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Irish Proverbs

A proverb is a common saying that often expresses a general truth or everyday experience.
Åpne bilde i et nytt vindu

Picture: Shamrocks have since ancient times been considered by the Irish to bring luck. Do you believe in luck?

All over the world the Irish are renowned for their music, poetry, tales, myths and above all, for their sense of humour. They tend to blame it all on their Celtic descent.


Study these proverbs; they will reveal a lot about the Irish character and their ability to laugh at themselves. However, they might also reflect human nature in general.

”Burning the candle
At both ends
Will soon leave you
Without a light”

“The world is a stage
but the play is badly cast.”

“If you dig a grave for others
you might fall into it yourself.”

“A man that can’t laugh at himself
should be given a mirror.”

“You will never plough a field
by turning it over in your mind.”

“A nation’s greatest enemy
is the small minds
of its small people.”

“There is no bone in the tongue
but it often broke a man’s head.”

“On the Irish ladder of success,
there’s always someone on the
rung above using your head to
steady themselves.”

Tasks and Activities


Translate two of your favourite proverbs above into Norwegian.
Do you think we have any Norwegian proverbs that can be compared to the ones above?


Sit in pairs. Take turns reading and explaining the proverbs to each other. Try to come up with a real life example for at least four of the proverbs.

Make an Illustration

Choose your favourite proverb and make an illustration or find a picture that you think illustrates it in a good way. If you want to use pictures from Ireland you might find something in the following photo gallery. Images of Ireland


Do you think the proverbs listed above apply mostly to the Irish, or do they reflect human nature in general?

CC BY-SASkrevet av Eli M. Huseby.
Sist faglig oppdatert 08.10.2018


UK & Ireland