Irish Slang and Food Tips for Dummies

This is a fun post from my first trip to Ireland. I’m addicted to the country and recommend you make it your next trip!

October 2013 //

Good on ya

What does that mean you might ask yourself? Well I don’t know that I could tell you the exact meaning of it, but you would hear it a lot if happen to be in Ireland.

First Guinness

Along with:

  • What’s the craic? (Took me a while to get used to, but now it’s my favorite phrase. It means what’s the fun basically)
  • Well look at the shape of you (generally a compliment)
  • Blow means weed (so don’t be offended if someone offers it to you)
  • People almost always refer to the bathroom as a toilet
  • Oh fuck off  (an appropriate way to end conversations)
  • Off license (liquor store)
  • Slainte (pronounced slanche means “to your health” in Gaelic or cheers)
  • What are you on about? (when you are tired of someone talking or don’t understand- not offensive to say)
  • Crisps (potato chips)
  • Chips (fries)
  • Off the drink
  • Runners (tennis shoes)
  • Cop yourself on (still not sure what this one means either)
  • You would yeah? (daring someone)
  • And many more that I either can’t remember or don’t yet understand enough to write it out!

These are some common Irish sayings at least in the Northwest area of Ireland and are partly to blame for me not being able to understand anyone for the first week that I was there. My first week was spent fairly relaxed. I was in Clara, Ireland where there isn’t very much to see or do. On that note I did do everything that there was to do and saw everything there was to see with the exception of the Clara bog which is ironically enough what the place is famous for. There was St. Brigid’s church and a park. There was also the river which I usually ate lunch at. Then there were a few stores and quite a few take-away places where you could get food from all over the world. I made the mistake of ordering a chicken sandwich from a take-away place. Paid 6 euro for it and what I got were some delicious chips and a look alike Jack In The Box dollar chicken sandwich with ketchup on it. Not worth the six euro let me tell you!

I have unfortunately made a number of mistakes with food in Ireland. The worst one being the burger I ate two days ago. The waitress asked me what I wanted on the burger and at the end I told her that I wanted mustard on it. I got my burger and was so excited it just looked delicious. So I took a great big bite of it only to have the taste of horseradish on steroids fill my mouth. Now I am sure that this wasn’t some cruel joke the waitress played on me or actually some horseradish on steroids, but I quickly learned to order Dijon mustard. I hope that if you ever travel to Ireland that you remember these few tips, because it could make a difference between the best burger ever or the burger that ruined your taste buds forever.

In Clara I stayed with a man named Simon and his dog Paddy. He had saved me from spending way more than I needed to on hotels and also from a lot of confusion later on. I found him through when my host hadn’t arrived to pick me up. Simon gave me some wonderful directions to get to his house and met me at the train station. That train ride was pretty interesting. I was waiting for the train in Thurles and talked to a couple college kids about the price difference of Converse shoes. I would advise buying them in America! Then at my next stop I talked to an elderly man who had worked for the railway in his younger years. He told me all about his life and his travels through Europe that were free because he worked for the railway. I have to say I loved listening to his stories even though the only thing I had asked about was if he knew which platform I was supposed to be on! I talked to another lady about the recession in Ireland. It’s funny because the news is talking about how their recession is over, but every person that has talked to me about it has said that they don’t see it and to be honest neither do I.

Lovely Beach

I’ve never been somewhere (other than ghost towns) that have so many empty houses and businesses and places going out of business. In fact in the week that I have been in Dungloe I have witnessed a place go out of business. It’s really interesting to see the difference in what the news is reporting and what is actually going on. I feel like I don’t see that as much in America not because it isn’t happening, but because I don’t watch the news very often. Moral of the story is Clara is a very quite place. I went to a flea market there and got a trinket for my nephew and a new duffle bag as mine was ruined during the flight. I got that for only two euro and even my host was impressed with me. I was trying to find a fishing pole, but here in Ireland there is a lot of sea fishing and off the rock sea fishing so the rods are all huge. I would have only seen these kind of rods used for catfishing and even then they would still be a bit extravagant.

I spent most of my evenings in Clara reading. Though Simon did take me to a bar called @the backdoor or something like that to have my first Guinness. I must say I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s very smooth for a dark beer. Simon told me that I couldn’t have picked a better place to have my first Guinness because in other countries they use different water to make it and that has a pretty big effect on it. I noticed in Simon’s little cottage that the Couchsurfers and Workawayers had made a take a book, leave a book setup. Simon didn’t read much, but I took full advantage of it. I read three books in the time that I was there and I left two books in place of the one that looked like it would be a good read. I also put my blog information on there in hopes that one day someone will pick up one of the books and enjoy it enough to let me know that they enjoyed it. I plan on doing that here in Dungloe as well. I feel that it’s a nice gesture and a good way to interact with people in a way that you wouldn’t normally.

I did some cleaning for Simon while I stayed there. Nothing to strenuous, but I made sure I did a good job at it because I really appreciated him rescuing me. He set me up with a friend of his, Brian, up in northern Ireland (not to be confused with Northern Ireland the country). Simon had asked me about my plans for after I left him and I told him I didn’t have any specific plans. I did want to see Galway though before I went on any farther since I was so close to it. He rang his friend Brian and Brian thought it would be great to have someone come stay with him as he had injured his foot surfing weeks before and had been stuck at home for quite a bit. I decided that sounded good to me and Simon gave me very clear instructions on how to get to Galway from Clara and then how to get to Dungloe from Galway.

I went to Galway on Thursday which happened to be Arthur’s Day. Arthur’s Day is to celebrate Arthur Guinness and boy do they celebrate! The streets were full of people drinking (which is legal here) and just having a great time. That was the morning the Canadian couple bought me lunch. I stayed out for a little bit but not for too long because I had to get up early to take a five hour bus trip. Galway was very beautiful and I am planning on going back there for a week probably at the beginning of November. I didn’t have enough time to see as much of it as I wanted to and as I so fortunately have quite a bit of time to spend however I please I am going to go enjoy some more time there!


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