St. Patrick's Quay, Cork

Yesterday in The Irish Times, “The Irishman’s Diary” columnist Frank McNally explained Ireland’s rich and complex history through a list of 100 euphemisms.

Here’s his list:

A History of Ireland in 100 Euphemisms:


1. Soft day, thank God.
2. Sorry for your troubles.
3. I’m grand, thanks.
4. An bhfuil cead agam dul amach?
5. The first official language.
6. The Soldiers of Destiny.
7. The night before Larry was stretched.
8. The Kilmainham Minuet.
9. The harp that once in Tara’s halls.
10. Our gallant allies in Europe.
11. Public house.
12. I must have had a bad pint last night.
13. He’s fond of a drop.
14. He’s a great man for the drink.
15. Under the influence.
16. While at the wheel of a mechanically propelled vehicle.
17. I knew him when he didn’t have an arse in his trousers.
18. That’ll soften his cough.
19. There’s a great roaring in the west, and it’s worse it’ll be getting when the tide’s turned to the wind.
20. I have to see a man about a dog.
21. He digs with the other foot.
22. Sally O’Brien and the way she might look at you.
23. Himself.
24. Herself.
25. The Quare Fella.
26. A belt of the crozier.
27. Foul play is not suspected.
28. Gardaí are pursuing a definite line of inquiry.
29. Heated exchanges in the Dáil yesterday.
30. Certain sections of the media.
31. The nerves are at her.
32. He’s a bit touched.
33. She’s away with the fairies.
34. Did you shift last night?
35. He’s a bit failed.
36. He’s shook.
37. He’s bet.
38. They’ve sent for the priest.
39. He’s gone to a better place.
40. A bit of a shemozzle on the edge of the square.
41. It was a fair shoulder, ref.
42. A robust challenge there by Páidi Ó Sé.
43. The dead man was known to gardaí.
44. They were engaged in an altercation outside the pub.
45. A man is helping gardaí with their inquiries.
46. The national question.
47. He’s sound (on the national question).
48. Our fetters rent in twain.
49. The Wild Geese.
50. The Year of the French.
51. The Races of Castlebar.
52. Black 47.
53. The Black Diaries.
54. Black and Tans.
55. The Black Maria.
56. They don’t sow potatoes nor barley nor wheat, but there’s gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
57. It’s so lonely round the fields of Athenry.
58. The Troubles.
59. The Emergency.
60. The dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone.
61. We will not stand (idly) by.
62. The Provisionals.
63. P O’Neill.
64. The North.
65. The Wee North.
66. The black north.
67. The northern part of this island.
68. The Two Communities.
69. The Six Counties.
70. These islands.
71. Stroke City.
72. The Fourth Green Field.
73. The Heavy Gang.
74. “No doubt many of you are familiar with an expression in some parts of the country where an outsider is described as a ‘blow-in’. Some of these are blow-ins. Now as far
as we’re concerned, they can blow out, or blow up.”
75. A thundering disgrace.
76. The Border Fox.
77. On mature recollection.
78. Exercising our right to walk the queen’s highway.
79. Traditional route to church.
80. They haven’t gone away, you know.
81. A revolutionary new training regime designed by her husband Erik de Bruin.
82. A complex but legitimate business arrangement with Ben Dunne.
83. “There’s a little something for you.” “Thanks, big fella.”
84. Deceptively spacious two-bedroom house in upcoming area. Some refurbishment needed. Guide price €1.2 million.
85. The Galway Tent.
86. Up every tree in North Dublin.
87. Dig-out.
88. Whip-around.
89. Light-touch regulation.
90. Losing the run of ourselves.
91. The economic fundamentals are sound.
92. Soft landing.
93. Sub-prime.
94. Biffo.
95. Fully funded until into the middle of next year.
96. We have turned the corner.
97. We are where we are.
98. Nasal congestion.
99. We have not asked the IMF for a facility.
100. Ireland is open for business.