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J 922 

Sapientiam omnium antiquorum exquiret 
sapiens, et in prophetis vacabit. 

Narrationem virorum nominatornmi con- 
servabit, et in veisutias parabolarum simul 

Occulta proverbiorum exquiret, et in ab- 
sconditis parabolarum conversabitur. 

— ECCI,I. xxxix. 1-3. 

' * IT 


In the present book I have made an at- 
tempt, however modest, to approach the 
study of Irish proverbs from the historic 
and comparative points of view. Its princi- 
pal contents are, first, the proverbs noted by 
Mícheál Og Ó Longain about the year 1800, 
and, secondly, a selection of proverbs and 
proverbial phrases drawn from the literature 
of the preceding thousand years. I have 
added an English translation in every case. 
Sometimes, as will be observed, the Irish 
proverbs corre-spoud closely to English ones. 
When this is so, I have given (between quo- 
tation marks) the English version, either 
instead of or in addition to a translation. 
While it is probable that most of the pro- 
verbs thus common to the two languages 
have been borrowed into Irish from English, 
still it should be borne in mind that many of 
them possess an international character, and 
are as well known in Continental languages 
as they are in English or Irish. I have, 
however, refrained from quoting these 
Continental versions ; any reader who is 
interested in them will find what he wants 
elsewhere, and it would have been a waste 
of space for me to attempt to give them here. 
Not a few of these proverbs ha\ e Latin 

originals, from which the Irish versions 
may have been directlj' borrowed. 

Most of the proverbs of the present col- 
lection are distinctively Irish in expression. 
It is mainly in connection with this "native" 
type of proverb that I have quoted, where 
possible, Scottish and Manx versions, and 
analogous proverbs in Welsh. When pro- 
verbs not derived from English are common 
to Ireland and vScotland, it is safe to credit 
them with an antiquity of three hundred 
years at least. So, too, the occurrence of 
proverbs of this class in widel,v-separated 
districts in Ireland bespeaks for such pro- 
verbs a respectable antiquity. But, even 
when evidence of this kind is wanting, it is 
probable that most of our "native" pro- 
verbs are very old, such is the vitality of 
tradition among Irish-speaking people. 

Perhaps by no nation were proverbs held 
in higher estimation than by our ancestors. 
Even to-day every fluent native-speaker of 
Irish possesses a repertory of proverbs on 
which he delights to draw in order to clench 
an argument or drive home an opinion. 
The Irish view of proverbs is crystallized 
in such sayings as Nt sáraitear an scan- 
fhocal, ' Nothing can beat a proverb.' 
Hence those of us who inherit the Irish 
tradition will, as I hope, not unfavourably 
receive this little storehouse of the senten- 
tious wisdom of our forefathers. 




OF Irish Proverbs - - - 1 

II. Modern Irish Triads - - - 65 

III. Proverbs in Irish Literature - 79 

IV. Proverbiai< Phrases in Irish Liter- 

ature 125 

V. Bibliography 147 

Abbreviations, etc. - - - - 159 

Indices - - - - - 162 

Additional Notes - - - - 169 





1. Mairg 'gar beag leis Dia mar Ion. 
'Woe to him who is not content with hariiig 

God for his sustenance.' 

2. Giorra cabhair Dé ná an doras. 

' God's help is nearer than the door,' i.e. is 
very near, even when we little expect it. Com- 
pare no. 75 below. 

3. Fearr sean-fhiacha ná sean-fhala. 

' Better old debts than old grudges.' This 
proverb is quoted by Sean na Ráithíneach : cf . 
ed. Torna, p. 76. It is one of the oldest pro- 
verbs in the language, for it is one of a number 
of old sayings attributed to Flann Fina mac 
Ossu, i.e. Prince Aldfrid, son of Oswy, King of 
Northumbria (fcrr senfiacha senjala, Anecd. iii. 
p. 18). With a slight variation it also occura 
among the sayings attributed to Fithal {ferr 
senfiach senécraite, ed. Thurneysen p. 18). 
From Scottish Gaelic {is fhearr sean-fhiachan 
na sean-fhalachd) it has passed into N.E. as 
" Better auld debts than anld sairs." 

4. Baodhach le gach bocht a bhfagh- 

' A poor man is pleased with whatever he 
gets.' Var. 7s baodhach le hocht beagcin, ' A 
poor man is glad of a little.' The adjective 
baodhach (buidheach) here is a modern substi- 
tution for the obsolete subs, buidhe, which is 
still retained in the Scottish form: Is buidhe 
le bochd beagan. The Irish Is hvidhe le hochf 
a bhfaghann is humorously mis-rendered in 
English as " 'Tis yellow with poor what he 
gets" by a character in Sean ó Neachtain's 
Stair Éamuinn Uí Chléire (1.1927). The Manx 
form is S'booiagh yn voght er yn veggan 
(Cregeen). The proverb is a very old one in 
Gaelic, being found in the Book of Leinster 
(147b 42) in the form Is súail ni is budi ri bocht, 
' Even a trifling thing pleases a poor man.' 
The N.E. " A poor man is fain o' little" seems 
to have been borrowed from Sc. Compare no. 

5. Ar uairibh thigid na hanacrai, — is 
fearr [san] na a dteacht an éinfheacht. 

' It is well that misfortunes come but from 
time to time, and not all together.' The Eng. 
proverb "Misfortunes never come single" is 
the reverse of this. 

6. Gach bocht le muir is gach saidhbhir 
le shabh. 

' Poor men take to the sea, rich to the moun- 


7. Ná tabhair taobh le fear fala. 
' Trust not a spiteful man.' 

8. Mairg 'na mbionn fear a bhraite 'na 

' Woe to him whose betrayer sits at his table ' 
This was doubtless suggested by the presence 
of Judas at the Last Supper: cf. Marc. xiv. 

9. Fada iarsma na droichbheirte. 

' The effects of an evil act are long felt.' 
Var. Fada deasga droichbheirte. Cf. 7s fada an 
ciach bheir iarsma droichbheirte, Comhairle na 
Bárrsgolóige. Canon O'Leary has 7s fada siar 
c iarsma an droich bhirt (Seadna 167), and Is 
fada avonn a théighean iarsma an droch-ghnimh 
(Tain 166). The earliest instance I have noted 
is 7s fada deasgadh na droichbheirt in an 
anonymous Ulster poem (17 cent. ?) which begins 
" Do goineadh me ó bheith lom " ; cf. 23 A 25, 
p. 81. 

10. Cam ialla na conaire. 

'Crooked are the thongs (?) of the path.' 
The meaning of this is quite obscure to me, nor 
have I met it elsewhere. Perhaps we should 
compare the Cork proverb Mas cam sliglie is 
réidh rod (GJ. 46, p. 209). 

11. Oeannuig" an droch-dhiiine , is ni 
haoffhal duit an duine macánta. 

' Buy the trickster, and you need have no fear 
of t!ie in;in.' Varr. Breab an rógaire, 
etc. (' Bribe the rogue '). Seachain an droch- 
dhuine^ etc. (,' Shun the trickster'). Coinnibh 
a/n drochdhuine leaf, etc. (' Keep the trickster 
on your side '), Gahvay. 

12. Cionnus bheadh an t-ubhaillin acht 
mar bheadh an t-abhaillin? 

' How could the apple be but as the apple- 
tree?' "Like tree, like fruit." "Arbor qualis 
erit talia poma gerit " (Erasmus). Compare 
Dánfhocail 105, and the two next proverbs. 

13. Gach dalta mar oiltear. 

' A foster-child is as he is brought up.' Some- 
tijnes with the rhyming addition : cigus an lacha 
ar an uisge, ' and a duck takes to water.' The 
word dalta here is a modern substitution for 
ealta, ' flock (of birds),' which has long been 
obsolete in ordinary speech, though I heard a 
native of Ballyvourney quote the proverb in the 
form Gach cnltha mar oilthear only last year. 
Other variants substitute éan for ealta. Thus 
Gach éan mar oiltear, agus an naoscann snn 
fahar, ' Every bird as it is brought up, and the 
snipe in the mud,' Donegal. Gach éun mar a 
dh' oileanar, So. Cf. also Morris, 93 and 233. 
That the proverb is an old one is shown by the 
opening stanza of a poem by Tadhg Mór Ó 
Huiginn (tl315): 

Cach én m<ir a adhba, 

oirderc so, is sé lentar; 
cach elta mar oilter, 

ni chlechtfa acht a chlechtad, 

(cf. O'G. Cat. 487), ' Every bird is as its nest, — 
this is a well-known rule that is followed ; every 
bird-flock is as it is reared, it follows only its 
own habits.' Compare cach macaom mar 
viúinter, ' every youth is as he is taught,' in the 
same poem; and gnátli dúil i ndinidh oileamhna^ 
' every creature is wont to follow its upbring- 
ing,' in a poem on Nioclás Dall {flor. 1601), 
' Studies,' 1920, p. 97. 

14. Treise di'ithchas ná oileamhain. 

' Hereditary instinct is stronger than up- 
bringing.' " Nature passes nurture." Cf. Is 
sia théidheann an dúchas ná an fhoghlaim, 
' Nature goes farther than education.' Briseann 
an dúchas trí shi'iiie an chait, ' Its nature breaks 
out through the cat'seyes.' "What is bred in the 
bone comes out in the flesh." Compare further 
no. 37, and Dánfhocail 102. The same idea is 
seen in a line of Aodh ó Domhnaill's in the 
' Contention of the Bards ' : diallaid daoine re 
a ndúthchas, ' people follow their hereditary in- 
stincts ' (cf. I.T.S. XX. p. 138). Scottish has 
Is buainp, dutlichas na niUav. 

15. Minic na deaghaidh bo le bo dhúth- 

' Often a cow does not take after its breed.' 

This is to some extent cnntradiotory of tlio 
proverbs just quoted. 

16. Millie bhi gránna greannmhar is 
dathamhail donaoi. 

' Often was ugly amiable, and handsome 
unfortunate.' Var. (jefnifimJinil (for greann- 

17. NÍ hi an bhreághthacht do chuireanii 
an crocán a' fiuchadh. 

' Beauty will not make the pot boil.' Var. 
a' beiriii (for a' fiuchadh). Cf. Ni hreághthacht 
níos hrochán ach min, ' It is not beauty that 
makes porridge, but meal,' Conn. " Prettiness 
makes no pottage." Cha toir a' bhoidhchead 
goil air a' phoit, Sc. (and cf. Morris 156). 

18. Fearr béasa ná breághthacht. 

' Better good manners than good looks.' 

19. Buan fear 'na dhúthaig. 

' A man lives long in his native place.' 

20. Nior cailleadh [fearj riamh i measg 
a chuaine. 

' A man never fails among his own people.' 

21. Sea chain is na taobhuig, 

is na tabhair an t-aitheaiitas ar 


' Be on your guard against taking sides, and 
on no account sacrifice your friends.' 

22. Togh do chuideacht'ci sul a suidhfir. 

' Choose your company before you sit down.' . _^ 

" Choose thy company before thy drink." "^ r^&-\ 3^2 

23. Seachain droch-chuideachta. 
' Shun evi] company.' 

24. Innis dam cia leis a raghair, agus 
inneósad duit créad dhéanfair. 

" Tell me with whom thou goest, and I'll tell 
thee what thou doest." Var. Innis dam, do 
chuideachta is neósad cé he thu, " Tell me your 
company, and I'll tell you who you are." 

25. Fiú oineach mall druideam 'na 

' Generosity which is dilatory is worth going 
to meet.' Cf. 7s fearrde (in teaclitaire mall 
druidim 'na chuinne, ' A slow messenger is the 
better for your going to meet him.' 

26. Olc an chú nách fiú í fead do leigean 

"It is an ill dog that is not worth the 

27. Deineann ceann ciallmhar béal 

" A wise head makes a closed mouth." 


28. Beagán agus a rádb go maith. 

'í^ ' Say but little, and say it well.' Na ahair 

ach heag 's ahair c]u math e, Sc. 

29. Binn béal 'na chomhnuidhe. 

' The mouth that speaks not is sweet to hear.' 
" Speech is silvern, silence is golden." Var. Is 
binn heal 'nn fhost, Conn. Cf. Nior dhin heal 
'na chomhnuidhe aimhleas riamh. See also 
Dánfhocail, 55. 

30. Ard fuaim na n-uisgi éadtroma. 

' Shallow waters make a great noise.' Cf. 
Soifhrnch folamh is mo torann, "Empty vessels 
make the greatest noise," (which Begly, p. 190a, 
renders 7s iad na soithighe falamha is ma i-j 
(jhnidh fuaim). The proverb is alluded to more 
than once in the ' Contention of the Bards ' : 
An t-uisge tana i» mo fuaim, sumliail sin le 
huaill do ghlóir, Art Og Caoimh (I.T.S. xxi. 
228); sibhse an taohh tana don tsrvth, vaihh do 
chluintear bhur dteannghuth, Tadhg mac Dáire 
(ibid. 188) ; for a third instance see Dánf hocail 
53. See also Dánfhocail 51 and 52, and compai'e 
the two next proverbs. 

31. Kithid uisgi doimhnrie cdúin. 
" Still waters run deep." 

^ 32. Na mnca ciúine dh'itheann an 


" Still swine <-at all thi' draff," i.e. A quiet 

exterior is often found in persons who are very 
wide awake. Var. D'iosadh mnc chiúin féin 
triosg, Galway. Cf. D'iosadh cat ciúin hiadh. 
D'iosadh cat sleamhain féin fáideog. Itheann 
cat ciinn féin im, Galway. 

33. Deineann gach moch a ghnó. 

' An early riser gets throngli his business.' 
Var. 7s cosmhail le gach moch a ghnó, Clare. 
J. O'Daly's version (Watfd.) adds : is ni le 
litirghe dhoich é, ' but not by means of early 

34. Eusga neóin ná maidean. ^f r^P^^^ 

'Evening is speedier than morning,' i.e. 
Better do a thing in the evening than postpone 
it until next morning. " Never put off till to- 
morrow what you can do to-day." This occurs 
in Micheál Coimín's Eachtra Thoroilbh (cf. ed. 
P. O Briain, p. 29); and also in some versions 
of Cath Muighe Mucruimhe (Bacham ami 
(inocht, óir is éasga nóin ná maidin, GJ. 207, p. 
437b}. This proverb, though found all over Ire- 
land, and in Scotland too, has in later days •)( 
been nearly always misinterpreted. The mean- 
ing given above is amply confirmed by the 
literary instances referred to. 

3o. Bionn an fear deireanach dioghbh- 

' A late man brings trouble on himself.' ' The 
laggard is ever a loser.' 


^ 36. Millie bhí cú mliall subháilceach 

' A slow-footed hound often has good quali 
ties.' Varr. Is minic a rug an chú mhall féin 
ar a cuid, Galway. Is minic cú mhall sona, 
'A slow hound is often lucky.' Bionn cú mhall 
Sana. Fearfeasa O'n C'háinte quotes this in one 
of his poems (23 L 17, fo. 103a) : 

Bidh en mlh'jall, a mhic Eóghain, 
do réir iúil gach fhíreólaigh, 

go mbí a gníomh dá chora i gcruth, 
sona, mas fior, le fiadhuch. 
Scottish has not preserved the proverb, but it 
^ possesses several equivalents, e.g. 7s minic a 
hha rath air mallthriallach , ' Often has luck 
:^ attended a slow traveller'; Huigidh each mall 
muileann, ' A slow horse will reach the mill ; 
^ Ruigidh dail doras, ' Delay will reach the door.' 
The last is also found in Manx : Roshee daill y 
dorrys (Cregeen). 

37. Cad do dheanfadh mac an chait aclit 
Inch do mharbhadh? 

' What would a young cat do but kill a 
mouse?' " That that comes of a cat will catch 
■fi^mice." "Cat after kind." Bn dual do mhac 
a' chait an luch ithe, Sc. Such proverbs as 
these doubtless derive ultimately from the well- 
known fable of jíEsop. Compare nos. 12 and 14 

38. Mall Din, nfjns triallann a glirnsa. 

' God moves slowly, yet His grace comes.' 
Compare no. 164 below. 


39. As an obair do fachtar an fhogh- 

' Learning comes through work.' Compare 
Múinfidh a ghna duvne, and the two next 

40. Gnáthamh na hoibre an t-eólas. 

' Knowledge comes through practice.' " Es- 
perientia docet." " Practice makes perfect." 

41. Gibe olc maith an ealadha, is taith- 
ighe néann máighistreacht. 

' Be one's trade good or bad, it is experience 
that makes one an adept at it. "Use maketh 
mastery " (Heywood). 7s e 'n cleachdadh a ni i(^ 
teuma ('expert '), Sc. 

42. Is leithide an bualtach satail ann. 

' Trampling on dung only spreads it the 
more.' Is leothaid an salchar saltrachd ann, •if' 
Sc. N.E. has "The mair ye tramp on [dung], J.ifCl IS^ 
it grows the braider." 

43. Minic gur sia théid an bhréag ná 
an í'hírinne. 

' Falsehood often goes farther than truth.' 

44. Mór Í an fhirinne, agns buaidhfe 

" Magna est Veritas, et prcevalebit." 

45. Ní hionmhuin ie Dia an béal bré- 

' God loves not a lying tongue.' 

if /v-^l i'^ 46. Ag duine féin is fearr fhios cá lui- 
gheann a bhróg air. 

" The wearer best knows where the shoe 
pinches hira." 

47. Alius a mhaoile fein do loisgeann 
gach einne. 

' The sweat of one's own brow is what burns 
eyeryone,' i.e.. Everyone feels his own trouble 
9^ most. Cf. A sgéal féin srféal gach éinne. Is i 
a chneadh fhéin a ghearaineas gach duine, 
' Everyone complains of his own hurt,' Sc. 'Si 
a chneadh fein is hiaithe mhofhaigheas gach 
fluine, Uls. 

48. Fuacht na slinneán do bhreacann 
na loirgne. 

' Cold in the shoulders makes the shins 
speckled,' i.e. through warming oneself at the 

49. Deineann codla fada tóin leis ag 


' Long sleep makes a bare breech,' i.e. Lying 
a-bed late makes one poor and ragged. Var. 
Do-ni cndladh fada ton lorn, Uls. 

^^. /?/A^tclrS.%), CvvC-iUijC 

50. Ní thig éag gan adhbhar. 

' Death does not come without a cause.' Cf. 
Ni bhionn trúig; gan adhhhar, ' There is no 
occurrence without a cause,' W. Cork (' Sean- 
dun'). Cha tig am has gun leisgeul, Sc. Cha -^ 
daink rieau yn grjn lestal, Manx 

51. NÍ lugha an fhroig ná mátíiair an 

'Evil may spring from the tiniest thing.' 
Froiy, usually frig (frigh), lit. 'flesh-worm.* 
Varr. 7s beag i máthair an uilc, Galway. 7s 
lugha ioná frighde máthair ria hurchóidc, Conn. 
7s lugha na fride mathair a' chonnsachaidh , Sc. -íf^ 
"The mother of mischief is no bigger than a 
midge's wing" (given by Nicolson as an Eng. 
proverb). Compare 7s heag an ni da dtigeann 
an t-olc in 'Comhairle Choluimchille' (O'Daly's 
Ir. Lang. Misc., p. 78). Bee ani trina tic olc 
in a Mid. Ir. poem, ZCP. vi. 272. 

52. Bionn an fhirinne féin searbh. ^ 
'Even truth may be bitter.' Tadhg m;\c '^'^'^^^^^ 

Dáire seems to allude to this proverb in the 
' Contention of the Bards ' in the line firinne 
hhus searbh re rádh (I.T.S. sx. 28). A Water- 
ford form is Bionn an fhirinne searbh, arsa 
Cloch Labhrais ag preabadh, ' Cloch Labhrais ' 
(i.e. speaking-stone?) being the name of a huge 
boulder which lies near Stradbally, and which is 
cleft in a remarkable manner. Local tradition 
accounts for the fissure by relating that the 

boulder burst asunder on a certain occasion on 
which a falsehood was uttered upon it. 

53. Fearr áirighthe ná srathrach ná 
iasacht na hiallaite. 

' Better the certainty of a straddle {i.e. a 
pack-saddle) than the mere loan of a saddle.' 
" A bird in the hand is worth two on the bush." 
Cf. the Irish versions of the latter proverb : Is 
fearr can sa doni na dad can ar an gcraoibh, 
and 7s fearr dreóilín i ndorn na corr ar cáirde, 
which latter version will be found " translated " 
into English in Ó Xeachtain's Stair É. Ui 
Chleire, 1. 1928. 

54. Dlighe na hiasachta an t-iarrach do 
bheith briste. 

Variously explained as ' The law of borrowing 
is to break the borrov.-er,' or ' to break the 
thing borrowed.' For Ó Longáin's do bJieith 
briste other versions have do bhriseadh. Canon 
O'Leary's form of the proverb is a slightly 
abbreviated one, viz. : Dlighe na hiasachta í 
l)hrisc(uni, which he translates: 'The law of 
borrowing is to break what is borrowed.' 

55. Foarr mac le himirt féin ná mac le 

'Better even a son given to gambling tlian a 
son given to drink.' 


56. Súil Ití cúiteamh do loniann an cear- 

' The expectation of recouping himself is 
what beggars the gambler.' Var. Súil le breith 
a chailleann an cearhhach, ' The hope of winning 
proves the gambler's undoing.' 

57. Fearr teithe maith ná droichsheas- 

'A good retreat is better than a poor defence.' 
Var. rith (for teithe). This is quoted by 
Keating, though he does not espressly allude 
to it as a proverb : Biodh a fhios aige gurah 
fearr teitheadh maith inn:'i droich'sheasamh , 
TBg. p. 293. The older form was Ferr teiched 
tairisium, ' Better to flee than to stand still,' 
which is attributed to Flann Fina (Anecd. iii. 
18) and to Fithal (ed. Thurneysen, p. 14). Tn 
this form it is introduced by Roibeard Mac 
Artúir into the ' Contention of the Bards ' : Do 
gheahhthá id sheinleabhraihh féin [ seanfhocal 
gndthach ar scan: \ Is fearr teicheamh 
tairiseamh (of. I.T.S. xx. 152). The Scottish ^ 
form is 7s fhearr teicheadh math na drocli 

58. Dall súil i gcúil dhiiiiic cile. ^ t^^fPjZiT 

' An eye is blind in another man's corner,' 
i.e. One feels strange among strangers : one 
does not know one's way about in a strange 
place, or when attempting unfamiliar work. 
See no. 330. 



59. Géire súil sa chúinne ná dbá shúil 
ar fuid an tighe. 

'One eye in the coinor is keener than two eyes 
about the house.' Var. 7s géire súil sa chúil ná 
dhá sliúil sa tsolas (GJ. 60, p. 84). 

60. Beag sochar na sír-mheisge. 

'Little profit comes from constant drunken- 

61. Maol guala gan bhráthair, 

's is mairg do bhionn gaii dearbh- 

' Bare is the shoulder that has no kinsman 

And woe to him who lacks a brother dear.' 
For the full quatrain see Danfhocail, 227. 
In a poem attributed to Gormlaith the line 
occurs : Maol guala ag nach bi bráthairj Meyer 
Misc. p. 354. The Four Masters quote Maol 
guala gan bráthair, s. a. 1583 (p. 1804). It may 
be noted that in Canon O'Leary's version is 
maol guala is corrupted to is maol-dhuMga 
CAesop i. 37). The proverb is also well known in 
Scottish. Nicolson quotes a precisely similar 
saying (borrowed from Irish?) from the Norse 
Saga of Burnt Njal: "Berrer hverr ábaki,nema 
ser bródhur eigi," ' Bare is one's back unless he 
have a brother.' Compare the next proverb. 

62. Mairg do bhionn i dtir gan duine 
aige féin. 


'VVoe to him who is m a couuti-y where there 
is none to take his part.' Var. Is mairg do 
bhionn san tir ná haitheantar é, 'where he is 
not known.' Sometimes with the rhyming addi- 
tion : Mar Id na hruii/ltne luigheann an hata 
ar a thaoblt,, ' for on the day of the fight the 
cudgel is applied to his side.' Cf. " Vae soli, 
quia cum ceciderit nou habet sublevantem s«," 
Eccl. iv. 10. 

63. XÍ gnáthach caounacli ar an gcloich 
bhionn a' sior-chorruighe. 

" A rolling stone gathers no moss." Varr. 
Ni thagann caonnach or cldoich reatha. Ni 
chnósuicjheann clock reatha cúnlach, W. Cork. Ni 
hhailigheann an chloch reatha cúnach, Clare. 
Begly (p. 473b) has Ni ghabhawn clock reatha 
caonnach. There are numerous versions both in 
Irish and in Scottish, as often happens in the 
case of proverbs (like the present) which are not 
of native origin but comparatively late borrow- 

64. I gcosaibh na con do bhionn a cuid. 
' A greyhound finds its food in its feet,' i.e. 

by using its feet. See Dánfhocail, 223. Cf. Ni 
fhnghann cos 'na comhnaidhe dada, 'A foot that 
stirs not gets nothing,' Galway. 

65. Na bris reacht is na dein reacht. 

' Neither break a law nor make one.' Cf . 
Pope's " Be not the first by whom the new is 
tried," etc. Varr. Nd din nós agus na bris nós. 
Ná tóig cleas ( = geas) agus nd bris deas, Galway. 



66. Is gnáthach an rud is gioira don 
chroidhe gurb é is giorra don bht'al. 

' What is nearest the heart is, as a rule, 
nearest the lips.' "What the heart thinks, 
the tongue speaks." " Ex abundantia cordis os 
loquitur," Matt. xii. 34. 

67. Adeir siad go gcanann meisge no 
fearg fior. 

' Drunkenness and anger, it is said, speak 
truly.' Var. Canann meisge fior. Cf. Ni 
cheileann meisge rúv, 'Drunkenness reveals 
secrets.' " In vino Veritas." " Nullum secretura 
est ubi regnat cbrietas," Prov. xxxi. 4. Triads 
of Ireland, 204. 

68. Bean ar meisge, bean i n-aisge. 
' A drunken woman is lost to shame.' 

69. Adeir siad go bhfaghann badhb a 
hathchuinghe, is nácb ar mhaithe lé é. 

' A shrew, they say, gets her wish but suffers 
in the getting.' The Scottish form is Gheahh 
baobh a guidhe, ged nach fliaigh a h-onam 
trbcair, ' A shrew will get her wish though her 
soul will not get mercy.' 

70. Cuimhnig, da gcaillfeá do chuid don 
tsaoghal, do chreideamhain do choimeád ; 
gidli cudli. irii'i cliailloann tú í sin, ni fin 
nád tu. 


' Be mindful, even though you lose all your 
wealth, still to keep your good name; for if you 
lose that, you are worthless.' This reminds one 
of Shakespeare's " WIio steals my purse, steals 
trash," etc. But it is hardly a ' proverb.' Its 
origin is probably Prov. xxii.l. 

71. Fearr focal sa chúirt ná bonn sa 

' A good word at court is better than a coin 
in one's purse.' " A friend in court is worth a 
penny in one's purse." Varr. punt (for bonn) ; 
cara (for focal). „ ^ . /, f-L^» ^ 

72. Maith í an charaid, acht gé hole 
bhei'th 'na heasba. 

' Friendship is good, though absence from 
friends is painful.' 

73. An rud is eagal liom a rádh liom, 
biodh a thúis agam féin. 

' What I am afraid may be said to me I had 
better say first myself.' 

74. Pé dá n-oireann an caipin do, 

' Whoever the cap fits takes it.' Varr. An té 
a dtagann an caipin do, caitheadh sé é, ' Let 
him whom the cap suits wear it.' Mara 
n-oireann an caipin duit, nd caith é. 


75. Mairg do báitear am an anfa ; 

tigeann an ghrian i ndiaidh na feai- 

* Pity the man who is drowned during the 
tempest, for after rain comes sunshine.' Much 
the same idea is expressed in Archbishop 
Maohnhuire O Huiginn's lines : Fogus Id don 
rfi dhoirche {i.e. " The darkest hour is nearest 
dawn") and Tar cis duhhaidh tig soineann 
(' After gloom comes fair weather '). Tlie Arch- 
bishop's contemporary, Eochaidh Ó Heoghusa, 
has a very similar line : gréine is gar do 
dhubhadh, ' Sunshine follows gloom ' (Ir. 
Monthly. 1920, p. 543). The same looking for- 
ward to brighter days is seen a few years later 
in a poem by Fearghal Óg Mac an Bhaird (ibid, 
p. 52) : Tig teas iomarcach d' cis recidh, \ 
glanaidh grian i ndiaidh duibh-neóil, ' After 
frost comes great heat, after a dark cloud comes 
.sunshine ' ; and again .An hláth chvireas an 
choill di, I tig a ionshamhail uirthi, ' The wood 
will renew the foliage it sheds.' (Compare with 
this Dánfhocail 45). 

In English also there are a number of such 
proverbs, e.g. " After clouds black we shall have 
weather clear" (Heywood) ; "After rain comes 
fair weather" ; " After a storm comes a calm." 
See also Skeat 154. A Mid. Eng. proverb of 
similar import, " When the bale is best, thenne 
is the bote " (Skeat 83), has a close parallel 
in the Mod. Ir. Nuair is mn an anochain iseridh 
is giorra an rhabhair, ' When misfortune is 
greatest, then is relief nearest.' .\n old Welsli 
proverb may also be quoted here: Vybxjd hinov 


rju-edy glaiv, ' There will be fair weather after 
rain ' (Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, ii. 

76. Ceileann súil an ni ná faiceann. 

' The eye shuns {lit. hides) what it does not 
see,' i.e. " Out of sight out of mind." The 
literary form is tieachnaidh súil ni ná faiceann^ 
Dánta Grádha, p. 14; Ériu v. p. 136. The pro- 
verb is still current in Waterford, the first word 
there being seachtnuigheann (Sheehan, Cnó 
C.C., 31) or cosnuigheann (S. Cadhla, Eachtra 
na mBróg, 6). Cf. Mian mhic a shúil, ' What 
is seen is desired.' Nuair a dhirdeann ( = dhrui- 
deann) an radharc on siiil, dirdeann an grádh 
on gcroidhe, ' When the view leaves the eye, 
love leaves the heart.' An fé nd ficid ni thitfid 
i ngrádh lets, ' They won't fall in love with a 
man they don't see.' (These two last proverbs 
have been heard in Ballingeary, W. Cork). An 
ni nach bhfeiceann súil, ni bhrónann croidlie, 
Conn., " What the eye sees not the heart rues 
not." It may be worth noting that Tadhg Ó 
Neachtain uses Os (--as) amliarc, os cuimhne 
(Gadelica i. 160), a literal translation of the 
English " Out of sight, out of mind." Compare 
also the old Welsli proverb Gwall arrvy mynych 
welir^ ' What is not often seen is neglected ' 
(Skene, ii. 308). and the Eng. "Seldom seen, 
soon forgotten." 

77. Bionn clnasa ar na clathacha. 

' Fences have ear.s.' Var. LnhJinir go sorair, 
bionn cluasa ag hallni, Conn. " Walls have 


ears."' Cf. Ná leig do run le cloidhe, ' Tell not 
your secret even to a fence,' Conn., Uls. 

78. Ceileann searc ainimh is locht. 

' Love is blind to {lit. hides) blemishes and 

faults.' Cf. Biunn an grádh caoch, " Love is 

blind." Faluigheunn grádh grain, agus chi juuth 

X a Ian, Uls. Scottish has Cha'n fhaic griidh 

^ lochd ("Love sees no faults"), Ceilidh seirc 

)f aineamh, and Ceilidh gradh grain. The literary 

parent of the two latter and of O'Longan's 

proverb is Celid sere ainble 7 olc, ' Love hides 

ignominy and evil,' found in the Book of Lein- 

ster (147 b 41). Cf. Ni breitheamh comhthrom 

an grddh, ' Love is not an impartial judge,' 

quoted as a seanfhocal in an anonymous poem 

of A.D. 1559 (H. 5. 28, fo. 160b). Some of these 

proverbs probably have a biblical origin; cf. 

Prov. X. 12, and i. Pet. iv. 8. 

79. Uireasba ni cumha. 

' Want (i.e. poverty) makes sadness.' Var. 
Bochtaineacht nios cumha, Clare and S. Conn. 
Cf. " There is no woe to want" (Camden). 

