“Norn Iron”. That’s the first one to learn. It’s our local term for Northern Ireland. Once you get used to our accents, you’ll need to get used to our words. We have some belters (great ones). Learn a few of them and it’ll help awkward situations when someone asks if you’d like a ‘poke’ and ensure you don’t think you’re being propositioned if someone asks about your craic (pronounced ‘crack’). Explanation below for both of those :O)
TOP 20 NORTHERN IRISH SLANG WORDS WORTH LEARNING
(and try using whilst you’re here!)
We’ve used a few golfing scenarios you might find useful at The Open…
– Broken. Brooks Koepka bends a club on a tree whilst hitting out of the rough. “Banjaxed!” is all you need to say to the person next to you. All will know that it’s the end of the line for that bit of kit.
– Filthy. To be used if Garcia’s caddy walks up with some serious turf attached. Say to no one with the authority of someone who knows “Sergio’s clubs are boggin! He must have been swinging around in the rough down there!”. You’ll get nods of agreement.
– How are you? A scenario you might find yourself in at The Open is bumping into Rory McIlroy or catching his eye on the fairway. If you do then look him straight in the eye, nod your head and ask ‘Bout ye?’ Even better “Bout ye wee mun?” If he replies “stickin out’, that’s the end of the conversation. It means he’s fully prepared for The Open. Job done. Move on. :O)
– Idiot. To be used when a spectator makes a noise and puts the golfers off. Point at them, turn to the Northern Irish local next to you and say “Buck eejit!” whilst throwing your head back in disgust. You’ll get accepted straight away and might get an invite to a family wedding.
Catch yerself on
– Wise up! To be used when fellow spectators who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about, make ridiculous statements, such as comments like “I don’t think Rory McIlroy will win The Open!” Your reply, especially if in the company of large Northern Irish locals should be a sharp “Catch yerself on!”. Handshakes may well be swapped and beers bought later.
– Chips or fries. Uniquely in NI we say ‘Chip’, singular. So chips + gravy, you would ask for ‘a gravy chip please’. Chips + curry sauce, you would ask for ‘a curry chip’. Fish & chips? See below for that. The word ‘chips’ doesn’t even feature in that one…!
Craic (pronounced ‘crack’)
– How are you? ‘What’s the craic?’ you’ll hear a lot, for ‘how are you?’ or ‘what’s up?’. You are not in the middle of a drug deal, we promise. To be used when you hand over your ticket to get into The Open. “Tickets please” You hand it over. Whilst they check it you ask, whilst nodding your head slightly backwards, “What’s the craic?”. The reply might be “The craic is good”. To repeat, this is not a drugs deal or a reference to a private parrt of your anatomy.
– Going for a walk. Commenting that “Tiger Woods is dandering up the fairway” is a good way to use this. Saying “I see Rory is playing incredibly today like he’s going for a dander round Barry’s” (a well known Portrush amusement park) would endear yourself to the locals as it’ll bring on a knowing smile and will likely result in a hug and you being offered a curried chip from a poke.
– That’ll do. The perfect time to use it is after a great tee off. After the applause has stopped and there is that moment of quiet, comment loudly “that’ll do rightly”. If it’s Rory on the tee fire the ‘wink and gun’ at him to emphasise your appreciation of his shot.
– Fish & chips. If you ask for ‘Fish & chips’ or ‘Cod & chips’ you’ll easily be identified as a tourist. Asking for a ‘Fish supper’ is how you ask for fish & chips in Northern Ireland. And we have some fantastic fish & chip shops on the Causeway Coast [a list of them here] – so we’d recommend you try them out before you go. This is best used as a throw away comment at The Open, such as at the end of the day after the last putt – you announce loudly to no one in particular “that’s me away for a fish supper!”. You’ll get nods of approval from the locals.
– Screwing your face up. Jordan Spieth hits one in to the bunker. You rock back on your heels and say “He’ll be gurning about that one!”. Class…
Houl yer whisht!
– Keep quiet! Perfect for any situation when a spectator makes inappropriate comments, particularly if aimed at our lad, Rory. “Houl yer whisht!” Go for the broad NI accent if you can on this one :O)
– Fiddle/rummage around. Justin Rose fires it into the rough. Turn to the person next to you, raise your eyebrows in both sympathy and slight mocking towards Justin and say “He’ll be hoaking around in there for a bit!”. Perfect.
