Traditions, folklore, history and more. If it's Irish, it's here. Or will be!
"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
Library: Books, Movies, Music
Prints & Photos
Bunús na Gaeilge
Circle of Prayer
Did You Know?
Write to Us
Links/Link to Us
Advertise with us
Awards & Testimonials
Irish Quips and Quotes Page 1
Every few days, we post a quote, saying, proverb or delightful bit of Irish wit. Enjoy!
We have recently reorganized our Quotes. We realized that there were just too many of them on one page (we can be a bit slow at times). So,we have divided them up into four categories.
This one - Quotes - is the serious page; uplifting, thought-provoking and insightful.
Click for the others:
Wit & Humor
Proverbs & Sayings
Note: We often have difficulty validating a quote source. If you catch an error or you have a source for the, all too common, anonymous, let us know. Please, though, give us an authoritative source or, at least, corroboration. Otherwise, we just have dozens of contradictory opinions.
Click to send us an E-Mail.
"I live again the days and evenings of my long career. I dream at night of operas and concerts in which I have had my share of success. Now like the old Irish minstrel, I have hung up my harp because my songs are all sung. "
John McCormack - b June 14, 1884 - d September 16, 1945
Photo Credit: Boston College Library
‘You cannot change the blood in your veins & love this Irish earth. Ask the people. They know. Listen to them. Feel with them...’
From the novel Famine by Liam O'Flaherty
The book is available on Amazon
Tribute to Tom Kettle
All parties bowed in sorrow over his grave, for in the last analysis they were all Irish, and they knew that in losing him, whether he was friend or enemy, they had lost a true son of Ireland. A son of Ireland? He was more. He was Ireland! He had fought for all the aspirations of his race, for Independence, for Home Rule, for the Celtic Renaissance, for a United Ireland, for the eternal Cause of Humanity...He died, a hero in the uniform of a British soldier, because he knew that the faults of a period or of a man should not prevail against the cause of right or liberty.
Source: the French journal L’Opinion/Wikipedia
Photo Credit: © 2008, Pilise Gábor
‘I was born on a storm-swept rock and hate the soft growth of sun-baked lands where there is no frost in men’s bones."
Photo Credit: Trip Advisor/Cliffs at Dun Aengus, Inishmore
“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
George Bernard Shaw
Photo Credit: This is Tamworth
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane believes Giovanni Trapattoni's men are capable of "one big result" at Euro 2012 - which he feels must come in their Group C opener against Croatia to stand any chance of progress through to the knockout stages. "It will be tough for Ireland, but they will have a good go as all Irish teams do.” he said.
Photo Credit & Related Story: Daily Mail/Reuters
"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." James Joyce
Photo Credit: Literature On Line
I live again the days and evenings of my long career. I dream at night of operas and concerts in which I have had my share of success. Now like the old Irish minstrel, I have hung up my harp because my songs are all sung.
June 1884 September 1945
Photo Credit & Related Story : NPR/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
“I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character.”
Father Edward J. Flanagan who was born in Co. Roscommon on July 13, 1886 and founded Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska in 1921.
Photo Credit & Related Story: Melancholicus
I am wet through, relentless rain lashes down
My dampening features take on a sad frown
Murky clouds are emptying themselves away
Flooding earth below, making a miserable day
I trudge silently towards home, slowly soaking
My body is splattered, coldly fuming, dripping
My black raincoat is on, the umbrella held high
Puddles underneath my feet splash as I walk by
Perhaps tomorrow the sun will shine in the sky
To dry my mood, to introduce a contented sigh
Fr Patrick Brennan © 2011
School is out.
The house is full of children.
How fast they grow, how far
they cast their glances janus-wise
back to last June's butterflies,
forward to the yet uncaptured Mourning Cloak.
From Muse, June, Relate,
to the memory of Denis Devlin
by Brian Coffey (b June 8 1905, d April 14 1995)
Photo Credit: Barefoot Lane/©Cheryl Nienela
In honour of International Women's Day - March 9 2011
"A culture is not an abstract thing. It is a living, evolving process. The aim is to push beyond standard-setting and asserting human rights to make those standards a living reality for people everywhere.” Mary Robinson quotes (Irish first female Irish President, b.1944)
Photo Credit & Related Story: Rugged Elegance
"I can hear the curlew passing overhead. Such a lonely cell, such a lonely struggle. But, my friend, this road is well trod and he, whoever he was, who first passed this way, deserves the salute of the nation. I am but a mere follower and I must say Oiche Mhaith.'*
*Oiche Mhaith - Good Night
Photo Credit: Peregrine's Bird Photography
"And the heart that is soonest awake to the flowers is always the first to be touch'd by the thorns."
