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Irish Quips and Quotes Page 3
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.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.
Photo Credit: Parish of Donagh, Clogher Diocese Ireland
"I think people should be allowed to do what they want, as long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses."
Attributed to Oscar Wilde's Cleaning lady when she testified at his trial.
There are so many strange things in the world beyond our knowledge, and maybe there are ghosts too, though I do not understand why they should come back to this world when they have gone from it.
From The Western Island by Peig Sayers
In Ireland long ago every family that had the least pretension to respectability had a banshee of its own. Without one, its members would be regarded as not Irish at all, only upstarts, vagabonds and 'sprus.'
From Aoibheall the Banshee by Edmund Lenihan.
I met the Love-Talker one eve in the glen,
He was handsomer than any of our handsome young men,
His eyes were blacker than the sloe, his voice sweeter far
Than the crooning of old Kevin's pipes beyond in Coolnagar.
From 'The Love-Talker by Ethna Carbery
If curses came from the heart, it would be a sin. But it is from the lips they come, and we use them only to give force to our speech, and they are a great relief of the heart.
Attributed to Peig Sayers in 'The Western Island' by Robin Flower
What is that curling flower of wonder
As white as snow, as red as blood?
When death goes by in flame and thunder
And rips the beauty from the bud.
They left his blossom, white and slender
Beneath Glasnevin's shaking sod;
His spirit passed like sunset splendour
Unto the dead Fiannas' God.
Good luck be with you, Michael Collins,
Or stay or go you far away;
Or stay you with the folk of fairy,
Or come with ghosts another day.
Sir Shane Leslie
ED. NOTE: On August 24, as the remains of Michael Collins lying in a decorative oak coffin were slowly brought to Glasnevin Cemetery, a nation mourned. His assassination caused the history of Ireland to be changed irrevocably.
On Summer Sunday's afternoon
The old rock was a sight:
The boys and girls would congregate
With wild unfeigned delight
And pass the hours till milking time
When home they would return
With baskets filled with fraocháns
From the Rock of Carrickbyrne.
Lyrics from a Wexford ballad celebrating
Lughnasa and the closest Sunday to
August 1st. It was often called
"Fraughan Sunday" after the wild
blue berries that were ripe for picking
at this time.
Life does not cease to be funny when people die anymore than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
G. B. Shaw
What is called 'Irishness' can be understood only in relation to the homeland. There is a saying that you can take a boy out of Ireland but you cannot take Ireland out of the boy. In the long run, I believe geography counts for more than genes.
From Irish Folk Ways by E. Estyn Evans
This country of ours is no sand-bank thrown up by some caprice of earth. It is an ancient land, honoured in the archives of civilization , traceable into antiquity by its piety, its valour, and its sufferings. Every great European race has sent its stream to the river of the Irish mind.
From Literary and Historical Essays (1846) by Thomas Davis.
Galway City ...is to the discoverer of Ireland something like what Chapman's 'Homer' was to Keats. It's a clue, a provocation, an enticement.
From 'Galway of the Races by Robert Lynd.
In Ireland, for a few years more, we have a popular imagination that is fiery and magnificent and tender, so that those of us who wish to write start with a chance that is not given to writers in places where the springtime of the local life has been forgotten and the harvest is a memory only, and the straw has been turned into bricks.
From the intro to the Playboy of the Western World (1907) by John Millington Synge.
One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.
Dubliners by James Joyce
I know tolerably well what Ireland was, but have a very imperfect idea of what Ireland is.
John Stuart Mill - Letter to J. E. Caimes, 29 July 1864
My father was totally Irish, and so I went to Ireland once. I found it to be very much like New York (state), for it was a beautiful country, and both the women and men were good-looking.
When Time who steals our years away
Shall steal our pleasures too,
The memry of the past will stay,
And half our joys renew.
Died February 25, 1852 RIP
Company keeping under the stars at night has succeeded in too many places the good old irish custom of visiting, chatting and story-telling from one house to another.
View of Archbishop Gilmartin of Tuam 1926, from Twentieth Century Ireland by Dermot Keogh
Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.
