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Pronouncing Irish Names
There was a video going round social media that was popular in Ireland where North Americans mangled the pronunciations of Irish names. It was amusing in some ways but I also felt the pain of those who were not reared in Ireland trying to grapple with figuing out how to pronounce someone's first name without embarrassing myself or offending them. Irish is not a language where any English speaker can phonetically sound out the pronounciation.
So here is a short guide to some of the names, their English counterparts and a rough guide to pronouncing them. But be warned, there are some slight regional variations just to confuse you even more! And just to enlighten you, that doo-hickey over the vowel is known as a fada. Also, the 'd' and 'g' is softer than the equivalent hard consonant in English.
These names have caught me out in the past. I hope this list will help spare you any blushes on a trip to Ireland.
Aodh - A (yes, just like the first letter of the alphabet!) - Hugh
Cian - KEY-un - from Irish mythic tales, no English version except the surname Kane or Keane
Conchohbar - Connor (truly!)
Daithi - Dah-hee - David
Eoghan - O-in - Owen
Gearóid - GAR (like the French for station)- ohzhh AND GARE-ohjzh AND Gar- roid (!) - Gerard with Gary and Ger being shortened versions; also Gerald.
Niall - Nye-al - Neal
Nollaig - Null- ig - Noel, Christmas
Pharaig - Paw- rick OR Paw- rig - Patrick with Packey and Paddy being nicknames
Peadar - Pad- er - Peter
Príonnsías - Prin-shis OR Prawn-she-iss - Francis
Tadgh - Tig-you or Tick-you - Timothy, nickname is Tiggy
Aíne - AWN-ya - from a Celtic goddess of the same nam
Caitlin - COSH-lin - Catherine
Caoimhe - QUEEV-ah - feminine of Kevin
Dearbhail, Dearbhal or Deirbhile - DARE-vil or DARE-vill-ah - Dervilla is anglicized version of this ancient Irish name
Eilish - AYE-lish (not Eyelash!) - Alice
Grainne - GRAWN-yah - Grace
Maebh - Mave - Maeve from Irish annals, a queen of Connaught
Niamh - Neeve - from the Irish for brightness
Roisin - ROW-sheen - Rose
Saoirse - SIR-sha - it means Freedom or Liberty
Síle - SHE-la - Sheila
Sínead - SHIN - aid - Jane
Síobhán - SHIV-awn - Joan
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