What Should Your Grandchildren/Children Call You?




Many people have written to me asking what the Irish words for Mother/Father/Grandmother/Grandfather are. Here are a few ideas for those of you who are tired of the usual Grandma and Grandpa.

If you haven't done so already, non-Irish speakers please see the the pronunciation guide.

This page includes words for Mother, Father , Grandmother , Grandfather, and Other Relatives.

Names For Mother

Most Irish children use the English words for their mothers, including Mam, Mom, Mammy, Ma, Mommy and occasionally Mother. The Irish word for mother is Máthair (MAW her), but this is rarely used. In Irish Gaelic, children would call their mothers Mamaí, which is pronounced Mah-mee.

Names for Father

Again, most Irish children use English words for their fathers. These include Dad, Daddy, and Da. The Irish Gaelic word for father is Athair (AH her). Most Irish speaking children would call their fathers Dadaí (DAH dee), however.

Names for Grandmother

Most English-speaking children call their grandmothers Granny, Grandma, or Nana/Nanna.
There are a few different words for Grandmother in Irish, including Seanmháthair (shan a WAW her), máthair mhór (maw her aWOR), and máthair Chríona (MAW her KHREE un na). These literally mean "old mother", "great mother" and "mother of the heart." These words are not used to actually address the grandmother, though. Children would call a grandmother Maimeó (MAM o), or perhaps Móraí (MO ree).

Names for Grandfather

Most English-speaking children would call their grandfathers Granda or Grandad.
Like grandmother, there are a number of different Irish words for grandfather. These include Seanathair (shan AH her), Athair mór (AH her MORE), Athair Críonna (AH her KREE un na). These literally mean "old father", "great father" and "father of the heart." Children would use Daideó (Daddo)or sometimes Móraí (MO ree)when addressing their grandfathers.

Words for Other Relatives

Here are the words for other relatives. They are just for your information. Just as English speaking children rarely refer to their aunts and uncles as "Aunt" and "Uncle," these words are more descriptive than used as forms of address.

English Irish Approximate Pronounciation
Daughter Iníon ih NEE in
Son Mac MOK
Granddaughter Gariníon gar in EE in
Grandson Garmhac gar aWOK
Aunt Aintín AUN tcheen, AUN tseen
Uncle Uncail UN kil
Niece Neacht, Iníon dearthár, Iníon deirféar NYAKHT, in EE in DAR hawr, in EE in djer fare
Nephew Nia, Mac dearthár, Mac deirféar NEE a, mok DAR hawr, mok djer fair
Cousin (first) Col Ceathrair kul KYA hrer
Cousin (second) Col Seisir kul SHEH sher