Everyday Irish Sayings and Wisdom


Here you'll find Irish sayings containing everyday Irish wisdom. Some of them are just plain common sense others need a little more thought to get to their true meaning. Still others, like a sword (or a sharp tongue), have a double-edged meaning. Some of these sayings I'm not sure what they mean, I'll leave it for you to determine.



The Irish people seem to have a good earthy grasp on the trials and triumphs of life. The following Irish sayings will show this. It's good to know where you come from in order to know where you are going.

I hope you'll love the wit of the Irish as much as I do.

Enjoy.


Irish Sayings and Death

Death puts its own appearance on everyone.

Death is the poor mans doctor.

Call no man a wise man till the worms have done him in.

There is hope from the ocean, but none from the grave.

The mouth of the grave gives to the needy one.

When death comes it will not go away empty.

Death is in the front of every old person and at the back of every young person.

Both your friend and your enemy think that you will never die.

The smallest of things outlives the human being.

We owe the grave many a day.

The skin of the old sheep is on the rafter no sooner than the skin of the young sheep.

The branch lives on the hedge but the hand that planted it is dead.

Nobody knows where his sod of death is.


Irish Sayings Dealing with Love and Marriage

He who stares into the middle of the fire does be heavily in love.

Bare is the companionless shoulder.

Love hides ugliness.

The only cure for love is marriage.

Choose your wife as you wish your children to be.

Choose a good woman's daughter though her father were the devil.

A man's wife is his blessing or his bane.

If you want praise, die. If you want blame, marry.

Better the fighting than the loneliness.

A blanket is the warmer of being doubled.

No trial until one gets married.

Never take a wife who has no fault.

Every man can control a bad wife but her own husband.

From the day you marry your heart will be in your mouth and your hand in your pocket.

It is a lonely washing that has no man's shirt in it.

What fills the eye fills the heart.


Cautionary Irish Sayings

She never sells her hen on a wet day.

It is better to turn back in the middle of the ford than to be drown in the flood.

On an unknown path every foot is slow.

Face the sun; turn your back on the storm.

Good luck comes in tricklets; ill luck comes in torrents.

The man that stays out long, his dinner cools.

Let every man praise the bridge he goes over.

He who waits long enough at the ferry will get over at last.

Listen to the winds of the mountains until the waters ebb.

After misfortune the Irishman sees his profit.

He that lies down with the dogs will rise up with the fleas.

Do not go between the tree and the bark.

The windy day is not the day for thatching.

When the drop (drink) is inside the sense is outside.

Blow before you drink.


The Common Sense and Wisdom of Irish Sayings

Say little, and the little you say, say well.

Repentance will not cure mischief.

The heaviest head of wheat hangs its head lowest.

That is like taking the axe out of the carpenter's hands.

He has got the two ends of the rope, and leave to pull.

Dry soles won't catch fish.

Honor cannot be patched.

Losing the bundle, gathering the wisps.

He who has his choice and chooses the worse is to be pitied.

Ignorance is a heavy burden.

People live in one another's shelter.

There is no fireside like your own fireside.

There is not strength without unity.

You must live with a person to know a person.

What is gathered meanly, it goes badly.

However long the road there comes a turning.

Don't spread your cloak any farther than you can cover it.

What a person does not spend himself, his enemies spend it.

A wise man keeps his counsel; the fool reveals his.

What is the good of the pipe if it is not played on.

For whom ill is fated, him it will strike.

Make the fence or you will pay for the plunder.

Even a small thorn causes festering.

Food is a good workhorse.

God shares with the person who is generous.

Baptize your own child first.

The wearer best knows where his shoe pinches.

Patience is the poultice of all wounds.

The man with the boots does not mind where he places his foot.


Women in Irish Sayings

I have to warn you that Irish Sayings are not very kind to women. I'm just writing them as I find them. Please don't shoot the messenger.

A women's tongue is a thing that never rusts.

Wherever there are women there is talking; wherever there are geese there is cackling.

The secret of an old woman's scoulding. (meaning no secret at all)

The old hag is better of being warmed, but worse of being burned.

Women are shy, and shame prevents them from refusing the men.

It is nothing but folly to treat an old woman to a dram, you will get no return for it.

She burnt her coal and did not warm herself.

The daughter of an active old woman makes a bad housekeeper.

It is not her mother's feet that she washed.

A bad wife takes advice from every man but her own husband.

There are three without rule; a mule, a pig, and a woman.

No worse thing exists than a bad-tempered woman.

Women keep their tongue in their pocket until they marry.

Women do not drink liquor but it disappears when they are present.

An excuse is nearer to a woman than her apron.

The three sharpest things on earth:
A hen's eye after grain
A blacksmith's eye after a nail and
An old woman's eye after her son's wife.


Youth and Aging in Irish sayings

Praise the young and they will blossom.

A raggy colt often made a powerful horse.

The old person is the child twice.

Youth sheds many a skin.

Age is honorable and youth is noble.

The steed does not retain its speed forever.

The beginning and end of one's life is to draw closer to the fire.

When the twig grows hard it is difficult to twist it.

Youth does not mind where it sets its foot.

Every beginning is weak.

He that lives longest sees most.

Time is a great storyteller.


Irish Sayings Concerning Human Nature

It is not the same to go to the king's house as to come from it.

It is difficult to tame the proud.

The well fed does not understand the lean.

Every short dog is bold in the doorway of its own house.

Fame is more lasting than life.

He who comes with a story to you will bring two away from you.

It is not a secret if it is known to three people.

It is the quiet pigs that eat the meal.

He who has cattle on the hill will not sleep easy.

If you hit my dog you hit myself.

He that flees will not be fled from.

A friend's eye is a good looking glass.

Fear is worse than fighting.

He that conquers himself conquers an enemy.

Correct counting keeps good friends.

A thing is bigger of being shared.

Lazy is the hand that ploughs not.

A thorn in dung, the tooth of a hound, and the saying of a fool are the three sharpest things in existence.

The three things that run swiftest are a stream of fire, a stream of water, and a stream of falsehood.

It is a good horse that draws its own cart.

A lock is better than suspicion.

A poor person is often worthy.

There is no need like the lack of a friend.

A light heart lives long.


If you liked these you will find other Irish sayings and proverbs on some of my other web pages.


Search this Site


Top of Irish sayings page.

Back to Irish superstitions page.

The Irish Path Homepage