Pope John Paul II from a speech to the people of Galway, September 1979.
"A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."
John F. Kennedy
Photo credit & Caption: Allied World War II Cemetery, Normandy France/Peter Higgins
"A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart."
And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
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.
born on August 28, 1896. Died September 7th, 1984
"My Ulster blood is my most priceless heritage."
James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States
God gives the gifts where He finds the vessel empty enough to receive them."
I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.
President Reagan (RIP)
"What were we celebrating? At this rate, the Angelus doesn't have a chance of remaining on RTÉ if we've managed to get St. Patrick out of his own parade."
Irish Times reporter Stephen Harris on not seeing a single figure of the saint in the 1998 Dublin parade.
"Too young to die. Too drunk to live"
Renee McCall of the Daily Express on the passing of Brendan Behan on this date in 1964 at the age of 41.
There's no reason to bring religion into it. I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible.
From the Plough and the Stars by Sean O'Casey
Ah, Ireland...That damnable, delightful country, where everything that is right is the opposite of what it ought to be
"Real vision is the ability to see the invisible."
Souls as White as Snow
Thoughts of childhood Christmases rekindle a warm glow
As I recall the magic of those days so long ago
The atmosphere within our home of happy expectation -
Of all the joys that lay ahead, so filled me with elation.
Coming up to Christmas, the shopping should be done,
Which meant the then rare pleasure of a journey into town
Where mother went from shop to shop buying Christmas treats
Fruit for the cakes and Christmas 'pud', some lemonade and sweets
Bread and herbs for stuffing, biscuits, chocolate and a 'Sup' -
To celebrate the 'Christmas' and cheer the adults up
Next preparation was confession, which enabled us to go
to receive Our Lord on Christmas morn, with souls as white as snow.
From "No Shoes in Summer." Anon. North Cork, 1940s.
Christmas Eve the feast began,
It was a lovely sight,
To see the cozy country homes
lit up by candlelight.
To hear the voices loud and shrill
as folks passed on their way,
Wishing each and everyone
A happy Christmas Day.
Their hearts were light,
their pockets too,
They did not seem to care,
They lived their simple Irish lives
with faith in God and prayer.
From Christmas 1922 by Kathleen Treanor
It is only an auctioneer that should admire all schools of art.
When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.
I want peace and quiet. I want it so much I'd die for it.
There are in every generation those who shrink from the ultimate sacrifice, but there are in every generation those who make it with joy and laughter and these are the salt of the generations.
Patrick Henry Pearse
Have you seen the tidy cottage in the straggling, dusty street,
Where the roses swing their censers by the door?
Have you heard the happy prattle and the tramp of tiny feet
As the sturdy youngsters romp around the floor?
Did you wonder why the wiree comes to sing his sweetest song?
Did the subtle charm of home upon you fall?
Did you puzzle why it haunted you the while you passed along?
There's a Little Irish Mother there; that's all.
From The Little Irish Mother by John O'Brien
Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations.
The shot Irishmen will now take their places beside Emmet and the Manchester Martyrs in Ireland, and beside the heroes of Poland and Sérbia and Belgium in Europe; and nothing in heaven or earth can prevent it.
George Bernard Shaw in a letter to the Daily News, May 1916
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Easter, 1916 by W.B. Yeats
A Toast to St. Patrick
Saint Patricks, the holy and tutelar man;
His beard down his bosom like Aarons ran.
Some from Scotland, some from Wales,
will declare that's from where he came,
But I care not, now hes risen to fame.
The pride of the world and his enemies scorning,
I will drink to St Patrick, today, in the morning!
“Men are governed by lines of intellect - women: by curves of emotion”
James Joyce (b. February 2, 1882 2- d. January 13, 1941)
Image: his image was included in a printed subscription order form for Ulysses, published Paris, 1921.
I'd wed you without herds,
without money or rich array,
And I'd wed you on a dewy morn
at day-dawn gray...
From Cashel of Munster by Samuel Ferguson
For your sweet sake, I will ignore
Every girl who takes my eye,
if it's possible, I implore
You do the same for me.
