Top menu


A Guide to the Ogham Alphabet


A Guide to the Ogham Alphabet

Ogham is an ancient Irish alphabet. Each letter represented by a mark along one central line. Dating back to the 4th century, it is the earliest form of writing to be found in Ireland. Examples left by our ancestors can still be seen in Ireland and Britain to this day.

If you’ve found your way to our Guide to the Ogham Alphabet, we’re guessing you already know a little about this intriguing language. But what is it really about and how was it structured?

Read on to find out more! You may also like to test out your translation skills using our useful guide to reading this ancient script.


How to Read Ogham


Ogham Alphabet Guide



Below is a simple example to illustrate how Ogham is written. Each character is formed by a series of strokes. We read these from the bottom to the top along the central line.

So if we wanted to write the name Tom, this is how it looks



Primarily found in Ireland and Western Wales, each letter is associated with a tree or plant. Ogham is believed to have been mainly written in Old Irish. For this reason, we first translate to the Irish language before inscribing messages and initials on our handcrafted jewelry.

Test Your Ogham Translation Skills

Using the above guide, you should now be able to translate this Ogham inscription on our Men’s Ogham Pendant.

The phrase is inscribed in Irish (Gaelic) so it may not look familiar to you.

Handcrafted Ogham Jewellery

If you’d like to create an original Ogham necklace or ring, browse our collection of  Ogham Jewellery. As all of our designs are handmade, any piece can be personalized with your choice of inscription on request.


Skip ahead to uncover it over here on Ogham necklace for men in our online store.


For those of you with an interest in Ogham, you may enjoy browsing our handcrafted Ogham jewelry collection.



At Claddagh Design, Ogham translations are based on research conducted by reputable sources on the Ogham language. While every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided is comprehensive and accurate, due to the historic nature of this ancient script, the accuracy or reliability of content or information provided and any use thereof is solely at the user’s risk.


Ogham Translator

Want to know what your name looks like in the ancient Irish Language of Ogham?

Click here to find out



Custom Jewelry

Would you like to have a piece of Custom Jewelry created specifically for you?

Tell us about it 

35 Responses to A Guide to the Ogham Alphabet

  1. Christopher July 31, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    Hi I was think on getting honour and love in ogham on something but i want to get them in irish, and i was wondering because of the use of the foda in both words is there a different dialect of ogham i would have to use??
    any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards Christopher

    • Eileen Moylan July 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      Hi Christopher,
      Thanks for your comment. From the research that I have done the word would usually be written without the fada. The two words that you mention (gra and onoir) could be written that way without causing any confusion as to their meaning. Alternatively there are other symbols on the Ogham alphabet which translate as ‘ea’ or ‘oi’ which would phonetically make up for the lack of the fada. You would find these in the larger version of the Ogham alphabet. The Ogham alphabet is based on Old Irish which is without certain letters like j, k and v so we have to make up for this by translating the word into Old Irish or spelling it phonetically. Best of luck with your research. Eileen

  2. Haley September 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi i was thinking about getting a tattoo in this writing but im not sure how to translate it. I was wondering if you knew how to say serendipity using this form of language. Also I was wondering if you know how to say Bliss.


    • Eileen Moylan September 28, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Haley,

      Thanks for your comment. As Ogham is based on the Irish language the word would first have to be translated into Irish before it could be written in Ogham. I couldn’t find a direct translation for the word serendipity but ‘cinniuint’ is the Irish word for destiny or fate. With regard to bliss, ‘aoibhneas’ is the Irish word for bliss or happiness. If you follow my guide to writing in Ogham you should be able to translate any of these words. Hope that helps. Eileen

  3. Grace January 8, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    I would like to get “Pauline” in Ogham on a bracelet… but what would replace the P? Some places it seems to say a parallel dash to the right of/below the line, other places it suggests the use of NG.

    • Claddagh Design January 10, 2017 at 9:28 am #

      We would be delighted to work with you in making this bracelet. If you would like to email us at info@claddaghdesign.com we can send you some images of ‘P’ in Ogham. Sorry we can’t attach images here. Thanks, Eileen

  4. Katie January 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

    To translate Love of my Heart into Ogham, it first needs to be translated into Gaelic: Gra Mo Chroi. Is that correct?

    • Claddagh Design January 17, 2017 at 11:45 am #

      Hi Katie, yes that is correct. Good luck with your Ogham! Let us know if you would like a piece of jewellery made using this phrase. Eileen

      • Katie February 23, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

        How do you know when to use individual letters for vowels or the symbols? i.e. Chroi, is it five separate letters or 4 using for oi?

        • Shawn May 4, 2017 at 4:08 am #

          Katie as far as I understand, those pairings are based on sound.. how things are said rather than how they are spelled.

  5. William February 11, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    I just discovered Ogham doing a crossword puzzle … fascinating! In using your translator for the name William, it appears that it takes 2 “U”s to make a “W” … double “U” ??? If so, the etymological aspect is very interesting.

  6. Lloyd Rinell March 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    I am going to get my mom’s name on a tattoo and I was wondering how to spell or say her name in Irish as she is from Ireland and she passed away 11/19/2016. If you can help me in any way I would really appreciate it. Her name is Marilyn. Thanks very much. Lloyd Rinell

  7. Eamon Curley April 18, 2017 at 4:25 am #

    How are “K,” “-EY,” and “PH-” usually translated? I’m trying to translate “Kenneth,” “Phyllis,” “Harry,” and “Curley.” Thank you.

