Hello and goodbye – or versions thereof- are some of the words we speak most frequently as we go about our day.
Learning to say hello and goodbye in Irish is easy – and a fun way to add a bit of the language into your vocabulary!
A Bit About the Irish Language
Irish is a Celtic language similar, but not the same as, Welsh, Breton, and Scottish Gaelic. And while many will say that the Irish speak Gaelic, that term actually refers to Scottish Gaelic native to the Gaels of Scotland.
The Modern Irish language- known as Irish – has developed over a period of 1500 years, first being recorded in the margins of Latin manuscripts as early as the 6th century.
As you learn Irish you will see the influence of those Irish ‘Saints and Scholars’ in both the literal meaning of the words as well as the sentence structure.
Saying Hello in Irish
A simple hello in Irish is Dia dhuit!
Pronounced Jee-ah ghwitch (the gh sounds almost like you are clearing your throat) the phrase literally translates to ‘God to you’, which is why Dia is capitalized. (That’s the monks talking!)
The reply is a bit more complex. To say hello back is Dia is Muire dhuit.
This is pronounced Jee-ah iss Mwir-eh ghwitch (keep that throaty gh). You can see two capitalized letters in the reply, which means there must be another proper name. The translation is ‘God and Mary to you’.
Saying Goodbye in Irish
Saying goodbye in Irish is all about safety.
Slán, pronounced slawn, simply means ‘safe’.
Slán abhaile (slawn awhilya) translates to ‘safe home’ and slán agat (slawn agot) means ‘have safety’.
If you are the person staying behind while someone else is leaving you would say slán leat (slawn lyat– with a very faint ‘L’ sound, almost ‘yat’), which means ‘safety with you’.
If you will be seeing the person again soon say slán go fóill (salwn ga foil), wishing them ‘safety for a while’ or until you see them again.
Now you’re set to say hello and goodbye in Irish!
Irish for Beginners
My friends at Bitesize irish have a free email course to help you get started on your journey into the Irish language. Sign up here to get started!