How to Speak With an Irish Accent

Three Methods:Sounding out Vowels and ConsonantsMastering Style, Grammar, and VocabularyDoing Your Research

Learning an accent can come in handy for many different occasions. Master the Irish accent, bewilder your coworkers and friends with your emerald flair, and put some of those Hollywood stars to shame. This should sound like a typical Dublin accent if you are doing it right.

Method 1
Sounding out Vowels and Consonants

  1. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 1
    Soften your vowels. Many people, especially Americans, tend to harden their vowels. For example, Americans pronounce the letter A, "ay"; those with an Irish accent would pronounce it "ah" or "aw." Be very conscious of this in every word, but especially those vowels that come in the middle.
    • The standard, "How are you?" should be pronounced, "Ha-ware-ya?" The "au" (in "how") and "oo" (in "you") of the Generalized American accent are not differentiated between.
    • The sound in "night," "like," and "I," is pronounced similar to "oi," as in "oil." Think of "Ireland" as "Oireland."
      • While very similar to "oi," it's not the exact same. Turn the 'o' into more of a schwa. The diphthong does not exist in American English and is similar to a compounded, "Uh, I..."
    • The schwa sound (the sound of a caveman grunt), as in "strut," varies from dialect to dialect. In the Local accent, the vowel sounds more like "foot," and in the New Dublin accent (popular among youth), it sounds more like "bit."[1]
    • The epsilon (as in "end") is pronounced like the vowel in "ash." "Any" becomes "Annie."
      • There are many different Irish dialects with numerous slight variations. Certain rules may not apply to certain dialects.
  2. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 2
    Harden your consonants. As a general rule, Americans have gotten lazy in their speech. "Ladder" and "latter" are pronounced the same in the US, but not to an Irishman. Give each consonant its due (with the exception of the next rule!).
    • As a beginning sound, /d/ often sounds like /d͡ʒ/ or the sound that a J makes in most variants of English. That is, "due" will sound like "Jew." As its unvoiced partner, "t" becomes "ch." "Tube" sounds like "choob."
    • There is a distinction between words like "wine" and "whine." Words with "wh" begin with an initial "h" sound; try expelling a bit of breath before the word -- the result should be something akin to "hwine."
    • Some Irish accents turn "think" and "that" into "tink" and "dat," respectively. Try "trowing" it into your speech sporadically.
  3. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 3
    Drop your G's. English is full of words that end in -ing, but you wouldn't hear an Irishman admitting it, at least not in a natural context. Whether you're muttering verbs or gerunds, cut it out.
    • "Morning" becomes "mornin." "Walking" becomes "walkin," and so on and so forth. This stays true in all contexts.
      • In Local Dublin, a poorer dialect, final sounds are eliminated entirely: "sound" becomes "soun," for example.[1]
  4. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 4
    Be very rhotic. For most American English speakers, this is not a problem. But if your dialect is non-rhotic (drops word-final or inter-vocalic R; "park" sounds like "pack"), be conscious of pronouncing every "r" -- be it beginning, middle, or end.
    • Speakers of both American and British English will need to put their 'r' more forward in their mouths than they are used to. Experiment placing your tongue further forward and higher in your mouth while saying words with an 'r' in the middle or end.

