Gaelic Interpretation and Pronunciations (including names)

First of all, let me just say that anyone who is not a child in an Irish setting, whether it be at home or at school, trying to learn Gaelic is almost impossible. The words can be memorized, the spelling errors forgiven, but the pronunciation is what’ll tell a newbie apart from the real deal in no time at all. However, the locals will love you for trying!

Gaelic spelling is sometimes optional. In the early 1960’s, Gaelic spelling was anglicized in order to bring it closer to English and make it easier for the learner. However, since that time, and perhaps before, it seems that alternate spellings for many words did, and still do, occur all the time. An example would be the Cliffs of Mohr, also spelled Moher. I believe that there are alternate spellings for everyday words as well, especially when considering that Gaelic is a group of different languages with varied pronunciations depending on the locale. In Ireland alone, Gaelic (Irish) is divided into three groups, Munster, Connaught, and Ulster, basically the same language but a different dialect, so while some words are the same, others will be different and similar words may have a different pronunciation.

In Book One (Mulligan’s Dream) Hank says a few Gaelic phrases to Laura and rather than repeat them here, I believe they are self-explanatory in the books. Don’t even worry about trying to pronounce them, but if you do, there are various sites on the internet where you can listen to the real deal.

Any errors in either my statement above or the words below are unintentional and wholly my own. If you would like to comment, please write in my guestbook.

For the rest, in no particular order, are:

Bean Sidhe (banshee) – “In Irish folklore, the Bean Sidhe (woman of the hills) is a spirit or fairy who presage a death by wailing.” Read more about the Bean Sidhe here:

Sláinte (sláinte (mhaith), [slɑːnʲtʲə wah].) Literal meaning is “health”. Used as a drinking toast in Ireland and Scotland – Irish is slightly different than Scottish. The Irish is pronounced (for those who, like me, have a difficult time with the dictionary pronunciation help symbols), shlantya wah

Craic – (crack) – fun

Mo cáilin (muh colleen) – my girl

Ráicleach – (raaklochk) – slut

Mo dheartháir – (Muh ghrih-hawr) my brother

Aghadhoe – ancient graveyard just outside Killarney. Pronounced: Aha-doe. Read more about it here:

Characters’ (unusual) Names:

Sine – Sheena (introduced in Book 2 – Double Take)

Aine – Anya (Book 3 – Brandon: Bad Boy of Kinsale)

Ciara – Keara (introduced in Book 1 Mulligan’s Dream) Ciara’s own story is Book 4 – A Winter Sky.

Cian – See-ann with the emphasis on ‘See’. This is Danish. (Book 4 – A Winter Sky) There is a mythical Irish hero named Cian, pronounced Kee-an, but that’s a different story!

Aibreann – Áw-bren (Book 4 – A Winter Sky)

Dierdre – Deer-dra (Book 4 – A Winter Sky)

The Slang

No one has slang like the Irish…except maybe Newfies, (I use the term with love) and guess where they originated! The Irish are a colourful people, rich in heritage and warmth, a truly lovely bunch, and their language reflects that. Whether it’s a bit of Gaelic warped into English, or an English word made to sound foreign and given a completely off-the-wall meaning, Irish slang is a language all its own.

Below is a list of a few used in my books. Some might be read with a, “duh!”, while others will have you scratching your head. Enjoy!

Kip – sleep

Langer has multiple meanings – in the books it is sometimes used as a term for penis. ‘Lad’ and ‘flute’ are used interchangeably.

Flange, fanny – women’s genitals

Horned up – horny

Chubbed – erection

Gobsmacked – surprised

Banjaxed – broken, usually irreparable

Wankers – gormless idiots

Bowsie – thug, scumbag, wife-beater

Skank – untrustworthy, low-life criminal type

Plonker – country bumpkin, slow on the uptake

Nads – gonads; balls

Manky – Dirty, Flithy, Disgusting

Thick – Extremely stupid (‘brick’ is also used)

Neddy – idiot, fool

Eejit – idiot (they really do say it that way!)

Gligeen – stupid person

Fella – Your guy, partner/husband/boyfriend

Cop on! – means to ‘smarten up’, leave off, settle down, etc.

Flaming – drunk

Deadly – an exaggeration for ‘very’, e.g., ‘deadly flaming’