Proverbial Sayings

Ní thesairg trú teiched.

Ní thesairg trú teiched.

(not * saves * doomed man * fleeing)

Flight cannot save a doomed man.

The word "trú" refers to a person who is doomed to death, who fate is sealed, who is "fey" in its archaic sense. This alliterating saying, which underlines the irrevocable certainty of this condition, is found on page 172 of FDG. See also "Ba robad do throich" and "Am trú-sa trá!" in this collection.

Nocha chummae cách is cách.

Nocha chummae cách is cách.

(is not * same * everyone * and * everyone)

Everyone is not the same.

The line is found in the second quatrain of three that make up a composition which Meyer edited in ZCP 12 under the title "Wirtshausreime". That everyone is not the same seems like an obvious observation. In context, however, the meaning is probably more like "everyone is not equally admirable". The lines which come just before say:

"Teccait âigid, fâcboit ail
saigit go glain nGâidil ngil"

They come to the fore, they leave disgrace,
they purely seek the bright Gaels

Ní ciat súli ní nach aiccet.

Ní ciat súli ní nach aiccet.

(not * weeps * eyes * thing * that not * they see)

Eyes do not weep for what they don't see.

In other words, "ignorance is bliss". We can't be troubled by something we don't know about. Or as a chef once said about kitchen mishaps, "what your guests don't see won't hurt them". This proverb is found in "Brislech Mór Maige Murthemni" (LL 13853).

Is cend daim for dartaid...

Is cend daim for dartaid mórpersan for becphopul.

(is * head * of ox * on * heifer * great person * on * small people)

A great man leading a small people is like an ox's head on a heifer.

This saying is recorded in O’Mulconry’s Glossary.

Condolb cách ima dáinib fodesin.

Condolb cách ima dáinib fodesin.

(kin-loving * everyone * regarding his * people * own)

Everyone loves his own people best.

Medb uses this saying on Fer Diad as part of her campaign to persuade him to fight on behalf of Connacht against the Ulster hero Cú Chulainn, despite the fact that the two had a deep bond of affection. This version of the saying is from the YBL Táin. Another similar saying in found in Windisch's edition of the text:

"uair as badhach nech imá tir fén" (for one is partial to ones own country).

Rot·gíuil ind shrathar dodcaid.

Rot·gíuil ind shrathar dodcaid.

(has-stuck-to-you * the * pack-saddle * of ill-luck)

The pack-saddle of misfortune has stuck to you.

This is the fourth and final line of a one-stanza poem recorded in the margin of a manuscript, one of three short poems in Old Irish published in the Thesaurus. Here's the whole poem as it appears there:

Gaib do chuil insin charcair,
ni róis chluim na colcaid.
Truag insin amail bachal;
rot giuil ind shrathar dodcaid.

Ba maith fer for a ferand fadessin.

Ba maith fer for a ferand fadessin.

(would be * good * a man * on * his * land * own)

A man were well in his own land.

Spoken by Conall Corc in "Conall Corc & the Corcu Luigde", published in Anecdota, iii.59. Conall is in Scotland but wants to return to Ireland. The heavy alliteration on 'f' in the original lends this statement the feel of a maxim.

At·tá lá i ndegaid alaile.

At·tá lá i ndegaid alaile.

(is * day * in * following * of another)

One day follows another.
Tomorrow is another day.

In the tale "Tochmarc Étaíne" Ailill feels remorse because he fell asleep and missed his tryst with Étaín. She reassures him, saying "Ní ba son, ata la i ndegaid aloile." (Never mind. There's always tomorrow.)

Is fér bó aenmachaidh ...

Is fér bó aenmachaidh, is geilt aengeóid, is milide oenbeich.

(is * grass * of cow * of one-field * is * grazing * of one goose * is * honey-pasture * of one bee)

It's grass for one cow, grazing for one goose, flowers for one bee.

In other words, this is a poor, small, unproductive place, so don't expect much from it. The run is found in "Erchoitmed Ingine Gulidi", where Guilide's daughter is putting on the poor mouth in an attempt to dissuade unexpected visitors from wanting to spend the night.

Ard bot fiaich ...

Ard bot fiaich ocainn, íseal bot con.

(high * tail * of raven * at-us * low * tail * of hound)

The raven's tail is high for us and the hound's tail is low.

In other words, food is scarce for us. The expression is presumably based on a close observation of the appearance of animals at the beginning of spring, when the winter's stores of food were almost exhausted.

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