Irish Proverbs

  • A Tyrone woman will never buy a rabbit without a head for fear it's a cat.
  • A blind man can see his mouth.
  • A buckle is a great addition to an old shoe.
  • A cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle.
  • A dimple in the chin; a devil within.
  • A disease known is half cured.
  • A dog with two homes is never any good.
  • A fast is better than a bad meal.
  • A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.
  • A good retreat is better than a bad stand.
  • A good servant makes a good master.
  • A hut is a palace to the poor man.
  • A lock is better than suspicion.
  • A man is often a bad adviser to himself and a good adviser to another.
  • A narrow neck keeps the bottle from being emptied in one swig.
  • A new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows the corners.
  • A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse.
  • A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse.
  • A quarrel is like buttermilk: once it's out of the churn, the more you shake it, the more sour it grows.
  • A quiet tongue shows a wise head.
  • A scholar's ink lasts longer than a martyr's blood.
  • A silent mouth is sweet to hear.
  • A sly rogue is often in good dress.
  • A small benefit obtained is better than a great one in expectation.
  • A trade not properly learned is an enemy.
  • A trout in the pot is better than a salmon in the sea.
  • A turkey never voted for an early Christmas.
  • All sins cast long shadows.
  • An old broom knows the dirty corners best.
  • Any man can lose his hat in a fairy wind.
  • Anything will fit a naked man.
  • Apelles was not a master painter the first day.
  • Be neither intimate nor distant with the clergy.
  • Better be quarreling than lonesome.
  • Better be safe than sorry.
  • Better fifty enemies outside the house than one within.
  • Better one good thing that is than two good things that were.
  • Better one house spoiled than two.
  • Beware of people who dislike cats.
  • Continual cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom.
  • Crafty advice is often got from a fool.
  • Death is the poor man's best physician.
  • Do not mistake a goat's beard for a fine stallion's tail.
  • Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools.
  • Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you fight with your neighbor.
  • Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you shoot at your landlord and it makes you miss him.
  • Even a tin knocker will shine on a dirty floor.
  • Even a worm will turn.
  • Every Jack has his Jill.
  • Every invalid is a doctor.
  • Every patient is a doctor after his cure.
  • Everyone is nice until the cow gets into the garden.
  • Everyone is wise until he speaks.
  • Falling is easier than rising.
  • Fear is a fine spur; so is rage.
  • Firelight will not let you read fine stories but it's warm and you won't see the dust on the floor.
  • Good luck beats early rising.
  • Good luck comes in slender currents, misfortune in a rolling tides.
  • Great hate follows great love.
  • Handfuls make a load.
  • Handle the pudding while it's hot.
  • He who gets a name for early rising can stay in bed until midday.
  • His eyes are like two burnt holes in a blanket.
  • His face would hang him.
  • Humor to a man is like a feather pillow. It is filled with what is easy to get but gives great comfort.
  • If the knitter is weary the baby will have no new bonnet.
  • If you come up in this world, be sure not to go down in the next.
  • If you have one pair of good soles it is better than two pairs of good uppers.
  • If you have to swallow a frog, try not to think about it.
  • If you have to swallow two frogs, don't swallow the smaller one first.
  • Instinct is stronger than upbringing.
  • It destroys the craft not to learn it.
  • It is a long road that has no turning.
  • It is better to be a coward for a minute than dead the rest of your life.
  • It is better to exist unknown to the law.
  • It is easy to halve the potato where there's love.
  • It is no time to go for the doctor when the patient is dead.
  • It is not a fish until it is on the bank.
  • It is not a sin to sell dear, but it is to make ill measure.
  • It is the quiet pigs that eat the meal.
  • It's a bad hen that won't scratch herself.
  • It's as hard to see a woman crying as it is to see a barefooted duck.
  • It's for her own good that the cat purrs.
  • It's no delay to stop to edge the tool.
  • It's no use boiling your cabbage twice.
  • It's no use locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.
  • Its no use going to the goat's house to look for wool.
  • Keep a thing for seven years and you'll find a use for it.
  • Keep a thing seven years and you'll always find a use for it.
  • Lack of resource has hanged many a person.
  • Let him who will not have advice have conflict.
  • Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout.
  • Marriages are all happy. It's having breakfast together that causes all the trouble.
  • Marry a mountain girl and you marry the whole mountain.
  • Men are like bagpipes: no sound comes from them till they're full.
