Wise Old Words From Ireland For Mother’s Day

Wishing all mothers of the world a very happy Mother’s Day this weekend. Although this holiday is celebrated on different days throughout the world,  this weekend let’s all join American families as we honor our mothers with our sincerest sentiments of love and gratitude.



To mark this day I thought I might share some Irish wisdom on motherhood and some Irish blessings for Mother’s Day. Our mothers are a precious gift from God.  So together let’s celebrate their selfless, unconditional love.

Some of these quotes are nostalgic and sentimental in the style of years gone by.  One is written for mothers-to-be. Kavanagh’s poetic words memorialize his mother.  One excerpt even explores the notorious Irish Catholic style of mothering, but all pay well-deserved tribute to mothers everywhere.

I hope you enjoy these quotations as much as I enjoyed gathering them.

Irish Mother In Window from Vintagerio.comImage Credit


“This heart, my own dear mother, bends,

With love’s true instinct, back to thee!”

~ Thomas Moore.



“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy.

No man does. That’s his.”

~ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895



“A man loves his sweetheart the most,

His wife the best,

And his mother the longest.”

~ Old Irish Saying

Mother And Children - www.vintagerio.comImage Credit

“A mother holds her children’s hands for a little while,

But their hearts forever.”


~ Unknown (I’m not sure if this is originally an Irish saying,

but it is so lovely I just had to include it.)



“Tis the month of Mary,

Blessed Queen of the May,

Mother of God we pray you,

Bless and protect all mothers,

On this their special day.”

~ Irish Prayer



“May embers from the hearth warm your hands,

May sunshine from an Irish sky warm your face,

May a child’s bright smile warm your heart,

And may everlasting love warm your soul.”

~ Irish Blessing


http://vintagerio.com/vintage_clip_art_g52-black_white_clipart_p2431.htmlImage Credit

“There is but one and only one,

Whose love will fail you never.

One who lives from sun to sun,

With constant fond endeavor.

There is but one and only one.

On earth there is no other.

In heaven a noble work was done,

When God gave us a Mother.”

~ Old Irish Verse



“Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but

they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.”

~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy



“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world,

a mother’s love is not.”

~ James Joyce

Mother and Child ClipartImage Credit


“May the emerging spirit of your child

Imbibe encouragement and joy

From the continuous music of your heart,

So that it can grow with ease,

Expectant of wonder and welcome

When its form is fully filled…..


And it takes its journey out

To see you and settle at last

Relieved, and glad in your arms.”


 ~ John O’Donohue - To Bless The Space Between Us



A mother’s love’s a blessing,

No matter where you roam.

Keep her while she’s living,

You’ll miss her when she’s gone.

Love her as in childhood,

Though feeble old and grey,

For you’ll never miss a mother’s love,

Till she’s buried beneath the clay.”


~ Thomas P. Keenan from the song  A Mother’s Love’s A Blessing.


Vintage Irish MotherImage Credit


” “All that praying you made us do,” complained Maggie.

“And making us go to Mass. And starving us on Good Friday…

And makind us feel ashamed of our bodies

and guilty about absolutely everything.

No, Ma, you were the pits.”

Nuala glowed with pride, truly she had been the best of Catholic mothers.”


~ Marian Keyes

Excerpt from Late Opening At The Last Chance Saloon.



“I do not think of you lying in the wet clay

of a Monaghan graveyard; I see

you walking down a lane among the poplars

on your way to the station, or happily


going to second Mass on a summer Sunday–

you meet me and you say:

“Don’t forget about the cattle–“

among your earthiest words the angels stray…..”


~ Patrick Kavanagh

Excerpt from his poem In Memory Of My Mother.



Mother and Baby - Clipart

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“God made a wonderful mother,

A mother who never grows old:

He made her smile of the sunshine,

And he moulded her heart of gold;

In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,

In her cheeks fair roses you see;

God made a wonderful mother,

And He gave that dear mother to me.”


~ Pat O’Reilly

Excerpt from his poem Wonderful Mother




Lá Na Máithreacha Sona Daoibh!

(Happy Mother’s Day)


Irish American Mom




This New Year I Hope You Dance As If No One Is Watching

On this the first day of 2013 many are waking up with a keen determination to stick to New Year’s resolutions.  Some choose one lofty goal, others take on the world with a lengthy list of drastic lifestyle changes they truly believe will create inner happiness.


