Cultural Resources


Irish peasant girl carrying turf

Irish peasant girl carrying turf; detail from a vintage postcard.

Irish Proverbs

“You may court abroad, but you should always marry at home,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said with satisfaction, handing me a pint of cider. I had traveled all the way to Ireland to see her eldest daughter, Siobhan, get married. I lived in Lincoln Park at the time, a northside Chicago neighborhood, and Siobhan was my downstairs neighbor. It was the eve before the wedding, and as I glanced over at her, snuggled in the corner of the pub with her husband-to-be, I couldn’t help but smile at their happiness. Siobhan had backpacked all over the world, but it was back in her hometown of Dublin where a chance encounter at a bus stop led to her engagement.

“There’s a proverb for every occasion, isn’t there, Maura?” I asked, turning back to my hostess.

“I supposed there is,” she laughed. “An Irishman’s never at a loss of just the right thing to say.”

“Especially Maura,” said her husband, an accountant by the name of Hugh. “She didn’t just kiss the Blarney Stone, she swallowed it whole!”

The proverbs in this online collection were gathered during three consecutive trips to Ireland. I perused many old folklore collections in the big city libraries and bookstores of Dublin, as well as those of smaller hamlets, searching for bits of wisdom. I questioned young and old alike, asking each for his or her favorite wise saying. Many claimed not to know any, but their very speech was littered with gems of universal truth. “It’s a good hurler who sits in the ditch,” a player called out to a heckler, waving his hurley as he did so. “Yes, but a good eye is worth two pairs of hands!” the man in the ditch called back.

I hope you enjoy these short, pithy statements from the land of myth and magic. If you have a proverb, wise saying, or triad from Ireland that you’d like to share, we invite you to contact us so we can include it.

Contents:

Irish Proverbs

Many fine collections of Irish proverbs have been published over the years. An assortment of some of our favorites are available as new or used copies. Your purchase will help support the non-profit activitites of Compass Rose Cultural Crossroads.

Online collection copyright © 1995, 2007-2012. Compiled by Joanne Asala, author of Celtic Folklore Cooking. You are free to use these proverbs on your own site as long as you credit Compass Rose Cultural Crossroads as the source and provide a link to our Web site: http://www.compassrose.org.


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