Happy Paddy’s day!

Public service announcement: To all American readers, please call this day Paddy’s day and not Patty‘s (or Patti‘s) day. Say the original St. Patrick’s Day or use the Irish nickname with d’s. We spell it with d’s instead of t’s because it’s based on the Irish version of the name Pádraig.

We aren’t celebrating burgers today or Saint Patricia, for feck’s sake!! I’ve seen so many arseways spellings of “Paddy’s” on signs all over Austin (now that I’m here learning ASL) and online on twitter and Facebook, that this issue really does need to be addressed!!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, Happy St. Patrick’s day! :)

St. Patrick in a nutshell

It may be a surprise to hear that St. Patrick was not born in Ireland. He was a Roman Briton who was captured when he was 16 and enslaved to work in Ireland. When he eventually escaped he went on to become a bishop and made it his life’s mission to bring Christianity to Ireland.

For those of you who don’t know much about this holiday, it has nothing to do with the colour green. If any Americans pinch me today for not wearing a green t-shirt they are going to regret it! (But I’ll probably be sporting my silly green hat).

I’m not religious myself, but the day is actually primarily a religious holiday. Ireland’s patron saint is honoured for bringing something to the country that clearly had a huge impact on its history over the next 1500 years.

What I find most interesting about St. Patrick is that he would make the biggest difference in Ireland because he spoke the language. He wasn’t the first person to attempt to bring Christianity to the country, but he was the most successful because he had learned the Celtic language of its people rather than just rambling on at them in Latin.

In Ireland we have parades and masses to celebrate this day. Parades share small communities and clubs of that town have been emulated all around the world. The holiday has nothing to do with drinking, but because Irish people drink more than they do in most countries anyway, this aspect of the holiday sometimes gets coupled with it.

In recent years there have been attempts to use this as an attempt to bring more attention to the national language (the campaign is known as seachtain na Gaeilge), so I’d like to share some stuff relevant to that language, as well as some Irish culture, with you in this post!


Another public service announcement I’ll throw in here is that when someone says they speak “Irish” they don’t mean the accent they have in English (see below for that). Ireland has its own language and you can find out about it in this detailed post I wrote about it:

Learning the Irish language (Gaeilge)

If you’re in a hurry then a quick tip while you are drinking today is to say “Sláinte” instead of cheers; pronounced slawn-cheh.

The Irish language, presented by a leprechaun

If you’re curious to hear what Irish sounds like, then check out this video I made about the language itself. I included some beautiful Dublin and Donegal scenery and subtitles of course. And it’s a good opportunity for you to laugh at me prancing around the country dressed up like a ridiculous looking leprechaun!

(Click through to the post to watch this video if reading this by RSS/e-mail).

You can also watch this video in English and five other languages, with all the links given here.

An Treoir Teanga – The Language Hacking Guide in Irish

For those of you interested in speaking any language, you can actually read my best advice that has been translated to Irish by natives from the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking regions in the west of Ireland), by getting the full version of the Language Hacking Guide.

This full version of the guide has been available in Irish for a few months, but I’ve finally had the time to put up the full sales page and subtitles to the video in Irish too!

I’m not sure how many sales pages you will find online in Irish, so check this one out and get yourself a copy of the guide for a unique chance to read about speaking a language, entirely in Irish!

You get the same content if you buy the full version on the English page of course. The download comes with 20 other languages too, including English, so you can use that in parallel as you read to understand the text entirely.

An Treoir Teanga

What is RSS? What is Burning Man? How to learn Tango? Also in Irish!

Long before I started this blog, I had a multilingual Youtube channel. It was always a lot of work, but I translated the commentary of my documentaries to Irish when I did it to other languages.

In fact, back in 2008 when I had my ticket to go to Burning Man (which I’m considering returning to this year), I decided to apply for a hard-to-get media badge. Usually you need some experience, credentials or a very interesting twist to get this badge. In my application I told them I would make the first ever documentary about the event in Irish and of course they had no choice but to give it to me! This meant that, unlike other attendees, I could point my camera everywhere and record some interesting action :)

Although the Irish version has not been viewed many times on Youtube, National Geographic Italy invited me to showcase the Italian version of the documentary on NatGeo adventure. I was in Italy when this happened and was recognised in the street in Milan from someone who had seen me on TV :D The Italian version was the most important one, but I wouldn’t have been able to record it if I hadn’t done it in Irish first!

Anyway, I digress! Check out all my videos about several cool topics, all with audio as Gaeilge gathered on my Irish language video blog page. One of my favourites is the documentary about living in Tenerife and hiking up mount Teide, which I edited together just after having spent three weeks in the Gaeltacht.

How to speak English like the Irish

This is by far the most popular blog post I’ve written to date with a detailed explanation of some important differences in how English is spoken by Irish people.

Grammar girl is kind enough to share a shortened version of my main post with her readers and listeners today! Check out the original one here if you’d like to sound more Irish, or at least understand us better!

Speak with an Irish accent

Luck of the Irish!

The term luck of the Irish is quite a strange one considering Ireland’s history. Ireland has suffered through being conquered by Vikings and the British and the vast majority if its population have narrowly escaped famines, war, starvation, prejudice and were forced to emigrate in the last few hundreds years, and these were certainly not lucky!

Things were going great for Ireland in the 90s, but unfortunately the worldwide economic crisis hit us worse than most countries and resulting personal, business and government debts will leave scars on the country for a generation. If anything, the term luck of the Irish should only be used ironically!

But perhaps those who had emigrated were the first to quickly find their “pot of gold” in the land and gold rushes in California. It’s one of the only ways I can see historical logic in the phrase.