  8. Kathy Barrett August 24, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    I want to tattoo my son David name on my arm. I translated in in Ogham. Would you please send it to me as I want to make sure that it is correct. Thank you. Kathy Barrett

    • Claddagh Design August 28, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for your message. To get the most accurate translation in to Ogham I would first translate the name in to Irish so David would be Daithi. That way there is no issue with the shorter Ogham alphabet. If you enter Daithi in to our Ogham translator it will give you the correct translation. While we have done research in to Ogham there are a number of different ways to translate Ogham and so any translation would be done at the customers own risk. I’m sure you can understand why we need to say this!

  9. Jacob Gleason February 1, 2018 at 8:56 pm #

    I’m just curious, when I use your translator to type my name, it just replaces the J with an I (yew, idad). I understand that there is no J in the ogham, but would that be correct, or would it be better to translate my name to Irish/Gaelic?

    • Paula @ Claddagh Design February 2, 2018 at 10:55 am #

      Hi Jacob, exactly! The best way to translate to Ogham is to first translate to Irish and then enter it into the translator. Hope this helps! Paula

  10. Margaret murphy March 26, 2018 at 5:29 pm #

    I stumbled on the word “ogham” while searching for the actual meaning of the word “oligarchy” and I’m facinated😐

    • Paula @ Claddagh Design March 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi Margaret, thanks so much for your comment and I totally agree, Ogham is truly fascinating. It’s amazing that so few of us will never have heard of Ireland’s earliest form of writing. Delighted you enjoyed learning about it! If you’d like to see your name or another word in Ogham, feel free to check out our Ogham translator here

  11. Patrick Sheppard August 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm #

    Hello, If I translated the pendant correctly the irish words are ANAM CARA – which according to internet searchin mean SOUL and FRIEND. Not really meaning soulmate as we us it.
    Interesting language, I have seen the jewelry with these symbols, it is nice to know a bit more about it.


    • Paula @ Claddagh Design August 12, 2018 at 10:23 pm #

      Hi Patrick, that’s exactly it, great job! If you’re interested, we wrote a blog post here Anam Cara that goes into a little more detail!

  12. dave October 29, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

    ya, looks like bar code to me!

  13. Erin November 16, 2019 at 3:59 pm #

    Hello, is Ogham usually written horizontal or vertical?

    • Paula @ Claddagh Design November 19, 2019 at 6:00 pm #

      Hi Erin, Ogham was generally written on a vertical axis but there are some examples of Ogham on a horizontal axis. Hope this helps!

      • Shaya March 30, 2020 at 7:18 am #

        Hi. I was just wondering what translator you use to go from english to Irish (or old Irish I guess?) so I could try to translate something properly on my own.
        Thanks, Shaya.

        • Paula @ Claddagh Design April 21, 2020 at 2:15 pm #

          Hi Shaya, IMO the best way to accurately translate a word or phrase is to post a request for translation on an Irish language discussion forum. Always best to ask a native Irish speaker. Hope this helps!

  14. Ashley O’Neill September 5, 2020 at 5:39 pm #

    Hi. My name is Ashley. I would love to get a bracelet with the words “my angel wings” but there isn’t a translation for the “y” or the “w”. How would this look on the bracelet?
    Thank you for your time!

    • Paula @ Claddagh Design September 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm #

      Hi Ashley, apologies for the delay. Not to worry, when you place an order for personalised Ogham jewellery, our designer and silversmith Eileen will look after your translation. If you are just looking to see a translation, here is a link to our translator – https://www.claddaghdesign.com/ogham-translator-and-jewelry/ Eileen will sometimes translate to Irish first depending on the inscription. I hope this helps. Feel free to get in touch through our contact us page if you are looking to order a piece. Kind Regards, Paula

    • Michael Williams March 23, 2021 at 6:29 pm #

      sciatháin mo aingeal – “wings of my angel”

  15. ron connoors October 11, 2021 at 5:34 pm #

    i recently saw a t.v. production regarding finding some ogham letters in a small cave out west–the person that found these letters contacted a professor from a nearby college, this person investigated the cave, became very interested and traveled to trinity college in dublin to further learn more about ogham history—my question is are you aware of this cave, its location and if the professor who researched this finding could be contacted—i would appreciate any information you can supply—note—these letters found in utah???????? or where ever are dated long before columbus was to have discovered america—history in the making????????????

    thanks for any help you can givd on this subject

    • Paula @ Claddagh Design November 2, 2021 at 2:51 pm #

      That is fascinating Ron! Thanks for sharing. I haven’t come across this before. I will ask in the workshop to see if any of our team has heard of this.

  16. Robert November 5, 2021 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi! So I’m trying to get Fox but I don’t see an X.. Would I have to spell it phonetically like ‘Focks’ or ‘Fawks’?

    • Paula @ Claddagh Design November 9, 2021 at 5:52 pm #

      Hi Robert,

      As you may be aware, there is no x in the Irish/Ogham alphabet. So, it would probably be best to translate fox to Irish before translating to Ogham.

      If you need help with the Irish translation, you could ask on an Irish language speakers forum online such as http://www.irishlanguageforum.com/ I am sure someone would be happy to assist.

      I hope this helps!

      Kind Regards,


  1. Dolmen, Castle and Ennis | carol whetter - September 23, 2015

    […] set up shop. He was genuinely curious about us and chatted while he stamped names written in the Ogham alphabet onto […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your Cart

Cart is empty.