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Happy Irish Birthday!

Birthdays are special occasions in Ireland for people of all ages and are an eagerly anticipated event, especially with children and younger generations. 

Some of the older generations of Irish people might not want to pin down exactly how old they are even though they are likely to be very grateful with a few good wishes to mark the day.

Irish Happy Birthday Wishes

Trying to find the right words to wish someone a happy birthday can be a bit of a challenge. If you want your birthday greeting to be unique and stand out, then anyone with a special connection to Ireland, Irish culture and perhaps even Irish heritage will be delighted with a thoughtful Irish birthday greeting. (Irish greetings don’t have to be limited to Saint Patrick’s Day!)

If you are looking for the Irish Gaelic for Happy Birthday, want to know how to write a birthday card in Irish or would like some Irish Gaelic Happy Birthday toasts, then keep reading.

Happy Birthday in Irish Language

There are several ways to wish someone a happy birthday in Irish. Usually only one person is being wished a happy birthday at once so the singular form is used, but if more people are being wished happy birthday together, it is important keep in mind that you will need to use plural form of the Irish Gaelic happy birthday greeting.  

How to say happy birthday in Irish?

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When saying happy birthday to you in Irish and are addressing just one person, then you need to use the singular form of the expression which is: 

Lá breithe sona duit!

(Pronounced: Law breh-ha sun-ah ditch)

 

 

You might be a little confused if you have seen it written slightly differently. The example above is the way to say “happy birthday to you” using the Caighdean or official standard Irish, which is used by the state and taught in Irish class in schools. 

You might also see:

Lá breithe sona dhuit

(Pronounced: Law breh-ha sun-ah ghwitch)

 

Lá breithe shona dhuit

(Pronounced: Law breh-ha shun-ah ghwitch)

 

Lá breithe shona duit

(Pronounced: Law breh-ha shun-ah ditch)

 

The literal translation of Lá breithe shona duit is “Day of birth happy to you”.

These versions are a form of Irish dialect.

The first is the dialect of Connemara (canúit Chonamara), while the latter is the dialect in and is spoken for example in West Kerry. For some more information about Irish grammar, this is a useful article.

Handy Tip: The fada or slanted line over the vowel in the word lá (meaning day) is important, so don’t get it incorrect and write la breithe shona duit for example!

A slightly more modern version of happy birthday which is directly translated from English that is now being used on many birthday cards:

Breithelá sona duit

(Pronounced: Breh-law sun-ah ditch)

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This is how to say “happy birthday my friend in Irish”: 

Lá breithe sona dhuit a chara

(Pronounced: Law breh-ha sun-ah ditch ah khor-ah)

 

Happy Birthday in Irish Gaelic (addressed to multiple people)

If you happen to be wishing twins, or even more people a happy birthday in Gaelic Irish at once, then it is necessary to use the plural form of the greeting. 

Lá breithe sona daoibh 

(Pronounced: Law breh-ha sun-ah jeeve)

Happy Birthday with Irish Accent

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As languages go, Irish can be a tricky language to pronounce. Even within the country, there are quite strong regional dialects so happy birthday in Ulster Irish will sound a bit different to the happy birthday greeting from someone speaking the Munster dialect for example.

How to say happy birthday in Irish Gaelic?

Here is a video from an native Irish speaker from the Connacht dialect in the west of Ireland who can help with pronunciation.

How to sing happy birthday in Gaelic Irish?

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You can sing along to the familiar tune of Happy birthday, but use the translation for the Happy Birthday Irish song. (Often the name or names or the people are excluded from the Happy birthday in Irish Gaelic song.)

The words for happy birthday song in Irish are as follows:

Lá breithe sona duit

Lá breithe sona duit

Lá breithe, Lá breithe

Lá breithe sona duit

Happy Birthday from Ireland – Irish Birthday Blessings 

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Here you will find some short Irish birthday blessings that are ideal for happy birthday greeting cards.

 

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks,

May your heart be as light as a song,

May each day bring you bright, happy hours,

That stay with you all the year long.

 

May you live a long life

Full of gladness and health

With a pocket full of gold

As the least of your wealth

May the dreams you hold dearest

Be those which come true

May the kindness you spread

Keep returning to you.

 

May peace and plenty bless your world

With a joy that long endures

And may all life’s passing seasons

Bring the best to you and yours.

 

May your heart be warm and happy

With the lilt of Irish laughter

Every day in every way

And forever and ever after.

 

For some more Irish blessings for birthdays, read the Irish Blessings post.

Irish Birthday Toasts and Irish Birthday Wishes

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Having a celebratory drink is a common way to mark a happy birthday Irish-style. For those of you who wish to include more than just the traditional toast of Sláinte meaning “health”, then here are some useful Irish blessing birthday wishes and Irish birthday quotes that are ideal to share at the birthday party of a friend, acquaintance or family member. 

Go maire tú an lá

(Many happy returns of the day)

 

May you live all the days of your life.

May you live to be a hundred years, 

with one extra year to repent.

 

God bless you now and always with the gift of Irish cheer. 

God give to you a happy heart and keep you through the year. 

 

May you live as long as you want,

And never want as long as you live

May the doctor never earn a pound out of you.

 

May you have a long life, 

A wet mouth

And may you be buried in Ireland.

What are some Irish birthday traditions?

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Each country has its own traditions regarding birthdays. Having a happy birthday in Ireland usually involves celebrating with friends and family, either in a small gathering or for bigger parties for milestone birthdays. 

Here are some of the most common Irish traditions: 

  • The birthday bumps are one tradition that have been associated with birthday parties in the past. Usually, four people hold the arms and legs of the “lucky” birthday person and they are gently bumped in the air. Unfortunately, I have heard of a few people getting quite injured (especially adults after a few drinks), so this is not a tradition that I would recommend!

  • In Ireland, unlike other countries like Germany, it is ok to wish someone a happy birthday before the actual day. It is not really going to be a big deal if your happy birthday Irish blessing or greeting arrives on the wrong day, or even in advance of the actual birthday. This is not the case in Germany for example, where it is considered bad luck to wish someone a happy birthday before the actual day itself.

  • While some people are quite open about their age, older generations may not love to be asked how old they are. You might only get the answer 21 and a bit!

  • Two of the most significant birthdays in Ireland are the 18th and 21st birthdays. A person becomes an adult on their 18th birthday and is legally allowed to drink alcohol and vote. (It is possible to start to learn to drive at the age of 16 in Ireland, but you are not allowed to pass the official driving test until the age of 17.)

  • For many young adults, a happy 21st birthday in Irish society is a big deal and the party is usually even a step up from the size of the 18th birthday party. Traditionally someone gets the “keys to the house” on this birthday, meaning that now that the person is a fully fledged adult, they can leave the family home to start their own life. 

Hopefully you have now found the perfect way to send Irish birthday wishes for friends and family. You can even serenade them with an Irish happy birthday song!

Would you like to know more Irish sayings and Irish blessings (including some Irish birthday blessings and Irish birthday humor) or just generally what Ireland is known for, then have a browse around the rest of the website. Enjoy!