80. I ndiaidh an tsochair do bhionn an 

' Love pursues profit,' i.e. Self-interest comes 
first, love afterwards, as in marriages for 
money. Var. I ndiaidh an tairhhe bhionn an 
gradh, which occurs in Comhairle na Barrsgol- 
óige. Compare also the nest proverb. 

81. Mo ghrádii thu, a rad agat: 
'I love yon — what yon harei" 

82. Biodh rud agat féin, no bl in 

' Have a thing yourself, or else do without it ' 

83. Is ait leis na daoine dealbha an 

' Needy folks are pleased with buttermilk." 
" Poor folks are glad of pottage." Var. 7s maith 
leix na mnd dealbha an hhláthach. Cf. An té 
ná faghann aíi fheóil is múr an sócjh leis an 
t-unairthe, ' He who does not get meat thinks 
soup a great luxury.' " He that never eats 
flesh thinks harigalds a feast," N.E. Cf. 
" Beggars can't be choosers," and no. 4 above. 

84. Múchadh feirge soifhreagra. 

" A soft answer turneth away wrath " (Prov. 

85. Nior bhris deaghfhocal béal éinne ^t/^OM 
riamh. ' V 

' A kind word never broke anyone's mouth.' 
Var. 'Nior bhris focal maith fiacail riamh. Cf. 
" Soft words break no bones." 

86. Gé ná bíonn aon chnámh sa tean- 
gaiu, is minic do bhris si ceann duine. 


' Thougli there is no bone in the tongue, it 
has often broken a person's head.' Similar 
proverbs were formerly common in medieval 
Latin and English. Hey wood has "Tongue 
breaketh bone, and bone itself hath none"; 
for earlier instances see Skeat 79. Their 
origin is biblical; of. " Plaga linguae comminuet 
ossa," Eccli. xxviii. 21, and " Lingua mollis 
confringet duritiam," Prov. xxv. 15. An Irish 
version of the latter appears in the Irish adap- 
tation of Cambrensis : Tescaid in tenga hoc in 
cnáim crúaidh , Eng. Hist. Rev., 1905, p. 88. 
"if A Scottish proverb is very similar : Bristidh un 
teanga bhog an cnaimh. Compare no. 122. 

87. Ná nocht t'fhiacla go bhféadfair an 
greim do bhreith. 

'Do not show your teeth until you can bite.' 
" If you cannot bite, never show your teeth." 

-X \^^f $^^ 88. Nd caith an t-uisge salach féin 
íimach no go mbeidh an t-uisge glan istig. 

'Don't throw out even dirty water until you 
have the clean water in.' " Cast not out the 
auld water till the new come in," N.E. 

89. NÍ coidreamh go héintigheas. 

'To know a person one must live in the same 
house with him.' Var. Ni haitheantas go héi/n- 


90. I n-ithe na potoige bhionu a tástáil. 
" The proof of the pudding lies in the eating 

of it." 

91. Mas le bheith ceirteach dhuit, bi 
cruinnecheirteach . 

' If yon must be in rags, let yoiar rags be 

92. NÍ thigeann ciall roimh aois. 
' Good sense comes only with age.' 

93. Is don ghlóire an ghlnine. 

'Cleanliness is part of glory,' i.e. " Cietinli- 
ness is next to godliness." 

94. Maith an mustard an sliabh. 

' Tlie mountain is a good mustard,' i.e. Work 
or exercise on the mountain is a good appetiser. 
Var. Is maith an vinéigre an sliabh. Cf. Is 
maith an t-annlann an t-ocras. " Hunger is 
the best sauce." " Optimum cibi condimentum 
fames " (Cicero). 

95. Dana gach fear go tulaig. 

' Every man is bold until he is at a public 
assembly.' The time-honoured Irish custom 
(whicli prevailed down to the Elizabethan con- 
quest) was to hold public assemblies on suitable 
hills; hence the secondary meaning (here illus- 


trated) of tulach, • liill.' Conversely aonach, 
' an assembly ' (in Irish now ' a fair ), has in 
Scottish come to mean ' a hill, a heath.' 

96. Mairg bheir rogha dhá chómhar- 

' Woe to him who gives his neighbour a 
choice,' or perhaps ' who gives a preference to 
one neighbour over another.' The proper word 
here, however, seems to be not rogha but the 
homophone rahhadh, ' warning,' when the 
meaning is ' Woe to him whose example is a 
warning to his neighbour.' It is thus I have 
heard the proverb interpreted in Ballyvourney 
(VV. Cork), where the local forms are Is mairg 
a thugas rou ( = rabhadh) dhá chómharsain, and 
7s mairg a thugann ciall dieannaig da chóuih- 

97. Baist do leanbh féin ar dtúis. 

'Baptise your own child first,' i.e. Attend to 
your own affairs first (before troubling about 
other people's). Var. Isé a leanhh féin a bhais- 
teas an sagart i dtosach (or or dtús) ; ' The 
priest baptises his own child first,' Conn., Uls. 
According to MacAdam this form of the proverb 
is " often said as a kind of excuse for serving 
one's self first." Scottish is similar: Is e 
'leanahh fhéin a's luaithe 'bhaisteas an sagart. 
A Kilkenny account of the origin of the pro- 
verb Baisteann an sagart a pháiste féin ar 
dtúis will be found in ' Fáinne an Lae,' 12 Aug. 
1899, pp. 42-43. A similar Tipperary account 


of the origin of the version current in local 
English, " The priest christens his own child 
first,'' is given in Journal R.S.A.I., xix. (1889> 
90), p. 137. These tell the legend of a poor 
man who was once presented by his wife with 
seven sons at one birth, with the result that 
he determined to drown them in the neighbour- 
ing river. "While on his way thither he is dis- 
suiided from his unnatural act by a priest whom 
he meets (or by an angel in disguise, who 
conducts him to a priest). The priest adopts 
one of the children, after getting six other 
priests to do likewise ; and he then ijroceeds to 
baptise them, beginning with the child he 
himself had adopted. The story goes on to tell 
how the seven sons eventually became seven 
bishops, who were martyred, and were buried 
together in the churchyard of ' Freamstown ' 
(or ' Ath Einne ') in Co. Kilkenny. 

98. Glas an rud an foghmhar. 

' Harvest is green.' The meaning is probably 

Don't praise prematurely ; wait until you are 

justified by the event,' like the proverb Mol 

gort agus ná mol geamhar,' ' Praise the ripe 

field, not the green corn.' 

99. Glac an rud do gheobhair. 

' Take what you get.' Var. Glac a bhfuighir, 
agus diol a hhféadfair, ' Take what you get, 
and pay what you can ' 

100. Fearr déanaighe ná ró-dhéanaighe. 
" Better late than never " (lit. ' than too 

late). Varr. is jearr mall nd choidhche, Clare. 
Is fearr go deireannach nd go bráth, Raftery, 
p. 360. Is fearr mall nd go brdth, Ills. 

101 . NÍ fearr a rádh iiá cuimhneamh 

■ To think of it is as good as to mention it,' 
i.e. Better think of it without saying anything 
about it. 

102. XÍ théid dlighe sa bhuille ná biiail- 

'A blow that is not struck is not actionable 
•}(• at law.' Cho dteid euraic as a bhuille nach 
buailtior, Edinb. MS. 

103. NÍ théid urraim tar dhortadh tola. 

' Reverence ceases once blood is spilt.' This 
appears to be an old judicial maxim. Thus in 
many versions of Bruidhean Bheag na hAlm- 
haine when King Cormac says ' Every warrior 
owes homage to his lord ' (Dlighidh gach 
óglaoch urraim da thighearna), his jurist, 
Flaithri, counters him by quoting the above 
saying. In another version of this tale 
Flaithri's reply is as follows : Is fior sin isin 
m,bánbhualad , ocus ni hedh i ndortad na fola, 
' That holds good for a bloodless combat, but not 
for one in which blood is shed ' (Silva Gad., 
i. 342). Cormac's remark, quoted abov9, was 
evidently another ancient maxim ; a variant of 
it occurs among the proverbs in the Edinb. 

MS., viz. UmJial da thiglienrna dhligheas gach ^ 

104. Nil tuile ná trághann. 

"Every tide has its ebb." Cf. Chan 'eil j(- 
tuil air nach tig traoghadh, Sc. The pro- 
verb is sometimes added to thus : Nil tuile nd 
trághann ach tuile na ngrdst, ' Every flood has 
an ebb save the flood of God's grace.' Wirii 
this cf. the Sc. prorerb Chan eil math nach :"f 
teirig ach math IJhc, 'AH good has an end save 
the goodness of God.' Cf. Nil tuile dhd mhéad 
tiach dtráigheann, in a Galway song (Amhráin 
Chi. Gaedheal, p. 142). So Manx L\irg roayrt 
hig contraie (Cregeen), ' The spring-tide is fol- 
lowed by the neap ' ; and Welsh Po mwyaf fo'r 
llanw, mwyaf fydd y trai, ' The greater the 
tide, the greater the ebb.' 

Versions of this proverb are of frequent 
occurrence in the literature. Thus, in the Book 
of Leinster (147b 42) : Noco hi tuile cen tart, 
' There is no flood without a (corresponding) 
drought.' So in a dialogue in verse between 
Fithal and Cormac : Bid contracht for muir 
mór, bid itu ar n-ól, a Fhithail, ' The great 
sea (i.e. flood-tide?) has its ebb; drinking is 
followed by thirst, Fithal ' (LL. 149a 27 ; also 
Hib. Min. p. 83). Is tearc tuile nach téid as, 
in a poem by Donnrh. V ''",■ ó Dálaigh (Timth. 
vii. 61). Ni hhi tuile nach téid as, in a poem 
by Gofraidh Fionn Ó r»:í!aiHi (ibid. 48) Ni 
gndth tuile nach dtig trdigh, Dánta Grádha, p. 
36. Cf. Tuile gan trdigh maith Mhuire and 
Tuile gan trdgh daonnacht Dc, first lines of 


popiiiH by Aoiifrhus Fionii (ed. McKenna. pp 
15, 32). * ^ • 

105. Da fhaid ];i, tigeaim ojdhche. 

106. NÍ sheasuigheann rith d'each 
maith i gcomhnuidhe. 

^ffl^P/pif- '(Even) a good horse cannot keep running 
always.' Varr. Ni sheasuujheann rith maith 
dun each i gcoinhnuidhe. Ni mhaireann etc., 

107. Nuaif is cruaidlj dun ciiailligh, 
caithfe si nth. 

' When the old woman is hard pressed she 
must needs run.' " Need makes the old wife 

108. Be théid as no ná téid, ní théid 
fear na headaragála. 

' No matter who comes off well, the peace- 
maker is sure to come off ill.' Often shortly: 
Ni théidheann fear na headargála (or fear an 
eadargáin) as. Cf. Is ininiri a fhuair fear na 
h-eadraiginn huille, Sc. Compare Triads of 
Ireland, 135. 

109. Ni gnáth fear tiáireacli éad;ílacli. 
' A shamefaced man seldom acquires wealth.' 



"He that spares to speak spares to speed." 
Cf. Ni fhaghann sur/urt balhh beatha, ' A dumb 
priest does not get a livelihood. " Dumb folks 
get no lands." 

110. NÍ dheaghaidh fear mcata chun c^.y^F 
baintighearnan. g'^^ 

" Faint heart never won fair lady." " None 
but the brave deserve the fair." Cf. Nior 
chain fear an mhisnig riamh é, ' A brave man 
gets his reward.' 

111. NÍ fuláir (leachmhadh iia sláinte 

' One must pay health its tithes,' i.e. by 
suffering little illnesses from time to time. 

112. Is milis an riid an t-anam. 

" Life is sweet." Also with a humorous 
addition thus : 7s luachmhar an t-anam, mar 
adubhairt an táilliúir agus é ag rith a'n 
nganndal, ' Life is precious, as the tailor said 
when running from the gander.' Cf. Is 
baidheil duine ris an unam, Sc. 

113. Is mo croiceanu chuireann an óige 

' Youth often sheds its skin,' i.e. Youth is 
extravagant, but its extravagances do not last. 
Cf . no. 92, and also : Bionn an óige ar hvile, 
Bionn ceann caol ar an oiqe. 


^ 114. Is miiiic bhi biaimin gioblach 'na 

ghiUin chumasach. 

' Often has a tattered colt grown to be a 
splendid horse.' "A ragged colt may make 
a good horse." Var. Is minic do dhin 
searraichiii gioblach each breágh cumasach. Cf. 
Braimichin (jiohlach nú garsúinín hreac-loirg- 
neach, ' A tattered colt and a lad i'ond of roast- 
ing his shins at the fire (often turn out well), 
X: Clare. Cf. Na toir breith chabhaguch air mac 

luideagach no air loth pheallagaich, ' Don't 
judge hastily of a ragged boy or a shaggy colt,' 

115. NÍ fios cia is túisge croiceann na 
seanachaereach no na caereach óige ar an 

' One cannot tell whether the skin of the old 
sheep or that of the young sheep will be the 
sooner suspended on the rafter,' i.e. one cannot 
say which of them will meet its end first. Eng- 
lish has " As soon goes the young lamb's skin 
to the market as the old ewe's." Begly (p. 
672b) translates this as follows: Ni hiaithr. 
croicionn na seanchaorach ar an margadh ioná 
croicinnn an uain. So Ni luaithe craicean,n na 
seanchaorach a,r an aonach na craiceann na 
oaorach óige, TJls. 

116. Tar éis a chitear gach beart. 

' It is afterwards events are understood.' Var. 
Tar éis iseadh tuigtear gach beart. Cf. Mo 
bheart is da héis do-chím, Dánta Gr. p. 36. 


117. Mór-thaidhbhseach iad adharca na <^ 
mbó tar lear. 

' Far off cows have long horns,' i.e. "Distance 
lends enchantment to the view'' (Campbell). 
" Onine ignotum pro magnifico " (Tacitus). 
Var. Bionn adharca muara ar na hnaibh tJiar 
lear. Bidh adhaircean fada air a' chrodh fha. -if- 
fiida iiainn (or air a' chrndh tha 'n Eirinn), 
Sc. Cf. also Is glas iad va cnuic i hhfad, uainn, 
' Distant hills are green.' The proverb is para- 
phrased by Pádraigín Haicéad (ed. Torna, p. 
107) : 'Sé soin gur sia gach adharc \ ar hhoin 
is sia Ó' r siorradharc. It also occurs in Com- 
hairle na Bárrsgolóige : 7s (indthach taidh- 
hhseach adharca na mho thar lear. 

lis. Ferr beagáu don ghaol na morán 
don aitheantas. 

' Better a little relationship than much ac- 
quaintance." Cf . "Blood is thicker than water," 
which has been borrowed into Northern Trish 
(7s fihhc fuil na nisge, MacAdam) and into 
Scottish. MacAdam quotes a Spanish proverb 
" Mas vale onza de sangre que libra de amis- 
tad," ' Better an ounce of blood than a pound 
of friendship.' 

119. Mairg na deineann cómhairlc 

' Woe to him who does not the counsel of a 
good wife.' In the ' Pursuit of Diarmuid and 

33 ^ 

Grdinne ' these words are uttered by Diarmuid 
in self-reproach (Oss. Soc. iii. p. 182). 

120. An té ná gabhann cóinhairU 
^i ^"^ gabhadh sé cómhrac. 

' Let him who will not have advice have con- 
flict,' i.e. such a man will create trouble for 
himself. " He that will not be counselled can- 
not be helped." 

121. Minic bhiduinc 'na dhroch-chómh • 
airlidhe dho féin agus 'na chómhairlidh(; 
mhaith do dhuine eile. 

' A man is often a bad adviser to himself and 
a good adviser to another.' Varr. An tc ini 
hionn 'na chomhairleóir mhaWt dho féin, is 
minic a thugann sé comhairle mhaith do dhaoine 
rile. An tc a hhlonn 'na sheirhhiseach mhaith 
do dhaoine eile, is minic a hhionn sé 'na dkroch- 
shcirhhiseach do féin. These resemble: Nd din 
mar dhcanfa siad, arh din mar déarfa siad, 
' Do as they say, not as they do,' said of the 
clergy, and based on Matt, xxiii. 3. Cf . Dénaidh 
in ni aderait 7 na dénaidh in ni do nit in the 
15th cent. ' Riaghail na Sacart,' Irisl. Muighe 
Nuadhad, 1919, p. 75. 

//^f 32i^ loo -^^ gcarradh do theanga do sgór- 

' TiCt not your tongue cut your throat,' i.e. Be- 
ware of injuring yourself by foolish speech. 


Cf. "A fool's tongue is long enough to cut his 
own throat," and no. 86. 

123. NÍ bhfaghann sir-iarraidh ach si'r- 

Constant begging only meets witli constant 

124. NÍ bhfaghaiiii doi'ii Junta ach lánih 

' A shut fist gets only a closed hand,' i.e. 
Niggardliness begets niggardliness, hostility 
provokes hostility. This occurs in Comhairle 
!,a Bárrsgolóige : Mar ná faghann lámh iadhta 
ach dorn dúnta. It is also found in Begly's 
Dictionary (1732, p. 380a) : Ni fhághann an 
lámh iadhta acht dornn dúinte. See no. 314. 

125. Tabhair-se sin damhsa, is bi féin it 

'Give that to nic, and be a fool yourself.' Said 
of a request which is thought unreasonable. 

1-26. NÍ théid cómhar na gcómharsan le 

' Mutual help in farming does not always 
coincide,' i.e. (probably) some profit more by it 
than others. A Galway variant is the direct 
opposite: Tiigann cúiiihav na gcúmharsan le 


127. Adeir siad ná deaghaidh fial go 

' A generous man, they say, has never gone 
to hell.' Cf. Go dtéidh grian go grinneall, ni 
raghaidh fial go hifreann, Galway. 

128. Is bádhach Incht éinchine. 

' People of the same stock are friendly.' Varr. 
báige.amhail or hádhmhar (for hádhach); cin- 
chéirde, 'of the same trade' (for éinchine). 
Begly (p. 212a) gives Is hádhacli lucht aoim.- 
chéirde as the equivalent of "Birds of a 
feather flock together." Compare the Welsh 
Brodyr poh cerddorion, now understood as 
' Musicians are brothers,' but doubtless handed 
down from the time when cerddorion would 
have meant (cf. Irish ceard, ccardaidhe) 
' craftsmen ' in general. 

129. Xiiair bhionn do láiiih i nibéal an 
mhadra, tarraing go réig í. 

' When your hand is in the dog's mouth with- 
draw it gently,' i.e. Act cautiously when you 
are at the mercy of another. 

]oO. NÍ tbuigeann an sáthach an scang, 
nuair bhionn a bholg féin teann. 

' The man whose stomach is well filled has 
little sympathy with the wants of the hungry.' 
Var. Nior thvig nn .mfhach stimh an f-ocrach 
riamh. Cha tuig an sathach an seang, Sc. Cha 
dennee rieau yn soogh y .shang, Manx (Cregeen). 


131. longnadh foar aitheaiita iia locht 
do bheith go hole uim an mbia. 

' 'Tis strange that one who is so quick at 
(liscoveriniT faults should liimself be so stingy 
about food.' For loclif the MS. has Íiit7íf. 

13-2. 'J\:'angmliani\ na daoiue ar a chéilo, 
is ]ii tlicangmbaid na cnnic na na sléibhte. 

" Men may meet, but mountains never greet." 
Varr. castar (for tenngmhann and teangmhaid) ; 
U chéile (for ar a chéile). In Sean Ó Neach- 
tain's ' Stair Eamuinn Ui Chleire ' (1. 1207) 
this proverb occurs as: Castar na dao'me ar a 
chcile u(jus ni castar na cniiic. Cf. also Begly, 
p. 238a. 

133. NÍ gnáth cosnanih iar nditb tigb- 

' Rarely is a fight continued when the chief 
has fallen.' A maxim which is found in our 
romantic literature (e.g. Nt gnath cathxujhadh 
iar ndith tighearna, Br. Chaor. 5, C. R. Riogh 
104), and which explains how the issue of many 
a battle in ancient days was decided. Compare 
mar nach gnath cosnamh tar éis tighearnnidhp 
do tlntitim in Tor. Dhiarmuda agus Ghráinne 
(Oss. Soc. iii. 104). So Ó Cleirigh in his Life 
of Aodh Ruadh, speaking of the death of 
Bagnal at the Yellow Ford in 1598, says that 
the English thereupon took to flight, ' as 
usually happens when an army's commander 
and general is cut off ' {amhail as gnáithbhés 


don tslófjh fria n-eatarscarthar a n-uireach 
cafha 7 a ccenn tustadha 7 coinliairle, p. 172). 

^ 134. Is buaine bladh ná saoghal. 

' Fame endures longer than life.' An exhor- 
tation to brave deeds, frequently found in our 
romantic literature {e.g. Bran, p. 63; Fianai- 
gecht, p. 94; Duan. Finn, p. 13). Var. chi 
(for the older and obsolete hladh). Very similar 
is Cúchulainn's fine sentiment : Beó duine d' 
éis a mima, agus ni beó d' éis a oinigh, ' A man 
may live after losing his life, but not after 
losing his honour,' Foghlaim Chonculainn (see 
infra no. 276). In the same spirit Cúchu- 
lainn, having heard one day the druid Cathbha 
prophesy that whatever youth assumed arms on 
that day would be at once famous for his deeds 
and short-lived, deliberately chose that day for 
his first 'taking of arms.' "Highly shall I 
value it," he said, " though my life last but 
one day and one night, if only the fame of my 
exploits lives after me '" {Amra hrig, can co 
rahur acht oenlá 7 oenadaig ar bith, acht co 
marat m'airscéla 7 m' imthechta di mm' csi. 
Cf. TBC, ed. Windisch, 1. 1111). Again, shortly 
before his death, Cuchulainn more than once 
justifies his ardour for battle by quoting the 
above saying, 7s buaine bladh nd saoghal (Bris- 
leach Mhór M.M., ed. Lloyd, pp. 16, 38). 

So in Caithreim Conghail Chláiringnigh it is 
said of a warrior: ba cuma les bus d' fhagliáil 
acht go maii-iloidh a bhladh do bhunadh, ' he 
recked not of death, if only his fame lived 
always ' (I.'T.S. v. 94). And the author of the 


Irish adaptation of Vergil's Aeneid makes the 
Latins and the Trojans fight, like the heroes of 
our native literature, regardless of their lives 
and seeking only the perpetuation of the fame 
of their brave deeds {Ni tard nech dib grádh 
dia anmain ac cuindchid allaidh 7 oirdhercuis 
anma dia éis; cf. I.T.S. vi. 2820). 

It is remarkable that Welsh possesses an 
exact equivalent of the Irish proverb, viz., 
Kwy clod ml hoedl, '^Fame is longer than life,' 
which is found in print (in Davies' Dictionary) 
as early as 1632. 

135. NÍ cortar fear na héadála. 

'The money-maker (or "profiteer") is never 

136. NÍ bhionn saoi gaii locht, is bionii 
da locht i n-aon tsaoi. 

' A good man is not faultless, and there are 
two faults in one good man.' Var. Ni fachtar 
saoi gan locht, in Comhairle na Bárrsgolóige. 
Compare Tuislean saoith, ' A good man may 
stumble' (Hardiman). "Nemo sine defectu," 
Imitatio Christi (i. 16), wliich in O' Sullivan's 
translation (1822) is rendered Ni bhfuil saoi 
rjnii locht. " Every man has his faults." 

137. Beirbh birin dam is beireód birín 

" Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," 
lit. ' Cook a hirin (little spit) for me, and I'll 


cook one for you.' Var. biuith and hruithje 
me, Galway. 

138. Cuinuibh an ciiáinh is leaiifuidh an 
madra tbu. 

' Keep liold of tlie bone and the dog will 
follow you.' 

■4^- hiiLiyui, 139. T\i dheaghaidh rogha ó r<!;itcach. 

^**" '^' 'Nothing is preferable to reconciliation.' 

' It is best to settle disputes amicably.' Var. 

A/ Ihéiilheunn roghíi ún réiteadi. 

140. Níor cheannuig éinne rianih an 
tsíocháin ach an té iiú fuair í. 

' No one has ever bought peace save the man 
who has not got it/ i.e. No one has paid (suf- 
fered) so much for peace as the man who is 
without it. Var. A'i cheannuigheann éinne an 
suaimhneas ach an tc nd facjliunn c. Cf. Is 
fiú an suaimhneas c clieaniiacli, 'Quietness is 
worth buying.' 

141. Bcag an inliaith an nihaitli do 

is ni lugha ná an mhaith ná 

' The benefit which is boasted of is a sorry 
one; not less sorry is the benefit which is not 
acknowledged,' i.e. 'It ill becomes one who 
confers a benefit to boast of it, or one who 


ipceives a benefit to refuse to acknowledge it.' 
Var. is heag an mhaitli an mkaith nd hinnstear, 
's is measa an mhaith an mhaith do maoidhtear. 
Cf. 7s fearr an mhaith a dcantar is a maoidh- 
tear ná an mhaith ni di'-antar agits ná maoidh- 
tear, i.e. ' Better a good deed which is boasted 
of than no good deed at all.' 

142. Mairg ná cniinhnigheaDn ar an 
a ran d' iosadh sé. 

' Woe to him who remembers not the bread he 
eats.' Cf. A^i cvimhnightear ar an arún atú 
ithte, "Eaten bread is forgotten." 

143. Fearr leaíh-bhaij-ght-au ná bheith 
gan arán. 

" Half a loaf is better than no bread." Cf. 
7s fearr leath nd meatk, ' Half (a crop) is better 
than failure (of the whole). The present pro- 
verb must be a fairly late one, but it has two 
old parallels among the sayings attributed to 
Flann Fina mac Ossu (see no. 2 supra), viz. 
Ferr leth lánetech, ' Half is better than a com- 
plete refusal,' and Ferr heg era, ' A little is 
better than a refusal ' (Anecd. iii. pp. 20, 19). 
The latter is also attributed to Fithal (ed. 
Thurneysen, 16). 

144. Sábháil an foghmhar faid do blieidh 
an ghrian suas. 

" Make hav while the sun shines." Cf 
Begly, p. 229a. 


145. Glac an mhuc ar chois nnair gheo- 

' Catcli tlie pig by the lej^ when yon can.' 
Var. Md hheireann tú ar mliuic, heir ar chois 
'uhtlii^ ' If you catch a pig, catch it by tlie leg,' 

146. Tog an liathroid ar a' gcéad hop. 
" Take the ball at the hop." Var. Buatl an 

liatlui'itd nuair gheóbha tit. ar an hop >. 

147. Uain no taoide ni fhanaid le haon- 

"Time and tide wait for no man." Cf. Ni 
flianann trdigh le fear mall, ' The ebb-tide waits 
not for a dilatory man/ Conn. Ni flianann 
muir le fear ualaigh, 'The sea does not wait 
■^ for a man with a load,' Clare. Cha'n fhuirich 
muir ri uallach, Sc. 

f^ijf277 2^48 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.' Said of attempting an impos- 
sibility : cf . the next proverb. 

149. NÍ buintear fuil as tornap. 

" One cannot draw blood from a turnip." Cf. 
ay iarraidh olna ar ghabhar, lit. 'asking a 
goat for wool,' which is already found in 
Aislinge Meic Conglinne (cf. ed. Meyer, p. 71) 

So in Manx : goll fhie yn ghoayr dy hirrey ollan 
(Cregeen), ' going to tlie goat's house to seek 
for wool.' 

150. Fearr féachain rot ná dhá fhéa- 

chain id dhiaig. C^.^^^^i^ 

'One look before is better than two behind.' 
" Look before you leap." " Prevention is 
better than cure." Var. hreathnú (for 
féachain), Galway. Cf. Breithnig an ahha 
sar a dféidhir 'na cuilith, 'Take stock of the 
river before you plunge into the current.' In 
Comhairle na Bárrsgolóige : Breithnig an ahha 
do réir a cuilithe. Compare no. 188. 

151. Mór cuid drochmhná dá drochbhlá- 
thaig féin. 

' A bad wife drinks a big share of her own 
bad buttermilk.' A Sc. variant is S mór sáith -^ 
droch hhanaraich da droch hhláthach féin, 
Edinb. MS. {banarach = ' dairymaid'). 

152. NÍ i gcomhnuidhe mharbhann 
daidin fia. 

' It is not every day daddy kills a deer.' Varr. 
Ni i gcomhnuidhe bhionn Domhnall Buidhe á 
phósadh, W. Muns. Ni he gach uile am a mhar- 
bhuigheas Páidín fiadh, Galway. Ni gach aon 
la mharbhas bú gearrfhiadh, and Chan é gach 
aon la a mharbhas Maghnus bológ, Ulster. The 
meaning of all these is : 'It is rarely we have 
an occasion like the present.' 


153. Fearr an mhaith ata ná au da 
mhaith do bhi. 

' Better one good thing that is than two good 
things that were.' A versified form of this pro- 
verb will be found in Dánfhocail, no. 4U. 

154. Ft^arr anihail ná d(')ith. 

' Better " it is so " than " it may be so " ' 

155. Cuir luath is bnin liiath. 
"' Early sow, early mow." 

cJ.f/^?^V 156. Millie do niheath dóith is tháiing 

' Often has the likely failed and the unlikely 
prospered.' Cf. no. 114, and 7s minic deára- 
thach cailleamhnach, 'What appears full of 
promise often turns out a failure.' 

157. Bi'onn an rath i mbun na ronna. 

'There is luck in sharing a thing.' Var. 

Bio nil an ratli i inbwii an chaitte, ' There is 

luck in spending'; cf. Dánfhocail, 5; Stair 

^ T:. UÍ Chléire, 1. 748. Bidh sonns 'an lorg nn 

cuithimh, So. 

^j/^^/í'l 158. Baadhann an fhoighde ar an 
I gcinneamhain. 

' Patience conquers destiny.' Var. an t-im- 
shniomh, ' anxious foresight ' (for an fhoighde). 


SáriiigheoTin an fhoighdr an chinneamhaint, 
Galway. Compare nos. 169, 219, 228. 

159. Is ceirin do gach uile chreacht an 

" Patience is a plaster for all sores." 

160. CÍOS do tbighearna no biadh do 

' Rent to a lord is like food to a child.' 

161. An rud do thógfadli duine, 'sé e/ f^^f^k- 
mharódh duine eile. 

"One man's meat is another man's poison." 
^'ar. An rud a mharjdh didne, isc bheathódh 
duine. eile. 


162. An luibh ná fachtar fii(Sireann, 
adeir siad. 

'The herb that is not got is the one that 
cures, they say.' Var. An luibh ná fachtar is! 

163. Túis na hcagna iiamban Dé. 

' Tlie foar of God is the beginning of wisdom ' 
(cf. Ps. ex. 10, etc.). This is the first line of a 
poem by Aonghus Ó Dálaigh Fionn (ed. 
McKennn, p. .50). Cf. in a poem by Tadhgmao 
Dáire : Tns rjarh fhir-eagnn is é sin. slr-eaqla, 
T)é ar na da.oinihh (cf. Trans. Gaelic Soc, 1808, 
pt. .3, p. 22). 

164. Do inholadh Dá iiá bí iuirscach, 
bid a ghrása triall go mall. 

' Weary uot of praising God ; His grace comes 
[■surely, if] slowly.' For the full quatrain see 
Dánfhocail, 133. 

r^l l'iH 165. NÍ sáruighthear na seanfhocail. 

*^ ' Proverbs cannot be contradicted.' Var. A"i 

féidir an seanfhocal do shárú. Compare Tadhg 
Dall quoted under no. 200 infra. 

166. Geal leis an bhfiach ndubh a 
gheárrcach féin. 

' The raven thinks its own chick white (or 
dear).' Cf. Sileann an préachán gur deise a 
éan féin ná aon éan eile so. gcoill, " The crow 
thinks its own bird the fairest in the wood," 
-fr Conn. " Suum cuique pulclirum." Ge dvhh 
am fitheach, is geal leis 'isenn. 'Black as is the 
raven, he thinks his chick fair,' So. 

167. NÍ bhfachtar inailh le miigha agus 
fachtar clú le déirc. 

' No good is got by wasting, but a good name 
is got by alms-giving,' i.e. One ought not to 
waste, but give whatever can be spared as alms 


168. NÍ tlhiolann deafinhad fiacha. 

' Forgetting a debt does not pay it.' Cf 
Sorrow will pay no debt." 


