Ireland is an English-speaking country, however it is not their only language – the Irish have their own language which they call ‘Gaeilge’ (I haven’t tried it yet but I intend to soon) too but when you speak with Irish people, they often use some English ‘slang’ words which at first meant nothing to me, until I slowly but surely learnt the true meaning of these words and phrases. Here are some of the ones I’ve encountered since arriving in Ireland to study.
Nope, not grandmas and grandpas, not grand prix race cars. It’s not easy to guess this one correctly! Basically it means good, great, fine, okay… My lecturers often ask us this before they resume a lecture.
“You lads okay so far? Grand!”
“Oh my god! That lad was gas!”
Funny enough my first impression when I heard this was priceless! I thought my friends were referring to a guy breaking wind (gas). It actually means funny in Irish slang.
Does this refer to the yolk from an egg? Nope wrong again! The Irish use this word to describe something or someone that are unsure about or of. It basically refers to a ‘thing’.
“Could you pass me that yoke, please?”
How do you compliment someone or something? The Irish regularly use the word ‘class’ as a term to describe something or someone favourably.
“See that lad’s new jumper? That’s class.”
In this case, it has two meanings. The word itself means fun, as the Irish would say ‘let’s go have some craic’ or ‘enjoy the craic’. A few times I overheard some people meeting up and saying ‘What’s the craic?’ meaning ‘What’s up’.
This means restroom or washroom to the locals. Rest assured on occasion they do still refer to it as a toilet and it’s not a phrase generally used in polite company! Recently I visited a nearby café and asked for the washroom. The waiter didn’t know what I meant until I said the toilet. The waiter then said ‘The jacks is back to the left’. That’s how I found out what ‘the jacks’ meant.
Are you okay?
Everytime, and I mean everytime that someone asks me if I am okay, I still say ‘Yeah, I’m fine’ and a second later I realise that’s not what they meant. In context it can also mean ‘May I help you?’.
That’s my Irish Slang 101 lesson over for now. There are many more slang phrases and sayings in Ireland but these are the most common and must haves for any prospective study abroad in Ireland.
Good luck for now! (PS: Good luck also means goodbye here!)