The Irish have a treasure trove of colourful and wonderful expressions that you won’t hear outside of the country. I’ve decided to give you a selection of my top five (it wasn’t easy to reduce it down to just five!)

If you ever go to Ireland it’s almost certain that you’ll hear these at some point.

Related material: Top Ten Irish Slang Words

1) Sure you know yourself…

Normally this expression is to show that we know that the person we’re speaking to understands or empathises with what we’re saying.

For example:

Susan: Did you talk with Melissa the other day? How’s she doing?

Karen: Sure you know yourself… she’s a bit stressed out with work at the minute.

2) I’m only after …

This is the Hiberno-English version of saying “I’ve just…”

However, we use the gerund in this construction: “I’m only after speaking to him.” Is the same as saying “I’ve just spoken to him.”

3) Grand so

If you go to Ireland you’ll hear this expression quite a bit. We can use it as a substitute for okay or as a way of saying “fine.” For example:

Dylan: “I’m having some friends over later. They’ll arrive about six o’clock.”

Paul: “Grand so” (Okay, then)

4) I’m going out to get the messages

In fairness this one is also used in Scotland! The ‘messages’ in this context means the shopping (food shopping or things for the house).

5) So it is..

This is something I use A LOT in my speech. It doesn’t really have any meaning and it’s simply a way of reaffirming what you’ve just said. It comes at the end of the sentence, kind of like a question tag (except this isn’t a question).

For example: “It’s raining, so it is” or “She’s really nice, so she is.”

Why only in Ireland?

Many of these sayings are actually features of what’s known as Hiberno-English. Hiberno-English is the Irish variety of English which has been influenced by the Irish (Gaelic) language. This also explains why some of these features are common in Scottish English too which has also been influenced by Scots Gaelic, a language that is similar to Irish.

Curious about the Irish language? Then check out these two episodes of the Clover English Podcast where I talk about just that 😉

Related content: The Irish Language (Part 1)

Related content: The Irish Language (Part 2)

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