Anyway, those of you who know that I am sceptical will understand why I believe that luck simply doesn’t exist. A wise Irishman I met on the road once reminded me that every man makes his own luck. With that in mind, I wrote this post that explains how you can actually learn to be lucky!

Luck of the Irish? Or can anyone learn to be lucky?


This time last year I was back in Ireland for Paddy’s day and you can see some photos of how the parade was is in my hometown on my flickr account. It was great to be back home, but today I’m going to experience it for the first time à la américaine.

Apart from pedantically correcting pubs for misspelling the day they are so enthusiastically celebrating, I look forward to sharing what I feel it truly means to be Irish with my American friends here. I hope this post gets that idea across to you today :) Let me know how you’re celebrating it in the comments below!

Slán agus go n-eirí libh!



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  • Marilia Sestini

    Acabei de voltar de Dublin….. ja estou morrendo de saudades! Quero voltar o mais rapido possivel e dessa vez sair de Dublin County. peguei 15 dias de ceu azul!!!!! Amo seu pais!!! ( meu teclado e americano e nao tem acentos =( )

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      É verdade que tem poucos que festejam o St. Patrick’s day no Brasil!! :P Mas eu amo seu país também ;)

  • http://englishharmony.com Robby Kukurs

    Happy Paddy’s Day Benny and everyone else too!

    Just a couple of days ago I came across “Patty’s Day” – never heard of it before, but then I wrongly assumed it’s just another version of St Patrick’s… If not for your blog post, I wouldn’t have found out it’s wrong!

    It’s a bit strange that “Patty’s Day” has gone mainstream in the US – maybe there weren’t enough Irish in the region to correct it went the wrong term started to catch on?…

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      I never heard it before this week but now I’m starting to see it everywhere. I suppose if I had seen it online before I would have cast it aside as the ignorance of one person, but it really is rampant in the states!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot


  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Please e-mail me about this. These questions are irrelevant to this blog post

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks! I did! :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    It’s mostly influenced by how widespread Irish emigration was. In Ireland we don’t really celebrate any foreign holidays because the country didn’t have much immigration until the 90s.
    Whether they are Irish or not, having Irish people in the vicinity is enough to get them in party mood :P

  • Lorenzo

    I celebrated this holiday by watching the parade here in Belfast, which nowadays is attended by local Protestants as well! And yes, the vast majority of the people – and the overwhelming majority of local young people – I came across while I was out in the streets was wearing something green or displaying the Irish flag in some way. Greetings from Northern Ireland!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Yeah, now Ireland is adapting an American tradition that the Americans think is Irish. The irony and circularity is quite silly really :P But yes, it’s as good a time as any to show the tricolour!

  • Anonymous

    I had a friend tell me that the Irish never used to drink on Paddy’s day but when American’s co-opted the holiday as a bout of drunken revelry – and added the color green, they thought it sounded like a good idea. Any truth to that?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      As I said, it’s a religious holiday. Drinking isn’t the core part of Easter or Christmas either, but it happens. Relaxing strict religious laws to abstain from alcohol would have lead to more drinking on such days, but not necessarily more than any other weekend or family party.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    It depends on what part of Ireland you go to. In the likes of Dublin even the old people would be more likely to speak English and you might just have had trouble with their accent. Irish is more common in a city like Galway and in the Gaeltacht of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robcrichards Rob Richards

    Having seen the green beer come up as well as go down in Kansas City I think the point is that it is a spring holiday in the US and while some folks may look down on those who aren’t “Irish enough” celebrating along with those of who are (how do you figure that out?) the point is the opportunities to drink beer, eat sausage and wear a stupid hat in public are too limited.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dcoltun Davíd Cóltun

    Are there any differences in how St. Pattys Day is celebrated between Ireland and North America?

    • http://www.facebook.com/dcoltun Davíd Cóltun

      *paddys.  my bad

  • gcallah

    “To all American readers, please call this day Paddy’s day and not Patty‘s (or Patti‘s) day. Say the original St. Patrick’s Day or use the Irish nickname with d’s.”

    Yeah, you know what: When I’m in Ireland and the UK, and I hear everyone talking about a fileT of sole or saying that Julius Caesar said “VIY-NIY VIY-DIY VIY-KIY,” I don’t spend all of my time correcting them and noting that’s not how those things are said in the original languages. Words change as they move from place to place. Get over it.

    Oh, and the American hating on this site gets a little heavy at times. Remember, if it wasn’t for the US, you would have learned German as a baby, not in your twenties.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      :) It’s people like you that make it so easy to hate on Americans! Your stupidity is impressive!! Luckily the vast majority of those I’ve met were not as repulsive as you.

      The ORIGINAL language is English you plonker. I explained that Irish is the reason Paddy’s has a d, but Paddy is an English word. Patty in this context is idiotic.

      Yes, you keep resorting to World War II. Something young Americans had nothing whatsoever to do with.

  • Tomos Burton

    St. David’s Day was the big one for me although I’m sure my godmother was celebrating St. Patrick’s!

    I must admit, if I look at other Celtic languages, I normally go for Cornish or Breton because A] all the other languages I’m learning are different to each other and B] I think I’m more likely to run into them in Cornwall. I did recently meet a Welsh speaker in Cornwall and I said something to him in Welsh briefly. I don’t suppose that counts as a level up.

  • Kevin McClung

    In American English, Patty and Paddy are synonyms, hence the linguistically understandable mispelling. While I understand your objection, I take issue with the implication that Irish Americans who spell this way are plastic Paddies. If anything, the fact that their ancestors were forced to leave Ireland makes them more Irish, not less.

  • Kevin McClung

    Patty and Paddy are synonyms in American English, hence the misspelling. As for the semantics of “Irish,” I’ve had trouble finding Gaeilge conversation partners online because most matches only speak Irish English or talk with fake Irish accents.