Guest sayings

Molly McCrann from Roscommon, whose grand nephew Martin Egan writes this, says That wan will ate no clocks meant she wouldn’t be fooled. We used to think it referred to the black insects (beetles??) we used to call ‘clocks’. Thanks also to Ger from Dubiin for the original saying.

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Original Dub Pat Cosgrave now living in Australia kindly sends these:

f... its 9 aclock and not a child in the house washed!"

where would ye be going with no bell on yer bike and yer knickers ringing!

Pat also says: “recently had a fall & when asked what happened I said 'I fell over a hen & a cock bit me (it came out of the blue, I'd forgotten it!

Many thanks to Darren Crowe for these:

he'd take the eye out of yer head! (he would take advantage of your kindness)

He'd live in your ear! (same as above)

He wouldn’t spend christmas! (very miserly)

I do be doing that all day (I do this every day)

She was scrabing me! (she scratched me)

make ya sick to yer back teeth! (annoy you)

dont go with yer arms swinging! (it's considered rude to go somewhere without a gift for the home you’re going to)

she'd ate ya so she would! (she's quite argumentative)

Judy kindly sends this one:

you don't get it by licking the stone

Dave Power very helpfully sends these - many thanks!:

I'm welded to the bed = Very tired in the morning and can't get up

He's tilling the road = speeding (in a car or vehicle)

Paul Forsyth from Dun Laoghaire kindly sends this saying:

He's a good act but he's on too long.

It refers to someone who could be entertaining for a bit, but after a while they become grating..

Sharon (whose grandfather came from Limerick), kindly sends these:

When asked where was he going - "I'm going to Ardagh for the chaff, will you follow me with the bag?" or when he cut himself and I'd ask what happened - "I feel over the hen and the cock bit me"

From Mike Haran - two from his grandmother - born NYC - family from Drogheda and Dublin:

  • In answer to "what's that Nana? Cat's fur to make kittens britches
  • 2. In answer to what's for dinner? skip wind and air sauce

From dei:

gallivant

to run free with out care or responsibility.... what gallant men did way back - riding around the country without ties. What my parents used to say when I didn't come home for a couple of day!

Help Needed Please: Theresa, whose mother is from Kerry, often used the expression

a magi woman

(not sure how to spell 'magi') meaning the woman was a neurotic, full of anger/shouty/bully. Has anyone heard of it and can you point me to correct spelling/origin? Please use our contact form to help.

A. Kelly's mother said this gem:

Paint your arse green and go naked!

A response from my mother when I complained of nothing to wear.

Robin from Vermont, USA, posts this - thanks!:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

eddie from County Wexford helpfully sends this typical greeting

"How's she cuttin?"

Origin: basically a farmer's greeting asking what condition the hay crop is in.

Tony White kindly provides this little gem:

A dumb priest never got a parish = you won't get anything if you don't ask for it

Rachael from Dublin kindly sends this one:

Gis a shot = Can I have a go of that?(For a bike or a video game) or give me a bite(for food), etc. "Gis" is short for "give us", ie., "give me"

Many thanks to you all: Another from Angie from Cavan:

It'd bring a tear to a glass eye, so it would =said about something so upsetting it would even make a glass eye cry.

I have divided this section into several sub-sections:

meanings | greetings and responses | superstitions | practicalities | culture | Irish, English, British, Welsh and Scottish - some cultural and political differences outlined | archived guest sayings | next >

I would like to express my gratitude to Richard Langlois of Detroit, USA, for his suggestions and encouragement which resulted in this page. Chris O'Dania from Texas inspired the 'Y'all/yous' page - thanks Chris.

Send me your 'Guest saying' in the interests of global understanding but check the search box below to see if it has been submitted! Use this form and I'll post any suggestions on this page. The only conditions is that the saying/phrase must be in English and suitable for all ages and nationalities. It should not be abusive or harmful in any respect. If it needs explanation, don't forget to include it. I'm more than willing to acknowledge you but please let me know what I should list, eg, full name with e mail link, Christian name only, pseudonym.

