We all know the Irish have a way with words, but some of these old proverbs are completely surreal! 

These old Irish proverbs are certainly wise words to live by but these Irish nuggets of wisdom are both hilarious and really very strange. 

1. For every mile of road there are two miles of ditches

Meaning: There are two sides to every story. (This comes from some parts of Ireland, where 'ditches' means hedges.)

2. There's no use boiling your cabbage twice

Meaning: Stop going over and over worries in your head because it solves nothing.

3. The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune

Meaning: Things and people improve over time.

4. A woman planted feathers in the dunkel and thought she'd grow hens

Meaning: Just because you 'thought' something would work doesn't mean you were right.

5. It's often that a man's mouth broke his nose

Meaning: Watch what you say because it could get you in trouble.

6. As the old cock crows the young cock learns

Meaning: Children learn by example.

7. If there was work in the bed he'd sleep on the floor

Meaning: Used to describe people who are very lazy.

8. No need to fear the ill wind when your haystacks are tied down

Meaning: Once you've prepared properly then there's no need to worry the outcome.

9. The longest road out is the shortest road home

Meaning: If you invest time and effort into something then it will pay off in the latter end.

"The longest road out is the shortest road home."

"The longest road out is the shortest road home."

10. You'll arrive back with one arm as long as the other

Meaning: You heading out on a thankless quest. You'll arrive back with nothing to show for it.

11. You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind

Meaning: Merely thinking about something won't get it done.

12. He didn't lick it off a stone

Meaning: People’s actions are influenced by those around them.

"He didn't lick it off a stone."

"He didn't lick it off a stone."

13. I wouldn't call the Queen my aunt

Meaning: Being in such a contented mood that even becoming royalty couldn't improve upon it.

14. What I'm afraid to hear I had better say first myself

Meaning: One must be honest and wary of their own shortcomings.

15. Now you know you're home

Meaning: You're in a happy state.

16. It's a long road there's no turn in

Meaning: No matter how bad the situation is things always change.

17. Telephone, telegraph, tell a woman

Meaning: The three best ways to spread news. Back before the days of the internet.

18. An empty sack does not stand

Meaning: Bluffers and ignorance will always be found out.

19. Even black hens lay white eggs

Meaning: You should never judge a book by its cover.

20. The road to Heaven is well signposted, but it's badly lit at night

Meaning: Life has many challenges but the reward is good.

21. It's as easy to catch a cold in a King's castle as in a shepherd's hut

Meaning: Wealth doesn't protect you from the trials of life.

22. It's better to pay the butcher than the doctor

Meaning: Don't skimp on healthy food as it will cost you your health in the long run.

23. A lamb's bleat is often more telling than a dog's bark

Meaning: Subtlety and a quiet approach can be more beneficial than brute force and loudness.

24. A broken man is better than no man

Meaning: Having any man is better than being alone

25. No matter how many rooms you have in your house you can only sleep in the one bed

Meaning: Possessions are not what they're made out to be.

26. It's a lonely washing that has no man's shirt in it

Meaning: It's better to have a partner's laundry to do than no partner at all!

*Originally published in 2010. Updated in March 2024.