Howye! Ah, sure yer graaaaand, biy!
Unlike the impression given by both British and American media, there is more than one Irish accent. Researchers have found, in fact, that there's a different accent for roughly every five miles you travel — that's a slightly different accent for every single town on the island, though naturally, only locals will be able to hear the finer differences.
The dialect is properly known as Irish English or Hiberno-English. The English language has been firmly entrenched in Ireland since the mid-19th Century, but, as with Scotland and Wales, Irish English retains some grammatical features from the Irish languagenote , as well as a couple of archaic British odditiesnote . Irish English is also almost entirely rhotic, except for some Dublin accents. For reference, here is a video showcasing the variety of Irish accents found in Ireland.
Accents and examples:
Stereotype: Old, wisened, salt-of-the-earth grannies and granddads; street traders, especially from Moore Street, a shopping street in the inner city; criminals and gang-members. Basically, the Dublin version of Cockney and its associated stereotypes.
- Dustin the Turkey, icon to a generation of Irish children.
- Most of the characters in Love/Hate, but in particular Nidge and Frannote .
- Agnes Brown from Mrs. Brown's Boys and her family members and friends.
- The Harfoots from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power speak an Irish dialect inspired by the Dublin accent.
- The Dubliners, of course. In particular, Ronnie Drew had a very strong accent both while speaking and singing.
- Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy.
- Imelda May, rockabilly and jazz singer from The Liberties (inner city area).
- Grian Chatten of the Post-Punk band Fontaines D.C.
- Radio One Liveline host Joe Duffy, who's famously from 'Clontaaarf'.
- Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is from Drumcondra.
- Labour Party leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton.
- Dublin grandmother Ann Grimes shouting at the street fight in this video.
- Sergeant Jack "Butcher" O'Hara of the Commandos. The authenticity of the accent varies from game to game.
Stereotype: None, really, since about 60% of Dubliners city- and county-wide possess it. Can be any sort of character but when they do appear they are often well educated and in prestigious jobs. Sometimes thought of as "RTÉ English", in which it is considered roughly equivalent to BBC English or Received Pronunciation.
- Father Ted Crilly, Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett from Father Ted. While the show is set on an island off the west coast of Ireland, the main characters have all been sent there by Bishop Brennan from the mainland for various infractions.
- The Garda characters, Mick Moynihan and Ciaran Madden in Love/Hate.
- The dentist, Andrew Reddin and his wife from series four.
- Colm Meaney, and thus, Miles O'Brien from Star Trek.
- Most RTÉ news presenters.
- Former Late Late Show presenter (1965—1999) Gay Byrne.
- Former Late Late Show presenter (1999—2009) Pat Kenny.
- Current Late Late Show presenter (2009— ) Ryan Tubridy.
- Author Roddy Doyle.
- Actor Colin Farrell.
- Actor Brendan Gleeson.
- Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald.
- Current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Stereotype: Upper class twits, basically — rich kids from privileged background; Daddy is a barrister and Mammy is a "lady who lunches" and spends her time going to America on shopping trips; he plays rugby (if a he; didn't engage in sports, if female) and attends Trinity College. The milder version ('New Dublin' as opposed to 'D4') seems to gradually be turning into 'anyone middle class or higher but especially female born after the early 1980s' as it is becoming popular outside Dublin among younger people.
- Jim Moriarty from Sherlock has his own actor's D4 accent, played up for hamminess, when he's not pretending to be someone with a different accent.
- Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is a parody D4 character and star of a newspaper column and a number of 'autobiographical' novels.
- Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats and Band Aid fame has a version of this that's somewhat more nasal and downmarket; the D4 accent didn't really develop in Ireland until the late 1980s, on account of Irish people's massive exposure to transatlantic TV. Geldof comes from the right area, but he's from an earlier generation.
- John and Edward 'Jedward' Grimes.
- Downplayed with The Edge from U2, who was born in England to a Welsh family and grew up in a middle-class part of north Dublin.
- TV Chef, Rachel Allen.
- Former TD Paul Gogarty of "Fuck you, Deputy Stagg" fame.
- Professional wrestler Becky Lynch has a D4 accent, unlike Irish wrestlers of the past, to the point where many fans have asked What the Hell Is That Accent?.
