Top 65 Irish Saying and Proverbs You Might Not Know

irish sayings

Do you know these Irish sayings?

Hunting around for Irish sayings? Searching for witty Irish proverbs? Hoping to find some funny Irish quotes?

If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. If there’s one thing the Irish have down in spades is the gift of gab. In fact, I’ve never met an Irishman who didn’t like to talk.

OK, maybe I’m generalizing a bit. But I have to say most of the folks I’ve met from Ireland really are great talkers.

As a man who is part Irish (Ancestry DNA says I’m 25%), I’ve always been fascinated with the culture. In the early 1990’s, I was fortunate enough to travel up and down the west Irish coast, thanks to a friend from Cork who gave me a multi-day tour.

I’ll never forget visiting Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney stone. Oh, didn’t you know? Legend has it that if your lips touch this piece of rock, you’ll receive a bit of good luck!

Since that visit, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time studying my Irish roots and by extension, the people of the Emerald Isle.

What I’ve discovered is that I’ve got tons of relatives who still live there. Most reside in the province of Connacht in towns like Castlebar and Westport (County Mayo).

Others live in small coastal communities, like Galway Bay and Lettermore (County Galway).

Apparently, I’ve even got relations buried in one of the oldest operating cemeteries on the planet at Ballintubber Abbey.

Ballintubber Abbey
Ballintubber Abbey Cemetery in County Mayo, Ireland

At any rate, I’ve kept a small diary over the years to record various Irish sayings. Some have been shared by friends. Others by distant relatives. And a few I’ve jotted down from online.

While I can’t be sure, I’m thinking several were inspired from the likes of Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift. I suppose I’ll never really know.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s 65 Irish sayings and proverbs that might surprise you. I’m dedicating this to my great grandparents – both immigrants from Ireland who started their American lives in Chicago.

“Gramps” worked for Chicago Surface Lines, which would later become the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). His wife was a domestic worker and stay at home mom.

And so without further ado, here’s 65 Irish sayings!

Irish sayings and proverbs that are funny
Irish Castle

65 Irish Sayings and Proverbs

  1. Who keeps his tongue keeps his friends
  2. May you get all your wishes but one, so that you will always have something to strive for!
  3. May your home always be too small to hold all your friends!
  4. Seeing is believing, but feeling is the God’s own truth.
  5. He who lies down with dogs will rise with fleas.
  6. You must take the small potato with the big potato.
  7. May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live!
  8. We make plans and God laughs.
  9. Praise the ripe field not the green corn.
  10. May you have food and clothing and a soft pillow for your head. May you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead!
  11. May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside!
  12. “A life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing at all.” – George Bernard Shaw.
  13. Forgetting about a debt doesn’t mean it’s paid.
  14. May you have the luck of the Irish!
  15. If you come up in this world be sure not to go down in the next.
  16. It is more difficult to maintain honor than to become prosperous.
  17. May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, and never catch up.
  18. Lose an hour in the morning and you’ll be looking for it all day.
  19. The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.
  20. Honey is sweet, but don’t lick it off a briar.
  21. Better good manners than good looks.

    Blarney Castle Ireland
    Blarney Castle
  22. If you come up in this world be sure not to go down in the next.
  23. You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
  24. Pity the man who makes an opinion a certainty.
  25. May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside!
  26. If you buy what you don’t need you might have to sell what you do.
  27. Better be sparing at first than at last.
  28. Better the trouble that follows death than the trouble that follows shame.
  29. If you’re enough lucky to be Irish… You’re lucky enough!
  30. If you want praise, die. If you want blame, marry.
  31. You can be right or happy.
  32. Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one!
  33. May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience, and enough coins in your pocket to buy a pint!
  34. Here’s to me, and here’s to you. And here’s to love and laughter. I’ll be true as long as you. And not one moment after.
  35. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!
  36. When the tongue slips, it speaks the truth.
  37. A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures!
  38. If it’s drowning you are after, don’t torment yourself with shallow water.
  39. Here’s to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear. Not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a darn sight more sincere!
  40. May neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and Heaven accept you.
  41. May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far!

    Dunluce Castle Ireland
    Dunluce Castle
  42. It’ better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money!
  43. It is easy to halve a potato where there’s love.
  44. May you live to be 100 years, with one extra year to repent.
  45. You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your father was.
  46. Being fat is a sign of a good cook at home.
  47. May you die in bed at 95, shot by a jealous spouse.
  48. Just because your face is wrinkled doesn’t mean you aren’t young at heart.
  49. A man may live after losing his life but not after losing his honor.
  50. May your coffee be strong and your Monday be short.
  51. May the strength of three be in your journey!
  52. May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.
  53. These things, I warmly wish for you- Someone to love, some work to do, a bit of o’ sun, a bit o’ cheer. And a guardian angel always near.
  54. May you live long, die happy, and rate a mansion in heaven.

    beautiful Irish Castle
    Beautiful Irish Castle
  55. May good luck be with you wherever you go, And your blessing outnumber the shamrocks that grow.
  56. May you be half an hour in Heaven before the Devil knows you’re dead.
  57. May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.
  58. May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
  59. May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty!
  60. May good luck be your friend in whatever you do, and may trouble always be a stranger to you!
  61. May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten.
  62. I’m Irish and Catholic – see my picture in the dictionary next to the word guilt.
  63. This isn’t a hangover – it’s the Irish flu.
  64. May the road rise up to meet you!
  65. Two people shorten the road.

Castle Photo Credits: Pixabay

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast