Guide to pronounciation of Irish mythic names & places

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Guide to pronounciation of Irish mythic names & places

Postby Beith » 03 Feb 2004, 20:24

Hi all - I'm posting this as reference info and will add to it as time goes on. These are the approximate pronounciations of Irish place names and person names found in the myth tales and in history/geography.

The pronounciations given are those of a somewhat "normalized" Gaeilge ie. without applying each variant stress of word sound in their various dialectic forms (Ulster, Munster, Connacht Irish). These names are given according to my "Leinster" gaelic!

Names on the left are Irish ones, words on the right are the approximate english phonetic pronounciation thereof, followed by an explanation of the name. Approximate Old Irish pronunciations are given where appropriate, bearning in mind that it's quite hard to represent sounds of a Celtic Irish language in non-Celtic English language because one does not have the same sounds in English as in Irish for all letters and combinations thereof. Still - an attempt! Hope it's helpful to those reading myth tales or seeking guidance on some old names!

best regards

Aengus – "ane-ias", or earlier Oengus "oyn-yus"/"oyngus" -most commonly given as “ane-gus” now, son of the Dagda, he is somewhat likened to a God of Love of the TdeD but that is not really a factual association, more an inferred one due to his intercession in some myths regarding lovers and his own love for Caer.

Aonghus – "ane-ius" “ane-gus” (variant spelling of above)

Allill – “Al-ill” King of Connacht, husband of Queen Maeve

Almhuin –“alwin” or "alvin" - a sacred plain of Leinster, district of Ireland

Ana or Annand, (pronounce as written though for annand, the final d is very soft, almost non existant, later replaced by -nn "annann"), daughter of Ernmas and Fiachra, sister of Badhb, Macha and the Morrigú, for whom "The paps of ana" are named in Co Kerry. Sometimes given as “danu” in interpretation, sometimes given as Annand = Mór Rigu but Lebor Gabala Erenn tends to lean toward dis-associating them.

Aebh – “Eve” – eldest of the foster daughters of Bodhb Dearg and first wife of Lir, mother of Children of Lir (Aedh, Conn, Fiachra and Fionnghuala)

Aodh or Aedh – “Aay” or "Aeth" ("th like in "the") (it means "fire" and is a gaelic form of “hugh”), a son of Lir, also a common first name in old Ireland.

Aoibhell – “Eevell” - name given to various women of gael and TdeD, a famous Beansidhe (banshee)

Aoife – “eefa” – famous foster daughter of Bodhb dearg and second wife of Lir, who turned the children of Lir to swans for 900 years. (also Aoife a daughter of Manannan, a name given to various women of gael and TdeD)

Aonbhar, Aonbharr or Aonbarr – “Ane-varr” horse of Manannan. Aonbharr meaning “the One-maned”

Badhbh (badb)– “Bive”, in some dialects "Bow", a war goddess, fury, shape shifted to hoodie crow( carrion crow) , the raven of battle. (this name is also attributed to the Banshee)

Balor - “balor” - King of the Formor, famous for his evil eye. Grandfather of Lugh Lámhfada.

Banba - "Banba" - a personification of Ireland. Wife of MacCuill (son of the hazel), daughter of Fiachna son of Delbaeth, sister of Éire and Fodhla

Bechulle – “Beh-kulla” or "beh-hulla"- a 'witch' of the Tuathe de Danann

Bodhbh Dearg – “bov Djar-ug” or "jar-ug" (j like in jump) - Bov the red, a king of the Tde D, grandfather by fosterage of the Children of Lir.

Bran -"Bran" - hound of Finn. Bran was born of a human mother turned to form of a she-hound, Bran was the most beloved hound of Finn Mac Cumhal and known for her human level intelligence.

Brighid – "breegh-yid", “Bree-id” (english: “Bridget” and Bríde “Breeda” , goddess of TdeD of poetry, the Fireside or Forge and healing, daughter of the Dagda, associated with milk, with fire, the Springtime, with miracles, with healing and care of the sick, with generosity.

Cainte – “coyne-tcha” - father of Cian (Cainte is Lugh's paternal grandfather)

Caoilte mac Rónán – “Kweeltcha mac Roh-nawn” , warrior of the Fianna and Finn's most trusted comrade, Caoilte can also be given as "kilty" in northern dialect.

Cathbhad - "Kath-vad", famous Chief druid of Ulster. Had a retinue of 100 students.

Ceithlinn – “keh-lin”, wife of Balor of the Formorians who predicted that his grandson (Lugh) would kill him

Cian – “Keen” - Father of Lugh

Conn Céad Cathach - "Kon kayd koh-uck" /"Kon Kayd Kath-uck"- Conn of the hundred Battles, one of the kings of Leinster.

Connacht – “konn-uckt”, a province of Ireland (west Irl)

Conchobhar – “Kon-kho-var”, “Kon-hu-var”,"Kon-cover" also “Konhoor” or “Konor” or (as in the name "Connor"), King of Ulster – (variant pronounciations are dialectic and also depend on age of pronunciation - more modern or more ancient, depending on pronuncition or 'swallowing' of the "ch" (pron. kh or ‘h’ depending on modern/old pron.) and the ‘v’ sound of “Bh” in gaelic.

Credne – “kred-neh” (also sometimes written as Credenus in some books - Kred-en-us), bronze-worker or craftsman of the TdeD.

Cruachán – "kruck-awn"/ "Krooakh-awn"/“kruh-hawn” , a sacred mountain in Roscommon, in province of Connacht, Western Ireland. Home to Queen Maeve and Ailill

Cú – “Koo” - brother of Cian

Cú Chulainn – “Koo Khullin” / “Koo Kullin” champion of Ulster, was initially called Setanta (shay-dan-da). Son of Dechtire , of the house of Ulster, sister of the king and Lugh (note the ‘Ch’ sound of Chulainn is a bit more gutteral than a ‘H’ and not as hard as a K sound. It's pronounced like the ch in "Bach"),

Cumhal / Cumhal – "Kuvall", “Kooall” or “Koo-ill” Father of Finn or Fionn. Originally "umhal" ('oo-ill' or 'uv-ill') but adopted the 'C' prefix letter from Mac 'son of' before the name. Mac Umhal became MacCumhal

Dana – “Dana” , mother goddess of the Tuatha de Danann, orig. Danu "Danoo"

Dianan – “Dee-ann-ann” , 'witch' of the TdeD

Diancécht – “Deen-khekht” or "Deen kaycht", god of healing, physician or “leech” of the TdeD, father of Miach and Airmed.

Demne – "Devne" the name given to Finn before he was known as Finn

Domhnu – “Dow-noo”, or "Duvnuh" goddess of underworld and another name for the Formor "Children of Domhnu"

Dagda/Daghdha –"Dagh-tha" (where gh is almost like the 'ch' sound of 'bach' but voice it with a g - and the -da is pronounced like the th in "the" -tha"), modern dialectic variants included “Digh-a” or "Dah-ha" or "Digh-hee" or "Daigh-tha"- a father God of the TdeD because the old pronunciation of "gh" has been eroded over time. Full name “In Dagda Mór” (The Great Good God). Known by other names “Eochaidh Ollathair” (oh-khee/ oh-kith oll-ath-ir), “Delbaeth” etc. Commonly pronounced by many as Dag-da which excludes the lenition on the consonants.

Donn – “Don” - son of Mil

Eimear - "Ay-var" is the old pronunciation, but most commonly now in Ireland as “Emer”, the first wife of Cú Chulainn

Éire – “Air-eh” - one of the triple aspect Goddesses of Ireland. Daughter of the Fiachna son of Delbaeth. Wife of mac Gréine (son of the sun), and sister to Banba and Fodhla. Éire is the official Gaelic name for Ireland.

Éireann/ Éirinn - “air-inn” (variant names for Ireland)

Eraic – “Erik" or "Air-ayk” - a blood fine or penance for a crime or illegal murder, payable by the offender or their family.

Éiru – “Air-oo” - as above for Éire (variant name) a personification of Ireland

Eochaidh - O-chee* or O-hee or Yo-hee (*again "ch" as in "Bach") or "Och-eeth"

Eochaidh mac Erc – O-hee mack Erk - king of the Fir Bolg, killed in the first Battle of Moytura (cath maigh tuireadh: “Koh moy tur-ah)

Eochaidh Ollathair – “O-khee or “Yo-hee (’ch’ as in ‘Bach’) Ull-ahar/ Ull-ath-ar “ -Great Father, horse god, variant name for the Dagda

Eremon – “Air-eh-von” , Son of Mil, first king of the milesian gaels in Ireland

Ernmas- "Ernmass" - the "she farmer" - mother of Goddesses Éire, Fodhla and Banba (and in some text Badhb, Macha, Mórrigu, Annand).

Eibhear – “Eevar”, another son of Mil, milesian gael.

