Proverbs/na seanfhocail

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We are taking a short break from the usual column to look at some of our traditional proverbs. These have proven very popular with readers in the past.

We are taking a short break from the usual column to look at some of our traditional proverbs. These have proven very popular with readers in the past.

Since Ireland is still largely an agricultural country, it is not surprising that many proverbs refer to farming and farm animals.

Cad a dhéanfadh mac an chait ach luch a mharú?

What would a cat’s son do but kill a mouse?

(Like father, like son.)

Is leithne go mór cac bó má sheasann tú air.

A cowpat gets much wider if you stand on it.

(Don’t make a bad situation worse.)

An t-uan ag múineadh méilí dá mháthair.

The lamb teaching its mother how to bleat.

(Don’t try to teach someone who knows better than you.)

Caora mhór an t-uan i bhfad.

The lamb eventually becomes a large sheep.

(All things change, or, Small matters can become more serious.}

Ná fág sionnach i mbun caorach.

Don’t leave a fox in charge of sheep.

Mair a chapaill agus gheobhaidh tú féar.

Stay alive, horse, and you’ll get grass.

(It is sometimes too late to undo damage.)

Ní dhéanfadh an saol capall rása d’asal.

Nobody could make a racehorse out of a donkey.

(Some things are just impossible.)

Mura gcuirfidh tú san earrach, ní bhainfidh tú san fhómhar.

If you do not sow in the spring, you will not reap in the autumn.

(If you want something, you must put in time and effort beforehand.}

An lao ite i mbolg na bó.

The calf eaten while still inside the cow.

(Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.)

Bíonn adharca fada ar na buaibh thar lear.

Cattle in other countries have long horns.

(Far off hills are greener – Distant places are more attractive.)

Na muca ciúine a itheann an mhin.

It’s the quiet pigs that eat the meal.

(Quiet people get things done.}

Cad a bheadh súil agat a fháil ó bhó ach preab?

What would you expect to get from a cow other than a kick?

(Things usually turn out the way you expect them to.)

Ná díol do chearc lá fliuch.

Don’t sell your hen on a wet day.

(Pick the best time to do something.)

Is fearr dhá lá san earrach ná deich lá san fhómhar.

It is better two days in the spring than ten days in the autumn.

(‘A stitch in time saves nine’- Tackle problems at an early stage.)

Cuir síoda ar ghabhar agus is gabhar i gcónaí é.

Put silk on a goat ant it is still a goat.

‘A leopard cannot change its spots’ – People cannot change their nature.}

Coinnigh an chnámh agus leanfaidh an madadh thú.

Hold onto the bone and the dog will follow you.

(Give people incentives.}

Is minic ubh mhór ag cearc bheag.

A small hen often lays a big egg.

(Small people can excel themselves.)