Eugene Daly continues his series on Irish customs and folklore
Good luck in life and love, as well as health, wealth and happiness, are the things that we all desire, exactly as our forebears did.
Hundreds of sayings relate to these universal concerns, many of them also advising on ways of keeping the wheels of friendship in particular and society in general well oiled.
Many of them are linked to the cycle of the year, the seasons, the weather, the festivals and customs associated with them. Good advice on how to live your life, and the things you should value, comes from well-known sources as the Bible’s Book of Proverbs and the works of Shakespeare, but also from anonymous sages and popular songs.
Conversations between ordinary people were enriched by their sayings. The person who quoted a suitable proverb to sum up a situation or to suggest a certain course of action commanded respect in the community.
There are thousands of proverbs in the Irish language, but here we look at a few in English: ‘Strike while the iron is hot’ is an encouragement to make the most of your opportunities while they last; this has its origins in the blacksmith’s forge, once an integral part of society.