To celebrate Thanksgiving, we thought we would help you Irish in America to give thanks the Irish way with some traditional Irish expressions. 

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the blessings in our lives and express gratitude for the people and experiences that enrich our existence. While the traditional "thank you" is often uttered in English, there's something special about embracing diversity and incorporating a touch of your Irish connection into your expressions of thanks. 

Here are some Irish words and phrases you can use to wow those around your dinner table and give thanks for their presence. 


Let’s start with the basics. Buíochas (pronounced bwee-kus) is the noun, an acknowledgment of thanks or gratitude. 

Although this short, simple word for “thanks” is not used as frequently as the phrase the Irish do use the phrase “míle buíochas”, meaning “many thanks”... we’re dramatic that way.

Go raibh maith agat

Pronounced gur-uv mah ah-guth, “go raibh maith agat” is the phrase the Irish use to acknowledge their thanks for something or “thank you”. For example, if someone passes you a slice of cake you would say “go raibh maith agat”.

What’s lovely about these Irish phrases is the poetry behind them. For example, “go raibh maith agat” literally means “may you have goodness.” How lovely is it to that a wish that the other party receives goodness in return for their kindness. 

Go raibh míle maith agat

Yet again never to miss out on a bit of drama “go raibh míle maith agat” (pronounced gur-uv mee-la mah ah-guth) literally means “May you have a thousand good things.”

In English, the Irish have often say “thanks a million”... apparently in Irish that gets downgraded!

Go méadaí Dia thú

This one is religious but still brilliantly Irish. Pronounced “gu may-dee dee-ah hu”. “Go méadaí Dia thú” literally means “may God increase you” or “may God make you prosper”. No one can argue with that sentiment. 

So the next time you gather with your friends and family raise a glass and give thanks in Irish. Míle buíochas!

Learning a few words in Irish, such as "go raibh maith agat," can be a fun and educational experience. It's an opportunity to expand your linguistic skills and discover the beauty of a language with deep cultural roots. Challenge yourself and your loved ones to incorporate Irish phrases into your Thanksgiving festivities, creating a memorable and enriching learning experience for all.

* Originally published in 2019, updated in Nov 2023.