From the poem 'Oh! Think not my spirits' by Thomas Moore ( b May 28 1779, d. February 25, 1852)
"Nowadays we are all of us so hard up that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They're the only things we can pay."
From Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde
Photo Credit: Oscar Wilde On Line
When Erin first rose from the dark-swelling flood,
God bless'd the green island, He saw it was good.
The Emerald of Europe, it sparkled, it shone,
In the ring of this world the most precious stone!
From the poem "When Erin First Rose" by Dr. William Drennan, who is credited with being the first to refer to Ireland in print as "the Emerald Isle." To read the poem in its entirety, please click:
Photo Credit: European Space Agency
I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts. I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer
distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity.
St. Brigid of Ireland
Image Credit: St. Bridgid's Church, Drum, Co. Roscommon
I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.
James Joyce on Ulysses
Photo Credit: University of Buffalo
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
After the Rising
"You must not grieve for all this. We have preserved Ireland’s honour and our own. Our deeds of last week are the most splendid in Ireland’s history. People will say hard things of us now, but we shall be remembered by posterity and blessed by unborn generations. You too will be blessed because you were my mother."
Patrick Pearse - from a letter to his mother following his surrender and imprisonment after the Easter Rising, 1916.
Photo Credit: Indy Media
I love every thing that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.
From She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith. The play was performed for the first time at Covent Garden Theatre, London on March 15th, 1733
Photo Credit: Book Rags
"Ireland, thou friend of my country in my country's most friendless days, much injured, much enduring land, accept this poor tribute from one who esteems thy worth, and mourns thy desolation."
- George Washington, speaking of Ireland's support for America during the revolution.
Image Credit: Success Creeations
"When I die Dublin will be written in my heart.”
Born February 2, 1882, Died January 13, 1941
Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.
Who cares? When autumn birds in flocks
Fly southward, back we turn the clocks,
And so regain a lovely thing
That missing hour we lost in spring.
Photo Credit: Migrating Birds from ABC Science
"He was a bold man that first ate an oyster"
Photo Credit: Ireland Logue
“Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark.” Saying of the Claddagh Gypsies of Galway
Photo Credit: Blueprints Express.
"I have never seen a West Cork farmer with an umbrella, except at a funeral. His father or grandfather, who went to the creamery with an ass and cart, insulated himself against the vagaries of the heavens with a thick woolen overcoat and slightly greasy flat cap. Little rain permeated the oxter or the headgear. Beneath the outer layer, which could weigh a hundredweight when well soaked, the man remained dry and warm."
- Damien Engright, "A Place Near Heaven - A Year in West Cork"
Photo Credit: Flicker
Then here’s to the land that is green and grey
The land of all lands the best!
For the South is bright, and the East is gay,
But the sun shines last in the West,
The sun shines last in the West!
In Spain: Drinking Song by Emily Lawless
Irish poet born June 17, 1845 in Co. Kildare
Irish poets, learn your trade,
sing whatever is well made,
scorn the sort now growing up
all out of shape from toe to top.
Photo Credit: Nobel Library
I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.
That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ.
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.
Winifred Mary Letts
Photo Credit: Spring flowers in Phoenix Park, Dublin by Annie Mills
When law can stop the blades of grass
from growin' as they grow,
An' when the leaves in summer time
their color dare not show,
Then I will change the color, too,
I wear in my caubeen;
But till that day, plaise God,
I'll stick to the Wearin' o' the Green.
Nationalism must now be added to the refuse pile of superstitions. We are now citizens of the world, and the man who divides the race into elect Irishmen and reprobate foreign devils (especially Englishmen) had better live on the Blaskets where he can admire himself without disturbance.
G. B. Shaw
A Mother's Love Is A Blessing
An Irish boy was leaving
Leaving his native home
Crossing the broad Atlantic
Once more he wished to roam
And as he was leaving his mother
Who was standing on the quay
She threw her arms around his waist
And this to him did say
A mother's love's a blessing
No matter where you roam
Keep her while she's living
You'll miss her when she's gone
Love her as in childhood
Though feeble, old and grey
For you'll never miss a mother's love
Till she's buried beneath the clay.
From the song of the same name by Thomas P Keenan
Photo Credit: Irish Emigrants Leaving for a New Life in America
Framed Art Print from All Posters
Any Kerryman will tell you that there are only two Kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Kerry - "One is not of this world and the other is out of this world"
Photo Credit: My Guide - Ireland/Ring of Kerry
Oh, call it by some better name,
For Friendship sounds too cold,
While love is now a worldly flame,
Whose shrine must be of gold;
And Passion like, the sun at noon,
That burns o’er all he sees
Awhile as warm, will set as soon -
Then, call it none of these.