Élada /Éladán - "Ay-lada/Ayladawn" - father of 5 Gods: In Daghda Mór, Bress, Ogma, Delbaeth, Elloth (sometimes given also as Delbaeth). Élada is referred to as Formorian King in some stories (ref. The Reign of Breas") yet Ogma, Daghda are T de D Gods and kings

Fáilias – “Fall-ee-as”, city of origin of the TdeD

Fand, - “fand” or "Fann" a goddess of the sea, wife to Lir, Cuchulainn had an affair with her

Fea – “faay-a” or “Feah” - a fury, a battle goddess "Fea the hateful"

Ferdias /ferdia – “Ferdeeas” /”ferdeea” , warrior of Ulster, foster father of CuChulainn who took service with Queen Maeve of Connacht

Fergus – "Feriyis"(old Ir) “Fergus” (anglicized pron.), king of Ulster and king who abdicated in favour of living in the woods with poets and huntsmen

Fianna – “fee-an-ah” , the great army of Ireland beholden to the king of Leinster, led by the Cumhal “Koo-al or "Kuvall"” head of the Clann Baiscne (Klan Bash-kin-a, meaning “Baskin family” – a surname of Irish families). Cumhal was killed by Goll, Head of Clan Morna, but leadership of the Fianna was restored to Finn (fionn)

Findias or Finnias– “Fin-dee-ass” and “Fin-ee-ass” respectively, a city of origin of the TdeD

Finn – “Finn” as in Finn mac Cumhal, finn son of Cumhal, the leader of the Fianna. Finn is the Ulster Irish pronunciation, also written as
Fionn – “fee-un” pronounced "Fee-yown" in Munster Irish)

Fir Bolg – “Feer Bolg” (g like Garden) - the “men of the sack”, the race in Ireland before the TdeD

Fodhla or Fotlá– “Fow-la” or "Fod-la", second of triple aspect Goddess of Ireland. daughter of the Fiachna son of Delbaeth, wife of macCecht (son of the plow), sister to Éire and Banba, and a personification of Ireland.

Fóirmor, Formor, Formoire, Formoraig –"Forvor", “Formor”, “Formora” the underworld race of "demons" who fought with the TdeD, associated with the cold North and the wastes of the sea.

Geasa – “geeass-a” ( G is pronounced like G in Garden not like in Giant) Geasa is the plural of Geis

Geis – “Gesh” - a sworn vow or promise or taboo or oath which bound a person(to break a geis was to incur a label of severe dishonour)

Gnathach – “Gnaw-hock” or "Gnaw-thuck", druid of the Fir Bolg

Goibniú – “Gov-noo” (g like in Go) - smith of the TdeD, also given as "Gobhan" - 'Govan", or 'Goban' the mason.

Goirias – “Gor-ee-ass” : a city of origin of the TdeD (variant is Gorias)

Ilbrech – “illbrek” "Ilvrek" , son of Manannan son of Lir

Ingnathach – “In-gnaw-hock”/ "In-gnaw-thuck", druid of the Fir Bolg

Laeg – “lay-g”, "Loy-g", charioteer of Cúchulainn

Laeghaire , Laoghaire = "Loy-gur-eh", “Lay-re” or “Leer-reh” or “Leer”, a variant of Lir. A famous king of Ireland.

Laighin, Laighean - "Lie-in", "Lagh-in", Leinster, eastern province of Ireland. The Laighinn "the Leinstermen" tribe.

Lir – “Leer” - father of Manannan, father of the children of Lir

Lomhair "Low-ar" or "lov-ar" - a second hound of Finn

Luachtaine or Luaicne – “Luckt-ana” or “Luckna” - a craftsman of the TdeD

Lugh – “Loo” , warrior-king of the TdeD, son of Cian son of Cainte and Eithlinn, daughter of Balor and Ceithlinn. Known as the “Samildánach” the all-skilled. Full title: Lugh Lámh fada – “Loo- lawv fada” - Lugh of the long hand (as above)

Macha – “Mak-ha” a battle goddess, a fury. Also the name of a horse Goddess who gave her name to Emhain Macha (“evan macka”), Navan Fort.

Maeb,Medb, Medhb, Maedhb, Maedhbh, Maeve - Old Irish "Medh-iv" (dh like th in "the"), Modern Irish “May-iv”, warrior queen of Connacht, wife of Allill

Maigh – “moy” (meaning plain or valley or field)

Maigh Meall – “moy mell” , - the "Pleasant Plain" : Manannan's country, a land of plenty and youth

Maigh Tuireadh – “Moytura” - the "plain of Towers", site of two major battles of the Tuatha de Danann (1) with Fir Bolg (2) with Formor

Manannan – "Man-an-awn". Son of Lir, God of the Sea

Midhe - "Mee-the", "Mee", meaning "middle" - the ancient central province of Ireland. Seat of the high kings, home of Tara, Boyne Valley etc.

