Guest sayings

A famous Irish saying, courtesy Angie Clark:

May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead...


A great saying from Deirdre's mother (an Irish woman who emigrated to the US):


S/he made a right hames of it = made a mess of it....


He's fond of a drop = usally meant he was a heavy drinker. Classic Irish understatement!


This is from a pal of mine in the USA; I don't know if it originates there but it is a retort for the follically challenged (ie., bald guys!):


The grass doesn't grow on a busy street


I don't get many sayings from India, so this one is particularly special and beautiful - thank you, kanishka.


Love is like a flower, it blooms into a larger bond and then sprouts new bonds


Roseann kindly send this great drink saying from her Irish gran::


A whiskey when you're well makes you sick and a whiskey when you're sick makes you well!!


Here's an anonymous Irish saying:

...and I'll shake my fist at ya' for an hour o' so.... = as if to say someone is annoying the speaker.


Paula Dornan, a former Dub, sends these typical and famous Dublin sayings:


Jaysus, he's thick as two short planks = he's stupid.

What do you want me to do about it put on a black hat and say mass? = I can't solve your problem! The allusion is to the all-powerful priest in Irish society.


Patricia M***** from California whose gran used to say this:


Were you born in a barn? = directed at someone who leaves doors open, lets the heat/cold escape or enter!


Long-standing pal Tony Ward from Dublin (now in Sussex) sends this Dub classic:

will you whist up? = will you be quiet?


Jim Smith (USA): Now you're cooking with gas = you understand the idea, you're getting the hang of it!

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  • "Not a patch on you..." = S/he's not as good as you
  • "That's a different kettle of fish" = a completely different situation to that previously described (by someone else)
  • "He made a bags of it" = made a mistake, balls-up.
  • "Give him/her the bull's rush" = Give someone false information, distract someone, send someone on an unnecessary errand or journey
  • "I'm back in the land of the living" = I have returned to civilization (Dublin), often said following a visit to the Irish countryside.
  • "I'll tell you a story about Johnny McGory..." = Once-common opener for Dubliners when beginning to tell a tale, particularly to children.
  • "Jammy beggar" = someone who has got lucky, had good fortune etc.
  • "You can't have your bread buttered on both sides..." = It's not possible for you to have all the options...a negotiating ploy, frequently with Irish teenagers!
  • "As true as I'm riding this bike" = This is said when you're not riding a bike, but emphasises your sincerity!
  • "Make a hash of it" = make a mistake, error, a major cockup, etc.
  • "Suits you down to the ground..." = You look good in those clothes or a remark on something comfortable (it could also be a good situation).
  • "Arse about face" = the wrong way around, inverted; often used when someone is making a mess of a situation.
  • "I'd like to meet him/her in the flesh" = Someone you would like to physically greet and meet, such as a hero, someone you write to but have never seen etc.
  • "They're tanked up..." = They have drunk a lot of alcohol! The reference is to a tankard, a container for drink and is nothing to do with the military!
  • "They're quite sticky about that..." = They apply the rules strictly, they are very particular about something, usually regulations or enforcement.
  • "C'mere till I tell ya" = Come here and let me speak to you! Non-Irish people laugh at the context of this saying since it is usually said to someone beside you and indicates something important about to be revealed (such as gossip!).
  • "S/he's an awful stick in the mud" = s/he is extremely boring and set in his/her ways
  • "In the sticks" = in a rural area
  • "Stick insect" = someone who is far too thin for their own good!
  • "Keep taking the tablets..." = I think you are insane [ie., make sure you take your medication...]
  • "I'm not waiting here for the good of me health.." = shout this at someone who ignores a queue/line and heads for the top.
  • "I have an axe to grind..." = I have an issue to discuss with you.
  • "I'll have your guts for garters" = a strong personal threat directed at someone. Presumably originated with people working in the knackers [where they slaughter and dismember animals for other uses - the famous knackers in Dublin was O'Keeffe in Pimlico, Dublin's medieval Liberties].
  • "Keep a weather-eye out for..." = looking casually for something/reviewing something informally
  • "Under the weather..." = someone feeling down, not their usual good form, perhaps depressed.
  • "She's out in her figure..." = a lady or girl in revealing clothing! This is an old saying and may well have referred to the showing of a knee or even an ankle.
  • "You're very cute..."= a compliment to an astute person, not a reference to a good-looking girl. In Munster the expression used is a "cut hoor [whore]" [literally, an intelligent prostitute but meant as a compliment towards a man or woman!]
  • "The penny dropped..." = You suddenly understand something or make a connection, etc
  • "That will put the wind up him/her" = It will make them nervous or scared
  • "Health is wealth" = self explanatory.

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