Imagine something purer far,
More free from stain of clay
Than Friendship, Love or Passion are,
Yet human still as they;
And if thy lip, for love like this
No mortal word can frame,
Go, ask of angels what it is,
And call it by that name.
Photo credit: Whispering Angels/All Posters
He had lov'd for his love, for his country he died,
They were all that to life had entwin'd him,
Nor soon shall the tears of his country be dried,
Nor long will his love stay behind him.
From She is Far From the Land by Thomas Moore. It is said that it was written for Sarah Curran who was the fiance of patriot Robert Emmet. To read the poem and hear the tune, please click Contemplator.
Photo Credit: Wallace Travel Group
Now it's St Brigid's Day and the first snowdrop
In County Wicklow, and this a Brigid's Girdle
I'm plaiting for you, an airy fairy hoop
(Like one of those old crinolines they'd trindle),
Twisted straw that's lifted in a circle
To handsel and to heal, a rite of spring
As strange and lightsome and traditional
As the motions you go through going through the thing.
From A Brigid’s Girdle for Adele by Seamus Heaney
Photo Credit: Cards Unlimited
the red rose shineth rare,
And the lily saintly fair;
But my shamrock, one in three,
Takes the inmost heart of me!
From Shamrock Song by Katharine Tynan
Photo Credit: The Garden Helper
New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
Christmas townlands wait,
Road and field, they undulate
To every open door;
Village, byre and frosty ways,
Show farmer, townie, whining crone
Grow generous with praise.
From the Wren Boy by Brendan Kennelly
Photo Credit: National Folklore Collection
It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of Godthe lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy peoplekind, patient, generous, loving, laughing peopleno matter how maddening is the Christmas rush...
Fr. Andrew Greeley
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
From Hymns for Little Children by Cecil F. Alexander who was born in Co. Wicklow and is thought to have written the words at Markree Castle, Collooney, Co. Sligo. To hear the melody and read all of the lyrics, please click Cyber Hymnal.
Photo Credit: Irish Animals
A weary soldier fighting against Napoleon at Waterloo wrote in his diary: "When I [could] take some nourishment, I felt the most extraordinary desire for a glass of Guinness." Doctors wrote in to say that they found Guinness good for everything from "insomnia, neurasthenia, debility and constipation" to an "effective aid for nursing mothers."
Guinness tried to get stout admitted into the U.S. during Prohibition as a medicine, but the Treasury Department coldly said no.
There must be freedom for all to live, to think, to worship, no book, no avenue must be closed. James Larkin
Next Quotes Page
Tue, Dec 2, 2014
Holly and Ivy hanging up and
something wet in every cup*
Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now. The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle. This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house. As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.
*Old Irish Christmas toast
Image: Pashley Manor Gardens.
Click for More Culture Corner.
I Never Knew That About Ireland
by Christopher Winn
In this wonderful compendium, Christopher Winn gives a tour of the four provinces of Ireland- Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster. Find out where dreams were inspired, ideas were born, and where the unforgettable heroes of Ireland's past now slumber. A treasure trove of fascinating stories, I Never Knew That About Ireland is packed full of information on the colorful history of the Emerald Isle. This irresistible book gives a captivating insight into the heritage, memories, and monuments that have shaped each county in Ireland, searching out their secrets and unearthing their hidden gems. Amazon Review
Click for I never Knew That..
A delightful little gift for the Irish readers in your life,
our book-mark features a brass-colored metal shamrock charm attached to a green satin ribbon.
It's yours for a donation of $5.00 or more in support of
the Irish Culture and Customs web site and Newsletter.
Donations can be made through PayPal to this account:
or by mail to
5814, Blue Spruce
Cincinnati OH 45224
Many thanks in advance for your kindness!
Love the aroma of a turf fire? Experience the next best thing with Irish Incense, the peaceful, nostalgic scent that will transport you back in time and place. The perfect gift for Christmas or any other occasion, order now. A special offer for Irish Culture and Customs visitors: 10% discount on all
products! Just enter the Coupon Code ICC200 in the Check out section of
the web site.
Click here for Irish Incense.
The Big Little Book of Irish Wit & Wisdom
Six separate, enchanting gift books have been remade into one hefty little volume. Collection includes classic Irish triads dating from the ninth century, 28 riddles of traditional Irish life, 32 prayers and blessings for all occasions, 50 proverbs, and the best of Ireland's toasts. 250 color illustrations. Edited from an Ingram review.
Click here for Irish Wit