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Dublin Phrase Book

Like most big cities, Dublin has developed its own accent and slang that many outsiders struggle to understand. Aside from the Dublin accent, which ranges from faux royal to common tongue, we could write a book on ‘Dublinese’ phrases and the unique way we communicate. If you want a taste of Dublin without the Dublin hotel price tag, consider alternative accommodation for your trip. DCU Rooms offers a variety of accommodation choices from shared facilities to private suites. Browse our selection of budget summer hotel alternatives. Before you book, here are some tips to speak like a local.

Cead Mile Failte

While Gaelic is Ireland’s native language, a vast majority of the population speaks English daily. We are taught Gaelic(or Irish in the English language) in school with a focus on verbs and tenses, not so much conversational English.  You’ll still find Gaelic on our road signs, on all official documents and the front of public transport. During your visit, you’ll hear many Irish phrases thrown into conversation with one popular one being Cead Mile Failte. Translated into Irish, this means a hundred thousand welcomes, reinforcing the kindness and good spirit of the Irish people toward visitors. You may pick up a few phrases along the way and our team would love to hear them!


Pronounced ‘crack’, craic is the ultimate Irish experience. It might come in the form of a joke told by a tour bus driver or a fantastic night on the town enjoying a drink in Temple Bar. The definition of craic is hard to pin down but in its simplest form, it’s fun and enjoyment. It’s the epitome of Irish culture and means something far greater than just having a good time. Craic is subjective but usually involves music, great company and lively conversation where everyone is involved. One of the highest insults to an Irish person is to be described as no craic!


You’ll notice the friendliness of people in Dublin, especially by the way they greet you and each other. You’ll be called buddy, buddy, mate & pal by people you have never laid eyes on before! It’s our way of welcoming you to the conversation and making you feel at home, always presuming you are a friend.


Restroom is a phrase you hear often in North America but very rarely used in Dublin vernacular. We refer to the restroom as the bathroom, but don’t expect to find a bath in there! You’ll also hear it referred to as simply the toilet, which may sound abrupt to some visitors! In more grassroots parts of Dublin, you’ll hear people ‘going to the Jacks’-we don’t know the origins of that one either!


Swearing is second nature for many Dubs. It’s important to realise that we are usually not directing our bad language at anyone in particular –its used more like punctuation. When Dubliners are very familiar with each other it’s common to show our affection with insults. Strange as it may seem, it works. Often the more you’re insulted by a Dub, the more comfortable they feel with you. 


If something is funny, you’ll usually hear Dubliners describe it as being gas. We’re not talking about fuel for your car (which we call petrol or diesel, not gas coincidentally), we’re describing something as humorous. If said with a different inflexion it can also be used to convey shock or disbelief. The opposite of being no craic is being described as a gas man, a complement of the highest order.  It’s a very learned phrase so don’t worry if you use it wrong the first few times. 


When we refer to lads in Dublin and most of Ireland, it refers to a group of people, not specifically male. It’s a term used often on sporting fields and GAA clubs up and down the country regardless of the gender of the group.  Don’t be surprised to hear ‘move along lads’ at the end of a great night in a Dublin pub.  Now you’re armed with the essential phrases, it’s time to start planning your trip. Check previous blogs for great things to do in Dublin and book your stay in DCU rooms to explore the city like a local. 

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Sarah Corcoran

Sarah is a part-time travel writer and a full-time Dubliner, born and bred in this colourful city. She loves nothing more than exploring the beauty that’s on her doorstep and enjoying the many attractions and history that Dublin has to offer. She is passionate about writing and promoting her home town to anyone who will listen!

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