Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge/Imleabhar 5/Uimhir 5/West Cork Proverbs

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Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge, Imleabhar V, Uimh. 5
West Cork Proverbs
[ 73 ]



Ní cráḋ go cloínn (There is no anguish of soul till one has children, i.e., all anguish is as nothing compared to that created by children). Íosann cat ciuin biaḋ (A mild cat eats food, i.e., a gentle exterior is no sure index of what a person’s inward feelings may be). Cuir sa ċóṁra, ⁊ ġeóḃṫar gnó de (Put it in the box, and a business will be found for it, i.e., throw not away what you don’t presently want; it may be useful hereafter), An té ná tógfaiḋ cóṁairle, ġeóḃaiḋ sé cóṁrac (He who will not take advice will get a combat, i.e., will have to encounter difficulties).

Is mairg leigeas mac maiṫ le droċ-ṁáṫair (Woe to him who forgets a good son because of an evil mother, lit., who lets a good son with an evil mother). Mairg guala gan bráṫair (Woe to a shoulder without a brother, i.e., woe to him who has no friend). Tar éis tuigtear gaċ beart (When a thing is done advice comes too late, lit., after (its being done) every deed is (rightly) understood. When the deed is done, it is then one knows the consequences). Caiṫeann gaċ aonne(aċ) géill eaḋ ḋ’á ḃacaiġe féin (Everyone has to submit to his own lameness). Taḃair do ċrios do ṁnaoi ainḟir ⁊ bí féin ad’ óinsiġ (Give the girdle to a marriageable woman, and be a fool thyself, i.e., what [ 74 ]you need yourself give to another, and then be—a fool.) Duine ’na aonar duine gan aonne(aċ) (A person trusting to one is trusting to none, lit., a person in his one person, a person without anyone). Taḃair a roġa do’n ḃodaċ ⁊ béarfaiḋ sé díoġa duit (Give his choice to the churl, and he will give you the dregs).

Note:—Díoġa is opposed to roġa: diúġa is also heard in W. Cork, as atáim anois gan diuġa gan dadaoi (= dadaṁ).

Is fuar an tiġ naċ gnáṫuiġid na fir (Poor is the house where the men don’t dwell). Ná saoil go m-beiḋ Síġle ar ċois agat (Don’t think till you have Sheela by the foot = Don’t count your chickens before the eggs are hatched (There is a pun on saoil).

West Connacht (Mr. O’Faherty):—Regarding the day of the week in which it is thought best to begin a journey, the following verse is said:—

Ná déan imirc Luan nó Máirt;
Ná Dia-Ceudaoin, lá ar n-a ḃáraċ;
Biḋeann Dia-ḋardaoin soirḃ, sáṁ;
Is iondual an Aoine ag báisdiġ;
Fág an Saṫarn ag Muire Ṁáṫair
’S imṫiġ Dia Doṁnaiġ, mar is é
is fearr duit.

Do not move on Monday or Tuesday, or on the next day, Wednesday; Thursday is usually calm and gentle; Friday is often raining; leave Saturday to Mother Mary, and go on Sunday, as it is this is best for you.

Some versions have in the last line, má’s é is fearr leat, if you prefer this, if you wish.

This word imirc (in some places imiriġe; compare comairce and comuiriġe) is the word used for a “flitting.” In the Arann Islands imirc uaḃair, lit., “flitting of pride,” is said when a person without any sufficient reason changes his residence. But perhaps this is really imirc ḟoġṁair, a harvest flitting. Iondual is a very common word in the West; is iondual (ooN′-dhoo-ăl) aṁlaiḋ, and is often thus. The consecration of Saturday to the B.V. Mary is very ancient.

An old hymn (Mr. O’Faherty):—

Fuair mé an Ṗaidir so ó Ṁáire Lása (Lacy):

Sínim síos mar ṡín Críost san gcroiċ,
Brat Muire mar sgaball orm;
A Ṁuire ḋílis, mo ṁíle gráḋ ṫú!
Mo liaiġ léiġis, tinn a’s slán ṫú!
Mo ḟíor-ċaraid ar nuair mo ḃáis ṫú!
A Ṁaiġdean Ṁuire, taḃair m’anam slán
Ar do ḋeas-láiṁ go cúirt na ngrása.

Compare this with the West Cork hymn given before:—I lie down as Christ lay on the cross; Mary’s cloak be a protection (scapular) on me. Dear Mary, my thousand loves art thou; my leech of healing, whether sick or well; my true friend at the hour of my death. Mary, Virgin, bring my soul with thee safe to the court of graces, on thy right hand.

Another short hymn is often joined to the above:—

Tá ceiṫre coirnéil ar mo leabaiḋ,
Tá ceiṫre aingil orra sgarṫa,
Na trí aingil is áirde i ḃflaiṫeas
A ċúṁdaċ ’s a ġárdáil m’anam arís go

Four corners on my bed, four angels on them spread; the three highest angels in heaven be protecting and guarding my soul till morn again.

There is an old English hymn of much the same import.

To test one’s articulation, the following may be said nine times, “without drawing breath”:—Cearc uisge ar loċ uisce, a’s í ag plubáil ’s ag plabáil, cia déaraiḋ naoi n-uaire é, gan foilliġe, gan failliġe? A water-hen, on a water-lake, and she [ 75 ]dashing and splashing; who will say it nine times, without hesitation or failure?


The proverb queried in last issue should be Is maiṫ leis na mnáiḃ dealḃa an ḃláṫaċ, the poor women like (are content with) the buttermilk. The word triug is apparently truaig (= truaiġe), a pity, reason for grief: níl aon truaig gola aige, he has no reason to cry.