25 Irish Gaelic Proverbs with English Translations

25 Irish Gaelic Proverbs with English Translations

If you’re learning Irish Gaelic, a language that, despite being native to the UK, sounds about as foreign to a native English speaker as Klingon does, you’re in for a treat.

Now, I’m all about discovering proverbs in foreign languages, as they offer a really unique peek into how people used to think (and often still do). They’re also pretty useful for vocabulary-boosting whilst injecting a bit of wisdom into our lives.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of 25 of my favourite Irish proverbs. They’re old, they’re wise, and some of them are pretty funny, too. My hope is that you’ll find them as entertaining as I did.

And because I love ya, I’ve thrown in the English translations (not always literal), along with some much-needed audio (because boy is Irish non-phonetic).

All right, my lovely leprechauns, have fun!

Irish proverbs 1-5

Adeir siad go gcanann meisge nó fearg fior.They say that drunkenness and anger speak truly.
Ag duine féin is fearr fhios cá luigheann a bhróg air.A person knows best where his shoe fits.
Fearr rith maith ná droichsheasamh.A good retreat is better than a bad stand (defence).
Ná caith an t-uisge salach féin amach nó go mbeidh an t-uisge glan istig.Don’t throw out even dirty water until you have the clean water.
Níor bhris deaghfhocal béal éinne riamh.A kind word never broke anyone’s mouth.

Irish proverbs 6-10

Ná gearradh do theanga do sgórnach.Do not let your tongue cut your throat.
Ná nocht t’fhiacla go bhféadfair an greim do bhreith.Do not show your teeth if you cannot bite.
Cionnus bheadh an t-ubhaillín acht mar bheadh an t-abhaillín?How could the apple be but as the apple tree?
Da fhaid lá, tigeann oidhche.Long day, night comes. (The longest day has an end)
Ní buintear fuil as tornap.Blood is not extracted from a turnip.

Irish Udemy

Irish proverbs 11-15

Adeir siad ná deaghaidh fial go hiofrann.It is said that a generous man has never gone to hell.
Deacair geirrfhiadh chur as a’ dtor ná beidh sé.It is hard to drive a hare out of a bush in which he is not.
Ní thig éag gan adhbhar.Death does not come without a cause.
Is trom an cat ri’ shíor-ghiúlan.Even a cat is heavy if carried constantly.
Buan fear ‘na dhúthaig.A man lives long in his native place.

Irish proverbs 16-20

Ná tabhair taobh le fear fala.Trust not a spiteful man.
An rud ís eagal liom a rádh liom, bíodh a thúis agam féin.What I am afraid may be said to me I had better say first myself.
Baist do leanbh féin ar dtúis.Baptise your own child first.
Ní dhíolann dearmhad fiacha.Forgetting a debt does not pay it.
Nuair bhíonn do lámh i mbéal an mhadra, tarraing go réig í.When your hand is in the dog’s mouth, withdraw it gently.

Irish proverbs 21-25

Bíonn an fhírinne féin searbh.Even truth itself may be bitter.
Ní cortar fear na héadála.The moneymaker is never tired.
Ceileann súil an ní ná faiceann.The eye hides what it does not see. (Out of sight, out of mind)
Fearr béasa ná breághthacht.Better good manners than good looks.
Togh do chuideacht’ci sul a suidhfir.Choose your company before you sit down

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