169. Dearbhráthair don bhás an cod- 

' Sleep is brother to Death.' Cf. Shelley's 
" Death and his brother Sleep." Hardiman 
has lomháiiih an hháis codhla, ' Sleep is the 
image of Death.' 

170. Caithtear gach maith le mionchai- 

' Goods are consumed by being used in small 
quantities.' Var. imigheann (for caithtear). 
TRirigidh gach ni ri 'chaithcamh, So. Téid 
caitheamh i ngach ni, ' Everything is (sooner 
or later) consumed.' Tor. Dhiarmuda agus 
Ghráinne (cf. Oss. Soc. iii. 46). Cf. no. 104, 
and Ddnfhocail 255. 

171. jNIairg bhionn go hole is bheadh go 
bocht 'na dhiaig. 

' Pity the man who does evil and who is poor 
notwithstanding.' Var. hheadh omitted. Cf. 
Ddnfhocail, 203: 

7s duine dona atá mar táim, 
gan an saoghal im láimh ná Dial 

172. Is uiris dearga ar aithinne fhór- 

' Burning embers ar© easily kindled,' i.e. Old 
feuds are easily revived. Cf. Is furus aibhleóg 
a fhadú, Uls. 


173. Nil cogadh is géire ná cogadb na 
gcarad, ach ni bhionn sé biian. 

' No war is more bitter than the war of 
friends, but it does not last long.' Cf . " Aman- 
tium irae amoris integratio," Terence. Var. 
7s neambuan é cogadh na gcarad; ma bhwnn sé 
cruaidh, ni bhionn sr fadn. Often shortly: Ni 
hiian cogadh na, gcarad. 

174. Is caora an t-uan i bhfad. 

' A lamb when carried far becomes as burden- 
some as a sheep.' Varr. 7s caora mhór an t-iinn 
i bhfad. Is tram cearc i bhfad. 'A hen carried 
^ far is heavy.' 7s tram an cat ri 'shtor-ghivlan, 
' A cat is heavy if carried constantly,' Sc. 
" Light burden far heavy." 

175. Ni abair galar fada breag. 

' A lingering illness does not belie itself,' i.e. 
it ends in death. " Long threatening comes at 
last." Var. Galar fada ni ahrann siorruidhe 
brcag. Cf. Tinncas fada is éag 'na bhun, ' A 
long sickness with death at its close/ Uls. 
^ Galar fada 's éug 'n a bhnn, vSc. There is a 
very similar Welsh proverb : Bod ynhir yn gldf a 
m,arn- ííí.si/s, ' To be long sick and to die never- 

176. Pa fbaid bhionn an crúisgín a' dnl 
go nuig an nisge, ise chnVh a bbrise. 

' However long a pitcher goes to the water, 
it is broken at last.' Cf. 7sé crich an phoifin 

a fhnin a Ihvitun as. Var. Dd mJiince théidh- 
canns an crúisgín go dti an f.obar, brixtear é 
ar deireadh, Conn. Also in Eng. in various 
fnrras, e.rj. " Often goes the pitcher (or pot) to 
the well (or water), but at last it comeB broken 

177. lomad don aithne 
meaduigheann se an tarcuisne. 

" Too much familiarity breeds contempt." 
An anonymous love-sick poet thus applies the 
proverb to himself (23 D 4, p. 383) : 
lomarcuigh an aitheantais 
tarcuisne orm do vihcaduig. 

178. Dana gach niadra i ndoras a thighe 

' Every dog is valiant at his own door.' 
" Every cock is proud on his own dunghill." 
Var. Is teann gach madra ar úrlár a thighe 
jfin. Is dana cu air a dhunan (dunghill) fhéin 
or aig a dhorvs fhéin, Sc. Cf. gal con for otrach 
sin, ' that is the valour of a dog on a dunghill. 
Cath Muigi Rath (Ériu v. 238). 

179. Uaislc éisteas le hcaladhaiii. 

'It is a sign of nobility to patronise (lit. 
listen to) art' (?). 

180. Ciall chun tighe agus fial chun 

49 s 

' Sparing at home, yet lavish in hospi 
tality' (?). 

181. Fuiris fuine i ii-aice mh 


' It is easy to knead when meal is at hand,' 
i.e. Work is easily done when one has all the 
appliances for doing it. Var. na mine (for 
inhinp). Is fhurasda fuine dheanamh lamh ri 
min, Sc. T'e aashagh fuinney road ta palchey 
meinn, Manx. 

182. Deacair taobh thabhairt leis na 
mná. '% 

' It is difficult to trust women.' Cf . 7s 
deacair taohh do fhahhairt Ic mnaoi far fh 'éis 
[10 bráth, said by Ciichulainn to Niamh, Bris- 
leach Mhór M.M. p. 30. Na tahhair taohh leis 
na mná, Dánfhocail 257. As mairg dohheir 
taohh re mnaoi tar cis no. mhriathar sin, Buile 
Shuibhne p. 110. Mairg Icigeas a run le 
mnaoi, ' Woe to him who gives his confidence 
(i.e. love) to a woman,' Dánta Grádha p. 36; 
Dánfhocail 257. 

183. Tástáil do dhiiine muintoartha sii! 
a dteastóidh sé uait. 

" Prove your friend ere you have need of 
him." From Eccli. vi. 7: " Si possides amicnm, 
in tontatione posside cum, et ne facile credas 
ei " 


184. Mairg 'na mbíonn buarach iasachta 

' Woe to him who has a stranger's spancel on 
him,' i.e. whose liberty is dependent on a 

185. Dcincaiin seilbh sásamh. 

' Possession satisfies,' i.e. There is satisfac- 
tion in possessing a thing even though one does 
not consume it. Varr. Deineann seilbh gnó 
Tú sásamh i seilbh, Clare. 

186. An sguab iiua is fcarr sguabann an 


' The new broom sweeps the house best.' "A 
new broom sweeps clean." 

187. Koiinieann Dia na snbbáilcí. 

' God shares out good things,' e.g. He gives 
wealth or intellect to one, happiness to another. 

188. Cuimlinig sul a labharfair, agus 
féach rot sul a leimir. 

' Think before you speak, and look before you 
leap.' See no. 150. 

189. Deineann leanbh ciallmhar gasta 
athair subhach sólásach. Gidh eadh, dein- 
eann leanbh baoth beigchiallmhar máthair 
dhnbhach dhólásach. 


A translation of Prov. s. 1 : "A wise son 
maketh the father glad; but a foolish son is 
the sorrow of his mother." 

190. An tú ná múmeann Dia ní mhúi- 
ncann daoine. 

' He who is not tauyht by God, is not taught 
by man,' i.e. He who has not the grace to learn 
cannot be taught by anyone. 

191. Mairg do-ni deimhin da bhara- 

' Woe to him who deems his opinion a cer- 
tainty.' Var. Mairg do-ni deiinhin da dhoigh, 
which is the first line of a poem by Fearghal 
Mac Eochadha, and also occurs in an anony- 
mous 16th or 17th cent, poem (23 F 16, p. 184). 
In popular language this now becomes (7s) 
mairg a dhineann deimhin da dJióchas. 

192. Ná faic a bhfeicir, is ná clois a 

' See not what you see, and hear not what you 

193. Gheibheanii an cafiall bás faid do 
bhionn an fear ag fas. 

" AMiile the grass grows, the steed starves." 
Var. Matr, a chnpaill, is gheribhair fear, 'Live, 
horse, and you will get grass.' 


194. Xí tdig laas is U'ircacbt le chéile. 

' Speed and precision do not agree.' " Good 
and quickly seldom meet." Var. Ni théidheann 
luas agus léireas le chéile, Clare. Cha bhi 
luathas agus grinneas, Sc. Begly (297a) trans- 
lates " To make more hast[e] than good speed " 
by Deifir le droichghnlomh and ^'t thig luas le 

195. NÍ fiiéadía rith is amhastrach dhéa- 

' One cannot bark and run at the same time.' 
" You can't whistle and drink at the same time." 
Var. Xi thagann rith is amhastrach le chéile. 
Cf. Ni féidir bheith ug ithe mine is ag fead- 
aoil, ' One cannot eat meal and whistle.' Xi 
tlnujavn an gobaddn an da thrdig lets, ' The 
sand-piper can't attend to two strands at the 
same time.' Cha'n urrainn domh a' mhin ithe 
\s an teine shéideadh, ' 1 can't eat meal and 
blow the fire,' Sc. ; with this the N.E. and 
Welsh versions agree closely. 

196. Tuigeann fear léighinn leath- 

' A man of learning understands half a word.' 
" Verbum sapienti satis." Cf. Ni beag nod don 
eolachj ' A contraction (in writing) is suflBcient 
for a scholar.' Botli tliese proverbs are found 
in one quatrain in Dánfhocail, 65. 


197. Dealg láibe no focal amadáin. 

' A fool's remark is like a thorn concealed in 
mud,' i.e. it stings one unexpectedly. Other- 
wise in triad form; see no. 245 infra. 

198. NÍ hinniúchtar íiacla an eich d(; 

" Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," lit. 
' The teeth of a horse given as a present are not 
scrutinised.' Begly (256b) has Ni féachtar 
fiadadit un eich do bronntar. 

199. NÍ giorraide an iall bheith sau 

' A thong is no shorter for having been in 

200. D'fhear cogaidh comhalltar sioch- 

' To a man equipped for war peace is assured.' 
"Si vis pacem, para bellum." This is the first 
line of a poem by Tadhg Dall Huiginn, who, 
however, disclaims originality by calling it (1. 2) 
seanfhocal nach sáruighthear, ' a proverb that 
cannot be gainsaid.' 

201. Trom an rud an leisge. 

' Laziness is a load.' Var. 7s tram an t-ualach 
'K an fliallsaclit, Uls. 7s trom an t-eallach an 
leisg, Sc. 


202. Minic chaith duine sprot amach 
chun breith ar cholamóir. 

' Often has a man cast a sprat to catch a 
hake.' Var. Ag caitheamh brie atnach chun 
hradáin a ghabháil, Kilkenny. " A hook well 
lost to catch a salmon." 

203. Mairg fhaiiann leis an la déadh- 

' Woe to him who waits until the last day.' 
" Delays are dangerous." 

204. Ná cuir an mhaith ar cáirde. 
' Postpone not a good action.' 

205. Bionn an aithrighe mhall contabh- 

' To defer repentance is dangerous.' Compare 
the two last proverbs. 

206. Fearr suidhe in' aice ná suidhe in' 

' Better sit beside it than in its place,' i.e. 
Better save it than spend it. Var. Is fearr 
suidhe 'na bhun ná suidhe 'na ait, Clare and 

207. Ar eagla na heasba is maith bheith 


acht ní abraim leat bbeith leamh ná 

' It is a good thing to be economical in order 
to guard against want; but I do not recomiueud 
you to be mean or niggardly.' 

208. Gan easba, gan iomarca, cuinnibh 
an iall ad ghlaic, 

is gur mealladh an duine ná buinfeadb an 
t-iasacht as. 

' Without pressing him either too little or too 
much, keep a sure grip on the reins, for he is a 
fool who would not get value out of the horse 
he has on loan.' The meaning is : 'It is foolish 
not to enjoy, with due moderation, the good 
things you have.' 

209. Fearr súil le glas ná súil le huaigh. 

' Better expectation of release from imprison- 
ment than of release from the grave.' An 
encouragement to one who has a relative or 
friend imprisoned. Variants substitute the perils 
of the sea for the uncertainties of imprison- 
ment. Thus : Is jearr súil le heal an chuain 
ná súil le heal na huaiyhe. Bionn dúil le heal 
jairrge, ach cha hhionn le heal uaighe, Uls. 
•if Scottish has several versions, amongst them : 
Hidh dial ri fear fairge, ach cha hhi ri fear 
T'dge^ ' The man at sea may return but not the 
man in the churchyard.' Welsh has Mae go- 
haith guT o ryfcl ; nid oes gohaith neh oW hedd. 

t ÍÚaU duji '^ ^^ «A*^ cuL cU ^ r^^ tí^ 

' Tliore is hope of a man from war ; there is no 
hope of anyone from the grave.' 

210. NÍ bbioiin an nihaith déadhnach 
aon Liair. 

' Good is never late." " It is never too late to 
mend." Varr. Ni dtadhnnch i an mhuith aon 
uair. Xi mall an nihailli uun uuir^ Galway, 

211. Déin connradh do reir sparáiu. 

' Let youi' bargain suit your purse.' Compare 
the next proverb. 

212. Ná leath do i)lirat ar-ht mar fhéad- 
fair a tharrang. 

' Spread your mantle only as you can draw 
it,' i.e. Do not attempt more than you are able 
for. Var. (in Comhairle na Barrsgolóige) ; Ná 
leath do bhrat ach mar fhcadfair a chumhdach. 
" C\it your coat according to your cloth." 

213. Stiúir gach maitheasa grádh Dé. 

' The love of God directs everything good.' 
This is the first line of a poem attributed to 
Dálaigh Fionn. 

214. An té ghrádhas an dainseur, ^ r / ' -^ // 
cailltear ann é. 

"He that loveth danger shall perish in it" 
(Eccli. iii. 27). 


215. B'fhearra dhiiine an madra féin a' 
lúthgháir roimhe ná ag amhastraigh air. 

' Better for a man to have even a dog welcome 
him than bark at him,' " Better to have a dog 
fawn on you than bark at you." Varr. Is fearr 
an madra ag lúthgháir rómhat ná id choin^ie. 
B'fhearr do dhuine an madadh leis ná ina 
arjhaidh, Galway. 

216. Mairg dhóigheas an athbhuaile. 

' Woe to him who burns his old hnaile (cattle- 
fold),' and has thus no reserve to fall back on 
if the new huaile should fail him, i.e. One 
should not burn one's boats. Cf. in ' Comh- 
airle na Barrsgolóige' : Ná dúig an athbhuaile 
ar eagla go madh chruaidh dhuit casadh uirthi. 

217. Biodh h'eagla roimh Dhia, agus 
coimeád a aithearita. 

' Fear God and keep His commandments.' 
Cf. Eccli. ii. 21. 

218. Biodh eagla ort is ni baoghal duit. 
' Be afraid, and you'll be safe.' Very similar 

is the Mid. Ir. 7s cian ó ghiiasacht cech jaitech, 
' A timid man is far from danger,' PH. 4862, 
where it is spoken of as a proverb {isin probeirb 

219. Ar an rud nach féadfar do leigheas 
isi an fhoighde is fearr. 


' For what cannot be cured patience is the 
best remedy.' '' What cannot be cured must be 
endured." More concisely, Beart gan leigheas 
foidhne is fearr air. Cf IS^'tl leigheas ar an 
gcathú ach é mharú le foidhne, ' The only cure 
for sorrow is to kill it with patience.' Nil 
maitheas bheith ag seanchus nuair tá an 
anochain déanta, ' There is no use in talking 
when the harm is done,' " No use crying over 
spilt milk." 

•2'20. Druid le fear na brnide agus gheó- 
bhair connradh. 

' Go to a man who is in a diflBculty and you'll 
get a bargain.' 

221. Sgoilteann an bhreab an chloch. 

' Bribery can split a stone.' Var. Breabtar an 
chloch, ' Even a stone may be bribed,' Clare. 
In Scottish envy takes the place of bribery 
here : Sgoiltidh farmad a' chlach. 

222. NÍ hail liom fear breibe. 
' I like not a man who is bribed.' 

223. Cnuasiiigiieann truipeall beart. 

' Handfuls (of rushes) make up a load,' i.e. 
" Many a little makes a mickle." Varr. Triopall 
do chnuasuigheann heart. Bailigheann hrohh 
beart. Begly (p. 418a) has Cnuasuighid bruibh 
beart, and also (pp. 418a, 460a) another Irish 


equivalent: 7,s múr na hiy a gceann a chtile, 
wliich resembles the English " Many small 
make a great" (Camden). The same two pro- 
verbs are coupled by Dáibhí do Barra in his 
' Párliment na bhFigheadóirí' : Is ciallmhar an 
ni an seanfhocal ade'ir ' Cruinnionn tripioll 
heart,' nú 'Is mar na hig i dtennnta a chtile.' 

224. NÍ théid dlighe ar an riachtanas. 

" Necessitj' knows no law." Var. iVíí dlighe 
ag riachtanas. Cf. the following lines in Seamus 
na Srón's Faoisidin (23 B 36, p. 183) : 

Na hionn seasnmh le heasha na éigean, 

Do réir mar chanaid an Eaglais naomhtha: 

' Necessitas non hahet legem.' 

The Latin maxim (" Legem non habet necessi- 
tas ") goes back to St. Augustine. Cf. also 
mar na tagann dlighe ar riachtanas, in a 
hharántas by Sean Ó Tuama, Fil. na Máighe 
p. 106y. 

225. Riachtanas niátliair na géir-intle- 

"Necessity is the mother of invention.'' 
iCfeil"!'! V^^^- Múineann gádh seift. Brosnuigheann 
'0?>- "^ ""'^ inntleacht, Uls. Ni aire innleachd, and 
•)^ Thig innleachd ri aimheart, So. 

226. Na bris do gheasa. 

' Break not your vows.' ' Fail not in your 


227. Mairg chaillcas a gheasa. 

' Woe to him who fails in his obligations.' 
So in Tor. Dhiarmuda agus Ghráinne (Oss. Soc. 
iii. .58) Osgar says: Is fear truagh do chailleas 
a gheasa, ' He is a sorry wretch who fails to 
keep his bonds.' 

228. Is ceirin do p,ach lot an fhoighde. 
' Patience is a plaster for every wound.' A 

variant of no. 159 above. 

229. Deineann breacloirgneach earraig 
formadach foghmhair. 

' The speckled-shins of spring is the envious 
one of autumn,' i.e. The farmer who is laggard 
in spring will envy his neighbours their better 
harvest. Of. the Manx Eshyn to, litcheragh 
aijv.'i yn nrragh, V eh wooarogh ayns yn ovyr 
iCashen), ' He who is lazy in spring is envious 
at harvest-time.' 

230. Miann óige imrighe. 
' Youth likes to flit away.' Cf. Is mian le 

hainaddn imirce, ' A fool is fond of removing,' 
^^r Uls. 7s miann (or hu idhe ) le amadan imrich, -^ 

l^l. Sc>. " Fules are aye fond o' ílittin'," N.E. 

231. Minic do cailleadh long lámh le 
cuan (no i ngar don chuan). 

' Often has a ship been lost close to the 
harbour.' " There's many a slip 'twixt the 
cup and the lip." 



Mícheál Og Ó Longáin, the compiler of the 
above collection of proverbs, was born at Glena- 
gragara, near Glin, in the western part of Co. 
Limerick, about 1765. While he was still very 
young, he migrated with his father to Co. Cork; 
and much the greater portion of his long life 
he spent in the vicinity of Cork city. He died 
in 1837. All through life he was an indefati- 
gable transcriber of Irish MSS., and his industry 
has preserved for us many things which would 
otherwise have been lost. He was also a com- 
petent poet, but most of his compositions are 
still inedited. 

The collection lias been taken from the R.I. A. 
MS. 23 G20, pp. 85-89, which is in the hand- 
writing of Mícheál Óg himself. It is headed 
Seanfhocail mhatha a hprós soni), as an leahhur 
dárab ainm an Seanduine. That is to say, 
O'Longan copied them from a book {i.e. MS.) 
which was entitled An Seanduine. That this 
latter MS. was also written by O'Longan hardly 
admits of doubt. O'Longan was fond of giving 
names to his MSS. ; and as a matter of fact 
portion of this MS. of his which he entitled .1-?) 
Seanduine now forms pages 1-44 of 23 G 25. A 
note, dated 1808, in 23 G 20, p. 221, refers to 
religious poems as being in An Seandvine, so 
that we may infer that the latter MS. was 
written before that date. 

With the doubtful exception of the proverbs 
printed by Hardiman in his ' Irish Minstrelsy,* 
O'Longan's collection may claim the distinction 

* See Bibliography, infra. 

of being the earliest collection ot modern Irish 
proverbs. O'Longan's proverbs are representa- 
tive of the proverbs which were current in 
Munster about the year 1800. The great majority 
of them are still in use, though not always, of 
course, in the exact words in which O'Longan 
gives them.* A few of them I have never met 
elsewhere, either in speech or in the printed 
collections, notably nos. 10, 20, 70, 72, 91, 98, 
131. 179. 180, 199. O'Longan appears to have 
jotted down the proverbs in the first instance 
according as they occurred to him ; and they 
are given here in the order in which he gives 
them. In the MS. there are occasional dupli- 
cations (not reproduced here), thus no. 21 
appears again between 117 and 118, no. 57 
between 193 and 194. no. 204 between 210 and 
211, nos. 163 and 185 between 213 and 214, and 
no. 56 between 219 and 220. A number of 
triads are intercalated in the MS. between 205 
and 206, as explained in the introductory note 
to the next section. 

In printing the text I have normalised here 
and there the spelling of the MS. I have in 
general retained such modern spellings as -ig 
Cfor -icjh or -idh) and -a (for -adh). with- 
out, however, trying to be more consistent on 
these points than O'Longan himself. The fol- 
lowing departures from the MS. spelling may 

' For one thing certain forms employed by O'Longan 
have now grown obsolete, such as ni abair { ^ ni abrann), 
iéid ( — téidheann) . jaiceann (-=ficeann), sul a (' = sara). 
joighde ( - foighnne) . So he occasionally uses -as as the 
ending of the relative form of the present tense, as well 
as the current -ann. He often omits is (Fearr . . . for Is 
jean . . . ) ; it is now more usual to insert it when an 
adjective follows. 


be worth noting: no. 1 gd air MS. (for 'gar); 
2 dhia; 5 san omitted; .'33 much; 34 casgadh ; 
36 suabhdilceadh; 41 ndéan; 77 cíad/iacha; 86 
dhuine; 87 bhféadfar and bheirith (this spelling 
of bhreith also occurs in no. 202); 88 mbmidh ; 
106 sheasmhann (so in 152 ?)ia rf)A an n = mar- 
uigheann);117 mor taidhbhspach; 129 íorbhíonn 
the MS. has 6/ieadh, probably for h/j^í^ hereas in 
144 and 148;161 m/i/)/)&/iO{//iadh ;163 uamhijin;l66 
nduibh ; 171 for bheadh MS. has b/ieadh, which 
may well stand for bheifli here; 180 for tighe 
MS. has .t.; 212 fhiadfar; 230 imhrighe, with 
the gloss .i. aistrivghadh. For the second feean 
in 68 the MS. reads p — . 

This collection of O'Longan's appears to have 
been utilised by Tadhg Donnchadha in com- 
piling his ' Seanfhocail na Mumhan ' (1902). In 
the preface to this booklet it is stated that one 
of its sources was a collection of proverbs 
written by Mícheál Óg Ó Longáin in a R.I. A. 
MS. entitled " An Seanduine." By this is pro- 
bably meant 23 G 20, which, as we have seen, 
professes to have taken the collection from 
another MS. with that title, but is not so 
entitled itself. But, apart from innumerable 
deviations from O'Longan's text, the proverbs 
in ' Seanfhocail na Mnmhan ' are sometimes 
given incorrectly,* and I have noted 21 of 
O'Longan's proverbs that do not appear in it 
at all. 

* Compare, for instance, its versions of 
91. m, 118. 133. 154. 137. 167, and 184. 




Towards the end of his collection of proverbs 
in 23 G 20 O'Longan has inserted (immediately 
after no. 205 supra) 38 triads and a couple of 
tetrads. The first six of these, and also the 
twelfth, are popular in character, and are 
given infra as nos. 232-238. The remaining 
33 consist of more or less corrupt and modern- 
ised versions of some of the 'Triads of Ireland' 
edited by Kuno Meyer,* and ascribed by him 
on linguistic grounds to the ninth century. 
O'Longan's versions of these older triads were 
evidently taken from MS., and not handed 
down by oral tradition. As compared with the 
earlier text they show many corruptions, as 
well as occasional divergence of meaning due 
mainly to scribal endeavours to extract sense 
from obsolete words. Thus no. 87 of Meyer's 
text occurs as Tri nidhthe núch hatliantur go 
7n{»eadh géarchoidreamh no tásdáil ar/at orra, 
.i. hean, each 7 salami, while no. 88 substi- 
tutes íígf/ie for the obsolete téiti and 
reads Tri huadha tighe, .i. each maith, 
hean chaomh 7 en luath. These instances 

* Viz.. of the triads numbered by Meyer 68, 72. 73, 75, 7fi, 
77. 78, 80, 87, 88, 91-96, 100. 103, 114, 122, OS, 126, 146, 148, 
154. 160, 166, 167, 203, 204, 226, 233, and 2M. The ord[er In 
wliich lU"v fo'Iow one another, it will be observed, is nearly 
the same as in Meyer's text. 

exemplify the most successful modernisations; 
others of the triads would be quite unintelli 
gible nowadays in the form in which O'Longan 
gives them. 

A very similar collection of triads occurs by 
itself (without title) in O'Longan's hand in 
23 G 25, p. 37, (the An Seandume portion of the 
MS.). They number 51, viz., the 40 of 23 G 20* 
followed by versions of eight others of the 
' Triads of Ireland 't and by three modern triads 
(printed as nos. 239-241 infra). The version in 
this MS. of no. 87 of Meyer's edition is: Tri 
nidhthe nách hathantur go mhi cimilt ag duine 
lea .». bean, each 7 salann. 

In the collection below I have, in addition to 
the nine triads printed from 23 G 20 and 23 G 25 
(viz. nos. 232-241), brought together from vari- 
ous sources a number of triads current in the 
Irish of to-day. I have confined myself to those 
triads which are known in the Southern Half 
of Ireland ;+ but even within these limits the 
collection is, of course, far from being ex- 
haustive. § 

•232. Cheithre nithe nách tugtha d'Eire- 

* The order in which they occur is somewhat different. 
If we number the 23 G 20 triads consecutively, the following 
is the order in 23 G 25 : 6, 16, 4, 5, 7-11, 13-15, 17-35, 37, 36. 
38-40, 3, 2, 12, 1. 

tViz., nos. 84, 85, 97, 109, 110, 115, 111, and 83, of Meyer's 

t Ulster triads will be found in Morris, nos. 1-30. Nicholson 
includes about 20 Scottish triads among his proverbs. 

§ References to " D. O. M." are to an article by Domhnall 
Ó Murchadha in ' Misneach" of 9 July, 1921, in which 20 
tri.-ids from S.W. Kerry are given. Nine of these are vari- 
ants oF those given below; the eleven others are not re- 
produced her» 


ajiiiach ionntaoibh leó, .i. adharc bhó, crúb 
chapaill, draiina madra, agiis gáire 

' Four things whicli aii liisliiuaii ought not 
to trust, — a cow's horn, a horse's hoof, a dog's 
snarl, and an Englishman's laugh.' Compare 
Ó Dubhghaill's Leabhar Cainte, p. 117. 

233. Tri nithe is giorra 'na blifanann 
a rian, .i. rian éiii ar chraoibh, rian luinge 
ar liuii, agus rian fir ar mhnaoi. 

'Three things which leave the shortest traces, 
bird on the tree, ship on the sea, man's com- 
pany on woman.' Cf. Cia hiad na tri luirg 
nach hlifaghtar? Lorg luinge ar uisge, lorg 
tin air eiíeáig, 7 lorg mná etc., H.5.9, p. 183. 
This triad was apparently suggested by Prov. 
sxx. 18-19. 

234. Tri nithe is sia 'na bhianann a 
rian, .1. rian guail i gcoill, rian siséil i lig, 
agus rian suic i gcrich. 

' Three things which leave the longest traces, 
—charcoal on wood, a chisel on a block of stone, 
a ploughshare on a furrow.' 

235. Tri chomhartha an diiine shona, 
.i. fál, faire, agus moicheirghe. 

' The three signs of a fortunate man, — having 
a fence, keeping watch, and early rising.' A 
version in An Lóchrann, Dec. 1909, has fál 

críoch, mochóirghe ; another version, ibid. June 
191G (also D. Ó M.), has Jul, fasgadh, agus 
mochó'nighe. For E. Ulster Morris (30) has 

foirseudh futadli, 7 iiwchcirighc. 

230. Tri ciiomhartlia an duiuc dhuna, 
.i. urradhas, eadaragáil, agus fínné. 

' The three signs of an unfortunate man, — 
going bail, intervening in disputes, bearing 
testimony.' Compare Meyer's Triads, 135. A 
version in An Lóchrann, Dec. 1909, substitutes 
codladh fada, tig gan ceangal, stáca gan dionú; 
a Kilkenny version has imirt chárdaí, ól, agus 
sfríopachas (Fáinne an Lae, 1 July, 1899). Cf. 
61, tad, agus iomardas in Morris, 30. 

237. Tri nithe bhios goal 'na dtosach, 
breac na, lár, agus dubh 'na ndeii-eadh, .i. 
comhar, cleamhnas, agus éintigheas. 

' Three things that are fair at first, then dull, 
and finally black, — co-operation (in agricul- 
ture), a marriage alliance, and living in the 
same house.' Also in 23 017, p. 13. 

238. Tri beaga is fearr, .i. beag na 
curcóige, beag na caereach, agus beag na 

' The three things that are best if small, — a 
beehive, a sheep, a woman.' 

239. Tri éirghe is measa do-ni duine, 
.i. éirghe ó aifreann gan críochnú, éirgbe ó 


bhia gan altú, agus cirghe o n-a mhnaoi 
féin go nuig á hatharú. 

' The three worst flittings, — leaving Mass be- 
fore it is finished, leaving table without saying 
grace, and leaving one's own wife to go to 
another woman.' The same triad is found in 
Scottish : Tri rudan a's mios' a rinn duine 
riabh — éirigh bho 'hhiadh gun altachadh, éirigh 
bho ^mhnaoi fhcin gu mnaoi fir eile, 's éirigh 
hho aifrinn gun a h-éisdeachd, Nicolson, 372. 

240. Tri téanam is fearr adeir duine, 
.i. téanam gus an aifreann, téanam a' dain- 
gniú, agus téanam go nuig an muileann. 

The three best invitations, — ' Come to Mass,' 
' Come and make secure,' ' Come to the mill ' 

241. Tri fuama is fearr, — fuaim an 
tsi'iiste, fuaim na brón, agus fuaim an 

' The three best sounds — the sound of the 
flail, the sound of the quern, the sound of the 

242. Tri nithe do bhaineas le hól, — é 
ól, é iomchar, agus díol as. 

' Three things in connection with drink, — to 
consume it, to carry it, and to pay for it ' (GJ. 
195, p. 242). 

243. Seanduine, anduine, no leanbh, 


— triúr ^iir beag an nihaith comaom du 
char ortha. 

' Three on whom it is useless to confer a com-- 
pliment,^ — an old man, a bad man, a child.' 
(GJ. 191, p. 188). An Ulster version is Maith 
ar sheanduine^ maith or anduine, agus maith 
ar leanhh, tri maithe a thcid a mvdha (cf. 
AL. Morris 8). The So. version is very similar 
(Nicolson 313). 

244. Tri nithe nách ioiitaoibh, — la 
breágh insa gheimhre, saoghal duine 
chrionna, no focal duine mhóir gaii 

' Three things that are not to be trusted,— a 
fine day in winter, the life of an aged person, 
and the word of a man of importance unless it 
is in writing ' (An CI. Soluis, 29 April, 1899). 
Another Cork version reads sldinte for saoghal, 
and duine uasnil for duine mhóir (GJ. 191, p. 
188). A S. Galway version makes the three 
things not to be trusted ' a hound's tooth, a 
horse's hoof, and a gentleman's word' {fiacail 
con, crúh capaUl, no focal duine uasail, GJ. 
184, p. 69). Compare no. 232 above. 

245, Fiacail chon, dealg dóibe, agns 
focal amadáin, na tri nithe is géire le 

'The three sharpest things are: a hound's 
tooth, a thorn in mud, and a fool's remark ' 
(GJ. 191, p. 189, which, however, reads less 


correctly sor con). Canon Bourke's version ia 
similar, with múnlaigh for dóihc. An Ulster 
version (MacAdam 556) substitutes ' a soft 
woollen thread that cuts to the bone ' for the 
' hound's tooth ' : Focal amláin, agus dealg 
lúbáin^ agus snáithe bog ol(n)a a ghearras go 
rnámh. Sometimes only two sharp things are 
mentioned; see no. 197. 

