Irish Sayings and Their Meanings

“You won’t find any of these Irish sayings in the holiday guides or quotation books.” 

These are some funny Irish sayings I remember from my childhood, many are still used today. I’m sure there’s plenty more to add, so feel free to comment any that I have missed out.

20 Irish Sayings From Our Childhoods and Their Meanings:

  1. If you fall and break your legs, don’t come running to me! (used by every Irish mother since time began)
  2. I know you’re a pane (pain), but I can’t see through you (usually used against person if standing in front of the TV)
  3. Go ‘way! (seriously, is it really true?)
  4. How’s you’re belly for spots? (a friendly greeting)
  5. What’s the face for? (usually used when someone has a cross, or sad face. The speaker is semi-concerned, but probably believes you need a good kick up the arse and stop feeling sorry for yourself)
  6. Would you look at the head on yer’ man (usually used when someone is hungover, or feeling down and in need of cheering up – the speaker is not feeling very sympathetic though and it could turn into full on verbal abuse)
  7. Little apples will grow again (basically means karma)
  8. He’ll get his come-uppings in the end (basically means karma too)
  9. If it’s meant for you, you’ll get it (a way of telling someone not to be disappointed if something doesn’t work out for them)
  10. I’ve eyes in the back of me head (means don’t try pulling the wool over my eyes, I’ll catch you. Usually used by Irish mothers)
  11. A little bird told me (used by mothers and fathers of young kids, who thought they got away with something that they didn’t. A friendly warning)
  12. I could feel it in me waters (a gut feeling, or instinct, almost a mystical knowledge)
  13. Would you ever go kiss me arse (usually reserved for someone you don’t like. The person who said it is possibly two steps away from ‘flying off the handle’)
  14. Would you stop! (See Go ‘way! above)
  15. I’ll burst you (you may get thumped if you don’t clear off quick)
  16. Are you for real? (I don’t believe you. Similar meaning to ‘Go ‘way”!, but a bit more edge to it)
  17. Get out of that garden (classic Dublin, originally to tell people (mostly kids) to indeed, get out of that garden. Later it took on a meaning similar to ‘Would you stop!’, see number 14 above)
  18. Get off that wall (similar to ‘Get out of that Garden’, see number 17. Often used in conjunction with number 17)
  19. You were caught rapid (means, you thought you were being smart, and believed you got away with it, but I caught you and now you’re going to be sorry)
  20. Right, that’s it! (means you have tested my patients to the very limits of human endurance, and whatever happens next is your own fault)