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15th Dec 2018

The 10 struggles of having an Irish name no one can pronounce

Anna Daly

Irish name

Brought to you by Huawei.

This is my friend, Sa-duh-buh-huh.

So there are obviously a bazillion amazing things about being Irish. One of the not so great things, however, are our names.

They sound lovely (most of the time) but they’re goddamn impossible to spell. For non-Irish people, anyway. When you’ve been learning Irish since age five, it makes sense that bh sounds like a v, but try telling other people that.

The struggles of living with an Irish name popped up in conversation again after we all had a go at pronouncing THAT phone brand. You know the one. Huawei. How do you pronounce that? Is it Who-a-way? Who-a-weh-ee? How-ih-ya?

Nope, none of those. Actually it’s wah-way. Yeah, we know. They are the world’s second largest smartphone company but, according to their own survey, at least 30 percent of people in Ireland have no notion of how to pronounce their name.

Well, we may not be able to pronounce their name but at least we can relate to their predicament. Here, in our opinion, are a few of the worst things about having an Irish name.

1. Starbucks


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If you don’t have your name spelled wrong 95 percent of the time in Starbucks, are you even Irish?

2. Emails

In a conversation of five emails you will get five different spellings of your name, all of them wrong, even though your name is RIGHT THERE in the email. Just read it, people!

3. Introducing yourself


Cue repeating your name about fifty times before the person eventually gives up, nodding politely. Or maybe they’ll ask you to spell it and you’ll have the twisted pleasure of seeing the panic on their face when your spelling is absolutely nothing like the pronunciation.

4. Company meetings/anything that requires having a name tag


Again with the panicking faces.

“Lovely to meet you, Barry.” “Nice to put a face to the name, Grace.” “It’s a pleasure, erm, Ay-oh-i-bin. A-ob-han?”

It’s Aoibheann. Say it with me. Ay-Veen.

5. Never finding things with your name on them

We appreciate Coke for trying, we really do. But our hearts are already hardened and hopeless after never EVER finding our names on key rings or glasses or sweet packets as a kid.

(We’re exaggerating though – we never gave up hope! Please don’t stop printing our names, Coke.)

6. The “English version”


“Oh, Niamh. That’s a nice name. What’s that in English?”

Why do you need an English version? Embrace the Gaeilge.

7. The red squiggly line

It follows us everywhere. We know how to spell our own name, Microsoft Word!

8. Booking anything over the phone


“My name is Caoimhe. No, no Caoimhe. Yes, it’s C-A-O-. Yes, C for carrot, A for apple. Yes, I’m sure.”

Every. Single. Time.

9. Getting called random English words.


Nope. My parents did not call me Mermaid. No, my brother is not called Conker. Please do not call my sister Raisin.

10. Your surname being a jumble of noises


Irish surnames have just as hard a time as first names. You have to deal with people constantly trying to anglicise your name, or else just simply trailing off into silence.

“The doctor can see you now, Ms. O’Muireagsresjrenh….”

We guess we’re used to it by now though. And Irish names aren’t the only names that get pronounced incorrectly time and time again. There are plenty of other words that even we have to admit to struggling with. Açai, anyone?

How about Gyro? (it’s pronounced yeer-o) – test your friends out with that one. We bet they won’t get it.

Have a look at Doireann Garrihy scouring the streets of Dublin trying to find SOMEONE who can pronounce Huawei properly – this seems all too familiar.

Brought to you by Huawei.

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