Last week my mother in law was staying with us and we were talking about old Irish phrases and proverbs you don’t hear anymore.
These are known in Irish as seanfhocails. Which literally means ‘old words’. I’m sure when you read the list I’ve compiled below you’ll have lots more to add as many seanfhocails are unique to different parts of the country. We covered this on the blog before, but just had to revisit some of our all time favourites!
When I was in school we were taught long lists of these seanfhocials that as a child didn’t mean a whole lot to me. It’s only talking about them now that I appreciate the wisdom in these words!
The one that most people will know is ‘Tús maith leath na hoibre’ (pronounce toos mah lah nu hib-ra) This is translated as a good start is half the battle.
Another well known one was ‘Nil aon hintean mar do hintean fein’ (pronounced neel aen hin-tawn mor du hin-tawn fane) Meaning – there’s no fireside like your own fireside.
An rud is annamh is íontach. (pronounced on rud is ann-iv is oon-tach)
Meaning – What is seldom is wonderful.
Dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi. (pronounced do-irt ban lum gu du-irt ban lay)
Meaning – A woman told me that a woman told her
Is fearr an tsláinte ná na táinte.
Meaning – Health is better than wealth.
Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh siad.
Meaning – Praise the youth and they will come.
Marbh le tae agus marbh gan é.
Meaning – Murdered with tea, murdered without it.
Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras
Meaning -Hunger is the best sauce
Briseann an dúchais trí shúile an chait
Meaning -Breeding will break out in the eyes of a cat.”
If you know of any good ones be sure to comment below. It would be great if we started reusing all these words of wisdom!