- Actress Katie McGrath is technically from just across the county border in County Wicklow but went to school in Dublin and has this accent.
Stereotype: Farmers, GAA fans (other than the Dublin footballers, obviously).
- Podge and Rodge from A Scare at Bedtime.
- All the characters from former soap opera Glenroe, set in Wicklow.
- Pat Shortt, seen in Father Ted and his own series Killinaskully, has a quintessential Tipperary accent.
- The characters in the 2005 mini-series Pure Mule have the very distinctive Offaly accent, which is as flat as the local countryside and which is caricaturable as ownly huving wun vuwel sownd.note
- Irish-American columnist Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) frequently wrote his columns for the Chicago Tribune featuring the fictitious Mr. Dooley, an Irish immigrant bartender from County Roscommon, with a Funetik Accent:
"Th' newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs the polis force an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim afterward. They ain't annything it don't turn its hand to fr'm explainin' th' docthrine iv thransubstantiation to composin' saleratus biskit. Ye can git anny kind of information ye want to in ye'er fav'rite newspaper about ye'erself or annywan else." note
- Current President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins (from Galway).
- Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, from Offaly.
- Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, from Mayo.
- Fergal Devitt, better known as Finn Balor, is from Bray, County Wicklow.
- Tom Hardy based Bane's accent in The Dark Knight Rises on Traveller boxer Bartley Gorman.
- Snatch.: Mickey is pretty much The Unintelligible. Turkish describes his manner of speaking as "It's not English. It's not Irish. It's just Pikey." (By the way, do not refer to the accent, or people, as "pikey" in real life. "Pikey" is considered a strong racial slur by Travellers, and Statham's character is meant to be abusing N-Word Privileges, not using an everyday slang term.) Pitt actually did the research — the accent is exaggerated for comic effect but basically close to the real thing.
- Patrick, the pipe bomb maker and main nemesis in series five of Love/Hate.
Stereotype: Colourful characters; wants to separate Cork county into its own country. Also hates Dublin with a passion and considers Cork superior. Often joked to be the Irish equivalent of Texans (and to consider their neighbours in Kerry the Irish equivalent of Mexicans).
- Conor Mac Sweeney and "Jock" O'Keefe from The Young Offenders and its Sequel Series, a pair of Lower Class Louts from the city's northside. Most of the rest of the cast, particularly Billy Murphy, as well.
Live Action TV
- Sister Michael from Derry Girls has a snarkier version of the usual portrayal of this accent.
- Brendan O'Connor, presenter of The Saturday Night Show.
- Current Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
- Jack Gleeson, actor best known as Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones.
- Strangely enough, surviving recordings of archetypal Dublin author James Joyce reveal that he had a high-pitched Cork accent, on account of his father John being very much a Corkman.
- The chicken from Sminky Shorts.
Stereotype: Shank-toting, yokes-dropping underprivileged youth who'd stab you as soon as look at you.
- The Rubberbandits, Blind Boy Boat Club and Mr. Chrome, two rappers who made their debut as online crank phone call peddlers and eventually migrated to Republic Of Telly, a sketch comedy TV show on RTÉ, where they perfected their blend of brain-melting idiocy, surrealism and hip-hop tunes. They later stormed the Edinburgh Festival and went on to produce a pilot for Channel Four which fell through, but have since moved on to ITV, and will make a show about the 1916 rising for RTÉ. Best known for their song "Horse Outside", which produced a shitstorm of outraged moral guardians due to lyrics like "Fuck your Mitsubishi, I've a Horse Outside" and a video involving a short segment in which a character talked about how the married couple oughtn't give up on the partying if they have kids. People took to the radio show LiveLine to complain, but the segment was interrupted by the intrusion of Blind Boy, who phoned in to give an erudite lecture on irony, misdirection and semiotics in an accent so thick you could prop up a car with it.