Keep ‘er lit
– Keep going. Use when there has been a spectacular drive and it’s still going. Rock back on your heels and shout out loudly and proudly… “keep ‘er lit!”
– The cone you put ice cream or chips in. If you’re hungry and find a natural break in play you can tell the person next to you “I’m away for a poke” and they’ll understand completely that you’re hungry and not up to anything sexual. If you’re feeling generous you can ask the person next to you, “Would you like a poke?”. Now, if you’re saying this to a local, you’ll be fine. Given it’s often sexual meaning, caution should be taken around non locals with the use of this term, especially if you’re a man and you’re being gallant to a female spectator who has a very large husband next to her. This might cause an international incident and damage to your anatomy. So use with caution.
– Really peeved. Ricky Fowler plants one in a gorse bush and throws his club down. Quietly, under your breath, you say to the local next to you “He’s scundered with that one!” whilst raising your eyebrows in a way that suggests you’ve been there yourself.
– I’m good. In reply to “bout ‘ye” above. Say this and NI folks will know that you’re good enough to date one of their relatives.
Two men and a wee boy
– “It’s big/heavy”. Use this when you see one of the caddies struggling with a heavy golf bag. Point in the direction and say “You’d need two men and a wee boy to lift that one!”. A shake of the head to one side with a sharp intake of breath before you say it will emphasise your expertise and/or authority in this matter.
– Little/small or just ‘a’. To the amusement of countries where ‘wee’ is a term for urine or urinating, we use wee all the time. A wee this, a wee that. “Would you like a wee drink?” “Where’s the wee man going now?” – neither of these refer to the size of the drink or man. However, if you hit a double wee – using a wee in the reply – you might well be on the subject of size. So “Would you like a wee drink?” “Ay, a wee coke” might suggest a small glass rather than full pint. Or it might just mean “A wee coke” – “a coke”. At this point you’re in the ‘Four candles’ or ‘Fork handles’ territory, so we’d suggest appropriate hand signals to enquire about size. By the time you leave NI you’ll find yourself adding this wee word in to the odd sentence. Best used at The Open when swapping chit chat with other spectators in between play. “… yes, I had a great night last night – a lovely pint of Guinness in the pub followed by a wee walk on the beach…” – that’s the perfect way to use your wee in Northern Ireland.
– Go ahead. Best used with the word “ay”. So, you’re well positioned with a good view of the green with the players approaching and someone asks you if they can put their bag down in front of you. Having assessed your situation and felt happy that your view wouldn’t be affected, you do a small tilt of the head to the side and say in a cheery welcoming voice “ay … work away!”. Situation resolved perfectly. Move on…
A quick pronunciation guide
Here’s the rhyme: Pronounce your ‘a’ as a ‘u’, ‘o’ as an ‘a’ and insert ‘i”s next to ‘o’s to get our prose! :O)
‘o’ next to w is ‘i’ – so cow is coi
so famously, ‘how now brown cow’ would be ‘hoi noi brine coi’
‘u’ next to an ‘o’ can also form an ‘i’ – so scout becomes scoit
‘o’ can also be ‘a’ – so box is often pronounced as bax … ‘fox in a box’ can be ‘fax in a bax’
‘a’ can also be ‘u’ – so man can be mun
Got it? Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. Just keep practicing… :O)
See you in Portrush in July!
(…and his dad)
Other useful portrushopen2019.com / Causeway Coast Guides
- Top 5 ‘Must do’ before you go home
- Guide to Northern Irish slang at The Portrush Open 2019
- Top 10 things to do on the Causeway Coast
- Top 10 Causeway Coast Seaview Eateries
- Top 3 Best Fish & Chip shops on the Causeway Coast
- Top 3 Causeway Coast authentic Northern Irish eating experiences
- Causeway Coast beach guide
- Causeway Coast surf guide
- Top 10 Golf Links courses in Northern Ireland
- How safe is Northern Ireland and The Portrush Open?
- How to get around Northern Ireland during The Portrush Open
- Guide to the local foods of Northern Ireland
- Currency of Northern Ireland explained
- Portrush Open 2019 | Northern Ireland Weather Guide
- How to trace your Irish ancestry whilst you’re here
- How to have a Gaelic tourism experience in NI