246. Srón con, glúii fir, agus cioch /" 
mná. na tri nithe is fuaire le faghail. ^^ 

'The three coldest things are: a hound's 
snout, a man's knee, a woman's breast ' (GJ. 
191, p. 189, which has soc for srón ; Beirt Ghae- 
dhilgeóirí 46 = D. Ó M.). Scottish has Tri ^ 
rudan cho fuar 's a th'ann, ghin fir, adharc 
mairt, 'vs sron coin, and also Gaoth fo sheol i^ 
agus sron coin, da ntd cho fuar a's a th' ann. 

247. Na tri baill de dhuine is fusa do 
ghortú. — a ghlúin, a uillinn, agus a shuil. 

' The three parts of the body that are most 
easily hurt, — the knee, the elbow, and the eye ' 
(GJ.' 180, p. 8, for S. Galway). So for Kerry 
(D. M.) : Na tri nithe is nimhni, nú is 
gortvithi, — súil, glúin, agus uille. Ulster Irish 
(Morris 6) agrees closely. So in Scottish : *^ 
BuiUe san tsuil. huille sa ghlun, buille san 
uilinn, na. tri huillran as duilich ' fhulang 
(Nicolson 73 ; Meyer Misc. 41). 

248. Bean, muc, is múille, an triúr is 
deacra do mhúnadh. 


'The three most difficult to teach, — a woman, 
a pig, and a mule' (GJ. 178, p. 829, for S. 
Galway). In Donegal : Tri ni gan riaghail, — 
bean, mur, is mviUe (GJ. 73, p. 6. = Morris, 4). 

249. Tá tri saghas ban ann, — bean 
chomh mí-náireach leis an muic, bean 
chomh crostáltha leis an gcirc, agus bean 
chomh min leis an uan. 

' There are three kinds of women, — the 
woman as shameless as a pig, the woman as 
unruly as a hen, and the woman as gentle as a 
lamb' (GJ. 194, p. 232).) So D. Ó M. : Tri 

ahaghas ban, — hean mar chirc, bean mar mimic, 
agus bean mar chaoire. 

•250. Tá tri saghas fear ann, — fear 
graftha, fear fiadhaigh, agus fear gaoithe. 

' There are three kinds of men,— the worker, 
the pleasure-seeker, and the boaster' (GJ. 194, 
p. 232; similarly D. Ó M.). 

251. Na tri peatai is measa, — pcata 
sagairt, peata bacaigh, no peata muice. 

'The three worst pets,^ — a pet priest, a pet 
beggar, a pet pig' (GJ. 187, p. 121, for Clare). 

252. Na tri reatha is mo, — rith uisge, 
rith teine, no rith éithigh. 

' The three greatest rushes, — the rush of 
water, the rush of fire, the rush of falsehood ' 
(GJ. 187, p. 122, for Clare). 


•253. Lá ó sgoil, Donihnach ó aifreann, 
agus lá ó chéird, trí nithe nách féidir leó 
casadh go bráth. 

' Three things that can never return, a day 
away from school, a Sunday without Mass, and 
a day away from one's trade ' (GJ. 191, p. 189). 

254. Cúngrach tighe, ciingrach croidhe, 
cúngrach bídh, trí anacra mora. 

' Three great evils, — smallness of house, 
closeness of heart, scantiness of food ' (GJ. 51, 
p. 39: and cf. An Lcchrann, Dec. 1911). 

255. Tri ruda ná bíonn aon mhaitheas 
ionnta nuair bhionn siad crionna : sean- 
mháighistir sgoile, sean-chapall, sean- 

' Three things that ans useless when old, — an 
old schoolmaster, an old horse, an old soldier (?)' 
(GJ. 79, p. 105). 

256. Na tri ruda ia deacra do thuigsint 
sail domhan, — inntleacht na mban, obair 
na mbeach, teacht is imtheacht na taoide. 

' The three most incomprehensible things in 
the world, — the mind of woman, the labour of 
the bees, the ebb and flow of the tide ' (GJ. 
76, p. 57). In a Kerry version Aristotle himself 
is said to have failed to understand these three 
things (D. Ó M.). 


•257. Na trí nithe líonas iotlilainn, — 
tnúth, is soláthar, is síor-chaithis. 

' The three things that fill a haggard, — ambi- 
tion, industry, and constant vigilance ' (GJ. 55, 
p. 104). 

268. Faobhar, gaoth, agiis grádh, trí 
nithe ná feictear go bráth. 

' Three things that are never seen, — a blade's 
edge, wind, and love ' (Fáinne an Lae, 1 July 
1899, for Kilkenny). Cork versions, nearly 
identical, in GJ. ÍOl, p. 189, and Irisl. M. 
Nuadhad, 1914, p. 6. 

259. Tri nithe nách féidir fhoglilaim, 
— gnth, féile, agus íiHdheacht. 

'Three things that cannot be acquired, — a 
voice, generosity, poetry' (GJ. 191, p. 189; 
Irisl. M. Nuadhad, 1914," p. 6; D. Ó M.). 

260. Tri leabhair a thng an t-airgead, 
— gur chnma leis cé aige go mbeadh se, 
na fanfadh sé ag aoinne ach tamall, na 
fanfadh sé ag éinne ach an té go mbeadh 
cion aige air. 

' Three oaths that money swore, — that it did 
not care who might possess it, that it would 
never stay long with any man, thnt it would 
not stay with any man save tlie man who loved 
it' (Irisl. M. Nuadhad, 1914, p. 6). 


261. Trí shaghas daoine [bochta] atá 
ann, — duine bocht ar thoil Dé, duine 
bocht ar a thoil féin, duine bocht dá mba 
lcis an saoghal. 

' Three kinds of poor people, — the man who 
is poor by force of circnmstances, the man who 
is poor voluntarily, and the man who is poor 
even though he own the world (i.e. the miser) ' 

•2G-2. Tri shaghas fear go dteipeann 
ortha bean do thuisgint. — fir óga. fir aosda, 
agiis fir mheadhon-aosda. 

' Tliree kinds of men who fail to understand 
woman, — young men, old men, and middle-aged 
men ' {ibid.). 

263. Na tri nithe is measa i dtig, — 
báirseach mná, simné deataig, agus an 
dion a bheith ag leigean trid. 

' The three worst things in a house, — a scold- 
ing wife, a smoky chimney, and a leaky roof ' 
(ihkl., and An Lóchrann, Dec. 19lÍ). Cf. 
Morris 16. This is an Irish version of a triad 
(ultimately based on Prov. xxvii. 15 etc.) which 
was well known in medieval Latin and English; 
see Skeat, 249. 

264. Tri shaghas inchinne atá ann, — 
inchinn chloiche, inchinn cheurach, agus 
inchinn tsrotha. 


' Three kinds of brain, — a brain hard as 
stone, a brain receptive as wax, and a brain 
unstable as flowing water.' (cf. Irisl. M. 
Nuadhad, 1914, p. 7). 

iiGS. Trí nithe nách L.ian, — bó bháii, 
bean bhreágh, tigh ar árd. 

' Three things that are not lasting, — a white 
cow, a handsome woman, a house on a height ' 
(An Lóchrann, March, 1911). 

266. Tri nithe ná tagann meirg ortha, 
— teanga mná, cruite capaill búisteura, 
airgead lucht carthannachta. 

' Three things that never rust, — a woman's 
tongue, the shoes of a butcher's horse, chari- 
table folk's money ' (An Lóchrann, Dec. 1911). 

267. Tri nithe chomh maith le nithe 
nios feárr ná iad, — claidheamh adhmaid 
ag fear meathta, bean ghránna ag dall, 
droch-éadach ag fear ar meisge. 

* Three things that serve as well as things 
that are better, — a wooden sword in the hands 
of a coward, an ugly wife married to a blind 
man, and poor clothes on a drunken man ' 

268. Tri nithe chomh maith leis na 
nithe is fearr le fagháil, — uisge salach ag 


múchadh teine, casóg bhréide lá seaca, 
a lull dubh i n-am gortan. 

' 'J'hree things that are just as ^ood as the 
best, — dirty water when extinguishing a fire, 
a frieze coat on a frosty day, black bread in 
time of famine ' (ibid.). 

269. Tri nithe nách ceart do dhuine 
bheith 'na n-éamais, — an cat, an simné, 
is bean an tighe. 

' Three things which a man ought not to be 
without, — a cat, a fireplace {lit. chimney), and 
a housewife ' (ibid.). 

270. Tri nithe nách ceart d'fhear 
maoidheamh asta, — méid a sparáin, 
breághthacht a mhná, milscacht a chuid 

' Three things which a man ought not to boast 
of, — the size of his purse, the beauty of his 
wife, the sweetness of his beer' {ihid.). 

271. Na tri nithe is gránna 'na gcineál 
féin. — bean chaol ruadh, rapall caol 
buidhe, bo chaol bhán. 

' The three ugliest things of their own kind, 
— a thin red-haired woman, a thin yellow 
horse, a thin white cow' {ibid.). 

272. Tri nithe na reitigheann le chéile 


choidhcho, — boirt bhan phósta i n-aon 
tigh, dhá chat os cionn aon luiche, beirt 
bhaitsiléir i ndiaidh aon óigmhná, 

'Three pairs that never agree, — two married 
women in the same house, two cats with one 
mouse between them, two bachelors wooing the 
same young woman' (ihid.; also D Ó M.). 

273. Luimneach a bhi, Baile-átha- 
cliath atá, agus Corcaigh a bheidh. 

' Limerick was, Dublin is, and Cork will be 
(the most important city in Ireland)' (GJ. 191, 
p. 189). A Connacht version has Athenry, 
Dublin, and Arran : I mBaile Atha an Kiocpi a 
bhi, i mBaile Athn CVmfh afá, agiis i nArainn 
a bheas, — Post-sheanchas ii. 140. 



A number of the proverbs in Mícheál Og 
Ú Longáin's collection supra have been illus- 
trated by quotations of the same or similar 
proverbs from older texts; see especially nos. 3, 
4, 9, 13, 14, 30, 34, 36, 51, 52, 57, 61, 76, 78, 86, 
103, 104, 117, 119, 121, 132, 133, 134, 157, 163, 
177, 200, 213, 218, 224, and 227. In the follow- 
ing pages I have brought together a number of 
other proverbs which I find quoted or alluded 
to in our literature, from the earliest times 
down to about the end of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. Later writers such as Dáibhí do Barra 
and Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin often quote pro- 
verbs, but I have not drawn on these. It is 
hardly necessary to say that the present collec- 
tion makes no claim to be exhaustive.* 

It is often difiBcult to decide whether a par- 
ticular sententious saying is, or is not, to be 
classed as a proverb. AVith the older poets, 

* So far as I am aware no attempt has hitherto been 
made to collect the proverbs found in our literature, apart 
from a note of Meyer's in his edition of Cath Finntrá(»a 
('"■I'i), pp. 83-85, where some 9 proverbs and 20 proverbial 
ph ases are brou-^-ht together. 


for instance, it was a common practice to open 
a poem with a statement of some general truth 
(or what was meant as such), which may or may 
not be proverbial in character, e.g. Ni Icir 
d'aon a ainimh féin (for the sentiment cf. 
MacAdam 318), A teugli bheag tiaijhur i dteagh 
mór^ Mairg duine bhraitheas é féin, and so on 
(cf. also nos. 163, 191, 200, 213, suvra, and 275, 
313, 326, infra). In the following pages I have 
in general confined myself to those proverbs 
which are definitely known to be such, either 
by their repeated occurrence or by being ex- 
pressly referred to as a ' proverb ' (dearhhárusg. 
seinhJiriathar, or seanfhocal) in the context. 

f Í/3) 274. Aithnightear cara i gcruatan 

" A friend is never known till a man have 
need." " A friend in need is a friend indeed." 
Current to-day in this form. An E. Ulster 
variant is A n-avi na ciorra ( = ceachaire) aith- 
nighear an chara'id, MacAdam 324. 

None of our Irish proverbs can be traced fur- 
ther back in MS. than this, for it is found in 
the Milan glosses of the early ninth century : 
Is and nsgniintar in charait in tan mbither ' in 
perindis,' ' It is then that friends are known, 
when one is in danger,' Ml. 108b4. In the Irish 
Fierabras we have: 7.s nnn derhthar in cara in 
tan is inor in egen (RC. xix. 24), translating 
the Latin " In urgenti negotio fidelis amicus 
comprobatur." The same occurs in the native 
romance of Bruidhean Cheise Corann : 7s ann 
derbtar in cara in vair is mo in t-écen, 'The 


friend is proved when the need is greatest,' 
SG. i. 309. This form seems to be still known 
in Cork; cf. .In uair is mo an t-cigean 'seadh 
druihlithar an fior-chiira among proverbs 
sent by D. McCabe, GJ. 81. p. 140. Compare 
also no. 183. 

The literary parents of this proverb in Irish, 
as in other languages, are Eccli. xii. 8-9 (" in 
malitia illius amicus agnitus est," etc.), and 
the line of Ennius quoted by Cicero: " Amicus 
certus in re incerta cernitur." 

275. " Is fiach ma gelltar." 

'A promise is a debt,' — Tochmarc Étaíne (LU. 
132a 27). In a poem in the Book of Leinster 
147b 50) we have the couplet : Is fiach 5 geltair 
ri necJi, | is fairchi hreth hriathar rig, ' 'Tis a 
debt when a promise is made to one; surer (?) 
than a judgment is the word of a king.' This 
couplet is quoted as a proverb in some versions 
of Ceisneamh Inghine Ghuil; cf. the corrupt 
text in ' Gadaidhe Gear na Geamh-oidhche,' p. 
113, 1. 630. A poem by Fearghal Óg Mac an 
Bhaird begins Is fiacha ar neach an ni gheallas 
fcf. 3B14, p. 64). 

The proverb is now obsolete in Irish, but is 
still preserved in Scottish in the forms Is fiach ^ 
air duine na glieallas e, and Am fear a gheallas ^ 
's e dh' iocas, ' He that promises must pay.' It 
is also found in Welsh : Dyled ar baivb ei addaw, 
' Everyone's promise is a debt on him ' (first 
printed in Salesbury's Oil Synnwyr, circa 
1547). A similar proverb formerly existed in 

8l Q 

English, viz., ■■ Biheste is dette " or " Promyse 
is dette" (first in Chaucer; see Skeat 241). 

'27u. Bcó duine d'éis a aniiia, a^iis ni 
beó d'éis a einigh. 

' A man may live after losing his life, but not 
after losing his honour,' — said by Cúchulainn 
in ' Foghlaim Chonculainn ' (cf. RC. xxix. p. 
30, where the text is misread and mistrans- 
lated). Compare Whittier's " When faith is 
lost, when honour dies, | the man is dead." 
MacAdam, 176, has recorded an Ulster version, 
in which d(wine, ' people,' is substituted for 
anma: Is he-ó duine i ndéidh a dhaoine, acht ni 
bed é i ndéidh a náire. The Scottish version is 
practically identical with MacAdam's. Com- 
pare Ni heó tar éis a náire \ neach da shlciine 
san í,saor;/í,flí, Dánfhocail 253. A slightly differ- 
ent version is quoted as a seavfiiocal in 
' Bruidhean Chaorthainn ' (ed. Pearse, pp. 29- 
30): Is heo neach d'éis a hhuailte, agus ni heo 
é d'éis a cháíntc, ' A man may live after being 
struck but not after being reviled.' To be re- 
viled for niggardliness or cowardice was the 
greatest evil that could befall an Irishman in 
the old days ; the great power wielded by the 
poets was, in part at least, due to the dread of 
being made a target for their satire. " Death 
before dishonour " was a sentiment that 
strongly appealed to our ancestors ; see no. 134 
supra. So in • Togail Troi ' (Calcutta,- 1882, 1. 
638) it is said of the Trojans: ba ferr leo a 
vibás ic cosnam a n-enig andás a fácbáil i 
mhetha'ul fo mebail 7 fa mélacht, 'they pre- 


ferred death in contending for their honour 
than to be left alive in shame and disgrace.' 

277. " Is iiaisli in clú iná'n t-ór." ^ f»'^^:' 

' A good name is more precious than gold, 
PH. 7685 (in a translation of a Latin homily). 
Cf. Prov. xxii. i. : " Melius est nonitn bonum 
quam divitia) multse." Modern Irish forms are 
Fean' clú ná conách (Hardiman), and Is uaisle 
onóir ná or (MacAdam). A poem ascribed to 
Columcille has Is buaine hlad ina seoid, Meyer's 
King and Hermit, p. 28. With this exactly 
corresponds the Welsh Hwy yw clod na golud, 
' Fame lasts longer than riches,' printed in 
Salesbury's Oil Synnwyr {circ. 1547). For the 
sentiment compare nos. 70, 134 and 276. 

278. " Is ri cech slán." 

* A sound man is a king,' Three Mid. Ir. 
Homilies, p. 72 (with rig for ri). Earlier in 
LL. 147b 26 : Vasliu cech rdd — ri cech sldn. It 
sliould be remembered that in ancient Ireland 
freedom from physical blemish was an indispen- 
sable qualification for a king. 

279. Geal gach niia, searbh gach 

' Everything new is pleasing, everything 
familiar is distasteful.' Of frequent occurrence 
in our older literature. Thus in ' Serglige 
Conculaind' (Ir. T. i. 224) Emer says: 7s 
rdaind cech nderg, is gel each nua, is cáin cech 


ard, is seib each gnáth, thus rendered by A. H. 

' Fair seems all that's red; 

Seems white what's new alone ; 
And bright what's set o'erhead; 

And sour are things well known.' 

A poem in the Book of Leinster includes the 
following lines (147b 39) : 

Di'uth cech mer, mianach cech haeth, 
brocach cech saeth, serb cech gndth, 

gel cech nvM, lond cech scith, 
ni hinunn filth fo-geib each. 

i.e., 'Recklessness is foolish, giddiness is wan- 
ton, trouble is sorrowful, familiarity is distaste- 
ful, novelty is pleasing, weariness is prone to 
anger, — dissimilar are the effects of different 
things.' The latter half of this quatrain ap- 
pears also in a poetic dialogue between Fithal 
and Cormac mac Airt (Hib. Minora, 82; LL. 
149a 21). In ' Tecosca Cormaic ' we have (p. 24) 
Gel cech (sic leg.) nva, ndma cech gnáth, this 
hankering after novelty being reckoned as one 
of the marks of folly. In the same text (p. 28) 
a fierce onslaught on the fair sex begins by 
declaring that women are serba sírgnáise, i.e. 
' people whose constant companionship is cloy- 
ing.' The latest instance I have noted in the 
literature occurs in a 17th century poem by 
Muircheartach Ó Hifearnáin : Geal gach nua, 
searbh gach siorghndth (Torna's edn. of P. 
Haicead, p. 117). Scottish still has 7s odhar 
gach sean, 's is geal gach nodha, gu ruig 
snodhacli an fhearna, ' Everything old is dun, 


and everything new is white, even to the sap of 
the alder.' 

Welsh ofifers a remarkable parallel to Geal 
rjach nua in the proverb Rardd pob newydd, 
' Everything new is beautiful,' which is found 
in print as early as circ. 1547 in Salesbury's 
' OH Synnwyr pen Kembero ygyd.' Erasmus 
has " Grata novitas," and for English J. 
Clarke (Adagia Anglo-latina, 1639, p. 228) gives 
" Everything's pretty when 'tis new." 

280. Ni maith aister domnaigh." 

' A Sunday journey is not good,' Tochmarc 
Becfola, SG. i. 85. In the Book of Fermoy 
version of the same tale the text is Ni maith 
imadall in domnaich (R.I. A. Proc. Irish MSS. 
Ser. I. pt. 1. p. 176). In ancient Ireland travel- 
ling on Sunday was forbidden by the Cain 
Domnaig, except in cases of necessity (cf 
O'Looney's note, ibid. p. 196). A poem by 
" Feylum Mc Dowle " in the Book of the Dean 
of Lisniore begins " Ne mnth sirUh sin donit," 
i.e. Ki maifh siuhhal san domhnach (Reliq. 
Celt. i. 92). 

281. Doras feasa fiafruighe. 

' Questioning is the door of (i.e. the way to 
acquire) knowledge.' In one form or another 
this proverb occurs frequently in our older 
literature. Tosnch eolnis imcliomarc, 'Enquiry 
is the beginning of knowledge,' is an old saying 
ascriliod both to Flann Fina (Anecd. iii. 16) and 
to Fithal (ed. Thurn., p. 12). Ferrdi fis fiar- 
faigid, ' Knowledge is bettered by enquiry,' 


occurs among « íinmber of proverbial sayings 
quoted in the Battle of Magh Rath (p. 160. ) 
Da dfrian feasa fiafraighidh, ' Enquiry is two- 
thirds of knowledge,' occurs in a poem by 
Muireadhach Albanach Dálaigh, circ. 1213 
(23 D4, p. 125); while in the 14th century 
Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh writes Doras feasa 
fiafruicjhidh (Dánfhocail 66). 

282. " NÍ fhétar diil seoch an cindea- 

'There is no escaping Fate,' — Compert 
Mongáin (Voyage of Bran, i. 60). Cf. JVi 
hionmholta cnfhiighadh anaghaidh na cinne- 
amhna; in a late text of O. C. Uisneach (ZCP. 
ii. 142.) This idea of the unavoidability of Fate 
occurs frequently in our older literature; in 
particular one's death was regarded as inevi- 
tably associated with a predestined time and 
place. Ni thesairg trii teiched, nl tarha éc d' 
ingahail, uair trl hvaire nach imgaihfher A. 
voir éca, vair gene, uair choimperta, ' Flight 
eaves not a man who is doomed to have his life 
cut short, it is profitless to shun death, for there 
are three times that cannot be avoided, the 
time of deiith, the time of birth, the time of 
conception,' Battle of Magh Rath, p. 172. 
Again Nl hi duive ar domnn gan a fhod urdalta 
airchennta oidhedha d' urmaisi. gin go raihe 
fncha fnpaid no eshnide engnama nir, ' There 
is no man who does not reach his appointed and 
destined place of death, even though he should 
have no want of vigour or lack of valour,' ihid. 
p. 268. In testimony of this the author quotes 


the beginning of an old poem which is variously 
asc'rihed to Adhamhnán and to Cormac mac 
Cuileannáin : 

Tri fótnin nach sechninter, 

cia toiscet na hahrochtair,- 

fót in gene, fat in báis, 

ocxis fót ind adnacuil. 

Tri uara na tairiset 

fri frdig ocvs fri tuile, — 
uair gene, uair choirnperta 

iiair scartha anma diiine. 

•' Three places that cannot be avoided . . . the 
place of birth, the place of death, and the place 
of burial. Three times that stay not for ebb- 
tide or for flood, — the time of birth, the time 
of conception, the time when the soul departs ' 
Ccf., for text Meyer's Selections from Early 
Irish Poetry, p. 5, and ACL. ii. 137). Simi- 
larly Ferdiad says in the Tain Bo Cualnge ''ed. 
Windisch, 3665).: 

7s eicen do neoch a thecht i 

rosim fat forsa mhi a thiglecht, I 

' Everyone must go to the place where his final 
bed is [destined to be].' A poem by Maoileach- 
lainn Ó Huiginn on the death of Aodh Mag 
Uidhir near Cork in 1600, includes the following 
quatrain (cf. 3 C 12, p. 417): 

Dfi mbeifh siol Adhnimh viJe 
ag anaral aondvine, 

go jód an hlxáis do bhiadh sin 
ag triall ar dis no ar éigin, 
' Though all mankind should try to rescue a 


man [from his fate], yet willy-nilly he would 
continue journeying to his death's [appointed] 
place.' A corrupt version of this quatrain occurs 
in a marginal note in Egerton 88; see O'Grady 
Cat. p. 121. 

283. Is dortadh flaitheasa righe don 
tsósar roiiiih an tsinnsear. 

' it is the destruction of sovereignty to give 
the kingship to the younger before the elder,' — • 
occurs twice in Conghal Cláiringneach (I.T.S. 
v. pp. 22, 24). Cf. Assedh ro ha gnáithhés 
dóibh oirdneadh an tsindsir ar bclaihh an tsóisir, 
Beatha Aodha Ruaidh (cf. ed. Murphy, p. 112) 

284. Is bith cáich ar uair an bith so. 

' This world is the world of everyone in turn,' 
i.e. " This world is all a fleeting show," to quote 
Tliomas Moore. This occurs in FM. p. 1804, 
8. a. 1583. Earlier in LL. 147 b 43 : In bith is 
bith cáich ar vair. Cf. in the sayings attri- 
buted to Morann : [ /s] étarbae n-inderb n- 
indless etir each ar uair ar each die in bith sa, 
ZCP. xi. 85. Cf. also ind ráith dar éis caich ar 
uair, ' the fort [remains] after each one in 
turn,' in a poem, ascribed to Berchan, on the 
fort of Rathangan, Co. Kildare (Meyer, Mis- 
cellanea Hibernica, p. 25). 

•285. Is fcirrdo maith a móradh. 

' A good thing is bettered by being increased,' 
— Fearfeasa Ó Maolchonaire in Gen. Reg. et 
Sanct. Hib. (ed. Walsh), p. 136. This proverb 

is of frequent occurrence in the older literature. 
Dligid maith múracl is one of the sayings 
ascribed to Flann Fina (Anecd. lii. 14) and to 
Fithal (ed. Thurneysen, p. 16). So in the advice 
given by Conall Cearnach to Cuscraidh in 
' Cath Airtig ' ; Moradh maithe is toirr {.i. is 
dlr) duit, 'Thou oughtest to increase good,' 
Ériu viii. 173. Ferrdi maith mór-thormach 
occurs among some old sayings quoted in ' Cath 
Muighe Rath' (ed. O'Donovan, p. 158). Móide 
gach maith a moradh occurs in a poem by 
Aonghus Fionn (ed. McKenna, p. 45, 1. 10). 
The proverb is alluded to in a line of Tadhg 
Dall's : Nd hohair maith do mharodh, ' Bid not 
good to be increased ' (cf . O'Gr. Cat. p. 411). 
It is now obsolete in Irish, but is still known 
in Scottish in the form Is fheairrde gach math a 

•286. NÍ glic nach gabhann teagasg. 

' He is not wise who will not be instructea ' — 
Dánta Grádha, p. 42; also in the poem 'A 
cholann, chugad an bás.' In one form or an- 
other this proverb occurs frequently in our 
literature. Thus : Sdi cech so-choisc, ' Every 
docile person is a sage,' Tec. Cormaic, p. 28. 
7s súi cech so-thincoisc slán, LL. 147b 45. Tosach 
salthe sochoisce, ' Docility is the beginning of 
wisdom,' ascribed to Flann Fina (Anecd. iii. 
16) and to Fithal (ed. Thurneysen, p. 12). 7s 
(jnathnrh gnrh xnnt sn-tliraqasga is quoted as a 
proverb in Dáibhí do Barra's ' Parliment na 
bhFigheadóirí.' Verrdi riall comairli, ' Sense is 
bettered by counsel,' among old sayings quoted 
in ' Cath Muighe Rath ' (ed. O'Donovan, p. 

158). Cf. Feirde a mhiinadh, 'A yonth 
is the better for being instructed,' in a poem 
by Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh (Ir. Monthly, 
Sep. 1919, p. 512). Mas duine glic tú gabh 
comairie, ' If you are wise, take advice,' Ériu 
V. 128. 

A current form is Glacann fear crionna co- 
mhairle, ' A wise man accepts advice,' Morris, 
727. Cf. also Is olc nach nrjabhaidh (sic) co- 
mhairle, acht is mile measa a r;h'nhhas gach uile 
chomhairh, ' It is bad not to take advice, biit 
it is far worse to take every advice,' MacAdam 
)r 133. Also in Scottish thus : Is trii nach gabh 
comhairle, agus 'tru ghabhas gach comhairle 

287. " Is treisc flaith fiora." 

' A prince is mightier than men,' i.e. than 
commoners, — B. Aodha Ruaidh, p. 52 (where ii 
is mistranslated). In Cath Ruis na Rig, p. 20, 
in n-uair ropo fhreissiu flaith firu seems to be 
used punningly in the sense of ' when beer waa 
stronger than men ' (i.e. when men had been 
overcome by it), from a rare homonym fiaith 
meaning ' beer.' 

With the natural meaning of the phrase (that 
in B. Aodha Ruaidh) may be contrasted the 

^ democratic Scottish proverb /5 ireasn tvath va 
tighcarnn, ' The people are stronger than the 

iv ruler.' A variant (Edinb. MS.) has biiaine. 
' more lasting,' for treasa. Manx similarly has 
f^froshey yn tit pay vn yn chiam^ (Cregeen). So 
too in Welsh : Trcch gxdad nac arglwydd. ' A 
land is stronger than a lord.' 

288. " Is feiT síth sochocad." 
' Peace is better than (even) easy warfare,' — 
Togail Troi 1454 (Ir. T. ii.). Similarly Flann 
Fina (Anecd. iii. 19), and Fithal (ed. 
Thurneysen, p. 15). Also in LL. 147b 35 : Is 
ferr sid sochocad smith. Compare Ferr dáil 
debuith or Ferr ddl debech, 'Better a confer- 
ence than contention,' ascribed to Flann Fina 
and to Fithal; and Is ferr cech dal dm tic sid, 
' Best is a conference from which comes peace,' 
LL. 147b 26. 

289. " Gach sluagh nach saigh, saigh- 

' Every army that attacks not will be 
attacked,' — Beatha Aodha Ruaidh, p. 46, where 
it is put into the mouth of Aodh Ruadh and 
referred to as ' a well-known ancient proverb ' 
{derbhdroscc airrdherc 6 chéin). It also occurs 
in Foghlaim Chonculainn, RC. xxix. 22. In a 
poem attributed to Gilla-comgaill Ua Slébin 
the line occurs: Mini saige, saigfear ort, 'If you 
do not attack, you will be attacked ' (Cogadh 
Gaedhel re Gallaibh, p. 124). We have here the 
essence of the theory of a defensive ofiEensive in 

290. NÍ sluagh neach ina aonar. 

'A solitary man makes not an army,' — quoted 
by the Four Masters (p. 1804, s.a. 1583) along 
with no. 61. Scottish has Cha slvagh dvine ^ 
^na onar (Cameron); in the Edinb. MS. Oho ^ 
sluagh duine na onrachd. Compare As doras 


báis bmg-ihluaqh, ' A small army is a door to 
death,' Cath Muighe Léana, p. 104. 

291. Luighidh iolar ar uathadh. 

' Many overpower few,' i.e. " Providence 
fights on the side of the big batallions," — FM. 
p. 1940, s.a. 1593, where it is called a scanfho- 
ral. The FM. copy it from Beatha Aodha 
Ruaidh (p. 64 : an dearbhdrusc . . . .i. luighidh 
iolar for uathadh). Earlier it appears in C. 
Ceallacháin Caisil, p. 42 : Is gnáth go loigenn 
ilar ar uathaid. Now obsolete, but cf. .4. n-iomad 
na IdrrJi a hhainaas a' cath, ' Numbers win the 
battle,' Monaghan (GJ. 143, p. 117). 

292. NÍ ar lion óg blister cath acht tri 
nert an Choimdhedh. 

' It is not through numbers a battle is won 
but through the strength of the Lord,'^ — Beatha 
Aodha Ruaidh, p. 208, where it is called ' a 
proverb handed down from antiquity ' {sein- 
bhriathar a cJicin m'nair). Aodh Ruadh's 
biographer records it as having formed part of 
O'Donnell's address to his troops before the 
battle of Bealach Buidhe in 1599, where with 
inferior numbers he routed Sir Conyers Clifford. 
Much earlier we find it in a poem in the Book 
of Leinster (147b 35) : 2Vi ar lin óc brister cath. 
Another instance is Ni nr lion óg bristear cath, 
acht is tré fhurtacht an C[h^oimdheadh 7 tré 
jhirinne flatha, Three Fragments (I.A.S. 1860), 
pp. 178-180, referring to a battle fought in a.d. 
868. Compare the paraphrase in King Diar- 
maid's f.ddrees to Cuimin Foda : Nach fetradh- 


aisse^ a chléirtg, ^ach ar líon na cruth hrister 
cath acht amail as áil ra Dia? (SG. i. 397), or, 
in Keating's version : Tuig, a chlcirifjh, nuch 
ioinud curudh chuireas cath, acht mar is toil re 
Dia (FF. iii. 922). Cf. O'Leary, Niamh 317 : 
X/ lionmhaire a dheinean mart i gcómhnuíghe, 
nú ní he a hheirean huadh. 

