Many say the Irish have the “gift of the gab,” though that may be just a generalization, I have found it true that many Irish people are great story tellers and often have unique ways of saying things. Being a person who loves to relate stories, I try to write down some of the fun and different phrases that I hear.
For instance, in the midst of giving birth to my son, I must have said something funny because the midwife said, “you’re a gas woman,” which she had to translate for me since I had no clue what she was talking about…it means, “you’re a funny woman.” Later, when we were finishing the newborn hearing screen for our little arrival, the nurse said, “you’re all done and dusted.” A common greeting is “How’s she cutting?” To which one may respond with any number of replies, a few of them being, “oh up the sides and down the middle,” “not too bad,” or “low and close to the blade.” One freezing cold day I heard someone say “it’s cold enough to knock the hair off a brass monkey;” and when it was raining a friend of mine talking about Ireland said, “ahh sure, she’s a grand old country if you could only roof her.” A delicious dish may be called “gorgeous,” something great is “brilliant,” or something that is just okay is “grand.” Lovely, is a word I’ve incorporated into my daily vocabulary, “oh, that would be lovely;” “It’s lovely to see you;” Isn’t that just lovely?”
When I was getting ready to move to Ireland as a new bride my mother-in-law pulled me aside and instructed me that I should drop everything and go outside if the sun shines. Since moving to Ireland I’ve learned that is very good advice. Warm sunny days are hard to come by and must be enjoyed so, “Make hay while the sun shines.”
Yesterday I spent the “bones of an hour” sitting by the fire doing absolutely nothing…I’m telling you that is quite an accomplishment for a mother of two children under the age of two! I thought I should probably be up fixing the dinner for my husband, but then thought again, “aw sure, he’ll be grand.” Later, I threatened to “knock the head off” of anyone who woke the baby… (Not really-but I may have thought it).
A few other expressions I’ve heard people say are:
- “I’ll miss him like I’d miss a hole in the head.”
- A man who was balding on the top of his head but had tuffs on the sides said,
“Grass never grows on a busy street.”
- If someone doesn’t look in their top form someone may say,
“He looks like he was dragged through the hedge backwards.”
- “What’s the story Rory?”