The best Irish quotes pay homage to our eccentric mastery of the English language
Citations reveal the Irish penchant for humor, satire and playfulness
Irish poets, punks and philosophers muse on love, life, death, work and play
Nine Maxims for the Masses
Irish literature is celebrated the world over for spawning innumerable pithy proverbs, poems, parables and sayings. We have nurtured and elevated our adopted tongue to heady heights thanks to scholars and literary greats from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde. The following quotes pay tribute to the rebel vigor infused into the English language courtesy of Irish heroes past and present. You'll want to keep these nine nuggets top of mind and tip of tongue for just the right occasion.
I: Turlough O'Carolan
The Man: Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 1738) was a blind harpist celebrated for his melodic compositions.
The drink and I have been friends for so long, it would be a pity for me to leave without one last kiss.
II: Seán O'Casey
The Man: Seán O'Casey (1880 – 1964) was an ardent socialist and prolific playwright noted for writing about Dublin’s working classes.
All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.
III: George Bernard Shaw
The Man: George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was an essayist, critic, novelist and short story writer with over 60 plays to his name.
I often quote myself; it adds spice to my conversations.
IV: W.B. Yeats
The Man: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a colossus of 20th-century literature and Ireland’s pre-eminent poet.
Do not wait to strike ‘til the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.
V: Oscar Wilde
The Man: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a razor-tongued literary genius by day and playboy by night.
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
VI: Brendan Behan
The Man: Brendan Behan (1856-1950) was an Irish republican, poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish.
Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis.
VII: Richard Harris
The Man: Richard Harris (1930-2002) was a Hollywood regular with roles in blockbusters like Harry Potter, Gladiator and Patriot Games.
I formed a new group called Alcoholics-Unanimous. If you don't feel like a drink, you ring another member and he comes over to persuade you.
VIII: Shane MacGowan
The Man: Shane MacGowan (born 25 December 1957) is best known as a man-about-town and lead singer of Celtic punk band the Pogues.
The British press have been giving me six months to live for the past twenty years. They must be getting pissed off interviewing me by now.
IX: Hugh Leonard
The Man: Hugh Leonard (1926-2009) was a renowned Irish dramatist, television writer and essayist with a career spanning 50 years.
My grandmother made dying her life's work.