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Irish Alphabet

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The Irish alphabet isn't too unlike the English alphabet. It too is based on the Latin alphabet and isn’t hard to understand.


The traditional Irish alphabet consists of eighteen letters. They are: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U

Of these letters, the vowels are as follows: a, e, i, o and u.

The letters that are absent (J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z) are sometimes used in loan words and words that are not of Irish origin. Examples:

  • Zoo
  • Vóta Vote
  • Vardrús Wardrobe


The acute accent in Irish is known as a síneadh fada (length accent), commonly called a fada. This accent can be placed over any of the vowels. It lengthens the sound of the vowel. (Pronunciation in brackets)

Aa - Áá ("aw", /aː/)

Ee - Éé ("ay", /eː/)

Ii - Íí ("ee", /iː/)

Oo - Óó ("oh", /oː/)

Uu - Úú ("oo", /uː/)

How to Type the Accents

You may be wondering how to type these accented letters, so here is a breakdown of how to do so on various different operating systems:

1. Windows

Irish Keyboard + US-International Keyboard

If you are using the standard keyboard that comes with Windows computers in Ireland, or the so-called US-International Keyboard, all you have to do is type AltGr + Vowel (AltGr + Shift + Vowel for an accented capital letter) to get your accented letter. e.g. AltGr + e = é. Note: You can always change your system's keyboard to one of these options, regardless of what set up your physical keyboard is.

Number Pad Codes

If you aren't using either of the above keyboards, you can use number pad codes to type the letters. It's a little more awkward but it gets the job done. The codes are as follows:

  • Á - alt+0193
  • á - alt+160
  • É - alt+144
  • é - alt+130
  • Í - alt+0205
  • í - alt+161
  • Ó - alt+0211
  • ó - alt+162
  • Ú - alt+0218
  • ú - alt+163

e.g. Typing alt + 162 = ó

2. Mac

Irish Keyboard

If your Mac is set to the Irish keyboard (this is easy to do: just click on the flag on the top right to access keyboard settings), all you have to do is type Alt + Vowel (or Alt + Shift + Vowel) to get the accented letter (similar to how the Windows method works) e.g. Alt + u = ú

Other Keyboard Layouts

If your Mac is set to pretty much any other Latin alphabet-based keyboard, all you have to do is push and hold the vowel key and then type the corresponding number to get your accented vowel. e.g. Push + hold "a" and you are presented with a list of 8 variants on the letter "a" (à á â ä æ ã å ā) Since "á" is the second in the list, you just push + hold "a", then type the number "2" and you have your "á"

3. iOS and Android

Again, if your phone's/tablet's keyboard is set to pretty much any Latin alphabet-based keyboard (English (UK), English (US), French (AZERTY), German (QWERTZ), etc.) all you have to do is push and hold on the vowel and you will be presented with a row of variants on that vowel. Simply slide your finger over the version you want and you've typed your accented letter!

4. Duolingo

On the Duolingo website, whenever you have to type in Irish, you will see a row of grey buttons under the answer box. These buttons are: á, é, í, ó, ú! All you have to do is click on the one you want. Simple! This is useful when going through a lesson for the first time, but may not be ideal for timed practice (it does slow you down to have to locate and click on the button), but at least you don't have to use any awkward keyboard combination.

If you have any other methods of typing these letters, please share them in the comments. (Especially if you have guides for typing these letters on Windows Phone, Linux, or even with unusual keyboard layouts that may require different key patterns)

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August 25, 2014



For anyone wondering, numpad shortcuts: Á - alt+0193 á - alt+160 É - alt+144 é - alt+130 Í - alt+0205 í - alt+161 Ó - alt+0211 ó - alt+162 Ú - alt+0218 ú - alt+163


Thank you for this convenient tip! I'll add this to the main post.


In case this info is also needed:

On a Mac, Alt/Option+e gives the accent, then you press the vowel needing it (with Shift if capital): Áá Éé Íí Óó Úú


You don't even need to do that. If you hold down a key, e.g. a, for about a second, it will come up with the following options: à á â ä æ ã å ā. This can be done with any other letter that has alternate forms (s - ß ś š)


Thanks for the tip. I knew I could do that on iPhone, but not on my MacBook.


Thank you, thank you, thank you! This was driving me crazy, I knew there was a way to do it but I completely forgot how. Thank you!


Unfortunately it doesn't work for Turkish.


You can choose a keyboard specifically for Turkish. Maybe you have found this option already. But, if you go to control panel, click on Region and Language, then the "keyboards and languages" tab, then "change keyboards", then "add", then scroll down until you see "Turkish", then click on the "+", and finally, click on "Turkish Q" or "Turkish F" depending on your preference. You can have several keyboards ready to go. Then, switch between them on the task bar by clicking on the two-letter abbreviation.


I love that feature because its faster than holding down the key, but holding down keys also works if you forget which keys make which accents with option.


Yeah, I find it faster, too, once you learn which key does what. :)


Alternative numpad shortcuts, which I've been using, are: á - alt+0225 é - alt+0233 í - alt+0237 ó - alt+0243 ú - alt+0250


Seriously, it's almost quicker to install a new keyboard layout than typing alt-codes!