Method 2
Mastering Style, Grammar, and Vocabulary

  1. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 5
    Speak quickly but clearly. An Irishman will not be caught saying, "coulda, woulda, shoulda." Each sound (unless dropped via a phonemic process) should be given attention. Your tongue and lips will be getting a workout.
    • If you do have pauses, use "em" to fill them. Stay away from "uh" or "um"; "em" should be your filler. If you can throw this in naturally and without thinking, your Irishness will be upped ten-fold. It's used all the time -- so when you're thinking of how to pronounce something, you know how to fill the silence.
  2. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 6
    Repeat the verb in yes/no questions. Often yes/no questions are straightforward and to the point -- as a result, we answer "yes" or "no." Seems pretty logical, right? Nope. That's not how it works in the land of Saints and Scholars. When asked, repeat the noun and verb.
    • For example, "Are you going to Jane's party tonight?" --"I am."
      "Does Ireland have unicorns?" --"It doesn't."
  3. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 7
    Use the 'after' construction. The after perfect (AFP), which is one of the most characteristic features of Irish English, has given rise to a certain amount of debate and a great deal of confusion. It is used to denote recency in two situations:
    • In between the two verbs of the past continuous (again, denotes a recent action): 'Why did you go to the shop?' -- "I was after running-out of potatoes." (Do not confuse it with the English use of "seeking" or "searching for". You are not "after buying potatoes" - otherwise you wouldn't be going to the shop).
    • In between the two verbs of the present continuous (used as an exclamation): "I'm after performing on the West End!"
  4. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 8
    Utilize idioms and colloquialisms. The Irish accent is full of words and phrases unfamiliar to other dialects of English. No one else may know what you're talking about, but sacrifices must be made to be authentic. Soon you'll be cod acting like a bucklepper![2]
    • Cheers: Not only is this used while clinking glasses, it's used in normal conversation, and consistently. It can be used to thank people and to say hello and goodbye. Work it in often; the Irish certainly do.
    • Lad: This term describes any male, though usually it's reserved for ones you're closer to. "Lads" can refer to a group of males and females, for the record.
    • C'mere: Literally, this is the same in any other dialect -- "come here." But in Irish English, it's an opener that means, "listen" or even just "hey," to grab your attention. To begin any innocuous sentence, start it with "C'mere."
    • Right: This sort of serves as an alternative to "c'mere." It's multi-purpose and mainly serves to clarify. As in, "Right, we're meeting at 7 o'clock by the watch tower then?"
      • Most British colloquialisms are also acceptable. Avoid "Top of the mornin' to ya!" and "Blarney!" unless you want to be that guy.
  5. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 9
    Think lyrically. The Irish accent is generally thought of as more 'musical' than American English. It has a definite lilt to it that isn't seen in other variations of the Lingua Franca. Practice phrases a bit more 'sing-songy' than you would in your native dialect.
    • A good place to start is slightly higher than your natural tone. Get a little lower in the middle of the phrase, and then move back up slightly.
  6. 6
    Irishmen use some words that are unfamiliar to most Americans.
    • Runners: Runners usually refers to Jogging shoes, or Tennis Shoes.
    • Jumper: Jumper is really plain and simple; a sweater.
    • Yoke: This one is kind of confusing. Yoke is like when you are trying to say what something is, but you don't know the word for it. ex.: "You know the yoke that you use to clean the dust off the stand?" It kind of means something like Thingamajig, or Thingamabob. However it also is a colloquialism for Ecstasy tablets.
    • Boot: This simply refers to the trunk of a car. "Put the food in the boot."
    • Footpath: A sidewalk.
    • Ride: A very attractive person of either sex.
    • Gum Boil/ Mouth Ulcer: A canker sore.

Method 3
Doing Your Research

  1. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 10
    Listen to Irish accents. Look on YouTube and watch movies and interviews for good examples of what you're trying to emulate. However, beware of impersonators out there -- and there are plenty.
    • Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, and Tom Cruise are not good examples. Stick to true native speakers; RTÉ is a safe place to start. It is important to note that the northern counties have a quite different accent [look up the Ulster dialect].
  2. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 11
    Visit Ireland. In the same respect you never truly master a foreign language if you don't live in the country, you will never master an accent if you don't live among the people.
    • If you go for vacation, do your best to feel out the local flavor. Go to small restaurants and listen to those around you. Make small talk with the vendors on the streets. Hire a native tour guide to show you around. Make your exposure as 24/7 as possible.
  3. Image titled Speak With an Irish Accent Step 12
    Buy a book. Just as there are American and British English dictionaries, there are Irish dictionaries, too. What's more, resources abound when it comes to sources on colloquialisms and idiosyncrasies of the accent. Invest your time and money into this endeavor if you truly want your accent to shine.
    • If a dictionary seems a bit much and would just rest on your shelf gathering dust, buy a phrase book. The idioms and figures of speech will help you get into the emerald zone.


  • Listen to interviews with the Celtic Thunder lads and Niall Horan.
  • Try to stay away from Hollywood stars faking Irish accents. You want to do a true Irish accent, not an impression of Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Nobody in Ireland says "top of the mornin' to ya."
  • Remember, in Ireland they have some words that mean the same thing as words Americans use, but they are different words.
  • Familiarize yourself with the IPA. This will make it much easier to understand books and websites on the matter. Having correlating symbols to the sounds you are not used to will help you remember what they are and when to use them.
  • Listen to interviews from The Script. The 3 members have different tones and will help you work out which you want to pursue.

Article Info

Categories: Speech Styles | Pronunciations