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I like the idea of commitment to personal goals, a time of reformation in anticipation of new beginnings.  The issue I see is too much focus on problems.  Committing to a whole year of trying to attain the impossible, usually turns out to be just that, impossible.

And so this year I am making no promises.  I don’t plan to berate myself for the extra ten or twenty pounds I probably should try to shed.  I will not feel guilty for my poor house keeping skills.  Instead I will enjoy playing with my children, content my house will probably never be tidy again – well at least until my foursome leave for college.

I could make a resolution to be more resolute in my blogging efforts, but again I know I would only disappoint myself and you.  So please, forgive me when you visit, and I have failed to add a new post.  I’ll do my best to ramble away and cook up a good old Irish American feast this year, but I’ll make no promises about daily postings.

And so instead of setting myself up for failure this year, I am going to focus on one of my favorite old Irish sayings throughout the year.

In 2013 I hope you will join me, and …….



Dance as if no one is watching.

Sing as if no one is listening.

And live every day as if it were your last.


Wishing you all a wonderful year of happiness, peace and prosperity.



AthBhlian Faoi Mhaise Daoibh

(A Prosperous New Year To All)


Irish American Mom


Irish Wisdom – The Power Of Friendship (Part 2)

In the Irish Celtic tradition there is a beautiful understanding of the power of friendship – a deep, spiritual belief in the importance of connection, trust and openness between two friends.

In part 1 of this series on Irish Wisdom And Friendship, we explored many old Irish sayings which emphasize the bonds of friendship.  Today, in part 2, I thought I might share some beautiful quotations from some of Ireland’s most influential scholars and writers.


Quotations From John O’Donohue:


John O’Donohue (1956-2008), author of the international best-seller Anam Cara, believed in divine, soulful friendship.  Anam Cara literally means ‘soul friend.’  Here are some of my favorite quotations from his profound writings:



“Real friendship or love is not manufactured or

achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is

always an act of recognition.”


- John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom



“Your noble friend will not accept pretension but will

gently and very firmly confront you with your own

blindness. Such friendship is creative and critical;

it is willing to negotiate awkward and uneven

territories of contradiction and woundedness.”


- John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom


“One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen

compassionately and creatively to the hidden

silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words,

they lie concealed in the silence between the words

or in the depth of what is unsayable between two



- John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom


Quotations From William Butler Yeats:



“Choose your companions from the best;

Who draws a bucket with the rest,

Soon topples down the hill.”


- William Butler Yeats



William Butler Yeats

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“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,

And say my glory was I had such friends.”


- William Butler Yeats



“There are no strangers here,

Only friends you haven’t yet met.”


- William Butler Yeats


Quotations From Oliver Goldsmith:




“Pity and friendship are two passions incompatible with each other.”


- Oliver Goldsmith



Oliver Goldsmith

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“Friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals:

love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.”


- Oliver Goldsmith



Quotations From Oscar Wilde:



“Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship,

and it is far the best ending for one.”


- Oscar Wilde



Oscar Wilde

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“An acquaintance that begins with a compliment

is sure to develop into a real friendship.”


- Oscar Wilde


My Favorite Quotation Of All:



“But the greatest love: the love above all loves,

Even greater than that of a mother…

Is the tender, passionate, undying love,

Of one beer drunken slob for another.”


~ Irish Ballad



Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)



Irish American Mom

Irish Wisdom – The Power Of Friendship (Part 1)

The power and importance of friendship is recognized in Ireland’s ancient sagas and myths, in her wealth of proverbs and blessings, and in her literature both old and new.

Today I thought I might share some of these beautiful quotations from yesterday and today.  As I compiled my list, my blog post grew longer and longer.  So many wonderful old words reflect the importance of friendship on life’s journey, I decided to break this post into a two-part series.

Today, I share some wonderful Irish proverbs and blessings.  In part 2, we will focus on some famous Irish quotations on the topic of friendship.


Irish Proverbs:


http://www.vintagerio.com/details.php?gid=106&pid=16141There are good ships,

and there are wood ships,

the ships that sail the sea.

But the best ships are friendships,

and may they always be.



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Two shorten the road!http://www.flickr.com/photos/21560098@N06/4294363360/in/photostream/



Friends are better than gold.



