How to pronounce Irish




  1. The Irish Vowels
    The Irish vowels are a, o, u, e, and i.   We don't use y.
  2. Broad and Slender Vowels
    We call a, o, and u the 'broad vowels.'  We call e and i the 'slender vowels.'  This is based on how they look.  A, o, and u are wider, so we call them 'broad.'  E and i are thinner, so we call them 'slender.'   But this is also an important distinction for how we say things.   Like solas vs. Seán, the broad and slender vowels will determine how the closest consonants are pronounced.  But more about that further along.
  3. Short and Long Vowels
    All Irish vowels can be short or long.  The short vowels are written a, o, u, e, and i.  The long vowels are written á, ó, ú, é, and í.   The accent mark is called 'fada' (long) or 'síneadh fada' (long stretching).  The short vowels are pronounced differently than the long vowels as you will see and hear directly below.
  4. Pronunciation of Vowels
    Click on the blue letters below to see and hear how the vowels are pronounced.  Memorize them.

                a and á as Windows video file

                o and ó as Windows video file

                u and ú as Windows video file 

                e and é as Windows video file

                i and í as Windows video file

           Here's a summary of pronunciation for the vowels:

a ah
á aw
o short oh
ó long oh
u short uh
ú long 'ooo'
e short eh
é like French é which rhymes with 'hay' and 'hey'
i short ih
í long 'eeee'


Uimhir Bhuillí Ó
1 Samhain, 2004
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