As I have given from my heart
Passion for which alone I live,
Let me now receive from you
The love you have to give.
Love of Ireland: Poems from the Irish by Brendan Kennelly
My love is like a cabbage
That's easy cut in two.
The leaves I'll give to others
But the heart I'll keep for you.
Oral poem from Tyrone
Of our conflicts with others we make rhetoric; of our conflicts with ourselves we make poetry.
William Butler Yeats
This is the time we dock the night
Of a whole hour of candlelight;
When song of linnet and thrush is heard -
And love stirs in the heart of a bird.
From The Turn of The Year
by Katherine Tynan
This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ.
A long time away in a strange land and home is warm at Christmas and the lights are never so welcome as when you see them from a long time, long way off.
From the Age-Old Message by Pat Ingoldsby
A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away;
While quite unselfish, it grows small.
Eva K. Logue
The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.
Attributed to Robert Lynd
I joined the British Army because she stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilization and I would not have her say she defended us while we did nothing but pass resolutions.
The contest on our side is not one of rivalry or vengeance, but of endurance. It is not those who can inflict the most, but those who can suffer the most who will conquer.
Inaugural speech of Cork Mayor Terence MacSwiney who died on hunger strike, October 25, 1920.
Hang the bard, and cut the punster,
Fling all rhyming to the deuce,
Take a business tour through Munster,
Shoot a landlord be of use.
Richard D'Alton Williams - Advice to a Young Poet
There are only two dialects of Irish, plain Irish and toothless Irish, and, lacking a proper acquaintance with the latter, I think I missed the cream of the old man's talk.
From 'Leinster, Munster and Connaught' by Frank O'Connor
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
John F. Kennedy
When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.
Frank McCourt - Angela's Ashes
"All that praying you made us do," complained Maggie. "And making us go to Mass. And starving us on Good Friday...And making us feeling ashamed of our bodies and guilty about absolutely everything. No, Ma, you were the pits." Nuala glowed with pride, truly she had been the best of Catholic mothers.
Late Opening at The Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes
Photo Credit: Light Planet
I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines; and, I believe, Dorothy, you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife.
From Act I of She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith
The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.
Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.
John F. Kennedy
I found Ireland on her knees, I watched over her with eternal solicitude; I have traced her progress from injuries to arms and from arms to liberty.
I knew, by the smoke that so gracefully curld
Above the green elms, that a cottage was near;
And I said, If there s peace to be found in the world,
A heart that was humble might hope for it here.
Ballad Stanzas by Thomas Moore
It's a good thing to be able to take up your money in your hand and to think no more of it when it slips away from you than you would of a trout that would slip back into the stream.
Lady Augusta Gregory
Lovely the mantle of green
Our Lord spreads on the hillside!
Every spring the divine craftsman
Plumps its worn fleece.
The Hag of Beare - 9th century
Photo Credit: Irish Fireside
We are ready to die and shall die cheerfully and proudly...You must not grieve for all of this. We have preserved Ireland’s honour and our own. Our deeds of last week1 are the most splendid in Irelands history. People will say hard things of us now, but we shall be remembered by posterity and blessed by unborn generations.
Patrick Henry Pearse
1Easter Uprising, April 24, 1916
I'm a good scholar when it comes to reading but a blotting kind of writer when you give me a pen.
John Millington Synge
All ye who love the springtime
and who but loves it well,
When the little birds do sing, and
the buds begin to swell
Think not ye ken its beauty, or know
its face so dear,
Till ye look upon old Ireland in the
dawning o' the year!
The Dawning of the Year
by Mary Elizabeth Blake
If you ever wondered where "Top o' the morning" came from, here it is:
T'anam chun Dia! but there it is-
The dawn on the hills of Ireland!
God's angels lifting the nights's black veil
From the fair, sweet face of my sireland!
O, Ireland! isn't it grand to look-
Like a bride in her rich adornin'!
With all the pent-up love of my heart
I bid you the top o'the morning'!
The Exile's Return
by John Locke
"Let no man write my epitaph.... When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written."
