The top 10 Irish town names that no one can pronounce

Some towns in Ireland are renowned for being mispronounced. Here are the top ten Irish town names that no one can pronounce.

Growing up in Ireland, we know how words should and shouldn’t be pronounced, but it isn’t until someone perhaps who is on an Irish road trip, asks for directions when visiting the country that we are forced to stop and think about how strange our language can sometimes be. On that note, there are many Irish town names that no one can pronounce.

Many of us studied Irish in school throughout the years, and although we might not all be fluent in Irish, we certainly have a basic understanding of the general pronunciation of things, especially weird letter combinations.

Regardless, it does give us a little laugh when we hear certain towns pronounced completely wrong. With that being said, here are the top ten Irish town names that no one can pronounce.

10. Tuam, Co. Galway – the one the Americans get wrong

Tuam is one of the Irish town names that no one can pronounce.
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Americans commonly get this one wrong by pronouncing it ‘Too-am’. In actual fact, they are only half correct. We have to admit, though, that this is a tricky one.

Pronounced: ‘Chew-am’

9. Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry – the reality of the Irish language

Glenbeigh is a tricky one for those not from here.
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What if we told you that the second half of this name is pronounced as ‘Bay’? Well, you would probably laugh and think we were having you on when in actual fact, that is the true reality of the Irish language. It is not exactly as it seems.

Pronounced: ‘Glen-bay’

8. Thurles, Co. Tipperary – time to set the record straight

Thurles is one of the Irish town names that no one can pronounce.

For an Irish town name that no one can pronounce, we think this one should have been relatively easy. We have heard it pronounced as ‘Thurls’ far too many times that it is now time to set the record straight.

Pronounced: ‘Thur-less’

7. Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny – one of the Irish town names that no-one can pronounce

Inistioge is hard to get on the first attempt.
Credit: geograph.ie

This can be quite a tricky one, and we don’t blame you for not trying to say it because people rarely get it right on a first attempt.

Pronounced: ‘Inish-teeg’

6. Drogheda, Co. Louth – hard to ask for directions with this name

Drogheda is one of the Irish town names that no one can pronounce.

This has to be one of the main Irish town names that no one can pronounce, and we have all heard people ask for directions to ‘Drog-eeda’ at one point or another.

Pronounced: ‘Draw-heda’

5. Cobh, Co. Cork – easier than you think

Cobh often gets mispronounced.
Credit: Flickr/ William Murphy

We wonder how many times the locals have heard their town being called after corn on the cob because we can only imagine it’s been a few times. This town is, in fact, pronounced much easier than you would think.

Pronounced: ‘Cove’

4. Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny – a mouthful for anyone

This is one of the Irish town names that no one can pronounce.
Credit: geographe.ie

This place in Kilkenny can be an absolute mouthful for anyone to try and attempt, but when you’ve got it, you’ve got it. There are many strange letter combinations within the word, which might be very confusing if you don’t know how they are correctly spoken.

Pronounced: ‘Greg-nah-mah-nah’

3. Youghal, Co. Cork – one that gets everyone confused

Youghal is actually pronounced 'yawl'.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

This is a place name that gets everyone confused, especially foreigners, but also Irish people who don’t venture down to Cork very often. The town has heard many mispronunciations from ‘Yogg-al’ to ‘You-gal’.

Pronounced: ‘Yawl’

2. Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow – spot it on your way to the Wicklow Mountains

This is one of the Irish town names that no one can pronounce.
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Many people heading towards the Wicklow Mountains will bypass the signs for this town, and many will be confused as to how it is pronounced, so we will tell you how.

Pronounced: ‘Kil-muh-ca-nog’

1. Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin – a commonly mispronounced Irish town name

Dun Laoghaire is often mispronounced.
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This South Dublin town is a commonly mispronounced Irish town name, and we can certainly see why. Irish is a strange language, and there are certain letters that are either silent or pronounced like other letters, which can be so confusing, so we will forgive you for this one.

Pronounced: ‘Dun-leer-ee’

Yes, many Irish towns are hard to pronounce because they generally aren’t spoken the same way as they are spelt, and that is the beauty of our exotic Irish language.

There are many Irish town names that no one can pronounce.
Credit: geographe.ie

It may drive people crazy to be constantly confused by crazy-looking road signs and place names, but it will never seize to entertain us when someone asks for directions to one of these places.

It is worth knowing that some letters in Irish can either be pronounced different or are completely silent. For instance, the letters ‘bh’ are generally spoken like a ‘v’ (Cobh).

Meanwhile, the ‘gh’ is usually pronounced as a ‘y’ (Glenbeigh). It may take a little bit of time and some trial and error, but eventually, the Irish language becomes easier. We understand that the Irish dialect can be tricky.

In the meantime, it is handy to start with these ten Irish town names that no one can pronounce and go from there because, as we all know, there are certainly many more where they came from.