293. " NÍ frith, ni fuighbhither, 
breithemh bus firiu cathráe." 

' There has not been found, nor will there be 
found, a juster judge than the field of battle,' — 
Beatha Aodha Ruaidh, p. 168, where this 
' famous proverb ' (sencirasc airdherc) of 
Morann mac Maein forms part of the address 
of O'Neill and O'Donnell to the Irish troops 
just before their victory at the Yellow Ford in 
1598. It will be found among the Proverbs of 
Morann in Thurneysen's edition, ZCP. xi. 83. 

294. NÍ gnáth ár gan élóidhtheach. 

' Seldom is there a slaughter from which no 
one escapes,' — Four Masters, p. 1776 (s.a. 1582). 
Current forms are : Nil aon chath na teagann 
duine as, Clare; Nil cath da mhéid nach 
dtigeann duine as, cf. 3 C 21, no. 63; and 7s 
cruaidh an cath ó nach dtig fear innsidh an 
sgéil, MacAdam 571. Scottish has 7s cruaidh 
an cath as nach tig aon fhear. These, particu- 
larly the two last, are closely paralleled by the 
English proverb " 'Tis a hard battle where none 


295. " Is airdhenu sercci sirshilliuth." 

' Constant gazing betokens love,'— Tochniarc 
Étaíne dr. T. i. 121). Obsolete; but might be 
modernised Conihuitkui grádha sir-fhcuchuint 

296. " Ussa éc earnbás." 

' Any death is easier than death by the 
sword,' — Irish Cambrensis (Eng. Hist. Rev., 
1905, p. 82). 

297. Is giiáth sealb'h ar gach sior- 

' A long-continued loan usually confers owner- 
ship,' i.e. Prescription gives title, — Me Guidhir 
Fhearmanach, p. 30. 

is-- ■■■ 

298. Is le fear na bo an laogh. 

' The calf belongs to the owner of the cow.' 
Var. Is le gach buin (or ho) a laogh. Both of 
these are current forms. A well-known episode in 
the life of St. Columcille tells how he made a 
copy, without permission, of a book belonging 
to St. Finnen, who thereupon claimed that the 
copy belonged to him no less than the original. 
King Diarmaid mac Cearbhaill decided the dis- 
pute in Finnén's favour, his judgment being: 
Le gach hoin a hoinin {.i. a laogli), agxts le gach 
lehhur a leahrún, Beatha Col. Chille 178; or, in 
Keating's version, giirah leis gach hoin a hoinin 
is gurab leis gach leahhar a mhaicleahhar, i.e. 
' As to every cow belongs her calf, so to every 
hook belongs its transcript ' (Forus Feasa, iii. 
1394; cf. also FM. p. 194). 


299. Ding de féin a sgoilteann an 

' A wedge of itself splits tlie elm,' — well- 
known in Southern Irish. So in an early 14tli 
cent, poem by Aonghus (mac Chearbhaill i f^hiníl 
Bhuidhe ) Ó Dálaigh: Ginn de féin .K . sgoiltes ^ / y y 
go léir in lemán, O'Gr. Cat. 362. Ulster (Mac- >^-'*^/ 
Adam 546) and Scotland substitute the oak for 
the elm: Geinn di ftin Idhetli fhéin Sc] a 'Jf- 
sgoilteas an darach. The proverb is thus para- 
phrased by Donnchadh Ban (ed. Calder, p. 

Chucda mi mar siiean-fhacal 
Mu'n darach guv fiodJi corr e. 

'S gur geinn dheth fhéin 'ga theannachadh 
A spealtadh e 'nn dirdnibh. 

300. "Is do áibill fhásas breo." 

' From a spark groweth a blaze,' — Three 
Mid. Ir. Homilies, p. 30. " A small spark 
makes a great fire." So 7s da aibil da-thaed 
breo, in a poem in the Book of Hui Maine 
(ACL. ii. 139). A modern form is 7s beag an 
t-iiblieall a lasas teine mhor, MacAdam 38. In 
Scottish: 7s trie a bheothaich srad bheag teine ^ 
vwr, ' A small spark has often kindled a great 
fire.' The origin is probably biblical; cf. "A 
scintilla una augetur ignis," Eccli. xi. 34 (cf. 
also Jac. iii. 5). 

The proverb is combined with another of 
similar meaning in the following: Do-ghnl an 
t-aoin I)ia rail don dear tain 7 breo-thealcha don 
aoibhil, ' God makes the acorn to be an oak, 
and the spark to be a mighty conflagration,' 


Beatha Aodha Ruaidli, p. 180. The first part 
of this is paralleled by Chaucer's " an ook 
coin'th of a litel spyr " (Skeat, no. 171; for an 
earlier version from Aelfric see ibid. p. 136). 
A third saying of similar import was : Da ni 
muc mhór ila arcdn, i.e. ' A tiny young pig 
becomes a big one,' ACL. ii. 139. 

301. Ughdar gach neach go labhrann. 

' Everyone is wise until he speaks,' Aodh 
Domhnaill in the ' Contention of the Bards' (p. 
138, St. 15); also in a satirical poem on an 
Ulster harper by Domhnall Gorm Mac Lochlainn 
(23 A 45, p. 9; author's name in H. 6. 12, pt. 3, 
p. 59). Similarly Fearfeasa O'n Cháinte : Mas 
fhior, is -ughdar gach neach \ go lahhairt, 
23L17, fo. 102b. 

302. Beodha gach bráthair fri aroiie. 

' Active is one kinsman against another,' i.e. 
Kinsmen, when they fall out, fight one another 
vigorously. Quoted as a well-known proverb 
(dearbhdruscc airdearc) by the Four Masters 
(p. 1768), when describing the battle fought in 
1581 between Aodh Ó Domhnaill and his nephew 
Conn aided by Toirdhealbhach Luineach Ó NéiU. 

303. Bíodh a dhomhan féin ag gach 

' Let every man have his own world.' When 
Brian Neill, after the death of Cofraidh 
Domhnaill in 1258, demanded hostages and sub- 
mission from Tir Chonaill, Domhnall óg 


Domhnaill, who had just returned from a stay 
in Scotland and had been elected chief, replied 
to Ó Néill's envoys by quoting the above pro- 
verb (do rdidh an tseinhriathar airdhirc 
tria san nGaoidhilcc nAlbanaigh hoi occo ace 
agallaimh na ttechthadh (sic) .i. go mbiadh a 
daman jein ag gach fer, FM. s.a. 1258). It will 
be noticed that the Four Masters imply that 
the proverb was peculiar to ' Scottish Gaelic,' 
which Domhnall Óg would have learned during 
his stay in Scotland. If their authority may 
be relied on here, the inference is that in the 
thirteenth century the Gaelic of Scotland was 
already recognised as having diverged from 
even Ulster Irish. 

304. " ^\ithiu cech delg is ou." 

' The youngest thorn is the sharpest,' PH. 1. 
4136, where it is referred to as a derhá- 
ruse or proverb. So in verse in Ac. Sen., 
1. 1384: Is áithe cech udelg as so. Also in 
Stowe D. 4. 2, fo. 66a, 2 (Meyer). Now obso- 
lete ; but in Modern Irish it might be rendered : 
An dealg is óige isi is géire, or Nuair is óigc an 
dealfi, iseadh is géire hhíonn si. Stokes com- 
pares Lnaithi mang ind máthair, 'The fawn is 
swifter than the dam,' in Cor. Glos. 

305. " Colann cen ceann duine cen 

' A person without a spiritual director is as 
a body without a head, '^Martyr. Oengus, p. 
182; and cf. ib. pp. 64, 464 (the latter from LL. 
283b 26). 

97 H 

306. " Caraidh siúr cen co ccarthar." 

' A sister loves though she be not loved,' — 
quoted as a .scinbhriathar in Buile Shuibhne, p. 
56. It is also known in Welsh, being given by 
Davies (1632) in the form: Cerid chwacr diiicd 
( = diriaid) cyn ni charer, ' A sister loves a bad 
man though she herself be not loved.' 

307. " Gabhlánach in ret an scéluigh- 

'Story-telling is a complicated affair,' — Ac. 
Sen. 1. 3669, where it is called a srinhriathar. 

308. " Is dcnmnitach in raet in 

' The Irishman is an impatient fellow,' — Ac. 
Sen. 1. 4480, where from the context we infer 
that it was a well-known saying. 

309. Do réir mar chuiris an dair, 
freanc féin í. 

' As thou hast planted the oak, even so bend 
it thyself,' i.e. Extricate yourself unaided from 
troubles of your own making, — ^Tór. Dhiarmada 
agus Ghráinne (Oss. Soc. iii. p. 206). Compare 
" As you have made your bed, so you must lie 
on it," in Irish Mar rinne fú do leahaidh, luigh 
uirthi (cf. MacAdam 36). or J.iiujh nr an habain 
a rhóirigh tú dhvif fcin. 

310. " NÍ bhi friothairc ar nach ffagh- 
thar faill fa dheóidh." 


' There is never guard so good that an enemy 
may not some time find its vigilance relaxed,' — 
Four Masteis, p. 1896 (s.A. 1590). Compare 
the current proverb (W. Muns.) : Bi, chuidhche 
ag faire is gheóbhair uair na faille, ' Be always 
on the watch and you'll get your opportunity.' 

311. " Immgaib ag 7 no-t-imgeba." */A^^f 
' Shun danger and it will shun thee.' This 3lf f- 

is given in PH. 4864 as the Irish equivalent of 
the Latin proverb " Devitabis periculum et 
devitabit te." That it was a proverb in Irish 
also is shown by the occurrence of Imgaibh ágh 
's rod imgéba as a line of verse in the Battle of 
Magh Rath, p. 172. Compare no. 218 supra. 

3] -2. Dein maith i n-aghaidh an uilc. 

' Do good in return for evil.' Still current 
in this form ; also in Scottish {Dean math ^an ^ 
nghaidh an idle). A literary instance occurs in 
Aonghus Fionn : Déanta rtmith i n-aghaidh uilc 
Ced. ]\fcKenna, p. 44, st. 6). Cf. " Noli vinci a 
malo, sed vince in bono malum," Rom. xii. 21. 

313. On aird thnaidh thig an chabhair. 

' From the North help comes,' — quoted as a 
seinhhriafhar by Lughaidh Ó Cleirigh in the 
' Contention of the Bards ' (ed. McKenna, p. 
59, where the two following instances are also 
quoted). It is the first line of a poem by Tadhg 
Óg Ó Huiginn(YBL..381b24;0'Con.Don'sMS.; 
23F16, p. 115). In a poem w^ritten in 1599 
Maoilin óg Mac Bruaideadha, after saying that 
O'Donnell's invasion of Thomond in that year 

had been foretold in an ancient prophecy, adds 
Adtuo.idh iarthur cahhair chciigh, ' From the 
North all aid is sought ' (cf. Beatha Aodha 
Ruaidh, p. 198, whence FM. p. 2104; O'Dono- 
van's note in the latter text shows that he was 
unaware that Maoilin Óg's line merely ex- 
pressed a proverb). What the origin of this 
saying may have been, it is diflScult to con- 
jecture. X- 

314. NÍ thig ni san dorn dúnta. 

' Nothing comes into a closed hand,' — Tadhg 

Og Ó Huiginn, who refers to it as a proverb 

(gvfh heag nsé aifhcanta, O'Con. Don's MS. fo. 

24a). Scottish preserves it with little change : 

-^ Cha d'théid m sam hith san dorn diiinfe, of 

^ which there is a variant Cha'n fhairjh dorn 

diiinte dad. For the current Irish form see no. 

\ 124. Compare also the next proverb. 

315. NÍ ghabhann dorn diinta seabhac. 

' A closed hand catches no hawk,' Muns. In 
Ulster, Cha (ihahhnn/n dorn druidthe srahhac. 
•<(• Cha (Mac dorn dvinte seohhng, Sc. A literary 
allusion occurs in the poem beginning " Mairg 
'gá lagaid na himha," (cf. 23 N 15, p. 152): 
Tig i Idimh. an ti chlearMas 
an seahhnr ^gá mhi aifhne ; 
an Idmh. da hh.jnighr folamh, 
ni da dheóin {fh)(inas aire. 

There is a similar proverb in English : 
" Empty hands no hawks allure " (Eay) ; this 
is found as early as Chaucer, — see Skeat 235. 

fUfc^s Ía Sc^^íi, ^^yj^ji^ 

316. Is tighe-de an brat a dhúbladh. 

' The mantle is the thicker of being doubled.' 
Best preserved in Scottish: Is tiuijhaid' am ^ 
brat a dhubhidli (Nicolson), otherwise 7s tihhide jf- 
a cheirt a dabhuili (Edinb. MS.). In Ireland it 
has been noted only in Ulster, by MacAdam 
(3Ó4), who gives it in the form 7s teóide 
('warmer') do'n mbrat a dhúhladh. Its usual 
application is to the marriage of relatives. 
Literary allusions are : gur dúbalta an grádh \ 
ag na mnáibh ó bheith 'na ngaol, in a poem by 
Riocard do Búrc (Danta Grádha, p. 47) ; and 
brat is tanoide a thillcadh, in a poem by Tadhg 
Dall Ó Huiginn (ed. Miss E. Knott). 

317. Is fada on chreacht an t-ionnrach. 

'The tent is applied far from the wound.' 
This is said by lubdán on a certain occasion in 
Aidedh Ferghusa (7s fada ó'n chrécht in tionn- 
rach, Silv. Gad. i. 246). It is still known in 
Co. Monaghan in the form 7s fada ú' n chreirh 
[leg. ehneidh'] an ceithrin [leg. ceirin}, "'The 
plaster is far from the wound.' Said if one 
suggested a far away remedy for anything, ' 
Morris Suppt. no. 36. 

318. " Is fochen aged fhécheman." 

' Welcome is a debtor's face,' — Aided 
Conculaind (RC. iii. 184). 

319. Annamh tréan nach dteagthar 

' Seldom is there champion who does not meet 



with some reverse,' — Maghnus Ó Domhnaill 
(Di'inta Grádha, p. 3). Still known in Scotland 
•^ in the form Cha'n eil trcan vis nach cuirear, 
which Nieolson translates ' The brave will be 

320. " Is trumma each ndédinach." 

' The most recent grief is the heaviest to 
bear,' — MacConglinne p. 57. A later variant 
is Is doilgJie na deklhionaigJi, which occurs in a 
poem by Eoghan Ruadh Mac an Bhaird 
(Studies, 1919, p. 258). So is doilgi gach 
deghinach in a marginal note in Eg. 88 (O'Gr. 
Cat. 135). In Modern English there is a simi- 
lar proverb: "The last evil smarts most" 
(Bohn's Handbook of Proverbs, p. 509). 

321. NÍ bhi an tubaist acht mar a 
mbi an spréidh. 

' Misfortune comes only where wealth is,' said 
to have been the mock-serious comment of St. 
Columcille when he learnt that the pet-animah 
of his brother-saint Mochua had died (Keating, 
FF. iii. 1135). It also occurs amongsome anony- 
mous verses addressed to one loUann on the 
death of a pet-bird: ^í bhionn tithaiste acht 
mar mhi spre, 23 N 33, p. 471. Still heard in 
Donegal: An ait i mhionn spréidh, híonn 
fvhaiste, GJ. 85, p. 13. 

322. " Nocha dlig demun dilgud." 

' A demon is not entitled to forgiveness,' — 
Battle of Magh Rath, p. 134 (in verse), and 

again p. 136. It also occurs in the Senchus 
Mór in verses ascribed to Dnhthach nioccu 
Lugair in the time of St. Patrick : ar nl dlig 
deiiiun dlhjud, Laws i. 8. 

3-23. Deireadh ciimainn comhaireamh. 

' Reckoning up is friendship's end.' Occurs 
thus in a poem of Tadhg Dall's (O'Gr. Cat. 

Briatliur rjhnáth, a ijhnúis fliáiUench , 
dfíiredh cumainn cuiiiáiremh. 

324. Is fada le fear furnaidhe. 

' One who is waiting thinks the time long.' 
Still current in W. Kerry in the form Is fada 
le fear fiúnraoi* é. In W. Cork (Ballyvourney)I 
have heard it as 7s fada le fear feithcamha 
(pron. fihú) é. Literary instances show that it 
was formerly well-known, e.g. Fada le fer 
hfwrnoidhe, Gramm. Tracts, p. 46; Asé adearair 
riamh roimhe J 'Cian le fearaibh furnoidhe,' m 
the anonymous poem " A theachtaire teid budh 
thuaidh," O'Con. Don's MS. fo. 139b. Cf. Le 
a hiclit furnaidhe is fado, Eoghan Ruadh Mac 
an Bhaird (' Studies,' 1919, 258). 

There is a very similar proverb in Welsh, 
viz., Hir pob aros, 'Long is every waiting,' 
which is found in print (in Salesbury's Oil 
Synnwyr) as early as circ. 1547. 

*Fiúnraoi (fíonnraidhe) is a modern form of the Mid. Ir. 
furnaidhe (earlier imaide and umaide) , ' waiting, remain- 
ing.' It occurs as fionnraoi (with a variant fonnraoi) in D. 
O Bruadair ii. 284. The modern _ metathesis of -rn- is 
already seen in the form funnraidi in Lis. Lives, 1.1945. So 
far as 1 know the word is now obsolete except in Kerry. 


325. An t-each do boaileadh sa cheann 
bioiin sé eaglach. 

' The horse that has been struck on the head 
is timid thereafter.' Some such proverb as this 
is alluded to in a poem in Dánta Grádha, p. 

Aí t'fhoral ní fhuilim tewnn ; 

poch do huaileadh 'na ceann me. 
The Scottish version runs : An t-each a hhuaileai 
'sa cheann bidh e sgathach. Current Irish ver- 
sions have substituted an té for an t-each. 
Thus: .-in to hiiailtear sa cheann hionn eaijlii 
air, Monaghan (GJ. 95, p. 178). An tc huail- 
teiir san niidlach (or san chill) hionn faitchios 
air, Gahvay (GJ. 51, p. 38; 178, p. 827). Cf. 
also Is eaglacli an tc glioitiiightear, "Waterford 
(Sheehan). See no. 365. 

326. Dlighidb ollamh uiraim riogh. 

' A king should honour a man of letters.' 
This occurs in a poem by Gofraidh Fionn Ó 
Dalaigh (cf. Ir. Monthly, Aug. 1919, p. 459), 
and as the first line of a poem by Sean Buidhe 
Mac Bruaideadha {ibid. Mar. 1921, p. 112). The 
sentiment it expresses was one which naturally 
commended itself to the poets. Cf. Dligid aide 
vrraim, 'A teacher should be honoured,' ascribed 
to Flann Fina (Anecd. iii. 14). Dlighidli fili a 
fliiadhvghudh. 'A poet should be honoured,' in 
a quatrain in Stowe MS. 992 (GJ. 45, p. 194b). 

327. "Is dénta ail d'égin." 

' A virtue {lit. will) must be made of neces- 

sity,' — C. Catharda, 1. 2702, where it is called a 
neiihiiutkar. It hardly survives in Ireland, but 
is still i'uuiid in Scotland: Dean aill de' n éigin, J^ 
" Make a virtue of necessity." The common 
original for all languages is St. Jerome's 
" facere de necessitate virtutem " (cf. Skeat, 
no. 199). 

328. " Labraid duine, innisid Dia." 

' Man talks, but God sheweth the event.' 
This occurs as a line of verse in ' Aidedh 
Ferghusa,' Silv. Gad. i. 246. Compare " Man 
proposes, but God disposes," which was doubt- 
less first suggested by Prov. xvi. 9, and which 
has been popularised (though not originated) 
by the ' Imitatio Christi ' ("Homo proponit, 
sed Deus disponit," i. 19). Canon O'Leary, 
whose ' Eisirt ' is a re-telling of ' Aidedh 
FtTghusa,' was so struck by the resemblance of 
the line above quoted to the well-known proverb 
of the ' Imitatio ' that he adopted it in his 
translation of the latter book (' Aithris ar 
Chriost,' p. 33). 

329. Cailltear Ian luinge ar son aon 
duine amháin. 

' A ship is (often) lost with all on board on 
account of one man ' (cf. 3C 21, no. 64). 
MacAdam's (503) version is : BCiitear a[n^ long 
nnn a n-aon pheacaidlie. A sixteenth century 
poet, Uilliam Og Mac an Bhaird, has Báittear 
Ivcht arthraigh uile \ le a hhfaghthair d' vie 
aonduine (cf. 3 C 12, p. 225). So in Betha 
Colaim Chille (p. 98) when a ship is seen sink- 

ing with her crew, Columcille explains to 
Baoithin that God lias permitted this on 
account of one sinner that was on board (do 
fiiluinfj se lurlit na lii'nuje do báthad ar son an 
inpecaid do hi indti). The proverb is allnded 
to in Merriman's Cúirt, 1. 788: Lán na luinge 
chum duine ni bháidhfinn, i.e. 'I would not 
punish the many for the sins of the few.' As 
MacAdam remarks, the proverb was probably 
suggested by the story of Jonas. 

330. Fand duine mar nach treórach ; 
dall uile gach aineólach. 

' Weak is a man where he has no guidance ; 
blind is everyone who lacks knowledge,' — from 
verses ascribed to St. Columcille in Betha 

^ Colaim Chille, p. 198. Scottish has Is dall 

^ duine far nach eolach, and 7s dall gach aineo- 
lach Welsh has Dall pob ancjhyiarwydd, 
' Blind is every unskilled person.' Compare 
also Is mall gach cos ar chasán gan eolas. ' On 
an unknown path every foot is slow ' (MacAdam 

^ 153) ; in Scottish 7s d'lotnhain gach cas air thir 
gun eolas (where for Mackintosh's diomhan,i 
" tardy," Nicolson substitutes dioinhuauA 
" fleeting "). • 

^ Very similar is the Scottish 7s dall duine anns 
a' cheivd nach d' fhoghluiin, ' A man is blind in 
a trade he has not learnt,' with which we may 
compare Oscar each i ceird araili, ' Everyone is 
ignorant in another person's trade,' quoted by 
O'Davoren (ACL. ii. 431), and Tadhg mac 
Dáire's variant, Doll each i gceird aroile (cf. 
23 L 17, fo. 130b). See also nos. 58 and 354. 


331. Mar chaithis an choinneal, caith 
an t-órlach. 

' As you have spent the eaiidle, spend the 
inch,' i.e. As you have gone most of the way, go 
the whole way. Still current; a variant is Mar 
fliud til an c/iom[ii]eaZ, tabhair an t-órlach, 
F. Keane (12 Q 13, pt. 3, p. 72). Archbishop 
Maoliiihuire Ó Huiginn thus paraphrases it : 

Fuilngeam feadh an órlaigh-se 
mar do caitheadh an choinneal. 

Diarmaid mac Sheáin Bhuidhe has (p. 58) : 
Mar chaithis an solus nd coigil an mion-órdlach . 
In a quatrain in 23A 45, p. 55, a lover says to 
his lady : Tabliair an choinneal mar thugais an 
t-orlach dhUinn, ' Grant me the candle as you 
liave granted me the inch.' 

A Scottish form is Seach gun d' thug mi 'n 
rt'is, hheir mi 'n oirleach, ' As I have given 
the span, I'll give the inch' (Nicolson). 
Mackintosh's version is na rinn mi 'n oir- 
leach, ni mi 'n reis, in which oirleach and 
reis exceptionally change places. Manx has 
Tra toil jannoo yn trie, jean yn oarlagh 
(Cregeen), ' Since you are doing the foot, do 
the inch.' Compare the N.E. (borrowed from 
Sc. Gaelic?) " Dree out the inch as ye hae done 
the span." 

332. Is beag an rud is buaine na an 

' How small a thing outlives a man.' Still 

well known.* It occurs as early as 1560 in a 
scribal note in Rawl. B 512 : As hec ani as 
bitaina nan duine (Hib. Minora, p. 84). The 
Scottish form is very similar : Is heiuj an ni 
nach buaine na duine (Cameron), ' It is a small 
thing that does not outlive a man.' 

333. Dean taise le truagh is gruaim le 

' Be mild towards the wretched, but stern 
towards an enemy,' — Mac Adam 553 (he writes 
triiaiijhe for truagh). For literary usage cf. 
taise le trua(jh 7 troid le tréan, Eachtra 
Lomnochtáin, p. 29 ; and borb le tréan is séimh 
le lag-bhvidhin, Fr. Sean Ó Briain (Fil. na 
Máighe, p. 74), These recall Vergil's well- 
known line " Parcere subiectis et debellare 
superbos." Very similar is Bat cruaid fri cruas 
. . . bat moeth fri malthi, ascribed to Fithal 
^ed. Tliurneysen, p. 18). 

334. Béim i n-aghaidh beime agns 
goin i n-aghaidh gona. 

' A blow for a blow, and a wound for a 
wound,' — Deargruathar CO., p. 25; also in 
Cath Muighe Mucraimhe, GJ. 208, p. 32 So 
bi'im san mbéim is goin san ngoin, in a poem 
by Niall Ó Ruanadha (cf. O'Gr. Cat. 501). 
Compare the Scriptural "eye for eye, tooth for 
tooth " (Deut. xix. 21). 

* Exceptionally Is beag rud, etc., in GJ. 183, p. 89, wrongly 
trr.nslated " There are few things more lasting than man." 
Contrast GJ. 51, p. 39; 55, p. U2 (note 46). 


335. Ní theicheann cú roimh chnáimh. 
' A dog docs not flee from a bone,' i.e. even 

though it be thrown at him, — Bruidhean 
Chaorthainn, p. 30. So Chu sgal cu loimh 
chnaimh, 'A dog won't howl at a bone,' Sc 
(also in Edinb. MS.). N.E, has " A dog winna 
yowl if ye fell him wi' a bane." 

336. Is mo a thaidhbhse ná a thairbhe. 

' Its outward display is greater than its 
value,' — a current proverb (or rather proverbial 
phrase); also with to'wt, 'bulk,' for faidhhhse. 
Alluded to by Giollabnghde Ó Heóghusa in his 
poetical preface to his Teagasg Criosdaidhe (ed. 
1707, p. 3), when he says of his book Uille a 
tharbha iná a thoidhhhsi, i.e. 'There is more 
profit to be derived from it than its appearance 
would lead one to think.' 

337. Maith gach cunnradh i bhfad 

' Good seems every bargnin that is far away,' 
— Danta Grádha, p. 38. This still survives in 
Scottish : Is geal gach cirnradh (or cúmhnant) 
a thig am fad. Cf. no. 117 supra. 

338. Da dtrian cára cumhochta. 

' Might is two-thirds of right,' — in an anony- 
niniis poem in 23 T 40, p. 4.5. " Might is right." 
Cf. J.s cert caich [leg. each?'] amail a nert , LL. 
147b 41. Clnoidhennn mart ceart, ITardiman. 
Thcid neart oir cheart, Sc. Tadhg Dall was 


doubtless alluding to some such proverb when 
he wrote Bheith fa neart an tc is freise \ isé 
ceart na criche-se, ' To submit to the might of 
the strongest is this country's {i.e. Ireland's) 
only right ' (cf. O'Gr. Cat. 428). 

339. NÍ fearr biadh na ciall. 

' Good sense is no less important than food.' 
This is the current form. An older form would 
appear to have been 7s fpAirr ciall ni cuid, to 
judge from Dánta Grádha, p. 32, where a lover, 
rejected on account of his poverty, says 
bitterly : 

Diiinc (Jonn adubhairt riamh 
go madh fearr ciall na cuid. 

340. Na séid aoibheal gan fhadiidh. 

' Blow not on dead embers,' i.e. Do not at- 
tempt a hopeless or impossible task. This oc- 
curs in a poem by Fearfeasa Ó'n Cháinte in the 
' Contention of the Bards ' (ed. McKenna, p. 
214). It is given in the dictionaries of O'Brien 
and O'Reilly (s.v. aoibheal), the latter of whom 
calls it an " old proverb." 

341. Mairg do loisgfeadh a thiompán 
leat. c^- I1i<u>y^^ íi'LtÁ r<^f/3 

A well-known Scottish proverb runs: 7s mairg 
a loisgeadh a thiompan duit, ' Pity him who 
would burn his fiompan (a kind of harp) for 
you.' The story goes that a harper once, 
having nothing else to make a fire with, burned 
his harp in order to make a fire for his wife 

who was benumbed witli cold ; bvit she repaid 
his sacrifice immediately afterwards by eloping 
with another man (cf. Nicolson, p. 267; An 
Deo-Greine, Jan. 1909, p. 51). 

This proverb was formerly well known in 
Ireland too. Thus Sean (mac Muiris) Ó 
Hurthaile says, speaking of youth : Mairg do 
loixg n thiompdn re! i.e. ' Alas for him who has 
sacrificed his all for her!' And Pádraigín 
Haiceud has (p. 6): 7s mairg do loisg a shop 's 
a thiumpán lihh. 

312. Ná téidheadh do shúil thar do t 

' Do not entertain extravagant hopes.' ' Do 
not expect too much,' — Galway. So Do 
chuaidh mo sliúil tar mo chuid, Dánta Grádha, 
p. 32. The word súil here may also be taken 
in the sense of ' eye ' rather than ' expectation,' 
when the phrase has a slightly diflFerent mean- 
ing. Cf . Begly 203b, where Do chuir sé a shiiil 
thar a chiiid is given as a rendering of the 
English saying " His eyes are bigger than his 
belly." So in Canon O'Leary's Aesop (ii. 70) 
A^á leig do shúil thar do chuid is explained as 
' Do not let your eye go beyond what is your 
own property ; do not covet what is not your 

343. Niiair cbruaidhoann an tslat, is 
deacair í shníomh. 

' AVhen the twig grows hard it is diflBcult to 
twist it,' — current proverb ; var. hihadh (for 

shniomh). Aonghus Fionn has (ed. McKenna, 
p. 66): Mar do ni crann criona di | nocha n-am 
sniomha slaite, ' When the twig has become an 
old tree is not the time to bend it.' So An. 
tslat nuair chmaidheann le haois, is deacair a 
sniomh 'na ijad, in the poem (17 cent.?) 
' A leinbh atá i dtiiis do shaoghail.' Scottish 
has An car a bhios 'san t-seana mhaide 's 
diiilich a thoirt ax, ' The crook in an old stick is 
hard to take out ' ; and 7s ann fhad 's a bhios an 
t-slat maofh is fhasa 'lithadh, ' When the twig 
is tender it is easiest bent,' " Best to bend while 
it is a twig." Cf. Dngald Buchanan (ed. 
Maclean, p. 54) : 

Na lahhair an sean-fhocal, 
's deimhin learn 's fior e, — 

' An car théid san t-sean mliaid,' 
(jiir h-ainmi(i leis dtreadh.' 

Tlie meaning is expressed in Prov. xxii. 6. 

344. Is socair a chodlas duinc ar 
chneadh dhuine eile. 

' One sleeps tranquilly on the hurt of an- 
other,' i.e. It is easy to put up with the misfor- 
tunes of others, — an Ulster proverb (MacAdam 
409). Very similar is the well-known aphorism 
of La Rochefoucauld : " Nous avons tons assez 
de force pour supporter les mauxd'autrui." The 
Scottish version is Cnidlidh duine nir f/ach 
cneadh arh n chneadh fhéin. That the proverb is 
an old one in Irish may be inferred from allusions 
to it in poems of about a.d. 1600. Thus one of 
Giollabrighde Heoghusa's poems begins : 
Deacair snan ar clineidh cjcarad, " 'Tis hard to 

be insensible of a friend's hurt' ; while a poem 
by Eochaidh Ó Heoghusa contains the lines Aa 
codladh ar a cneidh sin | atáid cuid do chloin^^ 
Mhilidh. 'Upon her wound (i.e. Ireland's 
oppression) some of Mileadh's race slumber ' 
(cf O'Gr. Cat. pp. 407, 479). Compare, in 
Gallagher's Sermons, Na codail air chneadh 
hanama (ed. 1751, p. 49), and colladh air an 
hpeacamh agus gan an aithirdh (leg. aithrighe) 
a dheanamh (ib. p. 66). The phrase is still 
known; cf. for Galway Irish B'fhurusda lei 
codladh ar a gcneadh, ' she would have no 
scruple in remaining unmoved by their suffer- 
ings,' T. Ó Máille, 'An Ghaoth Aniar,' p. 57. 