  • Men are more prone to revenge injuries than to requite kindnesses.
  • Mere words do not feed the friars.
  • Nature breaks through the eyes of the cat.
  • Nature will come through the claws, and the hound will follow the hare.
  • Need teaches a plan.
  • Need teaches things unlawful.
  • Neither give cherries to pigs nor advice to fools.
  • Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot.
  • Never burn your fingers to snuff another man's candle.
  • Never buy through your ears but through your eyes.
  • Never cast a clout till May be out.
  • No matter how often a pitcher goes to the water it is broken in the end.
  • Nodding the head does not row the boat.
  • Noiseless is the approach of the avenging deities.
  • One beetle recognizes another.
  • Patience is poultice for all wounds.
  • People live in each other's shelter.
  • Poor is the church without music.
  • Poor men take to the sea, the rich to the mountains.
  • Postpone not a good action.
  • Poverty parts good company.
  • Praise the ripe field, not the green corn.
  • Praise the young and they will blossom.
  • Praise undeserved is satire in disguise.
  • Praise without profit puts little in the pocket.
  • Put a beggar on horseback and he'll gallop.
  • Put a coward to his metal an' he'll fight the de'il.
  • Put silk on a goat and it is still a goat.
  • Quiet people are well able to look after themselves.
  • Scattering is easier than gathering.
  • Snuff at a wake is fine if there's nobody sneezing over the snuff box.
  • Soft words butter no parsnips, but they won't harden the heart of the cabbage either.
  • Take gifts with a sigh; most men give to be paid.
  • Take heed is a good reed.
  • The Irish forgive their great men when they are safely buried.
  • The beginning of health is sleep.
  • The best way to keep loyalty in a man's heart is to keep money in his purse.
  • The day will come when the cow will have use for her tail.
  • The devil never grants long leases.
  • The full person does not understand the needs of the hungry.
  • The herb that can't be got is the one that heals.
  • The hole is more honorable than the patch.
  • The longest road out is the shortest road home.
  • The longest way around is the shortest way home.
  • The mason who strikes often is better than the one who strikes too hard.
  • The mills of the gods grind slowly but they grind finely.
  • The old pipe gives the sweetest smoke.
  • The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.
  • The raggy colt often made a powerful horse.
  • The seeking for one thing will find another.
  • The slow horse reaches the mill.
  • The stars make no noise.
  • The thief is no danger to the beggar.
  • The thief is sorry he is to be hanged, not that he is a thief.
  • The wearer best knows where the shoe pinches.
  • The windy day is not a day for scallops [thatching].
  • The work praises the man.
  • There are finer fish in the sea than have ever been caught.
  • There are fish in the sea better than have ever been caught.
  • There is hope from the sea, but none from the grave.
  • There is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • There is no luck except where there is discipline.
  • There is no strength without unity.
  • There never was a scabby sheep in a flock that didn't like to have a comrade.
  • There never was an old slipper but there was an old stocking to match it.
  • There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.
  • Though honey is sweet, do not lick it off a briar.
  • Treachery returns.
  • Trust me, but look to thyself.
  • Two Sir Positives can scarce meet without a skirmish.
  • Two shorten the road.
  • Two thirds of the work is the semblance.
  • Two to one is odds.
  • Two-thirds of help is to give courage.
  • Walk straight, my son - as the old crab said to the young crab.
  • We'll never know the worth of water till the well go dry.
  • What fills the eye fills the heart.
  • What is in the marrow is hard to take out of the bone.
  • What the child sees, the child does. What the child does, the child is.
  • What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
  • When a twig grows hard it is difficult to twist it. Every beginning is weak.
  • When the hand ceases to scatter, the heart ceases to pray.
  • When the hand is clean, It needs no screen.
  • When the sky falls we'll all catch larks.
  • Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth.
  • Winter comes fast on the lazy.
  • Women do not drink liquor but it disappears when they are present.
  • Women in state affairs are like monkeys in glass-houses.
  • You must crack the nuts before you can eat the kernel.
  • You must cut your coat according to your cloth.
  • You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.
  • You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.
  • Your son is your son until he marries, but your daughter is your daughter until you die.
  • Youth does not mind where it sets its foot.
  • Youth has a small head.
  • Youth is wasted on the young.
  • Youth sheds many a skin. The steed (horse) does not retain its speed forever.

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