Irish Proverbs

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

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

Who gossips with you will gossip of you.

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

Cut your coat according to your cloth.

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

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

Poverty waits at the gates of idleness.

The person bringing good news knocks boldly on the door.

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

No two people ever lit a fire without disagreeing.

A glowing gríosach (ember) is easily rekindled.

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

Slow is every foot on an unknown path.

Pity him who makes an opinion a certainty.

Keep your shop and your shop will keep you.

Who keeps his tongue keeps his friends.

Silence is the fence around the haggard where wisdom is stacked.

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

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

Melodious is the closed mouth.

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

It is the quiet pig that eats the meal.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.

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

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

You never miss the water till the well runs dry.

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

The life of an old hat is to cock it.

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

It’s easy to halve the potato where there’s love.

Promise is in honour’s debt.

Enough and no waste is as good as a feast.

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

A heavy purse makes a light heart.

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

As the old cock crows, the young cock learns.

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

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

Many a sudden change takes place on an unlikely day.

A combed head sells the feet.

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

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

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

A man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man.

The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.

Laziness is a heavy burden.

A bad workman quarrels with his tools.

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

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

You must take the little potato with the big potato.

However long the day, night must fall.

God prefers prayers to tears.

There’s nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse.

Life is a strange lad.

Everyone feels his own wound first.

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

Better be sparing at first than at last.

If your messenger is slow, go to meet him.

You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

Better good manners than good looks.

Beauty won’t make the kettle boil.

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

It’s not a delay to stop and sharpen the scythe.

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

Praise the ripe field not the green corn.

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

Hunger is a good sauce.

A cat can look at a king.

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

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

Unwillingness easily finds an excuse.