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SAYINGS WITH INTERPRETATION (13 March. 2016)

This is an old saying, usually said in old Dublin pubs after a few drinks. I have no idea whether it is based on any sort of truth and it goes something like this:

  • “Hey, pal!”
  • Yeah?
  • “Did ya hear?”
  • Hear wha?
  • “…about the shootin…”
  • Wha shootin?
  • “the man…”
  • Wha man?
  • the man that shot the monkey on the Naas Road!”
  • Aaaah….ya so-and-so <give him a friendly smack on the shoulder>

Some day in the future when I have retired, I will trawl through the Irish Times and Irish Independent online to see if I can find any truth in this jape!

  • "Harping on" = someone whose conversation is tedious and repetitive (often a parent!). The phrase must originate in a musician who was somewhat predictable.
  • "Down the spout" = something that's gone wrong, or sometimes lost
  • "That'll get you into hot water" = you will get into trouble for that!
  • "S/he's a little dote" = usually a very good infant or child
  • "S/he's loosing the rag" = becoming annoyed, ratty and loosing control.
  • "I can't get a word in edgeways" = You're talking too much and not giving me a chance to enter into the conversation!
  • "You're a right dope" = an idiot or eejit. Dope in this instance does not mean anything about medication or drugs.
  • When an Irish girl comes across a foreign (typically European) man who is extremely amorous, his continental pedigree might be described as "Russian hands and Roman fingers"!
  • To "greg" someone = to tease them, antagonize them, tempt them. I imagine Greg was a person who was cruelly enticed by his so-called friends!
  • "Little squirt" = child (usually a boy) who is too smart, too clever, and the phrase is usually used by an adult, typically a close relative
  • "It's been yonks since xxx happened" = it has been a good while since..
  • "It's gone to rack and ruin" = it has seriously deteriorated, diminished etc. Often used in respect of a location such as a pub, shop etc.
  • "When will he make a decent woman out of you" = Refers to a girl who has been engaged for a long time. I know someone who was 13 years engaged before they got married!
  • "Acting the maggot" = someone being a joker, bit of an eejit, play acting etc.
  • "The world and Garrett Reilly" = absolutely everyone possible; usually describes the possibility of a very large crowd or gathering. I have no idea who was Garrett Reilly.
  • "S'he'll meet her/himself coming back" = someone who is very organised and thorough (but implies they are a bit too intense!)
  • "S/he's been through the mill" = has been through a very difficult period or situation.
  • "S/he's full of jizz" = they're full of energy, or fun. Don't confuse this with the profane use of jizz to mean male seed - caution is required when using this phrase!
  • "I'll larrap ya/give ya a right larraping" = I will physically smack or strike you (usually said by a parent to a child)
  • "Hit the road in spots" = drive very quickly, typically over bumpy and undulating roads
  • "Wet behind the ears" = a novice at his or her job, somebody very green and inexperienced
  • "When push comes to shove" = when a decision must be made, usually sooner rather than later
  • "That/s/he takes the biscuit" = someone or something which is outrageous, daring or even cheeky!
  • "Back to the grind" = return to a routine, something mundane and boring again... (whereas a "grind" means a intensive, educational lesson, for which payment is usually made to a private teacher).
  • "If you play your cards right..." = Take something cautiously, don't rush into it but think carefully about it.
  • "Doing a line..." = has two meanings, depending on your age: (over forties = )having a relationship; (under forty) = taking a white, illegal substance which is firstly spread into a thin line before inhaling through the nose.
  • "Waltzing around the place" = somebody thought to be above themselves, too classy for their own good. It is often somebody new to a scene - I love the imagery of that person dancing into the assembled company and showing off!
  • "S/he'll be on you like a ton of bricks..." = Someone is out to get you, and it's going to happen very soon! NEW
  • "On the spur of the moment..." = something that happened impulsively, a quick decision. It's probably refers to horse spurs, and may be quite ancient.
  • "I'd give my eye tooth to..." = I would do anything possible to...
  • "Are you decent...?" = Have you got your clothes on, are you ready for your public, etc? You might say it if you're knocking on a pal's bedroom, etc. Not a moral judgement in any way - often shouted from behind a closed door!

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Hidden Dublin: Sayings and customs 1