How to pronounce Diarmaid Mac Mathúna

Diarmaid (as in Diarmaid Mac Mathúna) misspelled on a Starbucks cup

Diarmaid misspelled on a Starbucks cup

I’m often asked how to pronounce my name Diarmaid Mac Mathúna. And let’s face it, the name Diarmaid Mac Mathúna isn’t the easiest to pronounce. It’s not even easy to spell with Diarmuid Mac Mathuna being a common mispelling.

Even though Diarmaid is a popular Irish boy name, it’s still a name that people struggle to spell (even if they’re Irish / Gaelic speakers like myself). 

This can lead to lots of awkward moments. Especially in Starbucks. Every time someone asks me my name in Starbucks it leads to bizarre misspellings of my name. Like this one. Dirmond anyone?

So for all you Starbucks workers out there, and for everyone else too, here’s my indispensable guide on how to pronounce Diarmaid Mac Mathúna.

In this blog post I’m going to share my most memorable tip for how to say Diarmaid.

I’ll also give bonus tips on how to pronounce Mac Mathúna.

This pronunciation guide has been honed from a lifetime of having to tell people how to spell and pronounce my name.

That’s something that’s become even more common now that I give workshops and talks across Europe on marketing and communications as part of my job at the video agency indiepics.

Irish spelling is never easy which is why I started publishing the Irish spelling checker GaelSpell. It’s also why I started publishing the Irish grammar checker Anois to go along with GaelSpell.

But with this guide you’ll know how to say Diarmaid Mac Mathúna fast.

But let’s take it one step at a time…

HOW TO PRONOUNCE DIARMAID

So let’s start with how to pronounce Diarmaid.

This is an ancient Irish name that means “without envy” apparently. (Not true for me, by the way).

It’s also often spelt with a “u”, as in “Diarmuid.”

But the spelling confuses people. And computers. Microsoft Word used to correct Diarmaid to “Dairymaid.” Ouch. And the “maid” bit of Diarmaid makes lots of people think it’s not an Irish boy name.

So how do I tell people to say Diarmaid?

Easy. I tell them to imagine they’re writing a letter to a crazy person.

“What?” I hear you ask?

You read that right. I tell them to imagine they’re writing a letter to someone who is insane.

Like this:

“Dear Mad,”

You see, the “Diar” bit of Diarmaid is pronounced like “dear” in English.

And the “maid” bit is pronounced like “mad” (as in crazy – it doesn’t rhyme with “dairymaid” at all).

So putting the two together how to say Diarmaid is “Dear-mad”.

And for some reason people seem to .remember that one.

So that’s the easy bit. Let’s jump on to my surname now.

HOW TO PRONOUNCE MAC MATHÚNA

My surname is a bit trickier.

But at least people can usually figure out the “Mac” bit.

Except they usually think that it’s pronounced to rhyme with “mack.”

But in the Irish language (Gaelic), the “Mac” bit should be pronounced like “mock.”

Then the second bit of my surname should be pronounced in three syllables: “ma” followed by “who” and then “na.”

HOW TO PRONOUNCE DIARMAID MAC MATHÚNA

So putting that all together you get how to say to Mac Mathúna is “mock ma-who-na.”

BUT WHAT ABOUT HOW TO PRONOUNCE MAC MATHUNA WITHOUT THE FADA?

But lots of times people (including me) don’t type a “síniú fada” on the “u”, so it ends written down just as “Mac Mathuna”. Mainly because the “ú” sometimes breaks the Internet, causes havok with e-mail addresses and always turns name badges into gobbledegook.

But it still should be pronounced the same even without the fada. That is, Mac Mathuna should still be pronounced “mock ma-who-na” in practice because there’s an imaginary síniú fada on the u.

WHAT DOES MAC MATHÚNA MEAN?

I’m sure you’ve been wondering what does Mac Mathúna mean anyway? Well, Mac Mathúna has a pretty cool meaning I think.

Mac Mathúna means “son of bear.”

Which is about as good as you can get for a surname even if I do say so myself.

So there you have it.

To pronounce Diarmaid Mac Mathúna you say “Dear-mad Mock Ma-who-na.”

Mad but true.

Are you called Diarmaid? Or are you a Mac Mathúna? Or maybe you’ve got another name that requires an “always-on” pronunciation guide like I do. If so, leave a comment and share your own tips for pronouncing your name.

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