Joe Duffy: Are you the fella that wears the plastic bag over his head?Blind Boy: Well, there're two've us who wear plastic bags over our heads, I'm wan of 'em.Joe Duffy: And... can you talk properly, or is this your...Blind Boy: 'Chamean, can I talk praperly? Dis is Blind Boy Boat Club from da Rubberbandits, an' I'm an your shoo, willin' to speak, Joe-Joe.Joe Duffy: Okay, what do you think of Willie O'Dea's support?Blind Boy: I tink it's anreal, fair play ta Willie and tanks for supportin', it's grayat, like. [...] Anywan who's got a complayant about the video or the sang, like, yer man Anthony's who's talking away dere, what he needs to do, someone needs to give dat man a dictionary, an he needs to look up da word "ironeh".[Stunned pause from host and callers]Joe Duffy: Anthony?Anthony: [sourly] Absolute joke.Blind Boy: Absolutely, it's an absolute joke, you put it well dere yirself, kid.Anthony: I mean, I'm all for humour, et cetera, but what you're bringing in about children, and house parties and drugs and all that, it's a disgrace.Blind Boy: Ahl right, one second now, right. Okeh. The line yer referrin' tah, about children and house parties and drugs, right, let me speak now a second, right—yoor lookin' at that from a very denotative perspective, right?
Stereotype: Flat-cap wearing farmers, rampant xenophobes and weirdos. Also hates Dublin.
- Belfast accents tend to be harsh
- Western accents ((London)Derry/Tyrone/Fermanagh) tend to be softer
- Irish Sea/North Channel coastal accents which are a mix of two with a hint of Scottish for good measure
One of the most notable sounds in the Northern Irish accent is "ar". People speak into their jaws, again audible when the "ow" sound is used. So when you next meet a Northern Irish person ask them to say "An hour in the power shower", and it comes out as "An arr in the par shar". Also, "ow" is pronounced more like "oi", leading to Hilarity Ensues when it comes to "how now brown cow". This sound is particularly distinctive because it tends to be retained by Northern Irish people even when otherwise they are toning down their accent (such as newsreaders presenting national news): in the middle of an otherwise RP-sounding sentence we will be told that the Prime Minister has announced that interests rates will come "doyn". Although again, this is not the same all over Northern Ireland. People from (London)Derry do tend to pronounce power — "Pau-yer". Also see "k-yar" for "car", "say-vin" for "seven" and "fill-um" for "film".
The key to speaking Irish Sea Coast Norn Irn (which is a mix of the above, Scottish and 'rural') — talk through your nose and drop the middle out of every word, or drop half the syllables. Spaces are optional. "I went to see the doctor" becomes "Aahwentuh se thu doc'er". You can see English people's brains stop dead as they try to decipher it. Trying to talk to anyone from Pakistan, Africa or Jamaica is a lost cause.
Long story short — we have the same amount of regional variations in accent, in an area smaller than Wales, as in the rest of the UK.
Stereotype: Inevitably, Western Terrorists taking random elements from the Villain tropebook.
- Jim McDonald in Coronation Street — an alcoholic wife-beater, so he was.
- Everyone except southerner Tommy Tiernan in Derry Girls.
- Give My Head Peace
- How NOT to do a Northern Irish accent — If It's Doomsday, It Must Be Belfast.
- Rory Flanagan in Glee. It isn't distinguished as Northern Irish by any characters in show, probably due to the writers not wanting to get into complicated politics, but it's a Derry accent like the actor's.
- A large portion of the cast in the BBC drama The Fall (2013), which makes sense, as it's set in Belfast.
- Superintendent Hastings in Line of Duty.
- Jackie Wright, Belfast-born sidekick/Butt-Monkey on The Benny Hill Show.
- Ian Paisley — "criminality" used to be one of his favourite words.
- James Nesbitt of Murphy's Law fame, who commonly subverts the NI accent stereotype by regularly playing good guys.
- Nadine Coyle of Girls Aloud has an exaggerated Derry accent.
- As mentioned above, Damian McGinty, who rose to fame after winning The Glee Project, and now plays Rory Flanagan on Glee, has a Derry accent.
- Colin Morgan, although he shifts to an English accent for Merlin
- And of course, Liam Neeson who tends to use his natural Ballymena accent in most of his films, though his accent is quite muted and soft.
- James Burke, the BBC's main science reporter in The '60s and The '70s, known across the Pond as "That Guy Who Made Connections" speaks in what sounds like RP to an American, but upon closer listening is very clearly Derry with English schooling from the age of 11—that habit of dropping into rhoticity gives it away.
- Van Morrison, when speaking and not singing, betrays his East Belfast roots.
- Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, both when singing and speaking.