How to Say Hello and Goodbye in Irish

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 Hello in Irish from Bitesize Irish

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.

Saying Goodbye in Irish from Bitesize Irish

Now you’re set to say hello and goodbye in Irish!

Read our other Irish Language articles

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Irish Place Names and Their Meanings

This article has been syndicated, with permission, from Ireland Family Vacations.

One of the first things you might notice when starting to travel around Ireland is the road signs. You’re much more likely to see Irish on road signs than hearing it spoken.

Just about any road sign pointing you to a town or city will have the Irish place names on top in italics and English name beneath in capital letters.

Generally, place names in Ireland were originally in Irish, but then adapted into English (often by sound and not well). For example Gaillimh is Galway, Corcaigh is Cork, and Luimneach is Limerick.

road signs in Kenmare, Ireland
Signs in Kenmare in both Irish and English

Those Wonderful Irish Signs… What Do They Mean?

You can learn a lot about the history of a place by simply understanding its Irish name!

You’ll see some names more often than others- these are some of the most common Irish place names and their meanings.

Meaning of ‘Bally’

You’ll see place names with this word everywhere! “Bally” comes from Baile na which means “place of”.

For example, you might see a sign for Ballycastle/Baile an Chaisil. It’s easy to tell what this one means: the town of the castle.

Ballyjamesduff/ Baile Shéamais Dhuibh in Cavan literally means the place of James Duff.

Meaning of ‘Kil’

This is a religious one. In Irish Gaelic, “cill” means a (small) church.

On a road sign, above Kildare you’ll see written Cill Dara, which means “the church of Dara”.

Kilkenny/ Cill Chainnigh, both the medieval city and the county, are named for the Church of Cainnech (or Canice).

Meaning of ‘Lis’

As you’re driving along the countryside, keep an eye out for ring forts. There are some large ring forts you can visit in Ireland, others are literally circles of stone and trees in the middle of a field, and most are very old. The Irish word for a ring fort is lios.

So if you see Lismore/Lios Mor, this means “big ring fort”.

Also in Co. Kerry, there’s Listowel/Lios Tuathail which means “Tuathal’s ring fort”.

Irish road signs in the Gaeltacht
Signs in the Gaeltacht

Travel Tip in the Gaeltacht

Many tourist towns, such as Dingle/An Daingean, are found within the Gaeltacht, or Irish speaking region of Ireland.

Places found within the Gaeltacht are only referred to by their Irish Gaelic name on road signs. So be sure to know both the English and Irish names on your itinerary, at least by sight!

Learn to Speak More Irish!

Say- and Sing!- Happy Birthday in Irish!

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