Welcome to our four part guide to Dublin slang. The fourth and final guide, you can now rest assured that you will be able to converse with the locals of Dublin. Enjoy ye bleeding legend.

We have provided a decent translation of the sayings, but were these sayings originated from is too hard to tell in most cases, but as Ireland has had invaders from Scandinavia, France, England and beyond and has had over 7 languages spoke in medieval Dublin it is no surprise that a few odd expressions have crept into our speech. A small mention must go to our literary greats like Joyce, Wilde and Swift who loved playing around with the English language and bending the words to their will.


Here are your 6 expressions to get you blending in when you arrive in our fair city of Dublin.

  • ‘He was movin’ like the clappers’ – a person who is in a great hurry
  • ‘She nearly had a canary’ – She had a such a fright she nearly birthed a bird.
  • ‘They’re no oil-painting’ – The people being referred too are probably not classically good looking.
  • ‘Are ye headin?’ – Will you be leaving now with me or will you be making your own way later in the evening.
  • ‘Get on like a house on fire’ – to enjoy someone’s company so much you set the room alight.
  • ‘That fella would be late for his own funeral’ – someone so slow in their movements they wouldn’t arrive on time for any event.

Here is a video made in 2013 by Jenny Keogh highlighting some of the phrases above.