> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Hillwalk Guides > Common Irish Names: How Are They Pronounced?
POSTED BY November 23, 2016

If you’re used to travelling overseas, you’re probably familiar with that moment when you’re forced to explain the pronunciation of your name. Even the most common of Irish names are mispronounced over and over again.

Yet there is no group of people for whom this process is so troublesome as for those blessed with a traditional Irish name.

Life with a Gaelic name can be tough at times, but also very funny: the frustrations these people endure have now been documented in a hilarious hashtag on Instagram – #irishstarbucksnames

Here are a few of our favourites:

1. The ever so popular Irish boys name, Padraig:

2. A very sad Aine:

3. Even after several attempts, the spelling of Siobhán is wrong:

4. Niamh was not lucky either…:

To visit Ireland as an outsider might feel like becoming a character in a fantasy movie like The Lord of The Rings.

Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official language of the country, followed by English, and is present on every sign like a mystical language of elves.

Thousands of years ago Celtic people were spread over large parts of Europe, but these days Ireland is one of the few places where the Gaelic language is still very much alive.

Apart from traffic and town signs, this heritage is seen in uniquely Irish names.

For people unfamiliar with Gaeilge, the spelling and pronunciation of Irish names seem to have little in common with each other.

Just go ahead and ask some Irish people about their names – the oddities will start coming out.

Pádhraig, derived from the holy St. Patrick, is pronounced more like ‘pork’ than like the universally known Patrick.

The Irish boy name Eoghan sounds like Owen, and the Celtic girl name Aoife is pronounced like ‘EE-VEE’.

Caoimhe, Seamus, Saoirse, Raighne – it’s not hard to imagine the tiring situations that might occur when bearing one of these names.

Nevertheless, Irish names are rapidly increasing in popularity in different parts of the world.

In the United States and mainland Europe, you will now find many Siobhans, Oisins and Aoibheanns walking around.

However, the only way to really get these pronunciations correct is to come and visit Ireland yourself and meet these strangely named but very friendly locals.