Best Irish Sayings and Proverbs

Dunguaire Castle Ireland

The Irish are known for many things, not the least of which is their wit and wisdom. In addition to the sage advice found in their proverbs and blessings, the island has been a hotbed of literary talent for centuries, producing the likes of Jonathan Swift, Seamus Heaney, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and James Joyce–among many others. Over the years, these writers have offered up sound advice on life, love, hard work, and everything in between.

And with the patron saint of the Emerald Isle’s day upon us, what better time to celebrate that wonderful Irish wisdom than now? Whether you’re looking for a little cheer on St. Patrick’s Day or just for something to get you through any old day, we’ve compiled a list of the best Irish sayings and proverbs.


Two shorten the road.

A friend’s eye is a good mirror.

There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met. -W.B. Yeats

May the roof above us never fall in, and may the friends gathered below it never fall out.

There is no need like the lack of a friend.

People live in each other’s shelter.

May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.

Hard Work

It is the good horse that draws its own cart.

It takes time to build castles. Rome was not built in a day.

I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day. -James Joyce

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. – Samuel Beckett

A trade not properly learned is an enemy.

There is no luck except where there is discipline.

The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day. -Samuel Beckett


The faking of feelings is a sin against the imagination. -Seamus Heaney

Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth.

A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally. -Oscar Wilde

Many an honest heart beats under a ragged coat.


What is seldom is wonderful.

No wise man ever wished to be younger. -Jonathan Swift

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. -George Bernard Shaw

Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about. -Oscar Wilde

Pity him who makes an opinion a certainty.

Life is too short to read a bad book. – James Joyce

A light heart lives longest.

Sense does not come before age.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. -Oscar Wilde

When the drink is in, the sense is out.

Lie down with dogs, and you’ll rise with fleas.

May you live all the days of your life. -Jonathan Swift


There is no love sincerer than the love of food. -George Bernard Shaw

It’s easy to halve the potato where there’s love.

Love him when he least deserves it; that’s when he most needs it.

But the greatest love–the love above all loves, even greater than that of a mother–is the tender, passionate, undying love of one beer drunken slob for another.

Trouble in love hates nothing more than a smile.

Love is like a lifeboat on the stormy sea of life.

They lived and laughed and loved and left. -James Joyce

Wine comes in at the mouth, and love comes in at the eye. -W.B. Yeats

Header image courtesy of Nicolas Raymond via Creative Commons.