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27th May 2024

Tourists find these five Irish towns the hardest to pronounce

Niamh Ryan

A recent study by Preply found the most difficult Irish place names for tourists to pronounce.

The online learning platform analysed search data for the spellings of over 100 Irish towns and villages all over the country.

Sylvia Johnson, a language expert at Preply said: “The complexity in pronouncing Irish place names often arises from the fact that they originated in the Irish language.

“Since [Gaeilge] has its own unique phonetic rules which differs significantly from English, it can be quite tricky for non-native speakers to pronounce them correctly.”

These were the top five Irish towns searched for their pronunciation. Has yours made the list?

5. Clogherhead

Clogherhead in Louth was the fifth most searched town, and probably for good reason.

The ‘gh’ sound would definitely throw any non-native Irish speaker off.

Clogherhead, Co. Louth

4. Foynes

Foynes was the fourth most searched town to find it’s pronunciation, though you would think the spelling of the Limerick town is fairly self explanatory.

Nonetheless, the pronunciation was searched for almost 11,000 times in the last 12 months.

Foynes, Co. Limerick

3. Castletownbere

Another one that seems to stump tourists is Castletownbere in Cork. Tourists searched this place name 24,000 times in the past year.

Castletownbere, Co. Cork. Source: Discover Ireland

2. Youghal

Coming in at number two overall, this pronunciation and spelling even confuses some Irish people, I’m sure. Youghal in East Cork was searched for almost 30,000 times.

Youghal, Co. Cork. Source: Youghal Online

1. Dungarvan

The number one most searched pronunciation by tourists was the beloved town of Dungarvan in Waterford.

While we’re used to the pronunciation of Irish names, we can forget how the anglicised versions look to English speakers.

Is it the ‘Dun’ that throws them off? Whatever the reason, users searched Dungarvan’s pronunciation approximately 57,870 times monthly.

Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

Are there any place names that you think should’ve made the list?

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