1- You could skin a cat out there
Cats from Kerry to Donegal live in a constant fear of being skinned alive when the RTE weather announces temperatures dipping to -5 during the night.
The utterance of “Well, you could skin a cat out there, it’s frightfully cold!” from their middle-aged female owners sends a shiver down their spine and serves as a gentle reminder to be thankful they didn’t start out life like a Sphynx cat.
The good news for our feline friends is that 99% of Met Eireann’s weather reports are a crock of shite, so they probably won’t look like those inside-out looking creatures for a while to come.
2- Get the finger out
Spending more than a matter of minutes with an older Irish person has only one guaranteed outcome – they will call you and your generation lazy and useless. You’ll get the “When I was your age I was already…” spiel you’ve heard countless times before.
On top of that you’ve also been told to “get the finger out!” Out of where? You can clearly see my arms are folded as I lean awkwardly on my hurl at the full forward line. Now, what were my opponent and I talking about before we were so rudely interrupted!
3- It cost me an arm and a leg
Irish people love to tell you when they’ve forked out some of their hard-earned Euros. What they fail to tell you is how much it physically pained them to pry open their wallet to do so. At times I feel some of my family would rather pay with a limb than key in their PIN at the debit machine. I’m still waiting for the day my girlfriend gets wheelbarrowed to the door with a pair of designer jeans in tow!
4- Take your point, the goals will come
In terms of the game played, this phrase makes total sense: you should choose to go for the score which offers the easier path. On the larger scale of life I suppose it means to take the easy option every time and never aspire to aim for anything that may be blocked by some sort of obstacle. GAA idioms should really stick to the field of play!
5- You’re taking the piss
Now, we don’t go around stealing urine samples from clinics before you jump to conclusions! Taking the piss is a figurative way of saying you’re joking with someone. Americans are “kidding”, Irish people are “taking the piss”, note the difference!
6- As happy as Larry
The happiest guy in all of Ireland is, and forever will be, some lad named Larry. No one knows the reasoning behind his permanent state of happiness but fair play to him for remaining so optimistic throughout the recent hard times which have hit the country. He must have found a nice market being the only upbeat person in the country since 2008!
7- Away with the fairies
An Irish person’s way of saying another one is a bit mad. The phrase essentially means you’re living in your own land where common sense and rules are figments of the imagination. “Ah don’t mind that lad, sure he’s away with the fairies!” a common rebuttal to the opinion of that lad in your group of friends.
8- On their way out
Only in Ireland would you talk about a person approaching death as you would a person leaving a bar. “How’s Tom doing up at the hospital?” I ask my Dad. “Ah not too well, he’s on his way out!” he responds. The news sinks my heart, although this time no one will be rushing after him to pay his bill at the pub!
9- Running around like a headless chicken
Back to animal brutality we go! One day you’re graduating from Maynooth with a degree in Theology and the next you’re struggling to find a job in Supermac’s. They said the skills I learned would be transferable! A decapitated chicken’s desperate attempt to cling on to its final moments of life encapsulate your struggle finding a job perfectly, no?
10- Nearly never bulled a cow
It’s as close to getting “close, but no cigar” you’re going to get in the Irish countryside. I’m no expert on breeding animals and the terminology associated with it, but this one seems pretty obvious! I guess the further you live from the countryside, the less likely it is that you will ever hear this idiom… but you can’t get that image out of your head can you? So, the next time you nearly do something, try to just do it to save an elderly Irish man using this expression and creeping you out!
11- Not the full shilling
Big deal, we don’t use the old money anymore! We never switched to “not the full Euro” for fear of the currency going the way of Brian Cowen’s reign as Taoiseach! Not the full shilling is used to describe that lad who you think has a few screws loose in their noggin. Your evidence is based solely on hearsay and that never-ending look on his face that screams “psychopathic serial killer”.
12- Throwing a sausage down O’Connell Street
Every town in Ireland has that one girl who has hooked up with more than her fair share of townsmen. On top of that, each town in Ireland also has enough gossipers to colonise a newly-discovered island. Add the two together and you come out with a hideous way of describing the fact that she may have taken one too many Denny’s sausages in her time.
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