St. Patrick’s Day: 8 Irish words and phrases that only a local would teach you

St. Patrick’s Day: 8 Irish words and phrases that only a local would teach you

Can’t go to the pub to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Discover 8 Irish words and phrases that only a local would teach you to say!
March 12 2021

Although St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that originates from Ireland, it’s internationally celebrated. The celebration of Irish pride happens on March 17th, and is usually one of the most celebrated events of the year in many countries. St Patrick’s Day started as a religious festival, and over time evolved to one where people celebrate all things Irish and drink a ton of alcohol… Sláinte! (cheers - pronounced slawn-cha)

Quickfire facts about St. Patrick’s Day

  • St. Patrick was born in Britain! Despite being the patron saint of Ireland, he didn’t always live there - he arrived in Ireland at 16 years old. 

  • Legend says that Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland… even though Ireland never had snakes to start with. (It’s likely that the snakes were a metaphor for non-believers and pagans)

  • In the USA, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1737. 

  • “Patrick” comes from the Gaelic name Pádraig, so to stay authentic and true to the history of this holiday, make sure you’re saying “St. Paddy’s Day” rather than “St. Patty’s Day”! 


8 Irish words and phrases that only a local will teach you 

Here are a few words and phrases you might have already heard of, or maybe some that are completely new to you. Either way, learn these and impress your Irish friends next time you see them! 


What's the craic?

You’ve likely heard this one before, but for some people it can cause a little confusion, as craic is pronounced like "crack." The most common definition is “How are you doing?” or “What’s up?” when asked in terms of having fun. 

How are you?

Catch yourself on 

Made popular by Derry Girls, “catch yourself on” is used when you want to tell someone to stop being ridiculous. 


The jacks

Forewarning, this is a SUPER colloquial phrase! It’s another name for the toilets, e.g. “Where’s the jacks?” but should only be used when chatting to friends or people you know well (so definitely not one to ask your new Irish boss)

Elmo Toilet

A ride (n.)

Another cheeky one here - describing someone as “a ride” means they’re very attractive! Use it carefully 👀

The messages

If you say you’re going to “do/get the messages” you’re not listening to your voicemails… you’re going to get the food shopping! E.g. “Anyone want anything? I'm heading into town to do the messages."


‘Culchie’ is a word used to describe someone living in a remote part of Ireland. For example, if you’re from Dublin, you tend to refer to anyone that lives outside of Dublin as ‘a culchie’. 


Giving out

‘Giving out’ literally means to complain. For example, “He’s up there giving out to Tony about something or other.” 


Not to be confused with the tasty snack you have with cheese, in Northern Ireland, when you say something is ‘cracker’, you’re saying it’s really good.


Whichever way you’re choosing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, have a cracker! 


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