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Irish Proverbs & Sayings
Old Sayings, Proverbs, Verses, advice and Irish Triads (three together) of course, they are by unknown authors. Actually, if any of you knows of a source or origin for any quote here, we would very much like to here about it.
Wit & Humor
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.
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A face without freckles is like a sky wiithout stars
Photo Credit: Emily McGinnis
Garlic with May butter
Cureth all disease.
Drink of goat's white milk
Take along with these.
This is an early Irish poem from A Taste Of Ireland: Irish Traditional Foods by Theodora Fitzgibbon, published by Houghton Mifflin 1969.
Photo Credit: KerryGold
The old person is a child twice
Photo Credit: Getty Images
A misty winter brings a pleasant spring, a pleasant winter a misty spring.
Photo Credit: Indy Media
"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
A country without a language, a country without a soul
Old proverb. To listen to the spoken Irish, in the Munster or Ulster dialect please click Irish Sayings.
Here’s to the maiden of bashful fifteen;
Here’s to the widow of fifty;
Here’s to the flaunting, extravagant quean,
And here’s to the housewife that’s thrifty!
Let the toast pass;
Drink to the lass;
I’ll warrant she’ll prove an excuse for the glass.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
School for Scandal. Act iii. Sc. 3.
Here's to your roof,
may it be well thatched
And here's to all
under it -
May they be
If Candlemas is wet or foul, half the winter has gone at Yule. If Candlemas is fine and fair, half the winter is to come and more.
To someone who committed some small fault - 'Tis only a stepmother would blame you.
Glac bog an saol agus glacfaidh an saol bog tú
Take the world nice and easy, and the world will take you the same.
"If he went to a wedding, he'd wait for the christening."
Said of a man who overstays his welcome
Man is incomplete until he marries. After that, he is finished
Life's too short not to be Irish!
Is milis dá ól é ach is searbh dá íoc é.
It is sweet to drink but bitter to pay for
May you be afflicted with the itch and have no nails to scratch with!
"Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung and liver,
In her guts a galling give her."
Curse created by John Millington Synge on a friend's sister who had criticized "The Playboy of the Western World."
'Never dread the winter till the snow is on the blanket' i.e. there's no need to worry about the cold as long as you have a roof over your head.
P. Reilly, Co. Kildare
One of the best all-time Irish curses ever levied is from the rebel song Nell Flaherty's Drake:
May his pipe never smoke,
may his teapot be broke,
and to add to the joke
may his kettle not boil,
may he lay in the bed
'till the moment he's dead
may he always be fed on lob-scouse and fish oil,
may he swell with the gout,
may his grinders fall out,
may he roar, bawl and shout,
with the horrid toothache.
May his temples wear horns,
and all his toes corns,
the monster that murdered NeII Flaherty's drake.
If you'd like to read all of it, click Ned Flat.
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
He who has water and peat on his own farm has the world his own way.
Old Irish proverb.
'Tis better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money!
No butter be on your milk nor on your ducks a web. May your cow be flayed. And may the flame be bigger and wider which will go through your soul than the Connemara mountains, if they were on fire.
He is scant of news that speaks ill of his mother.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
From a headstone in Ireland
Two good things: a young man courting, an old man smoking. Two bad things: an old man courting, a young man smoking.
Irish Proverb from Co. Wexford.
Inis do Mháire i gcógar é,
is inseoidh Mháire dó phóbal é.
Tell it to Mary in a whisper,
and Mary will tell it to the parish.
A wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay.
Tax his tractor, tax his mule; tell him, taxing is the rule.
Tax his oil, tax his gas, tax his notes, tax his cash
Tax him good and let him know, that after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers, tax him more; tax him till he's good and sore.
Tax his coffin, tax his grave, tax his sod in which he's laid.
Put these words upon his tomb, "Taxes drove him to his doom."
Once he's gone, we won't relax. We'll still collect inheritance tax.
You can't kiss an Irish girl unexpectedly. You can only kiss her sooner than she thought you would.
Is fearr lán doirn de cheird ná lán mála d&Mac226;ór
A handful of skill is better than a bagful of gold
Is fearr bothán biamhar ná caisleán gortach
A cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle
Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón
It is often that a person's mouth broke his nose.
It is better to be a coward for a minute than dead the rest of your life.
Do not take the thatch from your own roof to buy slates for another man's house.
A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best,
but his mother the longest.
Here's to a temperance supper,
With water in glasses tall,
And coffee and tea to end with
And me not there at all!
A toast for Father's Day:
May you die in bed at 95, shot by a jealous wife!
Here's to eyes in your heads and none in your spuds.
Firelight will not let you read fine stories, but it's warm, and you won't see the dust on the floor.
A goose never voted for an early Christmas.
Dance as if no one's watching, sing as if no one's listening, and live everyday as if it were your last.
An té a bhíonn amuigh, fuarann a chuid
While a person is out, his food goes cold
(nothing does well, if neglected).
Dá fheabhas é an t-ól is é an tart a dheireadh
Good as drink is, it ends in thirst.
A little fire that warms is better than a big fire that burns.
There is no tax on talk
Enough and no waste is as good as a feast.
The magic of Christmas lingers on
Though childhood days have passed
Upon the common round of life
A Holy Spell is cast
Old Celtic verse
It is easy to halve the potato where there is love.
There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.
Wisdom is the comb given to a man after he has lost his hair.
If you give the loan of your britches, don't cut off the buttons.
The borrowed horse has hard hoofs.
May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whisky, but be tormented with itching without benefit of scratching.
Three best to have in plenty - sunshine, wisdom and generosity.
Everyone lays a burden on the willing horse.
God is good, but never dance in a small boat.
Never scald your lips with another man's porridge.
It's why women marry - the creatures, God bless them, are too shy to say no.
Don't be breaking your shin on a stool that's not in your way.
A whistling woman and a crowing hen
will bring no luck to the house they are in.
Wide is the door of the little cottage.
You can't kiss an Irish girl unexpectedly. You can only kiss her sooner than she thought you would.
Show the fatted calf, but not the thing that fattened him.
An old broom knows the dirty corners best.
God made time, but man made haste.
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet.
Many a sudden change takes place on a spring day.
You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
Marriages are all happy. It's having breakfast together that causes all the trouble.
What butter and whiskey won't cure, there is no cure for.
The old person is a child twice.
For a young man contemplating marriage: That you might have nicer legs than your own under your table before the new spuds are up.
Though wisdom is good in the beginning, it is better at the end.
Men are like bagpipes - no sound comes from them until they are full.
Don't make little of your dish for it may be an ignorant fellow who judges it.
The man who has luck in the morning has luck in the afternoon.
A man without a blackthorn stick is a man without an expedient.
The proverb "Tis better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money!" is true but it would be extreme to go apply for a Title Max loan on a whim. Title Max loans may be easy to get, but they should be used to fund important purchases, not a single night of celebrating or carousing.
Thu, Dec 7, 2017
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.
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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