10 phrases every Irish parent has used
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10 phrases every Irish parent has used

IRISH mammies and daddies – an insightful lot aren’t they?

It was only walking to work this morning in the spring sun when I spotted a gentleman wearing Bermudas and recalled one of my father's classic sayings that I felt inspired to compile a list of the phrases every Irish parent espouses over and over again, starting with this one...

1. Never shed a thread until May has fled

My father, a man who has been known to refuse to remove his signature white vest from underneath his T-shirt in 26 degree heat while on summer holiday, trots this chestnut out every spring. Try leaving our house in April with no winter coat on? You wouldn’t have made it as far as the gate…

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2. Hunger is great sauce

Like most Irish parents’ sayings, this is highly annoying, especially when you have been in the back of the car on the way to Kerry/Kildare/Kiskeam or whatever distant place your cousins live in for three hours and are STARVING.

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3. Jesus Mary and Joseph!

Thanks to @Whistleblower who suggested this one via Twitter. In most houses, invoking the holy trinity of J, M and J from the mouth of either of your parents usually meant the neighbour’s youngest had gone and got pregnant, your brother had broken one of the 'good' plates or you’d done something REALLY bad. Either way, the wooden spoon usually made an appearance shortly afterwards.

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4. You’ll be better before you’re married

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Whether you fell and hurt your knee during a game of chasing in the garden when you were six, or just got dumped a week before your grads/debs, for some reason 99% of Irish parents had faith that assuring you you’d have forgotten the pain in two decades time would make everything better.

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5. It’s not from a stone he/she licked it

While my own mother complained of my sulky teenage behaviour to her childhood best friend while I SAT BESIDE HER (a classic Irish mammy-ism) I was thrilled to hear her friend reply with this little gem. A brilliant rebuttal to Irish parents who complain about ‘backchat’ everywhere. (See also: 'Black cats have black kittens' and ‘What's in the cat is in the kitten').

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6. Someone will get their eye taken out!

Have you ever met a one-eyed Irish child? I certainly haven’t, but that’s largely because Irish children have this mantra roared at them every time they come within 20 years of a stick, hurley or anything wooden and vaguely pointy. 

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7. I’ll give you...

This is a favoured multi-usage term for Irish parents. Here’s how it works:

You: 'Muuuuum, I’m bored'

Mother: 'I’ll give you bored!'

It may sound innocuous, but believe me, it’s a threat.

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8. Were you born in a field?

Daniel Downer suggested this typical Irish parents' admonition to their children, used faithfully every time anyone anywhere committed the unforgivable offence of leaving a door open.

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9. What's for you won't pass you

Sophie Thompson suggests this favourite from her Irish cousin. Despite coming from one of the most Catholic places on Earth, Irish parents are big in to karma apparently.

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10. If so and so jumped off a cliff would you do it too?

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Many an Irish parents closed an argument on this note. You wanted to go to a disco, your parents weren’t keen, so as emotional bribery you evoked the name of a school friend who was allowed go. Then they shut you down with that maddening Irish parent logic.

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 What expressions were most used in your family? Comment below, or let us know on Facebook or Twitter