irish

In some languages, “thank you” is a single word (“gracias” in Spanish, for example, or “merci” in French). In Irish, as in English, “thank you” is a phrase:

Go raibh maith agat

/guh rev mah a-gut/

This literally means “may good be at you” (idiomatically “may you have that which is good”), and is the way to say “thank you” to one person (we’ll talk about how to say “thank you” to multiple people in a bit).

YES, IT’S A MOUTHFUL!

I can hear your thoughts now: “Audrey…do I really have to use all those words just to say “thanks”?

Well, yes…pretty much. But, that said, it’s not usually pronounced as slowly and clearly as you hear it in the recording above (it’s recorded that way so you’ll get the sound of it, but it’s spoken much more quickly, and often run together).

In fact, it often goes flying by so quickly that it sounds more like “gura mad” or “gura mya gut” (slight differences in the way “raibh” and “maith” and the ending of “agat” are pronounced are dialectical, but the overall sound of the phrase is recognizable, regardless).

When you think about it, it’s no longer than saying “thank you very much,” which you probably say on a regular basis.

By the way, if you’re visiting an Irish language discussion forum you’ll often see this phrase abbreviated as “GRMA.”

Saying “thank you” to multiple people

To say “thank you” to more than one person, you change the last word a little bit:

Go raibh maith agaibh

/guh rev mah a-giv/

Like a lot of languages, Irish uses different forms of “you,” depending on whether you’re speaking to one or to multiple people:

agat = “at-you” (singular)

agaibh = “at-you” (plural)

See how easy it is?

Irish really is a much more approachable language than many give it credit for. Now that you know how to say “thank you” in Irish, perhaps you’ll be inspired to give learning the language a try!

7 thoughts on “How to Say “Thank You” in Irish Gaelic”

  1. Hello,

    How do you say: “I come from Ballymena in County Antrim”? And how do you pronounce it?

    Locally, Ballymena is translated as Middleton – the town in the middle. Is the original meaning of the Irish word baile ‘town’, or is it place, dwelling, enclosure or stockade? Is it similar to the Welsh ‘hafodi’? I ask because I’ve always thought that in the past there were no ‘towns’ in Ireland, in the sense of the Roman civitas.

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond,

    Kenneth

    1. Hello Kenneth,

      “I come from Ballymena in County Antrim” would be said as “Is as an Bhaile Mheánach i gContae Aontroma dom.” To the best of my knowledge of the Ulster dialect, it would be pronounced as /Iss oss on Wol-yeh Vyaw-nukh ee gun-day Ayn-trum-a dum/. Here is a voice recording: https://voca.ro/1ku5Sz7lDgcT

      Ṫhe Irish version of Ballymena is An Baile Meánach (spelling has varied over the years). That is correct, it could indeed be translated as Middleton, as noted in the Post Office notes which can be viewed at this link https://www.logainm.ie/en/135723?s=ballymena (scroll down and click on “Open scanned records” under Archival records).

      Baile in its most basic form can mean somewhere people reside and varies from a private home to a village or a town, depending on context and the adjectives used. I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with the Welsh word ‘hafodi’ so cannot compare the two. I’m unsure of the etymology of “baile” but I too doubt that it had the same meaning as the Roman concept of civitas.

      Meánach has two definitions, the first definition being middle, intermediate, and the second definition being medium, average.

  2. I’m wanting to get a tattoo “He is Risen “ written in Irish. Can you please show me how it is written and how to speak it. Thanks so much for your help

    1. Hi Keith,
      The translation for that would be ‘Tá sé éirithe’ /taw shay eye-rih-ha/

      I have to let you know that the translation above is provided as-is. Bitesize cannot guarantee the correctness of translations, especially if it is for something permanent like a tattoo.

      Please get a second opinion from:
      The Irish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook by Audrey Nickel
      Hire a professional translator through http://www.translatorsassociation.ie
      Ask over at http://www.irishlanguageforum.com

      Le meas,
      Emma

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