How to be an Instant Irishman

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‘Tis not just the lilting, musical tone of Gaelige that charms the ear and wins friends and sweethearts. The Irish have a way of speaking even curses that plays on the soul and begs to be sung.

I’ve gathered some of my own favorite Irish blessings, curses, drinking toasts and folk sayings. I’m sure you have a treasure trove of your own. If so, please add them to the comment section below.

When I could find the Gaelige, I put it next to the English translation. I’ve also added a few common endearments and other everyday expressions.

Cheers and sayings related to drink:                                                                                                           

Health! (Cheers!) Sláinte!

Ireland forever! Eireann go Brach!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

Thirst is a shameless disease…so here’s to a shameful cure.

‘Tis the first drop that destroys you. There’s no harm at all in the last.

Good as drink is, it ends in thirst.


May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the palm of his hand.

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live…

May the road rise with you.
Go n-éirí on bóthar leat.

(And my favorite:)
May your feet never sweat.




Burning and scorching on you.
Dóite agus loisceadh ort.

May you leave without returning.
Imeacht gan teacht ort.

May you fall without rising.
Titim gan eiri ort.

[And, if it’s a particularly cringe-worthy curse:]

The same to you.
Gurab amhlaidh duit.

Kiss my butt!
Póg mo thoin!  pronounced <pohg muh hoin>

Folk Sayings:                                                                                                 

Say little but say it well.
Beagán agus a rá go maith.

May you be across Heaven’s threshold before the Devil knows you’re dead.

He who gets a name for early rising can stay in bed until midday.                                                                   

Man is incomplete until he marries. After that, he is finished.

You can’t kiss an Irish girl unexpectedly. You can only kiss her sooner than she thought you would.

Wisdom is the comb given to a man after he has lost his hair.

God is good, but never dance in a small boat.

The man with the boots does not mind where he places his foot.

The only cure for love is marriage.
Nil aon leigheas ar an ngra ach posadh.

Many a time a man’s mouth broke his nose.
Is minic a bhris beal duine a shron.


Other sayings:

I put the following original sayings in the mouth of one if my characters, Ryan Murphy, a character in Storm Maker and The Wakening Fire. Ryan is a kind of home-spun cowboy who always has something to say about the ageless dance of man with woman.

The less said, the longer wed.

A woman’s mouth can be a man’s downfall–or the way to stand him up again.

If ye’d be wealthy, marry a smart woman.

When first ye wed, ye stay in bed.


Quotes about the Irish:

[The Irish]  is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever. ~Sigmund Freud                     

I’m troubled, I’m dissatisfied. I’m Irish.  ~Marianne Moore


Terms of endearment and everyday sayings:

The equivalent of “Hello” means “God be with you”:
Dia dhuit   < dee-ah dwit> or <dee-ah gheet>

My dear/darling/treasure…
A chuisle mo chroí...  <a quish/leh  muh kree>  Literally means “beat of my heart”

I love you.
Is tú mo ghra.  <ees too muh grah>

In conclusion, may I say

Goodbye… an’ blessings on ye.
Slán agus beannacht leat.

Those who enjoyed these expressions may also enjoy the characters in my novels–ancient Gaelic warriors, cowboys, brehons, druids, tonsured monks, high kings, St. Paddy himself, and many more. I use Gaelic words often, for I love the cadence and the soft blur around the edges of the language.

Note: In order to update this blog, I’ve put a new date…and a whole new look…to the post you just read.



17 thoughts on “How to be an Instant Irishman

    1. Dear Annalisa, I’m happy that you popped over, thrilled that you like my blog, and don’t expect anyone to walk away speaking Gaelic. 😀

      Take care…Write back soon (Scriobh chugam go luath, hahahaha) Erin


  1. paul1959

    Tráthnóna mait duit, a mo chara Erin! (Well, it’s late evening HERE anyway!) I should really give myself detention and write 100 times “I must not waste valuable time on Erin’s blog when I ought to be writing the final chapter of [insert title: any of 4 different WiPs I should be finishing off] …”
    I know I’ve got a file somewhere labelled “Irish Blessings & Curses” but I can’t lay my hands on it … letter mentioned in a recent e-mail will be sent by snailmail in the morning once my techie daughter/webmistress has uploaded a couple of photos I want to print and send …


  2. Tráthnóna, a mo chara…I thought for sure you’d have a few cheery toasts on the tip of your tongue…but no matter. At least you got through my filter and finally made it onto my blog. Those photos we talked about…they’ll be on a different blogsite, one dedicated to the flight of a young Caylith from Deva Victrix…And actually, I bring the action back there in one of my recent novels, when I make up a slightly different ending for her adventures with the vile Duke of Deva. I’ll look forward to those pix….

    And today, for your visit, go raibh maith agat. Slán, Erin


  3. I love your beautiful site, Erin. This was my favorite Irish saying: Many a time a man’s mouth broke his nose.
    Is minic a bhris beal duine a shron.
    Love all the graphics you included. Very nice.


    1. Dear Sarah, I’m glad to get the Gaelic for that great saying, thanks. I’ll go ahead and insert it in the post and hope we haven’t left out any accent marks. So thrilled you came by!! I hope next time you’ll hit the “follow” button at the top of the home page. Slán, Erin


    1. Of the folk sayings, that one is my favorite too. Great minds think alike, eh? I’m not sure what it says about me that I like “May your feet never sweat.” Guess it’s because I’m a country lass.

      Always glad to see your thumbnail face, Ms. celticchick. Come back and visit! xErin


  4. Going through 18 years of schooling helps!!! … it means “may the road rise to meet you” … its a good luck blessing 🙂 … if you want the break down ‘bóthar which means ‘road’ is literally ‘cow path’ cause way back thats how people got around … following the cow paths from farm to farm etc etc


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