I may not have this exactly right but you get the idea.


12 great Irish proverbs (seanfhocail) to use this year 0 8 Comments The Irish language is something that’s so rich in metaphor and meaning, wit and wisdom that it’s hard to compare its lyricism to anything else. There’s nothing quite like it, especially when it comes to our great Irish proverbs (seanfhocail). Here are 12 great Irish proverbs you can use throughout the year. If you’re stuck on the pronunciation check out Abair.ie here.

1. An donas amach is an sonas isteach. This is particularly apt following what was a tough year and basically means out with the badness and in with the goodness.

2. Faigheann cos ar siúl rud nach bhfaigheann cos ina cónaí. This means that ‘a walking foot comes upon something that a resting foot wouldn’t.’ In a nutshell, the most important aspect in doing so successfully is to just lift one’s foot and start a journey.

3. Leagfaidh tua bheag crann mór. This literally means that a ‘small axe can fell a big tree’ and with that in mind, it is possible to do great things through small deeds.

4. Ná bris do loirgín ar stól nach bhfuil i do shlí. This translates literally as don’t break your shin on a stool that’s not in your way but essentially means don’t go out of your way to get in trouble.

5. Is leor ó Mhór a dícheall. This means that ‘all one can do is one’s best’. Another way you could phrase it is, ‘Is é do dhícheall é’ which means that it is as much as you can do. 12 great Irish proverbs

6. Níor bhris focal maith fiacail riamh. A good point to remember when you find yourself getting the itch to throw down some words, this proverb means that a ‘good word never broke a tooth’. Another similar one is “Ní mhillean dea-ghlór fiacail” which literally means a sweet voice does not injure the teeth or that it wouldn’t kill you to be nice.

7. Is fearr clú ná conach. This straightforward proverb means that one’s character and good reputation is better than wealth.

8. Chíonn beirt rud nach bhfeiceann duine amháin. Two people see a thing that an individual does not see. In other words, two heads are better than one.

9. Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. One of the great Irish language proverbs whose literal meaning is ‘it is in each others’ shadow that people live’ but on reflection invokes a sense of community.

10. Aithnítear cara i gcruatán. A wise phrase that means that a good friend is known in hardship.

11. Maireann croí éadrom a bhfad. This lovely proverb means that a light heart lives long. *Note about ‘a bhfad’ instead of ‘i bhfad’. This is just an older/alternative spelling, you’ll find things like a nÉirinn for ‘in Ireland, in Éirinn’ in older texts too; since i is just pronounced as unstressed /ə, ɪ/ anyway, it doesn’t make much difference whether you write it i or a and you’ll see both.

12. Ní bhíonn an rath, ach mar a mbíonn an smacht. There is no prosperity unless there is discipline. In other words, to fully excel at something regardless of what it may be, you must be fully committed to it. BONUS: Níl aon tóin tinn mar do thóin tinn féin There’s no sore arse like your own sore arse. This is a play on the classic Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin (there’s no place like home).

Also is fearr focall sa chuit ná punt sadn sporran. ‘A friend in court is worth more then a pound in the purse’. Hence lobbying.

20 of the best

20. “Aithníonn ciaróg, ciaróg eile” We start off nice and simple. This Irish saying translates to: “It takes one to know one.”

19. “Ní dhéanfadh an saol capall rása d’asal ” Irish people love a bit of humour to keep you going. This proverb means: “You can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey!”

18. “Fillean an feall ar an bhfeallaire” This proverb acts as a warning for the reader and means: “The bad deed returns on the bad deed-doer.”

17. “Tús maith leath na hoibre” Everyone has faced a task that seems almost impossible, but the Irish language becomes a motivator here, telling us, “A good start is half the work.” This is one of the most well-known Irish proverbs and sayings.

16. “Níl saoi gan locht” “There’s not a wise man without fault.” Everyone has their faults no matter how perfect they may seem—even you! “There’s not a wise man without fault” is a saying from Ireland

15. “An rud is annamh is iontach” “The thing that is seldom is wonderful.” Much like Ireland’s landscape, this Irish proverb tells us that the rare things in life are best.

14. “Is treise an dúchas ná an oiliúint” “Nature is stronger than nurture.” No matter how much people are taught, the Irish language informs us that nothing is as good as a brush with nature.

13. “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán fhéin” Translating to “There’s no fireplace like your own”, this proverb means there is no place like home. We can all appreciate that.

12. “Ní bhíonn an rath ach mar a mbíonn an smacht” To fully excel at something, you must be fully committed; “There is no prosperity without discipline.”

11. “Ní thuigeann an sách an seang” “The well-fed does not understand the lean.” This proverb is telling us that those who have may not understand the concerns of those who don’t have, and that you may need to lose a little to understand what it is like to have nothing. The top 20 Irish proverbs and their meanings include: “The well-fed does not understand the lean.”

10. “Ní neart go cur le chéile” When it comes to Irish proverbs and their meanings, this is one of the most heart-warming: “There is strength in unity” or “we are better together.” It is telling us that we can do more if we work together.

9. “An té a bhíonn siúlach, bíonn scéalach” A trip across the Emerald Isle will leave you with a bucket full of memories to pass on, and the Irish language recognises this, telling us, “He who travels has stories to tell.” This is one of the most uplifting Irish proverbs and sayings.

8. “Níor bhris focal maith fiacail riamh” “A good word never broke a tooth.” This proverb proclaims that saying a kind word never did anyone any harm.

7. “Is fearr an tsláinte ná na táinte” “Health is better than wealth.” Don’t worry about the money; look after yourself first, and you’ll be happier!

6. “Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón” “Many a time a man’s mouth broke his nose.” Back with a bit of humour, this proverb warns that a misspoken word will have a consequence or two for your face! “Many a time a man’s mouth broke his nose” is one of the top 20 Irish proverbs

5. “Nuair a bhíonn an fíon istigh, bíonn an chiall amuigh” “When the wine is in, sense is out.” One we can all relate to!

4. “An té a luíonn le madaí, éireoidh sé le dearnaid” This proverb explains to us the dangers of mixing with the wrong people: “He who lies down with dogs comes up with fleas.”

3. “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” “Under the shelter of each other, people survive.” A very Irish tradition is to look after one another, and this proverb champions this idea.

2. “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí” “Encourage young people and they will get there.” A famous saying across Ireland, this is a visionary message that tells us our young people, who are the future, will do well, so long as we do our bit to help them along the way.

1. “Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste, ná Béarla cliste” You may have heard this famous saying, which translates to “Broken Irish is better than clever English.” It is a call to maintain the Irish heritage and language, and a cry to everyone to speak Irish whenever they can, no matter how well they can speak the language. Ireland has a lot to offer, from the friendly Irish people to its landscape and cities to its sports and history, and its native language is no exception. In just a single sentence, Irish proverbs and their meanings can teach you a lot, and you are sure to come away wiser. Some bonus Irish proverbs and sayings “Ní hé lá na gaoithe lá na scolb” means “a windy day is not a day for thatching.” This metaphorical saying warns the listener against future planning in times of uncertainty. “A misty winter brings a pleasant spring, a pleasant winter a misty spring” is a poignant reflection on the nature of life’s periods of ups and downs. Did you enjoy these great Irish proverbs? Want to indulge in more Irish language content? Check out 13 Irish audiobooks you can listen to for free here.