‘What’s the craic?’
‘Your man there is some craic.’
If you’re new to Ireland, or have met Irish people abroad, you’ll likely have come across the word ‘craic‘, a word as beautiful as it is cumbersome, as versatile as it is obvious, once understood. And that’s our goal here: to get you, the person wondering what the ‘craic’ is with the word ‘craic‘ in Ireland, to understand the word ‘craic‘: what it means, when to use it, and how you might react to it.
So, let’s crack on (that’s a different word altogether).
Ireland is an exciting and unique place to live. With hundreds of miles of rugged Atlantic coastline and a number of national sports that are played nowhere else in the world, it is no surprise that Ireland is often described as a place like no other. Another aspect of life in Ireland that you may detect as being a little different than what you are used to, or may have expected as a newcomer to the country, is the accent and language used by Irish people.
Irish people often speak fast and can have a thicker accent than you may be typically accustomed to. What’s more, there’s a range of words used in everyday language in Ireland that are not used elsewhere. Perhaps the most famous in this respect is the word ‘craic’.
Regardless if you are moving to Ireland from the United States, India, or elsewhere, the chances are that you probably aren’t familiar with the term ‘craic’, at least not the context in which it is used in Ireland! And if you want to make sure that your first few weeks in Ireland aren’t spent in a confused stupor every time someone asks a question, then you’ll need to be as prepared as possible. With that in mind, here is our helpful newcomers’ guide to properly using and understanding the word ‘craic’ in Ireland.
Five common uses of ‘craic’ in Ireland
Perhaps the most common use of the word ‘craic’ is in this form as a noun. Simply put, ‘craic’ means fun and a good time. The term ‘ceol agus craic’ is commonplace in older, more traditional pubs in Ireland, and is Irish for ‘music and fun’ or ‘music and a fun time.’ However, much like the term saudade in Portuguese has no direct translation to English, ‘craic’ is a term that is quite nebulous and simply translating it to one term like ‘fun’ or ‘having fun’ feels a little hollow and inaccurate. That said, one thing that is for certain is that terms like ‘good craic’, ‘great craic’ or ‘unreal craic’ describe the act of having an amazing time, and we’re sure you’ll have many reasons to use these once you arrive in Ireland.
2.’What’s the craic?’
‘What’s the craic?’ is a very Irish way of asking how things are. It does not refer to tectonic plate shifts or any other type of structural deficiency in your home or elsewhere. A typical response to a question like this may be something like, ‘not much’ if you haven’t got very much news to tell on that particular day. Conversely, if you are bursting with information that you feel needs to be shared among your friend-group, then you could answer, ‘wait till I tell you!’ The question here implies that the news about to be relayed is of a high quality. Alternatives to ‘what’s the craic?’ are, ‘any craic?’ or simply, ‘craic?
3.‘Having the craic’
Much like ‘what’s the craic?’, ‘having the craic’ is a term that can cause a certain degree of bewilderment and confusion for newcomers to Ireland. In essence, ‘having the craic’ means having fun or enjoying oneself. It has nothing to do with the use of illicit substances and can be uttered by all generations without fears of looking silly or old-fashioned. Typically, ‘having the craic’ is a response to a question like, ‘what you up to now?’ or could be used to describe a night out or a party with friends that took place already, as in ‘I was having the craic with my pals’. All in all, a useful term to familiarize yourself with.
4. ‘Some craic’
The key to this particular term is the word ‘some’. As you may have guessed, the use of ‘some’ in this Irish context is different to the manner in which you may be most familiar with. In fact, it actually means the opposite. Normally, you’d be right to assume that ‘some’ refers to a little of something but in this context, it actually means an extra or special amount of whatever you happen to be talking about. So, the use of ‘some craic’ is used when an event – party, comedy show, conversation – was particularly fun. Similarly, the use of ‘some’ could preface anything from a goal in a game of football (‘that was some strike by the winger’) to a top-quality meal (‘look at the dessert menu, it’s some selection!’).
5. ‘No craic’
‘No craic’ is a term used to describe a person, place or thing (often an event like a party or a night out with friends) that was extremely boring and generally did not live up to expectations. In brief, it is not a very admirable quality to be referred to as ‘no craic’. And should you be branded with this label, you better do your utmost to improve the situation promptly! On occasion, if something or someone is particularly dull, it or they may also be referred to as ‘minus craic’.