Coming Up The Liffey On A Bicycle

When I was preparing my post last week about Dublin and the River Liffey, I remembered one of my teachers in Ireland and a very funny expression she used all the time.

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Back in the late 70′s and early ’80′s many of our teachers were nuns.  I remember one sister in particular, and her favorite expression.

She was from County Cork and taught chemistry to all the Dublin girls in our class.  She was a wonderful teacher – great fun, and easy to listen to with her lilting Cork accent.

Whenever anyone tried to pull the wool over her eyes by making up a story about forgetting homework, she would see right through every paltry excuse.  She always answered with the same hilarious expression.

“I didn’t come up the Liffey on a bicycle.”

 

Everyone in the class inevitably broke down laughing whenever she said it.  I think we all had visions of her pedaling her bicycle down the middle of the river, with her veil blowing in the wind.

 

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This expression is a substitute for asking:

 

“Do you think I’m stupid or what?”

 

Lets face it, you would have to be a few shillings short of a pound, to attempt to ride a bicycle on water.

I think I will save this saying and adapt it when my kids are teenagers.  When they try to pull a fast one on their Irish mom, I’ll just tell them:

 

“I didn’t come up the Ohio on a bicycle?”

 

Can’t you just imagine their teenage brow raising, eye rolling and tongue-tutting responses.  I better not say it in front of their friends.  They’ll probably explain me away with:

 

“Don’t mind her – she’s Irish!”

 

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And so, to all you parents of teenagers, please feel free to adapt this lovely Irish expression, by using the name of your local river.  Our New Yorkers can say:

“I didn’t came up the Hudson on a bicycle.”

Bostonians can say:

“I didn’t come up the Charles on a bicycle.”

 

The possibilities are endless.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

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