On 17 March, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by people of Irish descent (and those who just like the craic) with parades, an abundance of the colour green and maybe one or two pints of Guinness as well. While St. Patrick’s Day has Christian origins in commemoration of the patron saint of Ireland, it has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture and language, bringing “Seachtain na Gaeilge” (a fortnight of festivities celebrating Irish culture) to a close every year.

The Irish language (Gaeilge) is a Celtic language with a turbulent past. It was the preferred language for much of Ireland’s history; however, from the 17th century onwards this began changing dramatically due to repression under British rule and emigration. Recently, the minority language has been growing in popularity again, particularly among young people who are fighting to bring Irish into the 21st century. For example, last year saw the launch of “an Foclóir Aiteach”, a dictionary comprising new Irish words related to the LGBT+ community, which many believe has been a leap forward in time for a language that is deeply rooted in the past.

The role of the Irish language in the EU is also set to change in 2022, with its stint within the “derogation” category coming to an end. Derogation means that the EU has no requirement to translate its documents into Irish. Consequently, in just a few years, we can expect the need for Irish translators to soar, which in turn may affect the popularity of the language in everyday life.

So with this in mind and St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, perhaps now is the best time to start learning a new language.

A few simple phrases to get you started
  • Hello = Dia duit (jee-uh ditch)
  • How are you? = Conas atá tú? (kun-uss ah-tah too)
  • I’m fine = Tá mé go maith (Tah may guh mah)
  • What’s your name? = Cad is ainm duit? (Cad is anam ditch)
  • My name is _______ = _______ is ainm dom (is anam dom)
  • Excuse me = Gabh mo leithscéal (Guh muh leh-shk-ale)
  • Thank you = Go raibh maith agat (Guh row mah agut)
  • Please = Le do thoil (leh duh hull)
And some special St. Patrick’s Day phrases
  • Happy St. Patrick’s Day! = Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit (Law ale-yeh pawd-rig sunna ditch)
  • A pint of Guinness please = Pionta Guinness, le do thoil (Pyun-tah Guinness, leh duh hull)
  • Cheers! = Sláinte! (SLOYNE-cheh)

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

Header image by kiki Wang on Unsplash