Friendship is a fine thing, though bitter is the parting.


There is no need like the lack of a friend.



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http://www.vintagerio.com/animal_g72-animal__p9841.htmlFriends are like fiddle-strings—they must not be screwed too tightly.


May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty

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Don’t be hard and don’t be soft,

And don’t desert your friend for your own share.



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Always remember to forget,

The friends that proved untrue.

But never forget to remember

Those that have stuck by you!



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‘Tis better to buy a small bouquet

And give to your friend this very day,

Than a bushel of roses white and red

To lay on his coffin after he’s dead.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericabreetoe/5756760159/in/photostream/A friend’s eye is a good mirror


A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.


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Irish Blessings:



Lucky stars above you,

Sunshine on your way,

Many friends to love you,

Joy in work and play-

Laughter to outweigh each care,

In your heart a song-

And gladness waiting everywhere

All your whole life long!


May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.




May the roof above us never fall in,

and may we friends gathered below never fall out.



Rainbow in the West of Ireland

Wishing you a rainbow

For sunlight after showers—

Miles and miles of Irish smiles

For golden happy hours—

Shamrocks at your doorway

For luck and laughter too,

And a host of friends that never ends

Each day your whole life through!

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May you always have work for your hands to do.

May your pockets hold always a coin or two.

May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.

May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

May the hand of a friend always be near you.

And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/rufino_uribe/67074234/Image Credit


May God give you….

For every storm a rainbow,

For every every tear a smile,

For every care a promise

And a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends,

A faithful friend to share,

For every sigh a sweet song,

And an answer for each prayer.


 http://www.vintagerio.com/saint_patricks_day_g102-saint_patrick_s_day_p14568.htmlImage Credit

May the friendships you make be those which endure

And all of your gray clouds be small ones for sure,

And trusting in Him to Whom we all pray,

May a song fill your heart every step of the way.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


Lessons In Life From Wise Old Irish Hens

Eggs, chickens, and hens played a vital economic role in Irish rural life over the centuries.  We Irish even claim to have invented bacon and eggs.  Many old Irish sayings are peppered with poultry references.  Today, let’s explore some clucking wise words of old.


1. How the Irish first paired eggs with bacon:


In the 18th and 19th centuries the Irish poor seldom ate their own hens’ eggs, but instead sold them to help pay the landlord’s rent on their small holdings.

Cohabiting with hens was common.  By day the fowl foraged outside by themselves, but at night it was vital to protect them from wandering foxes.  Since a hen house required payment of additional rent, it was cheaper to bring the whole flock inside the family home at night.  There they rested along with the family pig (the gentleman who paid the rent).

This habit of keeping poultry indoors gave rise to the Irish legendary claim to being the first people to pair eggs with bacon.  The old tale tells how an Irish peasant was frying bacon in a pan over an open fire one day.  A lazy hen was roosting on the cross-beams above.  The hen supposedly dropped an egg, which fell against the side of the pan.

The shell split, spilling into the pan on top of the bacon.  Rather than wasting the bacon the woman served it, egg and all, to her hungry husband.  He returned to work, proclaiming the deliciousness of the fried combination.  Word spread far and wide, and soon the perfect pairing of bacon and eggs was known the world over.


2. Fowl-proof guidance on choosing a wife:


The importance of hens in the daily lives and existence of the rural Irish poor, is clearly evident in the vast number of old sayings which feature our feathered friends and women. Here are a few:


“It’s a bad hen that won’t scratch herself.”


This means to watch out for a lazy woman.

http://vintagerio.com/details.php?gid=119&pid=20929Image Credit

“A whistling woman and a crowing hen

will bring no luck to the house they are in.”


In years gone by it was deemed ill-mannered for a woman to whistle.  Only a man should whistle, and only a rooster, or cock as they are called in Ireland, should crow.  When a hen crows she is assuming the role of her male partner and going against nature.  So the saying is warning against women who try to assume a man’s role.

 “The cocks crow, but the hens lay the eggs.”


Whistling women and crowing hens would also be considered attention-seekers, an attribute not appreciated in a hard working wife.  In today’s modern age of equality and liberated women, these last two sayings reveal how oppressed women were long ago, and how silencing women was deemed important.

