The term “Sláinte” (or Sláinte Mhaith) is a typically Irish Gaelic expression used when Irish people drink together. It means “Health” and is the equivalent of a “Tchin” used in France at the time of an aperitif for example. Widely used, the term “Sláinte” is used by the Irish, whether or not they practice Gaelic regularly. An important word to know if you think you will one day have to toast with an Irishman!
You’ll be far more likely to hear the expression “Sláinte” in an Irish pub in Ireland than anywhere else. This is where the Irish like to spend a little time, toasting with friends, watching a game, and emptying a pint or two in a friendly, good-natured atmosphere. It’s an opportunity for them to clatter their pints together and come out with a cheerful “Sláinte”, a benevolent expression, wishing everyone around their table well.
Many travellers, however, misunderstand how to pronounce this word. It should not be pronounced verbatim, as it is written (Gaelic is quite misleading on this subject). Also, don’t hesitate to pronounce it in the following way: “slawn-che”. The Irish will be grateful if you don’t scratch this expression to which they are very attached!
Note that the Scots also use this expression. Having the same meaning, it is the proof that Gaelic culture is still present in many Celtic countries!