Irish proverbs

From Quotes
If I shall sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I'm sure that, for me, there would be nothing left worth living for.
Henry David Thoreau
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Irish Gaelic (IG) proverbs are called "seanfhocail" (literally "old words". Many Irish Gaelic proverbs are also found in Scottish Gaelic (SG). (eg: Is maith an scáthán súil charad (IG), Is math an sgathan suil caraide (SG) which means in English;A friend's eye is a good mirror.)

A

  • "Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile"
    • Translation: "One beetle recognises another"
    • Meaning: It takes one to know one; Like sees like
  • "An rud is annamh is iontach."
    • Translation: "What is seldom is wonderful."

B

  • "Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach."
    • Translation: "The Power fellow will have another day."
    • Meaning: "We'll live to fight another day." -sk
  • "Bíonn gach tosú lag."
    • Translation: "Every beginning is weak."
  • "Bíonn grásta Dé idir an diallait agus an talamh"
    • Translation: "The grace of God is found between the saddle and the ground"
  • "Bíonn adharca fada ar na ba thar lear"
    • Translation: "Cattle in faraway lands have long horns"
    • Meaning: The grass is always greener on the other side
  • "Bíonn ciúin ciontach"
    • Translation: "The quiet are guilty"
  • "Bíonn cluasa ar na clathacha"
    • Translation: "The fences (walls) have ears"
  • "Briseann an dúchais trí shúile an chait"
    • Translation: "Breeding will break out in the eyes of a cat."
    • Meaning: "The true nature of someone's character is revealed through their eyes"

C

  • "Cailín ag Mór agus Mór ag iarraidh déirce"
    • Translation: "Mór has a maid and yet Mór has to beg."
    • Meaning: Anything to keep up appearances
  • "Cad a dhéanfadh mac a' chait ach luch a mharú?"
    • Translation: "What else would the cat's son do, except kill a mouse?"
    • Meaning: Like father - like son.
  • "Ceileann searc ainimh 's locht"
    • Translation: "Love is blind"
  • "Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde"
    • Translation: "Beware of the anger of a patient man"
    • Meaning: The longer it takes to break a man's patience, the more powerful his wrath will be.

D

  • "Don't go putting wool on the sheep's back."
    • Meaning: Don't give someone something they don't need.
    • Similar: Carrying coals to Newcastle
  • "Dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi"
    • Translation: "A woman told me that a woman told her . . ."
    • Meaning: Don't believe everything you are told. It may be just gossip.

I

  • "Is binn béal ina thost"
    • Translation: "A silent mouth is sweet."
    • Meaning: Silence is golden.
  • "I scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine."
    • Translation: "People live in each other's shadows."
  • "Is fearr an tsláinte ná na táinte."
    • Translation: "Health is better than wealth."
  • "Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste."
    • Translation: "It is better to have broken Irish than clever English" - a reference to the language.
  • "Is í ding di féin a scoileann an dair."
    • Translation: "It is a wedge of itself that splits the oak."
    • Meaning: Beware of the enemy within.
  • "Is iad na muca ciúine a itheann an mhin."
    • Translation: "It's the quiet pigs that eat the grain."
    • Meaning: It's those who are quiet that you don't suspect.
    • Similar: "It's always the quiet ones."
  • "Is iomaí slí muc a mharú seachas a thachtadh le h-im"
    • Translation: "There are many ways of killing a pig other than by choking it with butter."
    • Meaning: There's more than one way to do something - usually, more simply.
  • "Is leor don dreoilín a nead"
    • Translation: "The nest is enough for a wren"
    • Meaning: Home is where the heart is
  • "Is leor nod don eolach"
    • Translation: "A hint is sufficient for the wise"
  • "Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir"
    • Translation: "Time is a good story teller"
    • Meaning: Stories become embellished with time
  • "Is maith an scáthán súil charad".
    • Translation:A friend's eye is a good mirror.
    • Meaning: A friend will tell you how it is (the truth).
  • "Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón"
    • Translation: "It's often a person's mouth broke their nose"
    • Meaning: Watch what you say--it can hurt you!
  • "Is minic an fhírinne searbh"
    • Translation: "The truth is often bitter."
  • "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king"
    • Meaning: There are situations, where even a little knowledge will provide great advantage
  • "It's hard to make a choice between two blind dogs."
    • Meaning: Both options are unsatisfactory
  • "Is trom Cearc i bhfad"
    • Translation:"A hen is heavy over a long distance"
    • Meaning: Something apparently easy may be difficult over a long period of time