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“Even black hens lay white eggs.”


In Ireland brown eggs were deemed to be of higher quality than white eggs.  This saying is equivalent to “don’t judge a book by its cover” or “don’t be deceived by looks”.


“There are three kinds of women:

a woman as shameless as a pig,

a woman as contrary as a hen,

and a woman as gentle as a lamb.”


The poor women of Ireland got little respect in bygone days.  I think I’d prefer to be considered “as contrary as a hen,” than to be a pushover and “as gentle as a lamb”.



“The hen has ruffled feathers until she rears her brood.”


I can relate to this one.  When a hen sits in the sun and gets hot she ruffles her feathers, but a busy mom has little time to relax.  “To ruffle someone’s feathers” also means to annoy a person.  A hen will ruffle her feathers in fear and excitement.  The saying is telling us that age and grown-up children bring wisdom and calm to a woman.


“It’s the second clutch that kills the old hen.”


As an older mother, I should perhaps worry about this one.  A clutch is a brood of chickens.  Hopefully my second clutch of triplets won’t knock the stuffing out of me.  It can also be a warning to grandmothers.  Boisterous grandchildren can be tiring.



“You can’t expect a big egg from a little hen.”


Big children were healthier children, so a good, round woman with child bearing hips was considered the best choice for a wife.



3. Advice About In-Laws:


“The three sharpest things on earth:

A hen’s eye after grain

A blacksmith’s eye after a nail and

An old woman’s eye after her son’s wife.”



Few poor Irish girls moved into a home of their own upon marrying.  Instead they shared the same roof with their husband’s mother, who probably didn’t appreciate the new woman’s traits as much as the newlywed son.


“….as scarce as hens’ teeth.”


I love this simile.   It might be used like this – “money is as scarce as hens’ teeth around here.”  Money was probably as scarce as mother-in-laws’ teeth too.  Most, like hens, were toothless.  With no tooth brushes, many cleaned their teeth by rubbing them with cold ashes from the fire.

http://vintagerio.com/animal_g87-bird_themed_labels_p113.htmlImage Credit


“As the old cock crows, the young cock learns.”


This one is equivalent to “like father, like son.”


“She’s like a hen with an egg.”


Some hens like to lay their eggs in private, while more social hens lay in a coop.  A hen in search of a private nest will fuss and cackle until she finds it.  This saying aptly describes a bothersome, interfering mother-in-law.


“She never sells her hen on a wet day.”


This is a sign of a shrewd, clever woman.  A hen with wet feathers appeared much smaller than a dry one and did not fetch as good a price.  A mother-in-law seeking a good dowry for her son’s hand in marriage would “never sell her hen on a wet day.”


4. Wisdom For Life:


“He’d offer you an egg if you promised not to break the shell.”


Beware of the man who makes false and useless promises.

 http://vintagerio.com/animal_g87-fox_p411.htmlImage Credit

 “Never ask a fox to mind the hens.”


A fox in the hen house is never a good thing.

“A hen is heavy over a long distance.”


A physical burden, no matter how light initially, can grow exhausting with time.  So remember, if something appears easy at first, it may still grow tiring with time.

“It is better to have a hen tomorrow

than an egg today.”


An egg provides instant gratification, but once it is eaten it is gone forever.  Owning a hen means you have to be patient and wait for everything you want.

Other nationalities cite a similar saying but in reverse.  “It is better to have an egg today than a hen tomorrow.”  In this case, it is better to go with a sure thing today than wait for a possibility of more tomorrow.  Perhaps the Irish saw things in reverse after enduring the hardship and devastation of the Great Hunger. Many ate their hens in desperation, but then had no eggs to depend upon.

http://vintagerio.com/animal_g72-animal__p9802.htmlImage Credit

And finally, one of the most famous chicken sayings which many nations may claim.

“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.”


which Oscar Wilde countered with:

“People who count their chickens

before they are hatched, act very wisely,

because chickens run about so absurdly

that it is impossible to count them accurately.”

- Oscar Wilde


And so, if you enjoyed this little post about wise old Irish hens, don’t forget we have a whole farmyard of animal sayings to work our way through over the coming months.  There are plenty of old Irish sayings about dogs, cats, geese, ducks, horses and cows which we will explore in future posts.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)



Irish American Mom