Irish accents 101: Tips on rolling Rs, thick brogues and whether or not to lilt

As a special act of public service in honour of St. Patrick's Day, voice actor and coach David LeReaney has these tips for a passable — or at least minimally offensive — brogue.

Tighten up the corners of your mouth to achieve a subtle but hardened R

David LeReaney shares his best Irish accent tips, one of which is to stay far away from the Lucky Charms' leprechaun. (Getty Images)

It's a sad fact that fake Irish accents can be very, very bad.

So as a special act of public service in honour of St. Patrick's Day, voice actor and coach David LeReaney has these tips for a passable — or at least minimally offensive — brogue.

Hear him practice his here.

1. Lose the lilt

The Lucky Charms' leprechaun is infamous for his sing-songy up and down commercial, but it's "probably the emblematic worst Irish dialect," LeReaney said.

"Don't do the lilt."

2. Tighten up the corners

Probably one of the most noticeable differences between an Irish accent and a Canadian one is the hardened, strong Rs.

To achieve it LeReaney recommends tightening up the corners of your mouth, as if you were about to smile. Then, slightly retract your tongue.

Practice with words like "over," "stranger," and "rather."

3. Airy Ts

"One thing that a lot of people don't get when they're doing a proper Irish dialect is the aspirated T," said LeReaney.

Rather than pronounce your Ts with a hard stop, push some air through, particularly with words that end in a T.

"It's almost like there's a little S at the end of it."

4. Fatten your 'th'

If you want to really thicken up your brogue, LeReaney's advice is to fatten up your 'th' so it sounds more like a cross between a T and a D. Practice with words like "this," "that," or "the other."

Note that when a "th" is followed by an R, it's a rare opportunity for you to authentically roll that R, LeReaney added.

Obviously there are wide variations in Irish accents depending on regional and socioeconomic factors, but LeReaney said these tips are a good foundation for those looking to Irish up this St. Patrick's Day. 

With files from The Homestretch