345. Anaidh fear sona le sean. 

' The lucky man waits for prosperity,' i.e. 
prosperity comes to him without effort on his 
part, while he merely waits tor it, — Dánta 
Grádha, p. 29. A fuller form of the proverb 
is given by MacAdam (no. II): Fanann duine 
sona le séiin, agus bheir duine dona duhh-léum, 
' . . . but the unlucky man gives a blind (or 
disastrous) leap.' A version given by J. O'Daly 
(I.L. Misc. 93; also in GJ. 56, p. 126) is nearly 
identical: Is minic d'fhan fear sonuidhe le 
scun, agus do hheir fear donuighe doi-lcim. 
There is a very similar Scottish version (which 
Xicolson, p. 175, illustrates from a folk-tale): 
Fanaidh d\iine sonn ri s\th, 'us hheir duine dona "T^r 
dinhh-Uum ; Cameron's version has seimh ' for 
.sif/i. A kindred Scottish proverb is: Cha 'n e ji 
'n. latha math nach figeadh, ach an duine dona 
nach fanadh, ' It is not that the good day came 

T I ^ I 

not, but that the unlucky man would not 

The same idea is seen in the current Irish 
proverb Ni bhionn an bhfeur sona ach é bhreith, 
' A lucky man needs but to be born,' with which 
the AVelsh Nid rhaid i ddedu^ydd ond ei eni 
^ exactly agrees. Scottish has C'ha 'n eil do 
II Z dhuine sona ach a bhreith, is bidli duine dona 

'n a loin-ruith. 

346. Is fearr duine ná daoine. 

' A man is better than men,' i.e. One good 
man is better than many worthless ones. This 
is found in Fearfcasa Ó'n Cháintc (l.T.S. xx. 
110), and in Piaras Feiriteur (1. 584). So Sean 
Ó Gadhra: Fior (jur fearr duine 'ná dkis, GJ. 
187, p. 115. The proverb is still preserved in 
Scottish, but not, T think, in Irish. An exactly 
similar proverb is found in Welsh: Gwell givr 
na gvnjr, which was first printed in vSalcsbury's 
' on Synnwyr,' circ. 1547. 

347. NÍ choinnigheann an soitlieach 
acht a Ian. 

' A vessel holds only its fill,' Ills. (MacAdam 
443). Morris (808) quotes Cuach tar a Ian ni 
Uontar from a 16th cent. poem. Cf. Ni fachtar 
us na soighthiiihe \ acht an Ian do bhios ionnta, 
Dánfhocail 155. Cf. also Cha dtig a bhaint as 
a[Ti] tsac ach a[n] Ian a bhios ann, ' One cannot 
take more out of a sack than the full of it,' 
^ MacAdam 444. Scottish has Cha chum an 
^ soifheach ach n Ian, and Cha tig as an 
t-soitheach ach an deoch a bhios innte. 


p-it*(# ^ 

348. NÍ hionann dul ann is as. 

• Coming out is a different thing from going 
in.' Art Óg Ó Caoirah quotes this as a sean- 
fhocul in the Contention (p. 228). Nowadaj's 
one hears Si liionann dul /jo t'ujh an ri ckjus 
teacht as, or Ni hionann dul go dti an haile mar 
■:-.;s tc'jcht (IS, ' Going into the king's house 
(or the town) is one thiny, getting out is an- 
other.' With this compare 7s sleamhain iad V 
leacacha an tighe mhóir, ' Slippery are the flag- 
'-tonjs of the mansion door,' of which another 
version appears in a quatrain in an Edinburgh 
MS. (Rel. Celt. ii. 406): 


Seanfhocall is fior re aithris: 

' Sleamhuinn starseach an tigh mhoii- 
comhairle hheirinn air mo charaid 

gun teachd ach annamh da coir. 

349. Bionn nimh ar an aithne. 

' There is pain in prohibition.' Quoted as a 
proverb by Keating: Is moide hliios dúil 'san 
nidh, hheith ag a thoirmeasg air; 7 is de-sin 
atd an seanfhocal adeir go mbi neimh ar an 
aithne, TBg. 98. 

At the present day the use of the expression 
seems confined to W. Munster, where, however, 
the original meaning of the proverb has been 
forgotten and the whole has become reduced to 
the st-ereotyped phra-se fé mar a hheadh nn 
nimh ar an nifline, which is used in a sense 
equivalent to the English 'as (ill) luck would 
have it.' [I have heard some W. Cork speakers 
employ aithinne, ' firebrand,' for aithne in this 

phrase ; but the latter is the original word 

A similar reduction of what was originally. a 
proverb to a mere set-phrase is seen in the 
Kerry d b^annaimh) leis an gcat srathar a 
hheith air, used with the meaning ' since you 
(or I, etc.) seldom find yourself in your present 
favourable position,' literally ' since the cat 
seldom has had a straddle on him.' The E. 
Ulster form (apparently used as a full proverb) 
is Is annamh le cearc adhastar hheith virthi 
^ (Morris 1369). The Scottish form is B'ainmig 
leis a' chirc nijhartun a hhi aire, " applied," 
says Nicolson, " to persons affecting luxuries 
unsuitable to them." 

350. Is leor ó dhiiine a dhicheall. 

' It is sufficient to do one's best.' This occurs 
in O'Molloy's Lucerna Fidelium {Lor ó dhninc 
(I difluhioU, p. 2). Cf. OS nós a dhiiine a dhichioll 
in Aodh Buidhe Mac Cruitin's prefatory poem 
to Begly's Dictionary. A current form is 7s 
leor Ó Mhóir a dicheall, ' It is sufficient for Mor 
to do her best.' 

351 . Nl mo an sgilinp 5n rlgh no an 
chTonóg riiadh on mbocht lábáin. 

'A shilling from the king is not more than 
half a farthing from a poor labouring man,' 
i.e. A poor man's mite is as much as a big 
donation from a wealthy man, — O'MoUoy 
Lucerna Fidelium (1676), p. 2. 


352. Ni hionann bodach is Dia. 

' A churl and God are not the same,' i.e. God 
is very difiEerent from His creatures, — O'Molloy, 
Lucerna Fidelium, p. 29. Still known in this 

353. Ni ar aonchois thainig Pattruic go 

' It was not on one foot that St. Patrick came to 
Ireland,' — used by O'Molloy (Lucerna Fidelium, 
p. 330) in the sense of ' I am not dependent 
upon that (argument) solely,' ' I have another 
string to my bow.' Morris (973) gives a current 
Armagh version : Cha dtainic Pádraig go 
hEirinn ar a aon-chois. 

354. Námha ceard muna cleachttar. 

' A trade that is not practised is an enemy,' 
i.e. it does more harm than good. This occurs 
in a quatrain in a MS. of about 1600, and is 
there called a seanfhoral ; see Dánfhocail 228. 
It is still well known in Connacht and Donegal 
in the form Is ndmhaid an cheird gan a 
f{e)oghlaim, ' A trade not (properly) learned is 
an enemy.' Scottish has 7s i namhaid duine a' Y 
cheaird nach cleachd e, and also Is diu a' )^ 
cheaird nach foghlamar, ' A trade which is not 
learned is worthless.' 

355. Do ghiolla gan bhuiii mar cbi)iri 
ni beag é féin, 

' One who is cowless must be his own dog,* 

i.e. A poor man must forage for himself,— 
quoted as a proverb in a poem by Tomás Ó 
Glíosáin (Fil. na ^Múiglie, p. 55). A current 
version is Xi hcug do diniine rjaii rJiuid, de 
choin, é frill, Cork (GJ. G4, p. 61; etc.). 
Francis Keane gives Ni heag do dhuine gan Ion 
mar choin é féin, 12 Q 13, pt. 3, p. 72. 

856. NÍ bhcathuigheaim na bréithre 
na bráithre. 

' ]\Iere words will not feed the friars.' Well- 
known to-day. Thus paraphrased by P. 
Haiceud (ed. Torna, p. 40) : Xi liliiafhaid na 
hriiifJira tia hórda. English proverbs of similar 
import are " Fair words butter no parsnips," 
and " The belly is not filled with fair words.'' 
The latter is found in Ulster Irish as Cha 
liiinfar an holg le caint (MacAdam); in Scottish 
^ as Cha Don beannachd brii. 

/:'■!.>•.■.■.-:"! 'x.'/:- -^"^:- •■:,.'■■;':'.' ■' ' 

357. Is giorra deoch na sgéal. 

' A drink is shorter than a story.' A literary 
instance occurs in a composition of D. Ú 
Bruadair's, circ. 1663 (I.T.S. xi. y6). The Scot- 
^ tish form is similar, and so too is (except for its 
orthography) the Manx 'S girrey jough na 
skeeal. In Northern English it occurs as " A 
drink is shorter than a tale," which is doubt- 
less, as Nicolson suggests, a translation from 
the Scottish. According to Mackintosh the 
Scottish proverb is employed to " abridge a 
tedious tale, or too long a story," while Kelly 
INInnx Diet.) says that the Manx version is 

used " when a person is desired to cease in his 
story and to pass the bottle." 

The usual meaning, however, of tlie proverb 
both in Irish and in S ottish is ' A drink conies 
before a story,' and this also appears to be its 
sense in the passage in Ó Bruadair. Giorra 
means 'nearer' as well as 'shorter,' and this 
fact may have caused the alteration in mean- 
ing, if such there was. Hence we find substi- 
tutions for (jiorra which more cloarly bring out 
tlie normal meaning of the proverb, viz. túiscje 
in Irish, and luait he in Scottish. The latter is I 
also found in Irish in Dánfhocail, 222, and the ^ 
former in Scottish in the Edinb. MS. Cf. also ^ 
Tuijann deocli. roiinh sr/éal, Galway (GJ. 183, 
p. 56). 

358. Is dual deireadh don dioghrais. 

' The last place is meet for the best beloved.' 
This occurs frequently in 17th cent, literature, 
its ordinary use being to introduce the last and 
dearest among a group of friends whom the 
writer is enumerating, very much as one says 
in English " Last, but not least." Thus in a 
poem written on his leaving Ireland in 1614 
Brian Mac GioUapádraig after bidding farewell 
to several families finally mentions the 
Kavanaghs, and adds : 

snl cheUeamh, mo núar, a nois 
guv dual deirendh don dloghrois 
(H. 3.19, p. 57). Similarly Dnal garh dioghrais 
fa dlieireadh, Aonghus Ó Dálaigh, p. 12, and 
(with an for goch) Fearghal Óg Mac an Bhaird, 
' Studies,' 1920, 568. So in a poem of uncertain 


authorship : N't nár deireadh don dioghrnis (cf . 
23 C 8, p. 232 ; GJ. 145, p. 149). In a shortened 
form, deireadh don diograis, it occurs in Sean 
Ó Conaill's ' Tuireamh na hÉireann.' It is 
only in this shortened form that the proverb 
has survived in Irish (cf. Irisl. M. Nuadhad, 
1914, p. 6). Scottish has also preserved it in 
an abbreviated form: Gach dileas gu deireadh, 
' The best-loved last.' 

359. Coiléan gach cú go fiadhach. 
'Every hound is a pup until he hunts,' — in a 

poem by Maoilin Óg Mac Bruaideadha, 23N 14, 
p. 104. 

360. Molaidh gach duine a dhúthchas. 

' Everyone praises his own land,' — Brian 
Ruadh Mac Conmidhe (3 C 12, p. 206). So 
Bádhach neach re shefin-dhvthchas, Tadhg mac 
Da ire (I.T.S. xx. 42). Compare 7s ferr dathfhas 
ind gach rii, ' One's native land is bettor than 
anything else,' Oided Mac nUisnig (Ir. T. ii. 

3ni. Tse an diiine an t-éadach. 
' Clothes make the man.' " Fine feathers 
make fine birds." Still current; a variant is 
'Sé an f-éadach a nl an duine (cf . MacAdam 376.) 
There is a literary instance in an anonymous 
17th cent, poem (I.T.S. xi. p. 132): 
Sennfhocal so huainleantar : 
' An f-radach is é an ditine.' 
The proverb is often added to, and the addi- 


tions are worth noting. J. O'Daly gives 'Sé 
nil J nine an t-eudacli^ ayus is gretigach e an 
hindli ; while 3 C 21 (no. 189) has An duine an 
t-rdditch 7 an (jicutjuch a hhiadh. Compare the 
Scottish Is e ' n <jille 'n i-aodach, ach 's e 'n •)(■ 
luochan am biadh, ' Clothes make the lad, but 
food makes the fine lad.' Other Sc. versions 
are Is e 'n duine an t-eudach, 's cha duine as •)(■ 
'eugmhais (Cameron), and Is e 'n duine 'n ^ 
t-aodach, 's cha'n i 'cholainn bhreugach. 

362. NÍ bbionn an rath acht mar a 
mbionn an smacht. 

'There is no luck where there is no authority,' 
i.e. " Spare the rod and spoil the child." This 
is quoted in a sermon composed by Conchubhar 
MacAirteáin in 1724 (Seanm. M. N. i. 188); and 
is still well known. Cf. " Qui parcit virgae 
odit filium suuni," Prov. xiii. 24. 

303. NÍ thig leat dhá mhaighistir a 

' You cannot satisfy two masters,' — Morris 
1522. From Matt. vi. 24. Deacnir foghnomh do 
thai] da thigh earna is the first line of a poem 
ascribed to Mathghamhain Ó Huiginn in St. 
A. V. 2, fo. 52b (but anon, in O'Conor Don's 
MS. and 23 F 16). Cf. PH. 11. 710-711. In a 
quatrain in an Irish MS. (.\.d 1659) inGottingen 
the lines occur : 

Mas mian leaf hheith diadha, ná géill don 
tsaoghal ; 

Da fhighearna do riaradh ni héidir d'aon. 

364. Is minic do bhnin diiine slat a 
bhuailfeadh é féin. 

' Often has ;i man cut u rod to beat himself.' 
Common to-day (with slight variations, such as 
chim é fcin Jo hhnaladh). It occurs as follows 
in a poem by Muiris mac Dháibhí Dhuibh (cf. 
3 B 5, fo. 45a) : Minic do chum a lliuailte. \ tliéid 
diiine do hhuain slaite. The proverb is alluded 
to by Domhnall Mac Bruaideadha : Tig nn 
cumann driiim tar ais; huailtear duine da slilnit 
fcin, Danta Grúdha, p. 36 (the same linej occur 
in another quatrain, Dánfhocail 95). The 
Scottish form is 7s iomadh fear a cliaidh do'n 
choille air son bata da dhruim fcin, ' ]\fany a 
man has gone to the wood for a stick for his 
own back.' In English a similar proverb is 
found as early as Chaucer (Skeat 153) : 
" For it is seyd — man maketh ofte a yerde 

With which the maker is himself y-beten." 

365. Bi'onn eagla ar an leanbh a 

" A burnt child dreads the fire." Otherwise 
Tjennhh loiscjihe fuathann feine. Hardiman i. 
403; Bionn eagla na teineadh ar an leanhh 
drife, MacAdam (and cf. Morris, 1518). Cf . also 
Begly's rendering (p. 94b): Eaghiidhidh an 
leanhh doighfe re san t feine. A literary para- 
phrase is furnished by a poem written about two 
centuries ago by Diarmuid (mac Dhomhnaill 
mhio Fhinghin Duibh) Ó Súileabháin. He is 
declininji an invitation to n convivial party on 

the ground that he had too often before been 

' burnt ' by strong liquor : 

Is clcuchfa leis an Ivanhii beufj, cidh yanii a 

Nuair shatalus ur ailhinne no ar a shumliuil do 

Go seachnonn <in hisair ins rjach hall 'na- 


This proverb in all its Irish forms is based 
upon the English, which goes back to about the 
year 1300 (see Skeat 286). For a native proverb 
of similar import see no. 325. 

366. NÍ iarrfadh an t-athair an mac 
san mbácús, muna mbeadh so féin roimhe 

In Sean Ó Neachtain's ' Stair É. Ui Chleire,' 
1. 1059. Of English origin; of. " No man will 
another in the oven seek except that himself 
have been there before" (Heywood), otherwise 
" The mother would never seek her daughter in 
the oven had not herself been there first " 
(Clarke). The meaming is much the same as 
that of the proverb Has a dhéanta cliuimhnig 
air, i.e. By thinking of such a thing you show 
that you are capable of doing it yourself. 

367. NÍ fi'idliir fhagháil on gcat acht 
a chroiceann. 

"You can have no more of a cat than her 
skin." Well known to-day. Occurs in the above 
form in 'Stair Éamuinn Ui Chleire,' 1. 893; 
and as Ni fcidir dho hhaint de' n chat acht a 

chroiceann in ' Madhm an Arda Bhig ' (GJ. 
i;2, p. 703b). 

868. Is iasg a gcasaiin 'na lion. 

" All is fish that comes to his net." lu Irish 
I have met this (which is rather a proverbial 
phrase than a proverb) only in Ó Neachtain's 
Stair É. UÍ Chléire (1. 582) : Ba hiasg a gcasfadh 
[leg. fjrnsadh] ionna lion. Scottish has A h-uile 
rnd a théid 's an lion 's iasg e. 

369. Creidthe gniomh roimh chaint is 

' An act is to be believed before (mere) talk 
and writing, '^ — -a line of tlie poem ' Mosgail do 
mhisneach, a Rhanbha ' (P. Haiceud, p. 91). In 
English : " Actions speak louder than words." 
Cf. Gniomh a chruthuigheof:, ' Action proves,' 
Connacht; and An focal rr.ór ngus an gniomh 
heag, 'Great talk and little action' (O'Leary's 
Aesop, i. 3G). The followinp; lines from ' An 
Sutach 's a Mhdthair ' may also be compared : 
la go hhfeirimse sagairt 'na seasam.h san éide, 
A ngniomh is a dteagasg seacht n-acra ó cliéile,. 
Scottish has Cha hhriathar a dhearhhas ach 
gmomli (Cameron). 




Besides proverbs of tlie above type, which 
form complete sentences in themselves, we have 
in Irish, as in every other language, a large 
number of stock-phrases, that is to say, expres- 
sions (usually metaphorical) which are con- 
stantly used with reference to a given set of 
circumstances. Such phrases are called canúiní 
in the Irish of West Kerry, as distinguished 
from seanfhocail, ' proverbs,' and in English we 
may call them ' proverbial phrases.'* I give a 
few examples from current Irish by way of 
illustration : — 

Ag did Ó thhj an diahhail go fig an deamh- 
ain, " out of the frying-pan into the fire." 
Another Irish equivalent is ag did as an 
ndeatach isteach .to teine (O'Leary); in Ulster, 
as a' choire insa' teinidh (MacAdam). 

Ag tochrais ar a cheirflin féin, " bringing 
grist to his own mill." 

Do chuirfrá an diihh ' na gheal orm, 'you 
would persuade me that black was white ' ; cf. 
Begly 112b. 

Tá mo phuit seinnte, ' I am done for.' 

* In the older literature no distinction is made between 
proverbs and proverbial phrases, the terms derharuse, 
aenbriathar, and seanfhocal being applied equally to both 

Tá a chóia hán déanta, or Tá cos 'na sijiain 
anuis, ' His fortune is made.' 

Tá do chuid is do chlú afjat, " You hae your 
uieat and your mense " (N.E.), '-c. You have 
the credit of having offered a thing, with no 
cost to yoursL'If (the offer not having been ac- 
cepted). In Ulster: Tá do chuid is do hhvidh- 
eachas agat (MacAdam). In Scottish Tha do 
chvid 's do thnivg ngad (Cameron). 

Chomh ■war})h le hArf, " as dead as a door- 

As<icli(in an chiotad Ids an gcorcán, " the 
pot calling the kettle black." 

Trosgadli. an chait cheanainn (d^iosatlh sc 
fcóil is ni úljadh sc bainnc), lit. ' the abstinence 
of the white-headed cat ' (that refrained from 
milk but had no scruples about eating meat). 
Applied to hypocritical conduct. 

Rith mhadra an da chdis, lit. 'the running 
of the dog with the two cheeses ' (which in his 
graspingness he tried to carry together). Ulster 
and Scotland substitute fiadh for cáis; thus rith 
na. con a, ndéigh dá fhiadh, ' the running of the 
hound after two deer,' IMacAdam 438; 7"in7/i 
chain an da fhcidh, Sc. (in the Edinb. MS., 
juich chon an da fhiadh). 

Alp i mbcal an mhadaidh (MacAdam), " a sop 
to Cerberus." 

Paidir chapaill, ' a long-winded story.' In 
Galway sgcal an ghamhna hhiiidhe means the 
same thing. 

Sgt'al an chaipiv dcirg, ' an oft-repeated tale.' 

f)f course the distinction between ' proverbs ' 
and ' proverbial phrases ' is not an absolutely 

rigid one. A few of the ' proverbs ' given above 
might more appropriately have been included 
in ilie present section (c.y. nos. 336, 340, 342, 
3G8). Many proverbs may be used in an abbre- 
viated form as proverbial phrases, while not 
infrequently the latter may be expanded and 
generalised so as to resemble proverbs. Thus u 
Is je,árr ciall cheannaig ná dhá chéill a múin- H-{jP2iO 
frar, " Bought wit is best," is a proverb but 
ciall cheannaig , ' bought Avit,' by itself is a pro- 
verbial phrase. So Bionn tiarh éinne ag farrac i^A/^páS 
nisge chun a mhuilinn fcin, "Every miller 
draws water to his own mill," may be regarded 
as a proverb; but when we say of some indi- 
vidual Bhi sé ag tarrac uisge chun a mhuilinn 
Ivin sa ghnó (cf. Séadna 190), we are employing 
portion of the proverb as a proverbial phrase. 

Occasionally, too, proverbs become worn down 
to phrases without being abbreviated ; see two 
examples discussed under no. 349. 

Proverbial phrases are very common in our 
older literature, just as, for that matter, they 
are in the Irish of to-day. But is is remarkable 
that very few of the proverbial phrases formerly 
employed have survived in current Irish. Some 
of them, in fact, would, even if modernised in 
form, convey no meaning nowadays, — much as 
in English such an expression as " Hobson's 
choice" would to-day be meaningless if it had 
long since dropped out of English speech and 
literature and if the story that gave rise to it 
had been forgotten. A few examples of such 
obsolete proverbial pliiases may be given here : 
Pcht Moile Moire, ' Maolmhuire's exploit,' Trip. 
Life 88 (referred to as a derbáruscc.) Biad ó 


bPóhi, 'fond from lips,' Aisl. Meic Conglinne 65 
(a senbr'mfhar). Codlud Faillcin i ndún Náis, 
' FaiUén's sleep in the fort of Naas,' Lis. Lives 
405 (an aithiusc mhreithre). Tarraxd Aincél <ú, 
' Aincél (i.e. Misfortune) has visited thee,' Ac. 
Sen. 6214 (a senfhocal). Lámh c[/i]/é Ultám it 
aghaidh, ' Ultán's right hand against thee,' 
I.T.S. xvi. 64 (a senfhocal). Eire na caiUighe 
don bhlonaic, the hag's load of the lard,' Oss. 
Soc. V. 50. 

Phrases such as these, however, are devoid of 
any save a lexicographical interest, and no 
further examples of them need be quoted here. 

In the following pages I have confined myself 
to proverbial phrases the meaning of which is 
readily grasped, and even of these I give only a 

Proverbial phrases denoting hopeless impossi- 
bility, or great difficulty or danger, are very 
frequent in the older literature, — particularly 
in descriptions of fights. Often the idea is 
emphasised by grouping together a number of 
such phrases, as in the following quotations 
which may conveniently be given here. At the 
end of the quotations the commonest of theso 
phrnses are excerpted and numbered 370-382: — 

Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, p. 162 (referred 
to below as " C.G." : — (1) Ba smm- in v-agaid 
siofha, (2) ha hesargain darach du dorndaib, (3) 
I ba ff'il ir mhrurlifiid roborta, (4) ba gaf im 
ganrm no im grian, (5) ba dornd i ngar ngreni, 
— fiiall frrsldiJ c(,fha no comJaind doih. 

Togail Troi (Calcutta, 1882), II. 628 ff. 
(" T.T." — Ba dimdin tra dmhsium antsein^ ar 


(1) ba gat in ycmem 7 (2) ba sndni i n-agaid / 
srotha, (3) ba lua fri borb 7 (4) ba béim cind /7"»)x 
liall, 7 (5) ba saiget i coirthi — dóib ammiis 
catha do thabairt ar trenmilid in talman .i. ar 

Tor. Shaidhbhe (cf. 23 L 39, p. 311; very cor- 
rupt text in 'Gadaidhe Gear na Geamh-oidbche,' 
p. 32). — (1) 7s tuargain darach do dhóirne, no 

(2) snámh i n-aghaidh easa, no (3) cur gaid um | /• 
gliainimh, no (4) toirmeasg mara dhileann, no 
(5) dréim i n-aghaidh gaoithe, no (6) tairgsim. an 
falamh do chur druim tar ais — dibhse an siobhal 
sin do dhéanamh. 

Eaclitra Chloinne Riogh na hloriiaidhe (I.T.S. 
i.), p. 86 (" CI. R.I."). — (1) 7i snámh i n-aghaidh 
easa, no (2) gad vm ghaineamh, no (3) tuargan rX 
darach de dhornaibh, no (4) fadóghadh teineadh 
fa inbhear, nn (o) is glnc um ghath gréine, no (6) 
teas i gceann fiuchtha, nn (7) is Uim 'na leabuidh 
ar leómhan, dul i gceann mhic Bigh na Sorcha. 

Irish Aeneid, 11. 750 ff. (" Aen.").—Ni hern 
baegail in laech fuil and .i. Aenias, uair (1) is 
lam a nead nathrach, (2) is lua brot 7 (3) lém 
chindhlleg. béim cind'jfri hall. (4) is cuindchidh 
ugra, 7 gledin gaiscid fair, 7 (5) as fearg nath- 
rach ima ned aigi, 7 is nert leomain, is bruth 
milead, is gcd curadh, is Idmach laech lais. 

Cath Catharda, 11. 4395 ff. (" Cath.").— (1) 
Is techt tar aicned immorro. ocus (2) is feidm os 
nirt, ocus (3) as onfaisi occiain, ocus (4) as 
iarraidh fliorais i fudomain. oms (5) decsin 
radhairc ir-reodoirclh'\e. ocus (6) as gabail >■*• 
muir lain ice llnadh, ocus (7) as triall éiccne for 
airdrlgh, oe^is (8) as techt i cath gan congaibh 
[airm], ocus (9) ns seoladh ind agaidh gae.ithe. 
I2g K 

ocus (10) as cuingidh freabt[h]a i fritagaidh 
ecca, ocus (11) as clirem ar immatt eccintech — 
d'oenduine isin domun foiairt aii[/i]mi no 
aissneisin for cathugud in lal sin. 

Eachtra Lomnochtáin, p. 23 ("Lom."), — (1) 
Is tuargain darach de dhornaibh, no (2) snámh i 
n-aghaidh easa, no (3) ci/r gaid um ghainimh, f // 
dul chum teaghlaigh m' athar-sa. 

In Aislinge Meic Conglinne, pp. 71-73 (" Aisl. 
M. C") there is a long list of this kind in which 
some 45 different things which it would be vain 
or foolish to attempt are eiiumerated. Most of 
these sayings, however, are not of common 
occurrence. One of them has already been re- 
ferred to (no. 149 supra) ; references to a few of 
the others will be found below. 

870. snámh i n-aghaidh easa. 

' Swimming against a waterfall,' — Tor. Sh. (2) ; 
CI. R.I. (1); Lom. (2); Dnl. Mac Bruaideadhain 
23 L 17, fo. 28a. With srotha, ' stream ' (for 
easa),— C.G. (1); T.T. (2). So snámh i n-aghaidh 
tréan-tvile, Gadelica i. 240. Very similar is 
snám^ mara mór-thonnaig , ' swimming the 
mighty-waved sea,' B. of Magh Rath, p. 172. 
Ucht ra mór-diUnd, ' breasting a great flood,' 
C. R. Rig, p. 46. Onfaisi occiain, Oath. (3), 
seems to mean ' immersing oneself in the 
ocean' ; so onfvise. (sic leg.) aigéin in poem by 
Baothghalach MacAodhagáin, 'Contention' p 
216, St. 7. 

371. cur gaid um ghainimh. 

'Putting a withe around sand.'-^T.T. (1); 

Tor. Sh. (3); CI. R.I.; Lorn. (3); Gadelica i. 
240. Also formerly gat im (janem no im grian 
('gravel '), cf. C.G. (4); TBC. 4057; Aisl. M.O. 
71 (with gual, 'charcoal/ for grian). Compare 
the English " a rope of sand." 

372. tuargain darach de dhoirnibh. 

' Beating an oak with one's fists,' — Tor. vSh. 
(1); CI. R.I. (3); Lom. (1). Var. (for tuargain) 
esorcu, Aisl. M.C 71 and note, or csargain, C.G. 

373. " béim cind fri hall." 

' Striking one's head against a rock,' " knock- 
ing one's head against a stone wall," — T.T. (4); 
Aen. (3). So essarcain cind fri hallih, C. R. Rig 

374. " saiget i coirthi." 

' vShooting an arrow at a pillar-stone,' — T.T. 
(5) ; Aisl. M.C. 71 ; C. R. Rig 46. 

375. glac um glia gréine. 

' Grasping at a sunbeam,' — CI. R.I. (5). So 
dornd i nrjae ngréni, C.G. (5). Similarly doi^ 
im dhiaidh, 'grasping at smoke,' B. Shuibhne 
54; O'Dav. 1586. Dorn im cheó, King and 
Hermit, p. 29. 

376. " fál re mbrúchtud robarta." 

' A wall against the onrush of the flood-tide/ 
C.G. (3). Cf. gahciil re mvir Jain ice linadh, 

'resisting a full sea in flood,' Cath. (6); toir- 
measg mora dileann, Tor. Sh. C ' ) ; nnd fed huinne 
da chor le cuan (with a variant cosg do chur ris 
an mhuir mJwir), Dánfhocail 89. 

377. fadúdh teine fá loch. 

' Kindling a fire under a l;;ko,' with variants 
shiúill and inhheur (for lodt), — Dánfhocail 70, 
89; CI. R.I. (4). 

378. seóladh i ii-aghaidh gaoithe. 

' Sailing against the wind,' — cf. Cath. (9). So 
dréim. i n-aghaidh gaoithe, Tor Sh. (5). 

379. lámh i nead nathrach. 

' Putting one's hand into an adder's nest,' — 
cf . Aen. (1) ; Tog. Troi (Calcutta, 1882), 1. 608 ; 
Lughaidh Ó Cleirigh, I.T.S. xx. p. 18. So. 
ropsat lama in-net nathrach, RC. xiii. 92 
(Bóroma). See next phrase, and cf. fcarg nath- 
rach ima ned, Aen. (5). 

380. ceann i gcuithe leomhaii. 

Thus in B. Aodha Ruaidh, p. 268: Bo hadh 
rciin i ccuithe leomhan no lamh i nead grihhe 
(sic leg.) a ionnsoigeadh itir, ' To attack him 
uas like putting one's head into a lion's den, or 
one's hand into a griffin's nest.' So nead grihhe 
7 fochla Ipomhain, ' griflBn's nest and lion's den,' 
is applied to a formidable army, ibid. pp. 156, 
166. Cf. CI. R.I. (7). 


381. " lua fri borb." 

' A kick against a boor,"— T.T. (3). But tho 
original form was probably liia fri brot, ' kick- 
ing against a goad,' as the lua brot of Aen. (2) 
suggests. Compare " contra stimulum calci- 
trare/' " to kick against the pricks," Acts ix. 5. 
Hevwood combines this with versions of 370 
and 373 : 

" Folj- it is to spourne against a pricke, 
To stryue against the streme, to winche or kicke 
Against the hard wall." 

382. " athchungid ngra." 

' Seeking strife,' " looking for trouble," — 
Tog. Troi (Calcutta, 1882, 1. 609). So cuindchidh 
ugra, Aen. (4). 

383. a' taomadh na mara le cliabh. -^ 

' Draining out iiie sea by means of a basket,' flCff V'T^ 
— Scottish (Cameion). Cf. Merriman's Cúirt, 
11. 740-742 : ól nu Sionainne tirim no a 
taosgadli, etc. 

