Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


family, Food, Holidays, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien, Proverbs, St. Patrick's Day

troll st pats 2

Everyone is a little bit Irish today, but in my childhood home being Irish was a full-time job. My father, a man of wit and brevity, never lectured us about anything. But he had an endless storehouse of wonderful old Irish sayings, and he could always pop out the perfect one to put us in our places.

We probably didn’t appreciate it then, but all these years later I remember them, and I’ve even found a few more of my own along the way.

The Irish swing easily from sardonic to sloppily sentimental…and back again. I’m the same way. So of course, my storehouse of favorite Irish sayings hits both notes, as well. Here are a few:

My favorite blessings:

May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.

May you always walk in sunshine, may you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.

My favorite warnings:

There’s no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.

It’s sweet to drink, but bitter to pay for.

My favorite curse:

May those who love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us, may God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

My favorite toasts:

We drink to your coffin. May it be built from the wood of a hundred-year-old oak tree that I shall plant tomorrow.

As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.

What wonderful sayings were you brought up on–Irish or otherwise? I’d love to add to my storehouse, so that I can impress everyone the next time we have a St. Patty’s Day party, like this yummy one at my sister’s…from which I’ve just now come home. Apparently, ahem, we’re big on dessert! 😉

Chaela's St. Pat's table

14 thoughts on “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Those are wonderful, Kathleen! I love the curse. I don’t know any sayings. I’m Dutch, and I think we just give each other stern looks.

    1. That’s too funny, Shana! But hey, a well designed look can be even more effective than a proverb! I love that curse, too. It’s sweet that they don’t wish anything worse on their enemies than sprained ankles! 🙂

    2. Thanks for the laugh, Shana! Love that!

  2. Kathleen O says:

    Here is one of my fav Irish Blessing:
    May you always have work for your hands to do.
    May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
    May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
    May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
    May the hand of a friend always be near you.
    And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

    1. Kathleen, that’s so lovely! Their blessings really are so charming…simple, and yet if we did indeed have all those things, wouldn’t life be beautiful? Thank you so much for sharing it!

  3. Here’s another one, Kathleen:

    Wishing you a rainbow
    For sunlight after showers—
    Miles and miles of Irish smiles
    For golden happy hours—
    Shamrocks at your doorway
    For luck and laughter too,
    And a host of friends that never ends
    Each day your whole life through

    Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you and yours!!

    1. Vanessa, that’s a great one, too. I think part of what I love about the Irish sayings is how often they use the physical world — rainbows, rain, flowers, roads, wind, etc–as their metaphors. Their poems are like that, as well. Speaks to me, I guess!

  4. Happy St. Patty’s Day, Kathleen! Here’s one for you: May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going, and the insight to know when you’ve gone too far. 🙂

    1. Ah, Nancy, that’s a great one! Occasionally, I hope for the insight part to come to me just *after* I’ve gone too far… 😉

      1. Kathleen, you always have good instincts. <3

  5. Rochelle says:

    Happy St. Patty’s Day! I loved all the Irish sayings. One saying that I used to always hear but never liked was “Do as I say, and not as I do.” One that always made me laugh was “I don’t HAVE to do anything except die and pay income taxes.”

    1. Rochelle, I always hated that “not as I do” one, too! It simply sounds fundamentally unfair, right?

      Laughing about the “income taxes” one. I think there are at least a few people who, when they’re audited, turn out not to have believe that! 😉

  6. Being married to an authentic Irishman, we actually don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Can you believe it? But his family kind of detests the holiday, because it brings out too many stereotypes. For example, my mother-in-law hates (hates!) leprechauns. Go figure.

    1. Kathleen Kathleen says:

      Kristan, I’d always heard that a lot of “real” Irish people pay no attention to St. Patrick’s Day, and that it’s only big over here. But then, a few years ago, we were in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, and Oh. My. God.

      But I can see why the schmaltzy parts that the rest of us enjoy might not be quite as appealing to someone who knows Ireland more intimately. While we’re only dreaming of green fields, and imagining we belong, they really do.

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