M

  • "Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad"
    • Translation: "A light heart lives longest"
  • "Pós bean ón sliabh agus pósfaidh tú an sliabh"
    • Translation: "Marry a woman from the mountain and you'll marry the mountain."
    • Meaning: You cannot be in a relationship without accepting a person's friends, family, and past affiliations.
  • "Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh siad"
    • Translation: "Praise the youth and they will come"
    • Meaning:Young people learn more from compliments than criticism
  • "Molann an obair an fear"
    • Translation: "The work praises the man"
  • "Is maith an rud é go dtéann na bóithre i gCiarraí as Ciarraí"
    • Translation:"Its a good thing that the roads in Kerry go out of Kerry"
    • Meaning: If you live in Kerry, you'll be glad there's a way out
  • "Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras"
    • Translation:"Hunger is the best sauce."
    • Alternative: Hunger is the best spice.
    • Meaning: If you're hungry, everything tastes good.
  • "Marbh le tae agus marbh gan é"
    • Translation:"Dead with tea and dead with out it"
    • Meaning: Some people are never happy.

N

  • "Na Scraití míle truca"
    • Translation: "The tree of a thousand barbs/torns"
    • Meaning: Beware the tree that tears the hole off you.
  • "Ná bac le mac an bhacaigh, agus ní bhacfaidh mac an bhacaigh leat"
    • Translation: "Don't bother the beggar's son and the beggar's son won't bother you."
    • Meaning: Mind your own business and let others mind theirs.
  • "Never burn a penny candle looking for a halfpenny."
    • Meaning: Don't spend more on something than it is worth.
  • "Ní bhíonn airgead amadáin i bhfad ina phóca."
    • Translation: "A fool's money is not long in his pocket."
    • Meaning: A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • "Ní bhíonn saoi gan locht"
    • Translation: "There's no wise man without fault"
    • Note:In Hiberno-English, this is rendered as "There doesn't be a wiseman without fault". The use of "does be" tries to express the present continuous tense (or present habitual tense)which exists in Irish but not to the same extent in English.
  • "Ní dhíolann dearmad fiacha"
    • Translation: "A debt is still unpaid, even if forgotten"
  • "Ní hé lá na báistí lá na bpáistí"
    • Translation: "A rainy day is not a day for children"
    • (A pun: báistí and bpáistí sound alike).
  • "Ní hé lá na gaoithe lá na scoilb"
    • Translation: "A windy day is not a day for thatching"
    • Meaning "There's a good and a bad season for every job"
  • "Ní mar a shíltear a bhítear"
    • Translation:"Things aren't as they seem"
  • "Ní thagann ciall roimh aois"
    • Meaning: Sense does not come before age
  • "Ní thuigeann an seach an seang"
    • Translation: "The well fed person doesn't understand the hungry one"
    • Meaning:You can't understand what you haven't experienced
  • "Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin"
    • Translation: "There's no hearth like your own hearth"
    • Meaning: There's no place like home.
  • "Níl aon tóin tinn mar do thóin tinn féin"
    • Translation: "There's no sore ass like your own sore ass"
    • This is a pun reversing the syllables from the phrase before.
  • "Níor bhris focal maith fiacail riamh"
    • Translation: "A good word never broke a tooth"
    • Meaning: It doesn't hurt to pay a compliment
  • "Nuair a bhíonn an t-ól istigh, bíonn an chiall amuigh"
    • Translation: "When the drink is in, the sense is out"

O

  • "Ólann an cat ciúin bainne leis"
    • Translation: "The quiet cat also drinks milk"
    • Meaning: "Even those whom you believe not to do things, do them regardless"

T

  • "Tada gan iarracht"
    • Meaning: Nothing without effort
  • "Three men know it, all men know it"
    • Meaning: A secret is hard to keep.
  • "Trína chéile a thógtar na caisleáin"
    • Translation: "In our 'togetherness'(as a team), castles are built"
    • Meaning: Teamwork and co-operation are required to complete great projects.
  • "Tús maith, leath na hoibre."
    • Meaning: A good start is half the work.
  • "Trí maith chéile leath cáisléain na"
    • Translation: (nonsense)
    • Meaning: "No review is safe without proper accordance"

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