A study released in 2021 ranked the Irish accent as one of the least annoying accents in the world.

The Knowledge Academy, a business training website based in Belfast, asked 500 people to listen to a five-minute extract from a famous book narrated by native English speakers from Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, America, and Great Britain. 

Researchers found that people were able to listen to the Irish narrator for four minutes and 32 seconds while listeners tuned out after just 90 seconds when the American narrator was reading. 

Listeners engaged with the Northern Irish reader for four minutes and two seconds, according to the 2021 study. 

The study found that the Scottish accent was the least irritating accent of those surveyed, while the American, South African, and New Zealand accents were among the most annoying. 

Language specialist Yelena McCafferty said that both the Irish and Northern Irish were musical, increasing their appeal to listeners. 

"Northern Ireland and Ireland are both musical nations so perhaps it’s the musicality of their intonations that is so endearing to others," she said. 

McCafferty also explained why people like some accents more than others. 

"People are attracted to accents that are familiar and it’s only natural we tend to trust somebody who speaks like us.

"It makes us think that the person is from our own community, which is important for us on the subconscious level. When we hear someone for the first time, we make assumptions because it’s our survival instinct."

Meanwhile, Chris Mulhall, a language lecturer at Waterford Institute of Technology, said that people normally like accents that remind them of a positive experience. 

"If someone goes to Spain, for example, on holidays and has continuous experience with the Spanish accent that relates to them enjoying themselves or a positive engagement with another culture," Mulhall told Breaking News.

"When they hear the Spanish accent they will begin to think of their holidays and that will bring about a positive emotion." 

* Originally published in 2021, updated in March 2023.