384. " robad do throich." 

' Giving a warning to one who is doomed,' i.e. 
a futile task, — Aisl. M. C. 71. Ba rahhadh do 
throich (sic leg.) a dteacjasg, ' it was vain to 
warn them,' Cath Muighe Léana 18. Cf. acht 
cid comrdd re carraig comairli do t\_h']roich re, na 
thiiigh-ba, ' though to give advice to a doomed 
man before his death is like talking to a rock,' 
B. of Magh Rath 170. 

385. " banna ria frais." 

' A drop before a shower,' i.e. a portent of 
greater things to come,— Fled Bricrend (I.T.S. 
ii. 64); Proc. R.I.A. 1895, p. 548. So hainne re 
bhfhrais in poem by GioUabrighde Mac Con- 
midhe, Misc. Celtic vSoc. p. 172. Mar hhraoni 
da bhfearthair ria hhfrais, i.e. ' as the first 
drop of rain that portends the storm,' Lughaidh 
Ó Cléirigh (I.T.S. XX. 92). 

386. coim ria gcioth. 

' A cloak before rain,' ' a shelter from the 
shower,' used to denote ' ease, comfort.' Thus : 
Nir hho coim ria cciodh (sic) do Aodh TJa 
Domhnaill a elúdlx, B. Aodha Ruaidh, p. 16. 
Ba coimm ria ccioth dósomh tocht isin 
ccaraffradh sin, F.M., 1599, p. 2140. 

387 . ' ' tochuiriuth drochcarat. ' ' 

Thus in Toch. Étaíne (Ir. Tex. i. 120) : Ni ha 
toehuiriiith drocharat det-si on ani sein, i.e. ' It 
is no evil-minded friend whom you thus invite,' 
spoken by Eochaid to Étaín. Another version 
of Eochaid' s words is given in Br. Da Derga 
(§2): Ni ha faig drochcurad hi cein dait em, 
' No seeking of an ill friend afar shall be thine ' 

388. sliocht sionnaigh ar oighrcóig. 

' The track of a fox on ice.' Thus in B. Aodha 
Ruaidh, p. 80: Nlr hho sliocht siondaig for 
oicjhreog eng 7 joillecht an chreach-slhllóigh, 
i.e. It was easy to find the track of the ravaging 


389. fáilte carad um chuirm. 

' The welcome of friends at a feast.' Thus in 
E. CI. Righ na hloruaidhe (I.T.S. i. 188): Nior 
bli' f[h]áilte carad um chuirm fáilte na deise 
deagh-laoch sin d'á chéile, i.e. their meeting 
was anything but friendly. Compare in Muc 
Mic Dá-thó, Ntptar aigthe carat vm fhleid (Ir. 
T. i. 99). 

390. taobh le toll-airbhe. 

' Trusting to a broken fence/ (i.e. "a broken 
reed"),— B. of Magh Rath 126 {taeh re tollairhe). 
The Four Masters compare the people of Tir- 
olionaill after the death of their prince, Conn 
Ó Domhnaill, in 1583 to a corn-field with a 
broken fence {gort taobh le tollairbhe). Other 
exx. are : Damh ni taobh re tollairbhe, Timth. 
viii. 46; ni taobh tollairbhe taobh ruinn, Tadhg 
mac Dáire (I.T.S. x-s. 98). Dinneen (s.v. 
taobhaim) gives taobhadh le toUair c as current 
in Donegal. 

391. " boegal i n-écmais omain." 

' Danger without fear,' i.e. foolish confidence 
in the face of danger,— PH. 3010. 

392. ciiid daimh d'eadradh. 

' The ox's part in milking-time,' i.e. the role 
of an idle spectator, — Tadhg mac Daire (I.T.S. 
XX. 128). The Ulster cuid an tsearraigh de'n 
chliath (MacAdam 80; also in Scottish), lit. 
' the foal's share of the harrow,' has just the 
same meaning. 


íAA-o^ ^^''^thl) ,.U^M 4- u^ ^ ^ W^ . 

393. cuid ghiolla an eich don gheirr- 

' The horse-boy's share of the hare,' i.e. a very 
small share, — Danta Grádha, p. 42. 

394. déirc i soightheacli Ian. 

' Alms bestowed on a full vessel,' i.e.. unre- 
quited effort, — Danta Gr.idha, p. 29. So déirc 
an mháilin lain, Bourke's Grammar, p. 281 ; 
déirce do'n phucdn lún, Morris 1015. 

"j^ 395. fnaradh ghiolla an ghabhann. 

' The rest that the smith's working-boy gets,' 
i.e. no real rest but merely a change from one 
kind of work to another, — TBg. 174 (where 
Keating explains the phra,se). MacAdara (67) 
has recorded an Ulster version : Sgiste ghiolla 
an ghohha, 6 na huiUj chun na Jiitmeora. 

39G. sop i n-ionad na sguaibe. 

' A wisp in place of a broom,' i.e. a poor 

substitute. Well known to-day. There is a 

paraphrase in P. Haicead (p. 4) : gé tláthshop 

scaipithe i malairt na scuaibe sinn. A synonj'm 

J^ is an tsrathair i n-áit na diallaite, 'the siraddle 
in place of the saddle,' which is also found in 

■^ Scottish (Cameron, p. 480). Compare clock i 
n-ionad vitjhe, ' a stone in place of an egg,' 
used by Charles O'Conor of Belanagare in a 
note in YBL. (p. 170a), and also known in Ulster 
(MacAdam) and in Scotland. 



397. coigeal i láinih óinsigíié. 
' A distaff in the hand of a fool.' Thus in 

23 M 3, p. 28 (Magbnus Ó Domhnaill) : Nlr 
chogél a Idimh oinsighe sin, i.e. he showed him- 
self an adept at it. A current Ulster form is 
cuigeúl i ndorn na hamaidighe, Morris 1158. 
Scottish has claidhcamh an laimh amadain is 
slachdan an laimh oinsigh, ' a sword in the 
hand of a male fool, and a beetle in the hand 
of a woman-fool.' 

398. iiisge do loch. ^f^^lf^^So 

Thus in LU. Irish Nennius (ed. Hogan, p. VS"/ 
15) : Ferta tra Páfraic do innisin dvihsi, a 
//iuu Herend, is usee do loch insin, 'To relate 
to you, men of Ireland, the miracles of St. 
Patrick is like bringing water to a lake,' i.e. is 
a needless task. Scottish has (inter alia) : B 'e 
sin an salann 'g a. chur 's a' mhuir, ' That wer« 
(like) putting salt in the sea.' Welsh has simi- 
larly cludo hcli i'r mdr, ' to carry salt-water to 
the sea.' These are all equivalent to the Eng- 
lish " canving coals to Newcastle." 

399. troid bodaigh le sliiagh. 

* A churl's fight against an army,' i.e. a 
foolish and futile effort, — Bourke's Grammar, 
p. 300. A literary instance occurs in an anony- 
mous poem in 23 D 4, p. 133 : Gan éag duit da 
ttairginlnisi '| is troid bhodaigh re ceithrinn. 
The Scottish form resembles the latter : trod a' 
hhodaich ris a' cJieathairn (Nicolson; also 
Edinb. MS.). 


Very similar is the phrase iniirt bhodaigh in 
mhacaoinih, ' the play of a churl with a young 
warrior,' used in the literature in the sense of 
' a one-sided game,' 'an uneven contest' (23 D 4, 
p. 133; St. A. iv. 3, p. 801). Compare also 
gleic leinibh is laoich luinn, ' a child's contest 
with a doughty warrior,' Anluan Mac Aodha- 
gáin, I.T.S. xxi. 224. 

400. mic-tire i gcroicnibh caorach. 
"Wolves in sheep's clothing" (cf. Matt. vii. 

15),— Peadar Ó Doirnin, GJ. 70, p. 156. Earlier 
in a poem in LB. : Bid foel i craicend choerecli, 
GJ. 45, p. 194. A current Munster form is 
machtire i gcroiceann na fóisge ; a variant 
(GJ. 44, p. 192) has madadh ruadh, ' fox,' for 
machtire, ' wolf.' 

401. urchar an daill fa'n dabhach. 

'The blind man's shot at the vat,' i.e. a ran- 
dom shot, — given by Mac Adam for Ulster. The 
^ Scottish form is similar : urchair an doill mu'n 
(hihltaicli (Edinb. MS., and Nicolson). In a 
poem by Diarmaid mac Sheáin Bhuidhe the 
line occurs (cf . ed. Torna, p. 43) : Nior bh' 
urchar daill fa aill dam tigheacht chútha, i.e. 
it was no mistake on my part to visit them ; I 
was sure to be repaid for my trouble. Here fa 
aUl seems^^,^ be a corrupted form of fd 


402. ar a chliathaibh fis. 
Keating in his ' Forus Feasa ' (ii. pp. 348-350) 

says that, when all other means of divination 
failed them, the druids used to wrap themselves 
in fresh bulls' hides which they had previously 
spread on wattles of the quicken-tree ; hence, 
he adds, anyone Avho does his utmost to get in- 
formation is proverbially said to go ' on his 
wattles of knowledge ' ( ar a chliathaibh fis). 
The phrase occurs twice in the ' Contention of 
the Bards,' viz., codail ar do cldiathaibh fis, 
Fearfeasa Ó'n Cháinte (p. 108); and ar ndul do 
ar a chUaihaibh fis, R. Mac Artúir (p. 158). It 
is now obsolete. 

403. caith agiis cosain iad. 

' Spend them and defend them,' — said to a 
ruler with reference to his subjects, ' Me 
Guidhir Fhearmanach,' p. 58. So the Four 
Masters (p. 735), in recording the death of Pilip 
Mag Uidhir in 1395, speak of him as fer caithme 
7 chosanta [leg. cosantal a rhrlclie . In the 
Battle of Magh Léana (p. 106) it is said of Conn 
Ceadchathach with reference to Ireland : As i 
bardnta as fearr dhá caitheamh agas dhd cos- 
namh é. English writers of Elizabeth's time 
make reference to the phrase. Thus Robert 
Payne in his ' Brife Description of Ireland ' 
(printed in 1590 ; reprinted in the Ir. Arch. 
Soc. vol. for 1841) says: "They haue a common 
saying which I am perswaded they speake un- 
feinedly, which is, ' Defend me and spend me ' ; 
meaning from the oppression of the worser 
sorte of our countriemen." And a few years 
later Spenser, in his ' View of the State of 
Ireland,' says: "They (the Irish) were never 

do tÍA^Ít «4^ ^ eLea^^ 0-^ ^ ■ 


wont, and yet are loth, to yield any certain 
rent, but only spendings ; for their common 
saying is, ' Spend me and defend me.' " 

404. duine i n-aghaidh an tsaoghail. 

' One man against the world.' Cf. "Athanasius 
contra mundum." The above is the current 
form ; other versions were very common in the 
literature of a few centuries ago. Thus: Nd 
hi 't aon i n-agliaidh cháich, Dánfhocail 185. 
{Tú) it aon i n-aghaidh mór-shhtaigh, R. Mac 
Artuir in the 'Contention' (I.T.S. xx. p. 152, 
St. 45). TÚ it aon i n-aghaidh -pobail, Aodh Ó 
Domhnaill in the same (p. 136, st. 7). 'N-ti aon 
i n-aglhlaidh pobuil, Eochaidh Heoghusa (Ir. 
Monthly, 1920, p. 595). 'S me an t-aon i 
n-aghaidli phohail in an anonymous poem (cf. 
23 D 4, p. 133). 

405. cúram Una. 

' Una's solicitude.' Applied to the occupa- 
tion of a busybody. Well known to-day; often 
with the explanatory addition of cur am gan 
chion, ' solicitude without affection.' An in- 
stance occurs in a Connacht quatrain in 23 Q 18, 
p. 406 (transcribed circ. 1818) : Mas ort ata 
ciirani uághna (sic), go ma fada húan do 

406. muc i mala. 

" A pig in a poke." Current to-day, and 
probably of English origin. Tt occurs thus in 


O'Molloy's ' Lucerna Fidelinm ' (1676), p. 313: 
A'i chennlnjitighnnne pigin a maladh. 

407. ag marbhadli iiiada mhairbh. 

' Killing a dead dog,' i.e. " flogging a dead 
horse," or "pouring water on a drowned rat," 
—Luc. Fid., p. 333. Morris (1165) gives a S.-E. 
Ulster version : caitheamh clock ar inhadadh 
niarbh, ' throwing stones on a dead dog.' 

408. cleamhnas an charn-aoiligh , agus -^ y 
cáirdeas críostaidhe i bhfad amach. ^ 

' Marriage at the dung-heap, and sponsorship f^^ f ^ tfi 
far away,' i.e. ' It is best to marry a neighbour /n^ ff c- 
and to have one's god-parents far away,'— Clare -^ )'^ J 

(cf. GJ. 188, p. 136). A Derry version is very 
similar (Morris 138). As early as the fourteenth 
century Gofraidh Fionn alludes to it as an 
established maxim; his version is Cleamhnas ar 
dcis duine féhi, | is altrannas i n-imgéin, 
' Marrying near and fosterage afar ' (Ir. 
Monthly, 1919, p. 5). Scottish has Fosadh thar ^ 
na h-innearachj 'us goisfeacht thar muir, 
' Marriage o'er the midden, sponsorship o'er 
sea.' There are other Scottish versions in which 
' courting ' takes the place of ' sponsorship ' 
(Nicolson 351 ; Cameron 505) ; some such substi- ^ 
tution was to be expected when once the old 
custom of fosterage had fallen into disuse. 
N.E. has " Better marry ower the midden 
than ower the muir {i.e. moor)," which 
would seem to have been borrowed from Scot;^ 


tish ; though Nicolson quotes a proverb from 
Cheshire which is very similar. 

409. Oisin d' éis na Féine. 

' Oisin after the Fian,' applied to a solitary 
survivor of former days, as Oisin was supposed 
to have survived all his comrades and to have 
lived down to St. Patrick's time. Compare 
Diarmaid's words to Oisin in Tor. Dhiarmada 
agus Ghrainne (Oss. Soc. iii. 190) : Biairse féin, 
a Oisin, ad challaire d'éis na Féinne. The 
phrase is a common one in modern Irish ; thus 
Sean Ó Conaill, in his 'Tuireamh na hÉireann,' 
applies it to vSir Cahir O'Doherty whose tardy 
rebellion took place in 1608: 6 Dochartaifili ina, 
Oisin d'éis na Féine, \ do thógaihh cogadh nár 
chosain ar aon-chor. Diarmaid mac Sheáin 
Buidhe writes: 7m Oisin d'éis na Féinne is 
truagh mar táim (p. 61). Aindrias Mac Cruitin 
in his address to Donn similarly compares him- 
self : 

Mnr Oisin ag osnaigJie 's ng caoineadh 
D'éis na Féine go léir dhul fd lioga. 
The phrase has also been preserved in Scottish : 
mnr Oisenn an déigh no Feinne. ^ 

410. sgaradh cinn le colainn. 

Thus in Eachtra Chonaill Ghulban : Ba 
xriaradh cinn fria colainn an sgaradh sin, ' That 
parting was as the parting of head from body,' 
23 M 10. p. 117. A little later in the same text 
this is nmplified in verse as follows (ef. ihid. p. 


Mo sgaradh-sa is Conall caomh 
is sgaradh eilit fri a laogh, 

sgaradh mic is a mháthar, 

sgaradh deise dearhhráthar. 

Is sgaradh lachan fri linn, 
sgaradh cuirp is a chaoimh-chinn, 
did uaidsi, a ChonaiU chliaraigh 
gus an niBeirbhe mhánsgiathaigh. 
i.e. our parting is as the parting of a hind from 
its fawn, or of a boy from his mother, or the 
parting of two brothers, or the parting of a 
duck from the lake, or of the body from the 
head. Cf. As scorudh cuirp re cride | damh 
deghnil rem dherbhfine, Beatha Coluimb Chille, 
p. 192. With sgaradh lachan fri linn cf. the sgaradh eóin re fioruisge, Maghnus 
Ó Domhnaill, Dánta Grádha p. 2. 

The first of the two quatrains quoted above 
is closely paralleled in the Battle of Magh 
Eath, p. 134, with the substitution of dehaid, 
'strife,' for sgaradh. 'parting': 

Mo dehaid is Co-ngail Claen 
is dehaid ellti re laeg, 
dehaid mic is a máthar, 
is troid desi dearhrdthar. 

411. fáilte UÍ Cheallaigh. 

' O'Kelly's welcome,' i.e. a very hearty wel- 
come, — D. Ó Bruadair iii. 186; Aogán Ó 
Raithile (2nd. edn., p. 44). It is probable that 
(as Father MacErlean suggests) this phrase had 
its origin in the remarkable invitation extended 
to all the poets, musicians, etc., of Ireland by 



Uilliam Ó Ceallaigh at Chiistmastide, 1351 (see 
£iiii, V. .50). The phrase is still current (Kerry). 
Other phrases introducing surnames are 
tabharias UiBhriain{'s a dhá shúil'nadhiaidh), 
' O'Brien's gift,' i.e. one very grudgingly given ; 
and bodhaire Mhic Mhathamhna, ' MacMahon's 
deafness,' i.e. deafness which is merely feigned 
(Clare, GJ. 186, p. 105). In West Cork 
bodhaire Ui Laoghaire, ' O'Learj^'s deafness ' 
(cf. Mion-chaint ii. 36) is used with the same 
meaning as the latter. 

^.■^J^, 412. fál ar an ngort tar eis iia foghla. K 
' Fencing a field after the plunder has been 
committed,' i.e. " locking the stable-door when 
the steed has been stolen." Still current, as is 
also a variant fál an bhodairj d'éis na foghla. 
There is a literary allusion to this phrase in the 
first line of an anonymous religious poem : Fál 
iar bhfoghail don othar an fhaoisidin (cf. H. 5. 
3, p. 62). Cf. 'Sé dúnadh an dorais é fur eis na 
foghla, in a Munster folk-song (An tAithriseóir 
i. 9). 

^ J13. piobaire an aon-phuirt. 

' A piper who has only one tune.' Still cur- 
rent, both in Ireland and in Scotland. There 
is a literary instance in a poem by Eoghan (') 
Donnaoile : iVi me piobaire an éan-phuirt (cf. 
Reliq. Celt. ii. 294). 

414. ag lorg gadhair is gan fios a 
dhatha aige. 

' (A man) looking for a clog although he 
doesn't know the dog's colour.' Well-known 
to-day. Occurs in Tomás Ó Caiside's auto- 
biography : (Kj iarruidh mo ghadliuir 's gan fios 
a dhath agam (cf. 23 35, p. 60). 

As may be inferred from some of the above 
phrases, Irish often expresses as a metaphor 
what other languages would rather express as a 
simile. Similes, however, are also found in 
Irish. I give here a few examples of stereo- 
typed similes (which may be looked upon as 
proverbial phrases) which are frequently used 
in the literature in describing a hero's (or an 
army's) victorious onrush through opposing 
forces : 

415. amhail seabhac tré mhin-éanaibh. 
' Like a hawk through small birds.' 

416. amhail faolchú fá thread caorach. 
' Like a wolf through a flock of sheep.' 

417. amhail miol mór tré mhin- 

' Like a whale through small fishes.' 

Two or more of these similes are frequently 
used together, hence it is convenient to bring 
examples of all three together here. An early 
instance of 412 is: feih ras leic se/ig for mintu, 
'as the hawk attacks little birds, TBC, ed. 
Wind., 3792. No. 413' is seen in Imsdi Concho- 7 
bar chucu amal fuel fó chalrib, Toch. Ferbe (Ir. 
145 ^ 

T. iii. 516), and in Bodn-imheir jorru anud 
fúelaid etir cháirclviL, Togail Troi (Ir. T. ii. 
1433). In Eachtra Chonaill Ghulbain we have 
Téid fútha amhail seahhac tre. ■mhin-éanaihh 
(cf. 23 M 10, p. 31) and Téid fútha, tríotha is 
tarsa amhail bleidhmhiol fo mhin-iasgaihh (cf. 
ibid. 68). In Eachtra Lomnochtáin : Do ghahh- 
adar Fianna Eireann da leadradh amhail faol- 
chonaihh ocracha craos-sgaoilte [leg. craoi- 
osgailte'] tre mhin-tréadaihh caorach, no amhail 
miol mór tré mhin-iasgaihh ^ no amhail seahhac 
tre ealtain de mhin^canaihh (p. 34; cf. also ibid. 
66). In some Munster folk-tales we find these 
similes still living, thus : Déanan Diarmaid 
fútha 7 gahhan triotha sahhall 7 anall, amhail 
seahhac tre sgata mion-éan, no madadh allta, 
tre treahha (sic) caorach, Oir. Proc. 1898, p. 66; 
and Dhein sé fútha mar dheunfadh seahhac fé 
sgata mion-eun la Mcirta, in a Kerry version of 
' Eachtra Chonaill Ghnlban,' An Lochrann, 
Márta, 1911. 

418. amhail buinne ndileann a hucht 

' Like a flood rushing down from a high 
mountain,'— Conall Gulban (cf. 23 TM 10, p. 98). 
So Do chúaidh fúthu 7 tríthu 7 tarsa mur dam 
ndian nddsachtach arna drochhtialad, no mur 
leoman arna chrád jdna chuilenaih, no mur 
huinni ndian ndilinn sceithes a hucht airddéhe 
i n-aimsir thuili hrisis 7 minaighes gach nl gusa 
loichend, Fianaigecht p. 94. Atraarhtatar Lagin 
. . . amal hvivne dllr.nd do ailUl). Bóroma 
(RC. xiii. 90). Bloisghheim hninne dilionn do 
ucht airdshUihhe, B. Shuibhne, 124. 


There are in early Irish literature a number 
of collections of precepts and wise sayings attri- 
buted to certain characters of history or legend 
who had obtained a reputation for wisdom. 
These are : (1) Audacht (or Auraicept) Moraind, 
' the Testament of Morann,' supposed to have 
been King of Ireland, a.d. 15-36*; (2) Tecosca 
Cormaic, ' the Instructions of Cormac ' mac 
Airt, said to have been King of Ireland in the 
third century; (3) Senhriathra Fithail, 'the 
Proverbs of Fithal ' (or Fitheal), lawgiver to 
King Cormac mac Airt ; and (4) Briathra 
Flainn Fhina maic Ossu, 'the AVords of Flann 
Fina,' the name by which Aldfrid, son of King 
Oswy of Northumbria, was known in Ireland. 
In addition to these there is an equally old 
collection of Triads, or wise sayings arranged in 
groups of three, which has been edited by Kuno 
Meyer (Todd Lecture Series xiii., R.I. A.). All 
these have been quoted from above, particularly 
(3) and (4), which are to a large extent iden- 
tical. But of the greater number of the say- 
ings in these ancient compilations it may be 
said that there is no evidence that they ever 

* This has been edited by Thurneysen, ZCP. xi. 56 
References to editions of the other texts will be found 
Best's Bibliography, p. 263. 


attained such a degree of popularity as would 
warrant our regarding them as proverbs. 

Coming to modern times, we may begin with 
Begly's English-Irish Dictionary (Paris, 1732), 
which has often been quoted from supra (see 
nos. 30, 63, 115, 124, 128, 132, 194, 198, 223, 
342, 365). A good number of English proverbs 
are given in this work of Begly's, but the Irish 
equivalents he sets after them are, as a rule, 
mere slavishly literal translations of the Eng- 
lish. Occasionally, however, he gives (in 
addition, frequently, to a literal rendering) 
what appear to be genuine Irish proverbs or 
proverbial phrases. Besides most of those 
quoted above, the following seem to be genuinely 
Irish (I retain Begly's spelling): — 

(1) Dein fein do ghnódh, agus ith fein do 
shudóg, " Self do, self have," p. 600b. 

(2) BUghe comaoin cúiteadh, and (3) lonn- 
laitt na Inmha a rhcUc, " Claw me, claw thee," 

(4) 7s meinli'\c cealg a mhun na póige, 
" Many do kiss the hands they wish to see cut 
off," 385a. 

(5) Ithigh greidltm grcidhm oile, " One shoul- 
der of mutton draws down another," 607b. 

(6) Tuibhe na hdthadh do chur ar an muil- 
Jionn, " To rob Peter to pay Paul," 584b. 
Literally, ' to put the thatch of the kiln on the 

■^ mill.' Still preserved in Scottish : tuhhadh na 
h-atha air a' mhuilinn; in the Edinb. MS., 

^ tngha na háifh ga chur air a' mhuilionn. 
Nicolson quotes a N.E. form (probably borrowed 
from Sc.) : "Tir the kiln to thack the mill." 


(,7) Mas ionmhuin an chráin, is ionmhuin an 
l-ál, and (8) Mas ionmhuin leat me, is ionmhuin 
ino réim, " Love me, love my dog," 428b. Tliere 
is a version of the former in Hardiman. Scot- 
tish has Ma's toigh leat a'mhuc, is toigh leat a 
h-al (Cameron). 

(9) Mol an t-dth mur do gheahhair é, 
'' Never praise a ford till you go over," 229a. 
Nowadays usually Moladh gach cinne an t-ddh 
mar a gheóbhaidh. 

(10) Mas olc maol, is measa mullóg, " There's 
not so bad a Jack but there's as bad a Jil," 
339a. In F. Keane's collection (12 Q 13), Ni 
measa maol nd maológ. In Hardiman, Ma's 
dona maol is measa maológ. Cf. Morris 373. 

(11) Nlor ear caire nach rachadh ar foghadh, 
" He that will not when he may, when he fain 
would he shall have nay," 662a. Hardiman has 
Nior toib [leg- theib or ob] cuire nach rachadh 
forfoidlie [_ — ar foighdhe, 'begging']. 

12) Ni thig olc a ttir nach fearrde duine K-§P^?3 
éigin, " It is an ill wind that blows no body 
good," 662b. The current Galway and Donegal 
forms are nearly as in Begly. 

(13) Bi an fhirinne searhh ar uairibh, "All -^ "^' r^r 
truths are not to be spoken at all times," 645a. Í S''-f- 
Compare no. 52 supra. 

(14) Ni bhi deatach gan teinidh, " Where 
there is smoke there is fire," 614a. Compare 
Ml. 40c 1 (Miss E. Knott). An dit a mbionn 
toif, bionn teine, Uls. 

(15) Cró roimh na hnrcuihh, " You count your 
chickens befoi-e they are hatched," 297b. So 
crodh (leg. cró) roimh an arc, Hardiman. Nd 
dean cró a roimhe nn hnrcaihh. ' Do not build 


the sty before the litter comes,' MaoAdam 34. 
Ná bí ag deunamh na cróite roimis na torcaibh, 
GJ. 79, p. 104 (Cork). 

(16) Ni he an cnámh as áluÍTm, acht an fheoil 
ar a ghualalijnn, " Fine feathers make fine 
birds," 212a (with as printed as as). 

(17) An ti bhios abhfad amuigh dearmudthar 
a chuid, "Long absent, soon forgotten," 6b. 
Nowadays An té bhíonn amxnch, fuaruighea/nn 
a chuid. 

(18) Tagradh ar sáilbhreith, " To make alma- 
nacks for last year," 26a. 

(19) Na déa.nadh dáil, 's bheifh lorn do 
ghnáth, " Ever spare and ever bare," 63b. 
Déanadh is a misspelling for déana { = din). 

(20) Ni bhi sonus gan donus na órluíghe fríd, 
" No rose without a thorn," 587a. Cf. current 
versions, as a line of verse, in GJ. 192 p. 198 
(Cork), Amhráin Chi. Gaedheal p. 108 1. 3 
(Galway), Irisl. M. Nuadhad, 1912, p. 137 
(Donegal). Cf. English " No joy without 
alloy," " No joy without annoy." 

(21) Uan ag múnadh méilidhe dá mháthair, 
"To teach one's grandam to give suck," 272b. 
Also in Hardiman. Well-known to-day. 

The first printed collection of Irish proverbs 
appeared in Hardiman' s Irish Minstrelsy, ii. 
pp. 397-408, published in 1831. It consists of 
228 proverbs alphabetically arranged, "of dif- 
ferent ages " and derived " from various 
sources both oral and written." But, although 
he does not specify it, Hardiman's main, if not 
his only, source must have been the MS. which 
is now Egerton 146 in the British Museum. 


The 'Seanraite Eirionnacha ' in this MS. are in 
the handwriting of Edward O'Reilly, the lexico- 
grapher ; and from internal evidence Mr. Robin 
Flower (to whom I am indebted for information 
concerning the MS.) conjectures, with great 
probability, that the collection was originally 
made by Tadhg Ó Neachtain {flor. 1710-1749). 
The proverbs in this collection are on the whole 
less popular in character than those of 
O'Longan. Some of them have an archaic or 
literary flavour, while others seem somewhat 
artificial and translated literally from English. 
It is evident, too, that Hardiman did not 
always understand the proverbs he gives. Thus 
he prints one of them as ocht n-amharc ocJit 
ccuimhne, as if it meant ' eight sights, eight 
memories ' ; but in this form the proverb is a 
bogus one, though Bourke and T. Ó Con- 
cheanainn have copied the blunder. The 
original reading was obviously ós amharc, as 
cuimhne, i.e. ' out of sight, out of mind,' ós or 
OS being Tadhg Ó Neachtain's spelling of as (see 
Gadelica i. 157 note, and also no. 76 supra). 

It is remarkable how few of the proverbs in 
the present collection appear among those printed 
by Hardiman. Out of the 418 proverbs and pro- 
verbial phrases given above, Hardiman has ver- 
sions of only 15, viz., nos. 36, 75, 105, 107, 114, 
134, 136, 163, 169, 183, 224, 274, 291, 365 and 

Canon TJ. J. Bourke, in his Irish Grammar 
(pp. 275-302 of the edn. of 1879), has printed a 
collection of about 300 proverbs, derived partly 
from Hardiman, partly from " a manuscript 
collection of proverbs in the possession of Mr. 

John O'Daly," and partly from "other 

In the foUowinjj; i)n,t»;es 1 .ij;ive a list of tha 
later collections of Irish proverbs, arranged 
according to the province of origin. In addi- 
tion to those mentioned below collections of 
proverbs have occasionally appeared in Irish 
newspapers, and perhaps also in American 
newspapers or periodicals ; but I have found it 
impossible to refer to these. Otherwise the lists 
below will, I hope, be found fairly complete. 
Many collections, big and small, appeared in 
the " Gaelic Journal " (referred to as " GJ."), 
particularly in vols. iv. v. and vi., when it was 
under the editorship of Father O'Growney, and 
in vols, xiv-xvi in which three Oireachtas prize- 
collections were published. As may be inferred 
from the details given below, the districts in 
which the best collecting work has been done 
are East Ulster, Galway, and West Munster. 
Figures in square brackets indicate the total 
number of proverbs. 


John O'Daly: 'Irish Language Miscellany,' 
1876, pp. 89-98. 190 proverbs of "the peas- 
antry"; doubtless mainly from O'Daly's native 
county of Waterford. 

PÁDRAIG Ó Laoghaire : (Eyeries, Beara, S.W. 
Cork): OJ. iv. pp. 41 [20], 79 [8]; v. p. 73 

Danikl McCabe (Banteer, Cork) : GJ. iv. p. 
236 [34]; v. pp. 104. 125, 139 [86]; vii. p. 141 
[21]. It is to be noted that the proverbs sent 


to the GJ. by this contributor seem in some 
cases to have been borrowed from printed 
sources such as Hardinian and O'Daly. 

William Long: (Ballyferriter, W. Kerry): 
GJ. V. pp. 21, 37, 61 [137]. 

P. McC.MtTHY: GJ. V. pp. 172, 184, and vi. 
p. 9 [35] ; Cork. 

D. J. Galvin: GJ. vi. pp. 60, 78, 90 [47]; N 

Sean Ó Briain : GJ. svi. p. 88, continued in 
five following numbers and ending p. 165 [482] ; 

Sean Ó C.^dhlaigh, and others: GJ. xvi. pp. 
188, 197, 230 [278]; CuUin, Co. Cork. 