Midhir – "Mith-ir" (like th in "the"), Modern Irish “Mir” or “meer”, a king of the TdeD associated with the underworld.

Morrigú- “Mor-ig-oo” , literally “Great Queen” or "Phantom queen", the crow of battle, the great battle queen who would shape-shift to many forms, most commonly the Hoodie or Carrion crow. Also Mór-Righan, 'Morrigan' pron. "more-ree-ghon"

Mumhan - "Muv-an", mod."Moo-in" Munster, Southern province of Ireland

Nemain – “nevan”, a fury of the TdeD, "nemain the venomous" (associated with Badhb, Morrigu, Fea, Macha)

Neit – “Net” or “Netch” - a god of battle

Niamh – “nee-iv”, daughter of Aengus, who stole away Oisin of the fianna to Tír na nÓg.

Ogma, Oghma – "ogh-ma", “Oh-ma”, God of Literature and writing and poetry, and champion of the TdeD

Ogma grianaineach – “ohma green-an-yuk” , ogma sunface, ogma of the sunny countenance

Ogma Cermait – “ohma ker-metch” or “Ker-mat”, ogma honey-mouthed (attibution to his skill of poetry)

Oisin - “usheen” , son of Finn mac Cumhal, literally “little Deer”, born to a shape-shifting woman of the Tuatha de Danann – she was cursed to the form of deer by a ‘dark druid’. Oisin was known as the poet of the Fianna and it was he who went to Tír na nÓg with Niamh of the Tuatha de dannan.

Ollamh - "oll-uv" - title of "master, professor, chief"- a title of extreme status. The upper most cast of Poet-seer. (Now given as University Professor title in mod. gaelic)

Oscar – “Oskar” - son of Oisin, grandson of Finn mac Cumhal, a strong and skilled warrior of the Fianna

Pádraig – “Pawd-rig” or "Paw-rig" = Patrick as in St Patrick

Sceolan - "Shkeeolan" a third hound of Finn.

Sreng – “shreng”, warrior of the Fir Bolg

Taillken - "Tile-ken" - an old poetic name for St Patrick meaning "Adze-head" referring to the saint's tonsure.

Taillte – “tile-tcha” or “tile-teh”, a queen of the Fir Bolg, who was taken into the tribe of the TdeD and became foster mother of Lugh
Tailltiú – “Tile-too” - as above

Teamhair - "Tev-ir", modern Ir.“Tch-ow-ar” - Tara, seat of the high kings of Ireland in County Meath. Named (it is given in some scripts) for Tea wife of a Fir Bolg king, who was buried there and a wall (mur) raised around the grave - Tea Mur

Tír na nÓg - Tcheer na nogue - Land of Youth or Land of ever living ones, also known as Maigh Meall, the pleasant plain.

Túatha Dé Dannan- Old Irish "too-ath-a Djay Danann", mod. "Too-ha /Too-a-ha Day/ je ('j' like 'jump') Danan" - The people of the Gods of Danu /People of Danu. The semi-divine race who conquested the Fir Bolg and the Formorians at two battles in Maigh Tuireadh (Moytura)

Uisneach - "ish-nuck" or "ooshnuck", in County Westmeath, once central area of druidry and power in Ireland.

Uladh, Ulaidh - "Ull-a" or "Ull-ih" or "Ull-ay" - Ulster, Northern province of Ireland "The Ulaidh" refer to "The Ulstermen" tribe. Older pronunication "ull-ith" (th like th in "the").
Last edited by Beith on 12 Oct 2008, 18:40, edited 7 times in total.

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Postby Breoghan » 04 Feb 2004, 03:38

A million thanks for this, Beith. I'm going to print it and use it when I read. This is a very valuable contribution to our board.

You're the best!

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Postby Flidais » 04 Feb 2004, 09:26

Thankyou Beith, this is fantastic :D

Summer ends in gowns of gold and Red
Diamond encrusted webs
add sparkle to her aging eyes.
One last dance before sleep over takes her
and visions of green fill her dreams.

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Postby lupiana » 05 Feb 2004, 20:10

Beith, that was wonderful! I'm also going to be printing this out and studying it. I've been at such a loss with so many names I can't pronounce - THANK YOU!!! That was a lot of work!
Pay attention to the path, and learn the hard way.  The easy way is fun and entertaining, but you take away very little.

