Island Ireland is an Internet guide to Irish art, culture and environment. To learn more about Irish culture, visit our home page by clicking on the Island Ireland logo...
Back to the
Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot.

Questioning is the door of knowledge.

The river is no wider from this side than the other.

Seldom is the last of anything better than the first.

God is good but don’t dance in a currach.

A man without dinner— two for supper.

One must pay health its tithe.

Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal.

You may as well give cherries to a pig as advice to a fool.

A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse.

It’s difficult to choose between two blind goats.

Even a tin knocker will shine on a dirty door.

It’s no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking.

It’s no use boiling your cabbage twice.

Never sell a hen on a wet day.

What I am afraid to hear I’d better say first myself.

If you move old furniture it may fall to bits.

Never dread the winter till the snow is on the blanket.

The man who pays the piper calls the tune.

Time and patience would bring a snail to America.

A good retreat is better than a bad stand.

The man with a cow doesn’t need a scythe.

There’s no point in keeping a dog if you are going to do your own barking.

Only a fool burns his coal without warming himself.

An oak is often split by a wedge from its own branch.

Every man’s mind is his kingdom.

There are two things that cannot be cured: death and the want of sense.

Stupidity is sending the goose on a mission to the fox’s den.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Every finger has not the same length, nor every son the same disposition.

Every branch blossoms according to the root from which it sprung.

The friend that can be bought is not worth buying.

Blow not on dead embers.

They are scarce of news that speak ill of their mother.

Dead men tell no tales but there’s many a thing learned in the wake-house.

Many a day shall we rest in the clay.

He who can follow his own will is a king.

If you dig a grave for others you may fall into it yourself.

Better fifty enemies outside the house than one within.

If you don’t want flour on your clothes, stay out of the mill.
Island Ireland is sponsored by our online Irish shop:
Bringing Irish goods to America... winner of Yahoo's "Top Service" award
Irish Toasts
Irish Sayings
Irish Blessings
Irish / English Proverbs
Irish words of wisdom and advice...

Irish Proverbs: Drinking
A man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man.

It’s the first drop that destroys you, there’s no harm at all in the last.

If it’s drowning you’re after, don’t torment yourself with shallow water.

Irish Proverbs: Work & Idleness
It’s not a delay to stop and sharpen the scythe.

It’s a dirty bird that won’t keep its own nest clean.

Keep your shop and your shop will keep you.

A bad workman quarrels with his tools.

Unwillingness easily finds an excuse.

Lose an hour in the morning and you’ll be looking for it all day.

Laziness is a heavy burden.

Poverty waits at the gates of idleness.

Irish Proverbs: Youth & Old Age
Praise the ripe field not the green corn.

Young people don’t know what old age is, and old people forget what youth was.

The schoolhouse bell sounds bitter in youth and sweet in old age.

The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.

As the old cock crows, the young cock learns.

The old dog for the hard road and leave the pup on the path.

Irish Proverbs: Romance & Marriage
It's easy to halve the potato where there's love.

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

Beauty won't make the kettle boil.

Honey is sweet, but don’t lick it off a briar.

Don’t show your skin to a person who won’t cover it.

A man cannot grow rich without his wife's leave.

Irish Proverbs: Character & Honour
Better good manners than good looks.

It is more difficult to maintain honour than to become prosperous.

Promise is in honour’s debt.

Forgetting a debt doesn’t mean it’s paid.

A man may live after losing his life but not after losing his honour.

Better to be a man of character than a man of means.

Better the trouble that follows death than the trouble that follows shame.

If you come up in this world be sure not to go down in the next.

Who gossips with you will gossip of you.

Lie down with dogs and you’ll rise with fleas.

Irish Proverbs: Opportunity
You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

You won’t learn to swim on the kitchen floor.

Slow is every foot on an unknown path.

There are fish in the sea better than have ever been caught.

A combed head sells the feet.

Don’t make little of your dish for it may be an ignorant fellow who judges it.

If your messenger is slow, go to meet him.

Many a sudden change takes place on an unlikely day.

Irish Proverbs: Fortune & Wealth
Enough and no waste is as good as a feast.

Cut your coat according to your cloth.

He who has water and peat on his own farm has the world his own way.

A cat can look at a king.

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

The life of an old hat is to cock it.

There never came a gatherer but a scatterer came after him.

Better be sparing at first than at last.

If you buy what you don’t need you might have to sell what you do.

Hunger is a good sauce.

A heavy purse makes a light heart.

Heaven’s leac na teine (stone before the fire) is reserved for the poor.

Irish Proverbs: The Wisdom of Silence
Silence is the fence around the haggard where wisdom is stacked.

Melodious is the closed mouth.

Who keeps his tongue keeps his friends.

Irish Proverbs: Human Nature
You never miss the water till the well runs dry.

Everyone feels his own wound first.

The pig in the sty doesn’t know the pig going along the road.

Pity him who makes an opinion a certainty.

No two people ever lit a fire without disagreeing.

Seeing is believing, but feeling is the God’s own truth.

It is the quiet pig that eats the meal.

A glowing gríosach (ember) is easily rekindled.

The person bringing good news knocks boldly on the door.

Irish Proverbs: Life's Ups & Downs
There’s nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse.

Life is a strange lad.

If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.

However long the day, night must fall.

You must take the little potato with the big potato.

God prefers prayers to tears.