Anonymous or smaller collections in GJ. : 
Vol. iv. p. 192, Cork [17; with 7 others of un- 
specified provenance]; p. 207, Kerry [8], and 
Cork [15]; p. 209, Cork [39], Waterford [1]; p. 
236, Cork [19]; p. 247, Kerry [26], Cork [3], 
and Clare [5]. Vol. v. p. 13, Kerry [14], and 
Cork [18]; p. 38, Cork [13], Clare [16], and 
Kerry [6], with some others [13] of unspecified 
provenance; p. 88, Cork [30]; p. 140, Limerick 
[3] and Kerry [6]; p. 157, Clare [1] and Cork 
[8]. Vol. vi. p. 10, Munster [8]; p. 79, Cork 

SÉAMUS Ó DuBHGHAiLL : ' Leabhar Cainte,' 
(ire. 1901, pp. 149-172; about 230 Kerry pro- 
verbs, together with a few Connacht ones. The 
same writer contributes 48 Kerry variants of 
Galway proverbs to GJ. xvi. p. 109. 

Tadhg Donnchadha : ' Seanfhocail na 
Mumhan. T.,' 1902; 570 proverbs, partly from 
John O'Daly's printed collection, partly from 
O'Longan's MS. collection (see above), and 


partly taken down in Munster by the editor. 
Most, if not all, of these last had been already 
printed by him in GJ. vii. pp. 46, 57, 65, 104, 
where 180 Cork proverbs are given. 

Canon O'Leary often quotes proverbs (\V. 
Cork) at the end of the various fables in his 
'Aesop a tháinig go hÉirinn ' (I. and II.). 

Rev. M. Sheehan : ' Sean-chaint na nDéise,' 
1906, pp. 226-232, and ' Cnuasacht Trágha,' pp. 
39-47 ; less than 100 proverbs from Ring, Co. 

ToMÁs Caoimh : in 'An Lóchrann,' Oct. 
1909; 30 proverbs from Waterford. 

Gearóid Ó Nualláin : in * Irisleabhar Muighe 
Nuadhad,' 1914, pp. 5-7 ; 61 proverbs from West 

Seosamh Laoide: ' Tonn Toime,' 1915, pp. 
105-116 ; 250 proverbs from Kerry, mainly taken 
from printed sources including the William Long 

PÁDRAIG Ó SiocHFHRADHA (" An Seabhac ") 
has been publishing in ' An Lóchrann ' — begin- 
ning April, 1916, and continued, with some 
interruptions, in subsequent numbers — th« 
largest collection of Munster proverbs yet made. 
His collection is evidently to some extent based 
on printed sources, but it includes many addi- 
tional proverbs noted by himself.* 


An anonymous collection of 50 Kilkenny pro- 

* h may not be amiss to add that, while most of the other 
collections mentioned in the Bibliography have been drawn on 
from time to time in the present volume, _ I have not made 
any use of this collection of An Seabhac's. 


verbs is printed in ' Fáinne an Lae ' of 1 July, 
1899, p. 203. 

For Meath I have noted in print only a 
solitary proverb, published in GJ. iv. p. 209. 


DoMHNALL Ó FoTHARTA : ' Siamsa an Gh«imh- 
ridh,' 1892, pp. 99-102 [61]. 

J. J. Lyon: GJ. viii. p. 56 [14], and ix. p. 
271 [20]. 

Anonymous or smaller collections in GJ. : 
Vol. iv. p. 210, Galway [4]; p. 248 [6]. Vol. v. 
p. 38, Galway [14] ; p. 71, W. Connacht [56] ; p. 
139, Galway [11] and Mayo [3]. Vol. vi. p. 10 
[6]; p. 91, Galway [8]; p. 123, Galway [11]. 
Vol. X. p. 30, Mayo [4]. 

To MAS Ó Concheanainn : ' Mion-chomhrádh,' 
1904, pp. 141-161; about 264 proverbs, source 
unspecified ; probably in part from Arran, but it 
is evident that the bulk of them are merely 
copied from Bourke. 

ToMÁs Ó hEidhin : GJ. vols, xiv.-xvi., be- 
ginning no. 178, p. 827, and ending no. 184, p. 
69; 653 proxerbs from South Galway (Ardrahan 
district); but there are some duplications. As 
might be expected from their provenance, a 
large number of these proverbs are either iden- 
tical with those current in Munster or differ 
from them only very slightly. 

F. A. Fahy : in ' An Connachtach,' Oct. 1907, 
Jan., Feb., and March, 1908 [59]. 

ToMÁs Ó MÁILLE : ' An Ghaoth Aniar,' 1920, 
pp. 31, 45, 60, 69, 79, 91 [32]. 



KoBERT MacAdam: in 'The Ulster Journal of 
Archaeology,' 1858-1862, viz., vol. vi. pp. 172, 250; 
vol. vii. p. 278; vol. ix. p. 223 [600]. 

J. H. Lloyd: (Seosanih Laoide) : GJ. iv. p. 
248, Armagh [8]; vi. p. 184 and vii. p. 88, 
Monaghan [92]; xii. p. 154, Cavan [6]. 

John Ward: GJ. vii. p. 6, Donegal [59]. 

CoNALL Mag Fhionnlaoigh : GJ. viii. p. 13, 
Donegal [19]. 

E. C. QuiGGiN : ' A Dialect of Donegal,' 1906, 
p. 195, Donegal [24]. 

ÉNRÍ Ó Muirgheasa (H. Morris): (tJ. viii. 
p. 177, Monaghan [76]. The same collector has 
published ' Seanfhocla Uladh,' 1907, containing 
1,637 Ulster proverbs, and incorporating Mac- 
Adam's and the GJ. collections ; the bulk of 
these proverbs are from S.-E. Ulster. He has 
published a supplementary list of 192 Ulster 
proverbs (mainly from Donegal) in the ' Journal 
of the Co. Louth Archieoloifical Society,' iv. 
258 (1917). 


The collection and printing of proverbs in 
Gaelic Scotland was taken in hands at an 
earlier date than in Ireland, and we have still a 
good deal of lee-way to make up before we are 
on a level with our Scottish kinsmen. The col- 
lections of Nicolson and Cameron alone contain 
considerably over 4,000 different proverbs. The 
principal collections are : 

Donald Mackintosh : ' Gaelic Proverbs and 
Familiar Phrases,' Edinburgh, 1785. Contains 

1,305 proverbs and phrases, increased in the 
second edition (Edinburgh, 1819) to 1,538. 

Alexander Nicolson : ' Gaelic Proverbs and 
Familiar Phrases,' Edinburgh, 1881. Contains 
over 3,900.* Incorporates Mackintosh's collec- 

Alexander Cameron : in ' Reliquioe Celticoe,' 
ii. pp. 475-507 (Inverness, 1894). Supplemen- 
tary to Nicolson, and containing over 1,200 
proverbs which are partly variants of those in 
Nicolson's work and partly additional proverbs 
not included by him. 

There are numerous smaller collections, of 
which it will suffice to mention two here, viz. 
(1) the proverbs in Edinburgh MS. Ixii., in the 
handwriting of Alasdair Mac Domhnaill, the 
poet; these have been printed in Reliquia? 
Celticae i. pp. 151-159. (2) 89 proverbs from 
Skye, prjritfrl by Chr Sarauw_ jn the Mis cgllany 
presented to Kuno Meyer, pp. 36 f f. 


The earliest, and also the most reliable, 
authority for Manx proverbs is A. Cregeen, who 
in his ' Dictionary of the Manks Language ' 
(Douglas, 1835) occasionally quotes them. Small 
collections have also been given in vols. xvi. 
and xxi. of the Mans Society (1849 and 1873), 
and in Moore's ' Folk-lore of the Isle of Man ' 
(1891). All these have been incorporated by G. 
W. Wood in an article in 'Folk-lore,' v. pp. 

* I have adopted Nicolson's estimates of the numbers of 
proverbs (including proverbial phrases) in his own collection 
and in that of Mackintosh. 


229-274 (1894), where about 250 Manx proverbs 
are brought together. A later collection is 
' Manx Proverbs and Sayings/ by S. Morrison 
and C. Roeder (1905); but many of the "pro- 
verbs" in this booklet seem obviously artificial, 
and English inspiration is manifest. 

Two unpublished collections of proverbs 
among the MSS. of the Royal Irish Academy 
may be mentioned here, as occasional reference 
has been made to them in the present volume. 
Tlie first is 3 C 21, which contains about 600 
proverbs, the bulk of which evidently belong to 
South Connacht, though a few are from the 
literature (Four Masters principally). The 
compiler's name is not mentioned, nor is the 
date ; but the collection was evidently made not 
earlier than 1864, for there are references to 
O'Donovan's Supplement to O'Reilly, which 
appeared in that year. The other collection 
consists of 123 proverbs in the MS. 12 Q 13, part 
iii., pp. 68-73. written by Francis Keane, a 
native of Co. Clare, in 1876. 



References to Irish and Scottish sources ot 
proverbs {e.g. MacAdam, Begly, Nicolson, etc.) 
will be readily understood on consulting the 
Bibliography. By " Edinb. MS." is meant the 
collection printed in ' Reliqniie Celticte,' i. pp. 
151-159 (see p. 157, supra). 

\\'hen no locality is assigned to current Irish 
proverbs quoted in illustration of the text, they 
may be assumed to be in use in Munster (par- 
ticularly Kerry and Cork), though of course not 
necessarily confined to the South. "When th« 
proverbs or proverbial phrases to which the 
numbers are attached are j\Iiddle-Irish in form, 
the fact is generally indicated by the use of 
double inverted commas. 

The following abbreviations will in general be 
familiar to students of Irish literature, but for 
some readers it may be convenient to have them 
explained here : — 


Archiv fiir Celtische Lexiko- 



Anecdota from Irish MSS. 


For as Feasa ar Éirinn. 


Annals of the Four Masters, 


The Gaelic Journal (Irislea- 

bliar na Gaedhilge). 

Ir. T(ex). 

Irische Texte. 


Irish Texts Society. 


LL. Book of Leinster. 

LU. Leabhar na hUidhre. 

0'Gr(adv)Cat. S. II. O'Grady's Catalogue of 
Irish MSS. in the British 

PH. Passions and Homilies from 

the Leabhar Breac (ed 

RC. Revue Celtique. 

f^Gl. Silva Gadeiioa (O' Grady). 

TBC. Tain BÓ Ciialnge (ed. Win- 


TBg. Tri Bior-ghaoithe an Bháis 

(ed. Atkinson). 

ZCP. Zeitschrift fiir Celtische Phil- 


''Sc." stands for Scottish, i.e. Scottish 
Gaelic. When a proverb is said to be " still 
preserved in Scottish," nothing more is to be 
inferred than that it is found in one or more 
of the Scottish collections. It is quite possible 
that some of the proverbs in, say. Mackintosh's 
collection may be nowhere in actual use to-day, 
seeing how the Scottish-speaking area has been 
narrowed during the last century. A similar 
remark applies to the Irish proverbs recorded 
Iiy MacAdam in Ulster in the fifties of the last 
century; it is probable that Irish has now dis- 
appeared from most of the places where these 
proverbs were obtained. 

English proverbs, as a rule, are indicated 
merely by the use of double inverted commas 
(" ... ")■ "N.E." stands for Northern 
English, i.e. the English of Scotland. By 
" Skeaf is meant W. W. Skeat's 'Early Eng- 


lish Proverbs' (Oxford, 1910). " Heywood " re- 
fers to John Heywood's collection of proverbs 
published in London in 1562 (' Three hundred 
Epigrammes upon three hundred Prouefbes,' and 
' Dialogue ... of the effectuall . . . Prouerbes 
in the Englishe Tounge . . concernynge 

Maryages '). I have used the 1867 reprint of 
Heywood's work, but have usually modernised 
the spelling. 

To obviate possible misunderstanding, it may 
not be amiss to state that by " West Cork " is 
meant the Ballingeary-Ballyvourney district in 
"West Muskerrv. Co. Cork. 




[Only prose texts are included here, though 
occasionally the quotations are from verse in- 
serted in the particular text. All the prose 
quotations are referred to in this Index, with 
the exception of those on pp. 127-8 and some 
«leven others (five of which are included in the 
Index of Authors). " Add." refers to the Addi- 
tional Notes.] 

Acallam na Senórach, 304, 307, 308. 

Aided . . . see Oidheadh . . . 

Aislinye Meic Conglinne, 149, 320, 371 ff., 384. 

•' Annals of the Four Masters,' 61, 284, 290, 291, 

204, 298, 302, 303, 310, 313, 386, 403. 
Audacht (or Auraicept) Moraind, 284, 293. 
RcnthaAodha Ruaidh Ui Dhomhnaill [Lughaidh 

Ó Cléirigh],133, 283, 287,289, 291, 292, 293, 

300, 313, 380, 386, 388, 390. 
Betha Colaim Chille [Maghnus Domhnaill], 

298, 329, 3,30, 410. 
Boroma, 379, 418. 
Rriathra Flainn Fina, 3, 143, 281, 285, 286, 288, 

Eri&leach Mhór Mhaighe Muirtheimhne (agns 

Deargruathar Chonaill Chearnaigh), 134, 

182, 333. 


Bruidhean Bheag na hAlnihaine, 103. 

Chaorthainn, 133, 276, 335. 

Chéise Corainn, 274. 

Da Derga, 387. 

Bnile Sh.iibhne, 61 Add., 182, 282 Add., 306, 
37Ó, 418. 

Caithréim Ceallacháin Chaisil, 291. 

Conghail Chláiiingnigh, 134, 283. 

Cath Airtig, 285. 

Catharda, 327, 370 ff. 

:\[uiglie Léana, 134 Add., 290, 384, 403. 

Muighe Mucruimhe, 34, 334. 

:\raighe Rath, 178, 281, 282, 285, 286, 311, 

322, 370, 384, 390, 410. 

lUiis na Rig, 133, 287, 370, 373, 374. 

Ceisnearah Tnghine Ghuil, 275. 
Cogadh Gatdhel re Gallaibh, 289, 370 ff. 
Compert Mongáiii, 134, 283. 
' Cormac's Glossary ' (Sanas Cormaic), 304. 
Eachtra Chloinne Riogh na hloruaidhe, 370 ff, 

Chonaill Ghulban, 410, 415, 417, 418. 

Lomnochtáin, 333, 37U ff., 415-417. 

Thomáis Uí Chaiside, 57 Add., 312 

Add., 345 Add., 414. 

Thoroilbh Mhic Stairn [Mícheál 

Coimín], 34. 
Félire Oéngusso (notes to), 305. 
' Fianaigecht,' 134, 418. 
Fled Bricrend, 385. 
Foghlaim Conchulainn, 276, 289. 
Ferns Feasa ar Eirinn [S. Céitinn], 292, 298, 

321, 402. 
Gallagher's ' Irish Sermons," 344. 

Irish versions of : 

Aeneid, 134, 373 ff. 
Cambrensis, 86, 296. 
Fierabras, 274. 
Nennius, 398 

Tale of Troy, see Toghail Troi. 
William of Palermo, 103 Add., 274 
Add., 292 Add. 
Luceriia Fidelium (Lóchrann na gCreidmheach) 
[F. Ó Maolmhuaidh], 350, 351, 352, 353, 
406, 407. 
Madlim an Arda Bhig, 367. 
' Mo Guidhir Fhearmanach,' 297, 403. 
'O'Davoien's Glossary,' 330, 375. 
Oidheadh Chloinne Uisnigh, 360. 

Conculaind, 318. 

Ferghusa, 317, 328. 

Pairlement Chloinne Tomáis, 338 Add. 
Párliment na bhFigheadóirí [D. do Barra], 223, 

* Passions and Homilies from the Leabhar 

Breac' 218, 277, 304, 311, 363, 391. 
Riaghail na Sacart. 121. 
ScéÍ Macci Mic Dá-thó, 389. 
Senbriathra Fithail, 3, 143, 281, 285, 286, 288, 

Senchus Mor, 322. 
Serglige Conculaind. 279. 
Stair Eamiiinn Ui Chleire [S. Ó Neachtain], 4, 

53, 132, 157, 366, 367, 368. 
Tain BÓ Cualnge, 134, 282, 371, 415. 
Tecosca Cormaic, 279, 286. 
'Three Fragments of Irish Annals/ 134 Add. 

' Three Middle-Irish Homilies/ 278, 300. 


Tochmarc Becfola, 280. 

Étaíne, 76 Add., 275, 395, 387. 

Ferbe, 416. 

Tóraidheacht Dhiarmada aRus Ghráinne, 119, 
133, 170, 227, 309, 409. 

Shaidhbhe, 370 £f. 

' Triads of Ireland,' 67, 108, 236. 
Tri Biorghaoithe an Bháis [S. Céitinn], 57, 349, 


[With five exceptions all the references below 
are to verse. For prose-writers see under Index 
of Texts supra. The many quotations from 
poems of unknown authorship cannot, of course, 
be referred to here. It is hardly necessary to 
say that the works ascribed to such very early 
authors as Cormac mac Airt are not to be taken 
as genuine.] 

Adhamhnán (t704), 282. 

Mac Aodhagáin, Anluan (ft. circ. 1610), 399. 

• Baothghalach R.uadh, (ft. 1651). 

294, 370. 
Mac Artúir, Roibeard, (ft. 1610-1627), 57, 402, 

Mac an Bhaird, Eoghan Ruadh (16-17 cent.), 

320, 324. 
Fearghal Óg (16-17c.), 75, 

275, 358. 

.Uilliam Óg (+1576), 329. 

Bearchán (6th c), 284. 

Ó Briain, Sean (18th c), 333. 

Bruadair, Dáibhí (tl698), 357, 399. 


Mac Bruaideadha, Domhnall {fl. 1570), 364, 370. 
Maoilin Og (tl602), 313, 359. 

Sean Buidhe (14th c), 326. 

Tadhg mac D.are (fi. 1580- 

1624), 30, 52, 163. 330, 
360, 390, 392. 
Do Burc, Riocard (16th or 17th c.?), 238 Add., 

On Cháinte, Fearfeasa (fl. 1610). 36. 301, 340, 

346, 402. 
Mac Cairtéain, Conchubhar (tl737), 362. 
Ó Gaiside, Eamonn (fl. 1690), 276 Add. 
Ó Caoimh, Art Óg (fi. 1620), 30, 348. 
Mac Cárthaigh, Diarmaid mac Sheáin Bhuidhe 

(tl705), 331, 401, 409. 
Ó Cleirigh, Lughaidh (jl. 1615), 313. 379, 385. 

See also Index of Texts. 
Ó Cobhthaigh, Muircheartach (16th c). 104 Add. 
Columcille (t597), 51, 277, 330. See also Betha 

Colaim Chille (Index of Texts). 
Ó Conaill, Sean (fl. 1655), 358. 
Conchubhair, Cathal (1710-1791). 396. 
Mac Conmidhe, Brian Ruadh (15th c). 360. 

Giollabrighde (fl. 1249). 385. 

Cormac mac Airt (3rd c), 104, 279. See also 

Tecosca Cormaic (Index of Texts). 
Cormac mac Cuileannáin (t908). 282. 
Mac Cniitin, Aindrias (fl. 1703-1734). 409. 

Aodh Buidhe (tl755), 350. 

Dálaigh, Aonghus mac Cearbhaill Bhuidhe 

(tl420), 299. 
Aonghus Fionn (fl. 1600). 104, 163, 

213, 285, 312, 343, 358. 

Donnchadh Mor (tl244), 104. 

Gofraidh Fionn (tl387). 14 Add., 

104. 28] . 286. 326, 408. 

Muireadliach Albanach {fl. I-213>. 

Doirnin, Peadar (.11768), 400. 
Ó Domhnaill, Aodh {fl. 1610), 14, 301, 404. 

Magbnus (11563), 319, 410. See 

also Index of Texts. 

Magluuis (fl. 1700), 397. 

Ó Donnaoile, Eoghan (fl. 1689), 413. 

Dubh-dá-thuath (t783), see p. 169. 

Mac Dubhghaill, Feidhlim (Pdate), 280. 

Dubthacli moccu Lugair (oth c), 322. 

Mac Eochadha, Feari^hal mac Tomúis (16th c), 

Feiriteur, Piaras {fl. 1040), 346. 
Finghein (9th c), see p. 169. 
Gadhra, Sean (fl. 1710), 346. 
Mac Gearailt, Muiris mac Dháibhí Dhuibh {fl. 

circ. 1620), 364. 
Mac Giollapádraig, Brian (tl652), 358. 
Ó Glíosáin, Tomás (18th c), 355. 
Gormlaith (t919). 61. 
Haiceud, Pádraigín (tl654), 117, 341, 356, 369. 

C Heoghusa, Eochaidh {fl. 1595), 75, 173 Add., 

344, 404. 

Giollabrighde (tl614), 336, 344. 

Ó Hifearnáin, Mathghamhain (^.1600), 153 Add. 

Muircheartach (17th c), 279. 

Ó Hui-inn, Cormac (fl. 1590). 157 Add. 

_ — Maoileachlainn (fl. 1600), 282. 

. Maohnhuire (fl. 1600), 75, 331. 

- -Mathgha-mhain (16th c), 363. 

Tadhg Dall (fl. 1580), 200, 285. 316, 

322, 338. 

Tadhg Mor (tl315), 13. 

-Tadhg Og (tl448). 313. 314. 


ó Hurthailf. Seán son of Muiris (16th c. ?), 341. 
Mac Lochlainn, Domhnall Gorm {fi. circ. 1700), 

C Maolchonaire, Fearfeasa (fi. 1646), 285. 
Merriman, Brian (tl805), 329. 383. 
Mac Muireadhaigh, Diarmaid (fl. circ. 1685), 

14 Add. 
Miirchadha, Seán na Ráithineach (1700-1762), 

Dilliam (an Mhaoláin) (fl. circ. 

1700), 61 Add. 
Raftery, Antoine (tl83o), 100. 
Ó Raithile, Aogán ift. 1720). 399. 
ó Ruanadha, Niall (ff. circ. 1590), 334. 
Sléibhín, Giollacomhghaill (tl031). 289. 
Súilleahháin, Diarinaid mac Dhomhnaill, etc. 
(18th c). 365. 

Tomáí Ru.ndh (tl848). 401 Add. 

O Tuama, Seán (tl77o), 224. 

Manx proverbs quoted : 4. .36, 50, 104, 130, 149, 
189, 229, 287, 331, 357. 

*Wels]i proverbs quoted: 75. 76, 104, 128, 134, 
175, 209, 275, 277, 279. 287. 306. 324. 330, 
345, 346, 398. 

Northern English proverbs quoted (mostly bor- 
rowed from Scottish Gaelic): 3, 4, 42, 83, 
88, 97 Add., 230, 331, 335, 357, 408: pp. 126, 

English and Scottish-Gaelic proverbs are quoted 

' In ccnnection with these Welsh proverbs I have to thank 
Picfessor Ifor Williams, of Bangor, for help in tracing 

the eprl'esl printed examples of each. 



The quotations from LL. 147b (supra nos. 4, 
78, 104, 275, 278, 279, 284, 286, 288, 292 and 
338) are from a poem beginning Dinmhod messe 
had ri red. Since the preceding pages were 
written this poem has been edited by Prof. 
Tadhg O'Donoghue, in ' Ériu ' ix. pp. 43 ff . In 
LL. the poem is anonymous, but in other ]MSS. 
it is ascribed to DubhdáThuath or to Finghein. 

Ulster versions of proverbs have been quoted 
above rather more sparingly than versions from 
other provinces. Those interested in Ulster 
proverbs will find a comprehensive collection in 
Énrí Muirgheasa's ' iSeanfhocla Uladh.' A 
few additional Ulster variants are quoted from 
MacAdam below. 

10. Delete comparison with Cork proverb. 

14. Cf. a dhúthchtis téul fair oileamhuin, 
Diarmaid Mac Muireadhaigh (Walsh's ' Glean- 
ings from Irish MSS.,' p. 89). Compare also 
the proverb Deallaigh gach cú re a cinéal, 
' Every hound takes after its breed,' Gofraidh 
Fionn (Ériu, v. 62) ; in a poem of circ. 1640, 
DiaUach re a chuaine an coUén (Walsh's 
' Gleanings,' p. 61). In Scottish, gach cuilean -^ 
a' dol ri duaUhas (Cameron). 

30. \Se an t-uisge is éadomhiiine is mo tor- ^ 
man, ' The shallowest water makes the greatest 
noise,' MacAdam 271. 

50. Cha dtig an has gan adhhhar, MacAdam .^ 

57. Quoted by the ex-friar Tomás Ó Caiside 
in his picaresque autobiography : Do ghlac me 


'íio hhriseadh é óir is feair teitheadh maith ná 
droch-sheasamh (cf . 23 35, p. 67). 

58. Is fálta duine a gclúid dhuine eile, ' A 
mail is shy in another man's corner,' MacAdam 

60, 67. An anonymous poem (St. A. iv. 2, 
fo. 69b) begins : 

Beag sochar na sir-mheisge 
don droiiig leanas da héasa; 

a gcantar U don fhirinne 
cuid is fearra da tréithe. 

61. A poem by Uiiliam (an Mhaoláin) Ó 
Murchadha has the line 'S mo ghuala vuiol gan 
dearbhráthair (23 C 19, p. 305). Cf. Toll taohh 
6 bheith gan h]iráthaii\ Buile Shuibhne, p. 54. 

63. Thus in a poem in H. 5. 3, p. 42 (tran- 
scribed circ. 1697) : 
Folacli don chaénach fcuclt nach ttacronn an 

Bcatha; da rcir sin dcinsi fas ag do mhnaoi. 

76. Compare Daigh neich andiaigh a shula in 
verse in ' Tochmarc Étaíne ' (Ir. T. i. 123), i.e. 
' Everyone hopes for (or desires) what he sees.' 
\ This, too, would appear to be the force of the 
^^ Sc. proverb suil do m sealhh (Edinb. MS.), 
though Nicolson (p. 234) renders it ' The eye 
makes wealth.' In a quatrain in the Rennes 
Irish MS. the lines occur Mairg darb sealhh 
suil . . . Bidh an fsiiil do shior | mar a 
mbionn an grádh (RC. xv. 81; svi. 420). 

78. Ceilt na hoirbhire an annsa is the first 
line of an anonymous bardic poem (St. A. v. 2, 
fo. 16a). 
I 97. N.E. has " The priest christens his ain 
^ \ bairn first." 


98-^9. These two together may be intended 
to form on© proverb, as Prof. Tadhg ODon- 
oghue has suggested to me. 

100. Edward Lhuyd quotes As feurr deugh- 
nuklhc no ro dcaghnuidhe (sic) in his preface ia 
broken Irish to his Ir.-Eng. Dictionary (Arch. 
Brit., 1707, p. 311). 

103. Another instance of the proverb re- 
ferred to in the note occurs in the Irish 
' William of Palermo ' (St. A. v. 2, fo. 136a) : 
Blh^eith umhal da thighearna '| aseadh 
dlli'jJigheas gach ógldch. 

104. So in a poem by Muircheartach Ó 
Cobhthaigh (23 D 14, p. 67): Ni fc'tghthar tuile 
nach trciigh. 

134. Compare also Brisidh (leg. -idh) go 
hohaun cafh ar hur noimdihh, gur ro mara hhur 
cclii tré hhiothu, ' Three Fragments of Irish 
Annals,' p. 182; and the following, spoken by 
Conn, in Cath Muighe Leana ' (p. 100), Aseadh 
as coir dhomhsa do dhcanamh, an ni hhus 
ceannach hlaidhe, eadhon has, agas méaraidh 
m' fheidhm agas m' ágh a n-aoinfheachf. 

152. The Domhnall Buidke referred to in 
the West Muns. proverb was Domhnall Buidhe 
Mac Cártha, of South Kerry, who died in 1752 
at the age of 112, after having been five times 
married (see Kerry Arch. Magazine, Apl. 1915, 
pp. 128-131). 

153. Compare, in a poem by Math. Ó 
Hifearnáin : An mhaith do hhi, nd hi dhi; \ 
an mhaith atá tar tairsi, ' Have nought to do 
with the good that once was; celebrate [in- 
stead] the good that now is ' (cf. O'Gr. Cat. 


Ió7. So Gnáfh rath a mbun an cliaite, Cor- 
mac Ó Hniginn, H. 4. 15, p. 101. 

173. Compare tlie following in a poem by 
Eothaidh Ó Heógluisa (23 L 17, fo. 77a) : 
Créad acht taitKhheoqliadh to'ile 
fearg an aosa ionmhoine? 

ni ceisd codladh ar chneidh slán, 
mar sin do chogadh compán. 
' What else is the anger of friends but the 
renewing of affection? It is easy to forget a 
wound that rankles not; thiis it is with the 
quarrel of companions.' There is a rerv simi- 
lar quatrain in an anonymous poem of the 
same period (' Studies,' 1921, p. 588) : 
Gidh eadh, ni turnamh to'ile 
fearg an aosa ionrnhoine : 

'na dheaghxiidh as daingne a ngrddh, 
deadhuil chaingne na ccumpán. 

• And yet the anger of friends is no lowering of 
affection : firmer is the love of comrades after 

I the breaking of their covenant.' 
178. 7s teann gach madodh air a charnan 
féin, MacAdam 210. 

©180. If this has been interpreted correctly, 
we may compare the Scottish Olc mit'n fhar- 
diilch 'us math mun rathad mhór, 'Bad at 
home and good abroad,' Nicolson 336 (and cf. 
similar proverbs ih. pp. 170, 173, 290). 

232 ff. In ' An Lóchrann,' April, 1918. ' An 
Seabhac ' has printed 41 Triads from the South 
of Ireland, of which 14 are not included in the 
present volume, the remaining 27 being either 
identical with or variants of the triads given 
above Owing to an accident I missed seeing 

this number of ' An Lóchrann ' until the pre- 
ceding pages had been printed. 

238. Compare the following lines by Riocard 
do Burc (.Dánta Gradha, p. 47) : 

Beag do hórduigheadh ar dtúis 
an t-cach, an chi'i, 's an bheun. 
' A steed, a hound, and a woman were in the 
beginning ordained to be small.' 

245. Canon O'Leary's version is Dealrj mún- 
laighe, fiacal chon, no focal amadáin, na tri 
ncithe is gcire ar hith (Mo Sgeal Fein, p. 156; 
Don Cíochóté, p. 244). 

274. So in the Irish ' William of Palermo ' : 
.Is ann as mo dearhhthar an caradradh , an úair 
as aidhhhle an t-eigentus, St. A. v. 2 fo. 138a 
(also paraphrased in verse, ih. fo. 138b). 

276. Cf. Ni beo necli gan naive ann, 
Éamonn Caiside (ZCP. ii. 363). 

282. Compare Tdinic forcheann mo shoegail- 
si, 7 nocha nfheduim gan did gus in ionadh in 
rocinnedh dhamh eg d'fhagháil, ' The end of ray 
life has come, and I must needs go to the place 
in which I am destined to die,' Buile Shiiibhue, 
p. 104. 

292. The following version occurs in the 
Irish ' William of Palermo ' : Ni re hiomad 
riogh no ridireadh brisdear cath no comhlonn 
acht re grásaibh an Spiorad Naoimh, St. A. v. 
2, fo. 148a (a paraphrase in verse follows, ibid.). 

312. Compare do rinne me maifli ar son an 
uilc air, Eaehtra Thomáis Uí Chaiside (cf. 23 
35, p. 64). 

313. On dird fhvaidh tig an chabhoir occurs 
also in a poem of circ. 1640, Walsh's ' Gleanings 
from Irish MSS.' p. 63, 1, 2. 

338. Compare an ft biidh tre'tsc do hiteith 
a n-uochtar, ' that the strongest should be on 
top,' Pairlement Chi. Tomáis, 1. 184Ó (and still 

345. The ex-friar, Tomás Caiside, says in 
his autobiography: Thugas na inóide, mo lean, 
\ mar hheir an duine dona dvihhlcim (cf. 23 O 
3o, p. 58), ' Alas ! I made my vows, even as an 
unlucky man takes a fatal plunge.' 

349. In Waterford the second phrase re- 
ferred to runs 6 h'annanih lets an gcat srofhair 
a chur air, and is used as in Kerry (Sheehan's 
' Cnuasacht Trágha,' p. 25). 

401. In a Kerry folk-tale published in An 
CI. Soluis, 4 Feb. 1911, I find: Sin c ' rnchar 
an daill fé'n hhfaill ' no ' Uini chaorach i 
nílvihheagán.' This agrees with Diarmaid mac 
Sheáin Bhuidhe. (For léim chaorach i nduibh- 
eaqán, well known to-day, cf. ' Songs of Tomás 
Ruadh O'Sullivan,' p. 112). 

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