If you're typing fadas often enough that you've learned the alt-codes off by heart, do yourself a favour and just install the necessary keyboard layout, and use windows-key+space to switch between layouts.

If you're only occasionally typing fadas so that you always have to look up the alt-codes every time you need them, do yourself a favour and just install the necessary keyboard layout, and use windows-key+space to switch between layouts.

  • 1970

If you simply set up the proper keyboard (on Windows 7 it's called US - international) then this is much easier to do - ú is '+u, and it's the same pattern for all of them.

EDIT: Also, just ALT+aeiou will give you áéíóú, although it needs to be the "proper" alt. I don't know exactly how it works, but only the alt to the right of my spacebar works like that. If I use the left alt, I need to do ctrl+alt+aeiou to get áéíóú.


AltGr in case you're wondering. Also, for other languages, the button above tab followed by a vowel gives a grave accent.


Nice, this is definitely more efficient.


Also on iPads, it is in settings. The iPad can help you with spelling with its autocorrect


or just alt+{vowel}


Does anyone have a link to vocal pronunciations with visual letters to match? I've searched for days and all I find is people saying the alphabet sounds the same as English. But, the letters in words like dia daoibh, le do thoil and ceapaire do not sound the same as English letters would.

I'm starting to flounder a bit and I'm only on lesson 2 of the Phrases. I know that memory alone won't do the trick so I need a better understanding in order to build a stronger foundation.


There's a guide to pronunciation on youtube that I found helpful: includes recorded pronunciation, IPA, and Irish spelling rules. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIokUII7LX0

... with a supporting cheat sheet PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9VHiM8EUhqyc1g1ejhTTHlqdmc/view?usp=sharing


I've just had a look at the video and would highly recommend it. It is laid out simply and is straight forward. I purchased some grammar books in Ireland last Christmas and this short (15min) video lays it out in a much easier to understand format. I will be reviewing it regularly.


Wow, great video. Thank you so much.


I have a question; is the Irish alphabet phonetic? One I learn how each letter / diphthong / consonant combination is pronounced, is that consistent?


Yeah, once you learn the nuances of the pronunciation, it is pretty easy to sound things out.


Great! Once less challenge.

I can't honestly say Danish is easy to hear/speak.


Danish is horribly difficult for me to speak. Once I came across brødet I had a good hard laugh at the pronunciation. Irish is quite a bit more straightforward.


"... a potato in their mouth while drunk."

I want to tell you how funny that sounds, but I can't think of the right words, so I'll just say this: That is pretty funny.


Not to sound insulting, but when I hear the Danish text-to-speech, it sounds like the speaker is on so many drugs while drunk and slurs everything she says. It's awful, but I really like the sound of the language nonetheless.


It sounds like the woman reading Danish is mumbling. I do love the verbs though!


To be honest, anyone speaking danish does usually sound like they are mumbling. The swedes and norwegians joke that danish sounds like someone speaking Norwegian with a potato in their mouth while drunk. xD


I'm American, lived in Denmark for a time. The big joke there is to torture a foreigner by making them say "rødgrød med fløde" - a type of red berry pudding dessert. It's very good, but tough to say! (Yes, I learned, after several months of practice. LOL)


On a mac, you press option+"e" and then you will see the fada, the next letter you type will have a fada on it. It only works for vowels.

Not relavent here but for spanish, option+"n" gives you a ˜ and if you type "n" next you get ñ.


And for French, option+` (shares a key with ~) gives the other accent (I don't know its name): àèìòù. ;-) If you want to eat a crêpe, you can accent that first E with option+i

German: option+u = umlaut (äëïöü)

I love being a Mac user. ;-)


That's my preferred way to do it, but it's worth also noting: ever since (I believe) Mountain Lion, you can also type accented vowels by holding the vowel key down. A popup will appear, and you can press the number key that matches the accent you want. It's slower than the option-vowel version, but it's useful if you don't remember which key gives you which accent.

(It works on iOS as well: hold down the vowel and you'll get the accented versions to choose from.)


That feature was introduced in Lion (Mac OS X 10.7), and it came at the cost of key repeat. I prefer key repeat over the press-and-hold character menu, so I disabled it with the Terminal command

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

(all entered on a single line). To someone who prefers the press-and-hold character menu over key repeat, it can be reënabled with the Terminal command

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool true

I don’t know if iOS offers a similar way to disable and enable its press-and-hold character menu.


Wow Irish is hard. With germanic and romance languages I can find some sort of resemblance, but Celtic languages are much harder than I thought. Also the orthography! Anyone know of any pronunciation guides?

  • 1970

I dug around for a while on the Wikipedia pages for the Irish language, palatalization, velarization, basically anything to do with the pronunciation. It's surprisingly regular once you understand how the slender/broad system works as well as things like lenition. For instance, the name Seán is pronounced "Shawn" because of that e. Without it, it would be "Sawn" because the e makes the s slender, which is "sh", rather than broad, which is "s".