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Postby Merlyn » 07 Feb 2004, 15:30

Hi Beith,
An odd thing is going on, with this board, Please check your PM's,
Image :emerit:
Dyro, Dduw, dy nawdd;
ac yn nawdd, nerth;
ac yn nerth, ddeall;
ac yn neall, gwybod;
ac o wybod, gwybod yn gyfiawn;
ac o wybod yn gyfiawn ei garu;
ac o garu, caru Duw.
Duw a phob daioni.

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Postby Loosh » 07 Feb 2004, 23:01

Thank you, Beith! I am going to use this to study!

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Postby LadyMoonChaser » 26 Mar 2004, 00:15

WOW!! :o
This is so great Beith! Thanks for taking the time to post it, you are such a whiz kid!! :-D

Cheers! & Chocolate! :applause:


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Postby Karen » 26 Mar 2004, 00:42

This is fabulous. There are many I know but so many I don't!! It is good to have it at my fingertips so I can keep practising! Thank you Beith.


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Irish Gaelic Pronunciation

Postby GreenOak51 » 31 Mar 2004, 00:48

Beith - thanks to you I'm no longer making rude noises and spitting at my cats! :>)
Every blade of grass has its angel bending over it whispering "grow, grow!" ~~ The Talmud

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Postby Beith » 31 Mar 2004, 10:52

LOL!!! that must be what we do in Ireland too!!! grin!

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Postby dmiley » 01 Apr 2004, 02:41

Thansk Beith I just came upon this and saved it right away. Looks great.

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Postby SidheAingeal » 11 Apr 2004, 15:24

Oh Beith thank you for posting this! Very useful indeed!

Angel :angel:

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Postby Gyrfalcon » 03 May 2004, 17:13

Hey Beith!

IM me, if ya would please. I'd like to get a translation of a short phrase if at all posssible and can't find a decent online Irish dictionary. argh....

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This will help so much in my studies.

Postby Pater » 09 Jun 2004, 05:35

My sister and I have long discussions on which way to pronounce certain names, this will help ease the tension when we study.

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Postby Beith » 09 Jun 2004, 11:43

..or add to it considerably Pater!!!! grin!

As I wrote in the original post - the pronunciations given above are those that we'd use in the east of ireland and I think this is ultimately from Munster gaelic. The gaelic spoken in Northern Ireland and Connacht may vary the pronunciation of "mh" and "adh" sounds a bit.

Anyway, hope it's of help. I believe the OBOD also issues a pronunciation guide in its packages so you can see how that works for you too, if you're a member.

Good luck!

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Postby Alanna » 03 Jul 2004, 17:49

I'm a gaeilge na Mumhain girl myself.
Leinster didn't have it's own dialect due to the Pale etc etc.
Leinster pronounciation is more or less like munster, but it has a harder edge - it doesn't have the blas that the rest of the country has. Shame, that.

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Postby Beith » 05 Jul 2004, 17:35

Dia dhuit Alanna,

Fáilte romhat anseo!

Alanna if you feel like adding to the list or posting alternates to what I put above, then feel free.

Have to say, being a Laighin lass, I find "Leinster G" (Munster with no 'blas'!!) easier to understand as we've less accent than other regions. I am hoping to improve my gaelic mar is tamall fada é a d'fhoghlaigh me é sa scoill!

Greetings to Ríocht na Mhumhain agus ár tír álainn féin!


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Postby forestwalker » 06 Sep 2004, 00:35

For a beginner like me, i spend as much time reading each name in a text and pronouncing it several theorestical ways to attempt to guess what sounds most correct, as reading the story which makes any reading very time consuming, so ty Beth greatly, it's interesting, and will make it a lot easier! printing it off too!


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Postby bardicwisdom » 26 Sep 2004, 23:05

:grin: :D
Hey Beith, I can only reiterate what others have said, but thanks again for the pronunciation guide.
:-) :lol:[font=Arial, sans-serif][/font]

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Postby pangur ban » 06 Dec 2004, 17:14

Though I'm sure I can't pronounce all these names properly, I have been studying Gaelic on my own, and cringe at the slaughter of the names of the Gods and mythological entities in ADF rituals I've attended. They insisted on calling Bres, "Bray", for example. Have checked it out at, where they who should know agreed with me, but these "American Druids" still wouldn't listen. They have copies of Gaelic dictionaries but don't bother to try and use them. Thanks for your list, at least it helps me!
Slan, Pangur Ban

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