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

August 25, 2014

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

August 25, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

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)

August 26, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

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!

August 27, 2014

Unfortunately it doesn't work for Turkish.

October 9, 2014

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.

July 15, 2016

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.

September 4, 2014

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

September 4, 2014
  • 1518

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.

August 25, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

Nice, this is definitely more efficient.

August 25, 2014

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

October 2, 2014

or just alt+{vowel}

July 25, 2017

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

February 1, 2019

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.

February 1, 2019

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

August 25, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

Great! Once less challenge.

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

August 26, 2014

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.

August 26, 2014

"... 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.

August 26, 2014

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.

August 26, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

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.

September 14, 2014

There's a guide to pronunciation on youtube that I found helpful: includes recorded pronunciation, IPA, and Irish spelling rules.

... with a supporting cheat sheet PDF:

May 27, 2016

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.

May 27, 2016

Wow, great video. Thank you so much.

May 30, 2016

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.

August 26, 2014

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. ;-)

August 26, 2014

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.)

October 16, 2014

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.

July 13, 2016

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?

August 26, 2014
  • 1518

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".

August 26, 2014

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)

August 26, 2014

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!!!

August 26, 2014

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.

August 26, 2014

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.

August 26, 2014

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

August 29, 2014

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

August 25, 2014

What is AltGr?

October 16, 2014

It's the right Alt button on your keyboard.

October 17, 2014

Go raibh maith agat

October 17, 2014

thanks oisinc

May 9, 2015

For anyone struggling with learning the pronunciation of the Irish letters, I have found that the website is incredibly helpful, including audio-video of different pronunciations.

February 14, 2016

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

March 24, 2016

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

August 25, 2014

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.

August 25, 2014

Thanks! That works great! :D

August 25, 2014

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.

September 1, 2014

How do u insert images and embed links?

October 9, 2014

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

October 9, 2014


April 13, 2015

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

August 26, 2014

The pronunciation is very well, how are you?

August 27, 2014

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

August 26, 2014

Sure thing! Give me a day or two!

August 26, 2014

Oh, yes, definitely. IPA for the win.

October 20, 2014

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.

December 10, 2015

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).

June 13, 2016

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.

April 5, 2016

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 >.<

March 31, 2016

Try with Irish key board or US key board

March 31, 2016

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

March 31, 2016

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

March 31, 2016

Doesn't work :'(

March 31, 2016

sorry I don't know any other way

March 31, 2016

Only works on MacBook

March 31, 2016

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

March 31, 2016

I use windows 10 (desk top) and it works

April 1, 2016

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

April 1, 2016

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

March 23, 2017

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!

May 21, 2017

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

July 3, 2016

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.

July 3, 2016

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.

July 3, 2016

Is not the same accent used in spanish?

May 19, 2017

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

May 18, 2018

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.

December 15, 2018
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