The language is not too much more difficult than, say, german. The orthography takes a while to get used to (learning all the diphthongs and nuances and such), but in the end it really comes out to be quite helpful (lenitions, eclipses and the like)


I don't know. My friend who has a doctorate in German is horrified of Irish orthography. I think it probably is ok once you get used to it, but it's very different than most European languages. That said, English orthography is a nightmare too, so it can be done!!!


I'm more afraid of Danish orthography than I am Irish. At least Irish makes sense.

I was talking about grammatically, Irish is easier than German. Spelling-wise, harder, a TON harder, but grammatically it is easier.


I think Danish makes sense orthographically if you could hear what they're saying clearly. They swallow a lot of sounds, so it's not as clear.


As someone else mentioned, IPA would be super helpful, =)



If you have the Irish keyboard, hold down AltGr and the vowel to get a fada!


It's the right Alt button on your keyboard.


Go raibh maith agat


For anyone struggling with learning the pronunciation of the Irish letters, I have found that the website http://www.angaelmagazine.com/pronunciation/introduction.htm is incredibly helpful, including audio-video of different pronunciations.


I wish I could give you more than one! That site was the bomb! Thank you!


Hey y'all! Is it possible to create an accent method like that which quizlet has, where a simple press of the tab button in the word box gets you to the accent? Thanks so much! I've been waiting for irish FOREVER!! :D


Try setting up the US international keyboard like Rewjeo suggested above. When you turn it on it's just a single quote (') before the intended vowel for the fada version. For capitals, you tap ' first and then type the capital letter as usual.


Thanks! That works great! :D


Is there a place to learn the sounds of the rest of the letters? When I listen to audio on the internet it sounds nothing like the words I'm reading so obviously the letters don't sound the same as they do in English. All help appreciated.


How do u insert images and embed links?


[](insert link here). ---- Just like that


For me as a Czech it is very easy as we are using these vowels in our language on our native keyboard layout :-)


I did a search in the comments and didn't see it, so for those wondering how to type accents on a Chromebook, simply select US International keyboard in the settings, then hold the righthand ALT key while typing your vowels. Easy!


Hi! I have a question for Irish. How is the pronunciation of Irish?


The pronunciation is very well, how are you?


Would you mind adding IPA to the pronunciations? It’s much more helpful than approximation by English sounds to those who can read it.


Sure thing! Give me a day or two!


Oh, yes, definitely. IPA for the win.


In Linux Mint, I think I've found the equivalent to "US-International." It's the "English (international AltGr dead keys)" variant of the "English (US)" layout. The right-hand Alt key functions as AltGr.


Under Linux, consider setting the "compose key". I just need to press ' then e while holding alt in order to produce é. The pattern for the others is very logical: " + e = ë, ` + e = è, etc. Nothing to remember, and you can type them really fast (handy for timed challenges).


On Linux distros, the easiest way to enter accents is to select an alternative keyboard layout named "[keyboard layout] + dead keys". Such layouts have "dead keys", e.g. on "United Kingdom International (with dead keys) hitting ' before e results in é, " before i results in ï, etc.; hitting space after the dead key results in the normal punctuation mark.


Anyone know how to type fada on Windows 10? I've tried everything, nothing works. I'm on an Australian keyboard and even when I change it, it doesn't work >.<


Try with Irish key board or US key board


I did, still no luck :'( thanks though :)


If use Irish key board. Press and hold the right alt key then press a, e, i,o or u


sorry I don't know any other way


Only works on MacBook


I use windows 10 (desk top) and it works


Well that'd be why I can't get it to work then :P


It's finally working! áéíóú! Thank you! Sláinte! :)


Thank you for posting this! 5 years later and still helpful to us noobs.


I recommend switching your keyboard to Irish layout, it makes typing way faster than any other method.


It's kind of sad to see how the last level reached in the languages is 25. Is it the last level in duolingo or what is that for?

PD. My native language is spanish, so I don't have problems with the accents á, é, í, ó, ú.


I just use the portuguese keyboard on my phone so it has both accents (you just press the vowels and it will show you à or á or ã, etc.)

On the Pc I also have the portuguese keyboard that as keys for accents so I can just press that ´ alone or press accent key+vowel ( i.e. ´ + a = á )


For Linux users it's terribly easy. Hit the control once then the apostrophe key once then the vowel you want fada'd. á é í ó ú


Hello everyone, i have a question, how i can learn correctly writing irish?


Hi Andrea - is there a specific aspect of writing you are thinking about? If you look at my post above there are a couple links that I find very helpful for understanding how spelling and pronunciation go together. In general my best advice for Irish would be to persevere with this course but keep persevering and persevering... based on what I see of your collection of languages, I think you will find this requires more a lot more perseverance than Portuguese, English, or German.


Oh thanks but in fact, i really love Irish so it's probably that i can learn it more fast (and better) than other languages. Perseverance i know it! jajaja it's funny because i was started with this language only 1 week ago.

The thing it's that i don't know how write with the irish alphabet.


Is not the same accent used in spanish?

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