As a society, the Irish are a very creative bunch. Cleverly veiling insults and artfully embellishing common forms of flattery, we’ve got a real appreciation for the power of language. In any given townland across the Emerald Isle, you’re likely to hear any or all of the following sayings woven into conversation or shouted from the rooftops. Here’s what they actually mean...
YOU’RE A RIDE
The highest form of flattery, to call someone a ride is to proclaim them a creature of great beauty. When you lock eyes with a complete and utter ride across a crowded bar, shifting is bound to ensue. Approach with a cool air of confidence, utter the age-old greeting “are you well, because you’re looking well” and you’ll be wearing the face off each other in no time.
WEARING THE FACE OFF SOMEONE
If further clarity is needed, this charming idiom refers to kissing so passionately that one’s face disappears into the face of another. Commonly observed at teen discos, where a heady aroma of Lynx Africa fills the halls, we’ve all worn the face off someone at one point or another. Ah, to be young!
If someone claps you on the back and calls you an absolute legend, expect to feel about ten feet tall. There’s no greater compliment than this, and you should wear it as a badge of honour. Whether you’ve accomplished a great feat, done someone a huge favour or simply made a top notch joke, you’ll more than likely become an absolute legend. Fair play to ya!
C’MERE TO ME
“Aragh come here to me ‘til I tell you” and “c’mere to me you” have entirely different meanings, and it’s important not to get them mixed up. The former indicates that some hot gossip is about to be spilled, while the latter is the precursor to some serious shifting.
Sure look and sure listen, at the end of the day, it’s the night. The Irish equivalent of holding up your hands and raising your brows, it’s a phrase that defies explanation. Commonly used to punctuate a sentence or draw a conversation to a close, sure lookit - we’ll leave it at that.
WILL YOU SHIFT MY FRIEND?
A phrase which evokes a reaction in every person to have attended a school dance, disco or céilí, there are still echoes of “will you shift my friend?” to be heard in parish halls across the country. The precursor to many’s the first shift, it should be taught in Wingman 101.
That is utterly hilarious! Oftentimes, stating that something is gas can substitute laughter entirely. Of course - depending on the tone of voice and facial expression - it may not be a laughing matter in any way, shape or form. When accompanied by a smiling face and a clap of the hands, you’ll know your banter was top notch, but if it’s said solemnly with a shake of the head, you can be sure that it is - in fact - quite bizarre indeed.
If she’s a fine looking thing, she’s most certainly a beure. Asking “who’s that beure?” may well have been the question that led to your parents - and your parent’s parents - finding each other. Being called beautiful is boring, leave it at ‘some beure’ and you won’t go far wrong.
Indicating sheer, unadulterated contentment, to be happy out is to be utterly delighted with yourself and your surroundings. Curled up in front of the fire, cup of tea in hand, a good movie on the box and your nearest and dearest all around you - sure wouldn’t you consider yourself happy out?
FEW CANS, BE GRAND
Somehow it’s never really grand, is it? A bag of cans with the lads always seems to taste like more and before you know it you’re three sheets to the wind, standing on a table, roaring the (incorrect) lyrics to some trad tunes and waking up with the almighty fear.
You’re sound, that’s sound, awful sound, pure sound, sound as a pound - there are many varieties of this particular statement but at its core, it’s a term of general acceptance. A way of indicating the affirmative or making someone aware of their legendary status, it’s sound to be sound.
It’s plain to see that ‘how are you?’ takes far too long to say, so the Irish made the executive decision to shorten it to just one word. Short, to the point and an exceptional way to start any conversation, ‘howya?’ really says it all.
There are so many more Irish sayings, so we've got a feeling that another blog article on this topic will show up pretty soon...