Cultural Resources

Writers of Ireland

Writers of Ireland. This image is available as a poster.

Irish Proverbs

The Company One Keeps

  • You must summer and winter a stranger before you can form an opinion of him.
  • Woe to him whose betrayer sits at his table.
  • Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but an enemy’s kisses are deceitful.
  • Everyone is sweet to your face until you burn a sack of turf with them.
  • Everyone is nice until the cow gets into the garden.
  • Two people never lit a fire without disagreeing.
  • Strife is better than loneliness.
  • Bare is the companionless shoulder.
  • Loneliness is better than bad company.
  • It is not natural to have smoke without fire, nor fire without people.
  • Who gossips to you will gossip of you.
  • The best looking-glass is the eyes of a friend.
  • What everybody says must be true.
  • It is only at home that one finds relations.
  • Constant company wears out its welcome.
  • Never sleep with a stranger or borrow from a neighbor.
  • Be kind to those that meet you as you rise; you may pass them again as you fall.
  • A short visit is best and that not too often.
  • A man never fails among his own people.
  • Friends are better than gold.
  • As you live yourself you judge your neighbor.
  • There is more friendship in a jigger of whiskey than in a churn of buttermilk.
  • Friendship will not stand on one leg.
  • Friends are like fiddle-strings—they must not be screwed too tightly.
  • Friendship is a fine thing though bitter is the parting.
  • Don’t be hard and don’t be soft and don’t desert your friend for your own share.
  • Don’t break your shins on your neighbor’s pots.
  • Neither give cherries to a pig or advice to a fool.
  • Don’t take a slate off your own house to put on your neighbor’s.
  • Never want while your neighbor has it.
  • Better old debts than old grudges.
  • Accept gifts with a sigh; most men give to be paid.


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:

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