What’s in a name? The anglicisation of Ireland’s towns and why it matters

How would you say the name of the town Youghal? Or Dún Laoghaire? An Irish person will tell you they’re easy – ‘yawl’ and ‘dun leery.’

Tourists that come to Ireland famously have a hard time figuring out how to pronounce the names of towns and villages. With such an unusual combination of letters for English, it’s not difficult to see why. But Ireland is an English-speaking country. So why are its towns so difficult for English speakers to say?

The anglicisation of placenames

Well, the placenames used to be different. Before Ireland was colonised by Britain, the names of towns were all in the Irish language, called Gaeilge. In this language,

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