In honour of his birthday on March 4, this is excerpted from the speech given by Robert Emmett at his trial in September, 1803.
My advice to you concerning applause is this: enjoy it but never quite believe it.
If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.
Men always want to be a woman's first love. Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
No Irish need apply!
The man that wrote it, wrote it well
The same was writ on the gates of hell
No Irish need apply!
This quote came from a reader who wanted to know who wrote this verse and if there was any more to the poem or song. We found several versions of the song, but did not find this particular stanza.
"Bekki B" found the origin.
It turns out that it isn't from the lyrics of a song. During the time of the Penal Laws, the town of Bandon in Co. Cork had a sign which said: Enter here, Turk, Jew or atheist, any man except a Papist.
Underneath those lines, some Irishman, fighting back with the only two things left that could not be stripped from him - his wit and his dignity - wrote: "The man who wrote this wrote it well, for the same is writ on the gates of Hell."
Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.
Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!
June 13th 1865
January 28th 1939
W.B. Yeats epitaph
I am a confirmed believer in blessings in disguise. I prefer them undisguised when I myself happen to be the person blessed; in fact, I can scarcely recognize a blessing in disguise except when it is bestowed upon someone else.
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic!
If you strike us down now we shall rise again and renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom. If our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom, then our children will win it by a better deed.
Padraig Pearse - a leader of the 1916 Rebellion.
Photo Credit: Sinn Féin Bookshop
The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.
Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.
I have my faults, but changing my tune is not one of them.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
"...even as a partitioned small nation, we shall go on and strive to play our part in the world, continuing unswervingly to work for the cause of true freedom and for peace and understanding between all nations."
Eamon De Valera
No wise man ever wished to be younger.
Ah, we men and women are like ropes drawn tight with strain that pull us in different directions.
We are all born mad. Some remain so.
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (1955)
When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen.
I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.
When all the fuss has died down and the lads get back to I'm sure what will be a heroes' welcome, the wounds will heel and the wise man in the pub will say "Sure, 'twas only an oul match anyway!"
Contributed by an Irish reader after Spain defeated Ireland in the 2002 World Cup.
Hills as green as emeralds, cover the countryside,
Lakes as blue as sapphires are Ireland's special pride,
And rivers that shine like silver make Ireland look so fair,
But the friendliness of her people is the richest treasure there.
Contributed by Bea Sager
Ireland is a fruitful mother of genius, but a barren nurse.
John Boyle O'Reilly
A life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing at all.
The intellect is forced to choose: Perfection of the life, or of the work.
W. B. Yeats
I pedalled on towards Athlone through slashing rain across brown miles of harvested bog - looking like a child's dream of a world made of chocolate.
Dervla Murphy, A Place Apart, 1978
In doggerel and stout let me honour this country
though the air is so soft that it smudges the words.
Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.
This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)
There is an Irish way of paying compliments as though they were irresistible truths which makes what would otherwise be an impertinence delightful.
Katherine Tynan Hinkson
A lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song in the other.
One wonders in this place, why anyone is left in Dublin, or London, or Paris where it would be better, one would think to live in a tent or hut, with this magnificent sea and sky, and to breathe this wonderful air which is like wine in one's teeth.
J. M. Synge
Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.
W. B. Yeats
A man who loses his money gains, at the least, experience, and sometimes, something better.
George Bernard Shaw
In Ireland, the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.
Sir John Pentland Mahaffy
A man without a blackthorn stick is a man without an expedient.
Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.
George Bernard Shaw
Previous Quotes Page
Fri, Nov 3, 2017
The Round Towers
The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world's ancient monuments; one author has called them 'Elegant, free-standing pencils of stone.' Today, 65 survive in part or whole. Hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with a sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar - a technique imported from Roman Britain - it's said by many historians that they were built by monastic communities to thwart Viking invaders. And yet, there's reason to believe that the towers were built long before Christianity came to Ireland. Whatever their origins, monasteries did indeed flourish where the round towers existed. And why not. These imposing edifices provided a watch tower, a keep and a refuge.
Image: By kind permission of Stephen Cassidy, The Cassidy Clan.
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..
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