Just as we have blessings for every occasion, there are nearly as many Irish curses for every situation. We may not like to admit it openly but Irish people swear a lot and we have to be careful when abroad. Our loose tongues can offend U.S and British ears in particular.
I smile when Americans refer to the use of 'f@*k' as the F-bomb because of its effect in polite circles. Though not by origin a Gaelic word, in Irish circles the use of the word is commonplace and casual, to the point of rendering it meaningless at times.
But there is a long history of more 'creative' or 'imaginative' cursing in Ireland. As a child, I remember with delight how my uncle expressed his frustration at his uncooperative cattle with classics such as 'May the divil take you, you dirty common wastrel' or 'May you rot in hell, you hoor's melt' or 'Bad cess to you, you thieving bitch'.
I wasn't even sure what the words meant at the time, but once my uncle had vented his frustration with a few choice Irish curses, we would be laughing a few minutes later. And despite what one might think, the man's influence was all good!!
Though some Irish curses don't translate very well, Irish Gaelic has enriched the way Irish people speak English in many ways. The importing of many a mallacht (the Irish word for a curse) from Gaelic to English has added colour, even when more sinister than funny.
I have put together a list of traditional and funny Irish curses below. So if easily offended, leave now!
That you may die roarin' like Doran's ass.
Trasna ort féin!
Go across yourself! (Go f@*k yourself)
May you all go to hell and not have a drop of porter to quench your eternal thirst.
(Porter was a type of black beer, like Guinness)
"May there never be enough of
your people to make a half-set."
May there never be enough of your people to make a half-set.
(A set is a traditional dance with 8 people, a half-set 4)
If your crop is tall
May your meitheal be small
(A meitheal was a group of friends and neighbours who would
cooperate together traditionally at harvest time. The help of others
was required to get the work done.)
Blast you to hell!
(A common everyday Irish curse said as often in humor as anger)
God damn your soul to hell.
May you never have a hearth to call your own.
May the divil take your last shilling!
May the gates of paradise never open to you.
That you may scratch a beggarman's back one day.
(May you lose everything you have.
May there be guinea-fowl crying at your child's birth.
(Considered bad luck)
May the lamb of God stir his hoof through the roof of heaven and kick
you in the arse down to hell.
Bad cess to you!
(Another common everyday Irish curse, cess being a slang word
May you marry in haste and repent at leisure.
May you have the runs on your wedding night.
May you marry a wench that blows wind like a stone from a sling.
The crows' curse on you.
(Crows were bad luck)
Má ithis, nar chacair!
If you eat, that you may not shit!
Go n-ithe an tochas thú!
May you be eaten by an awful itch!
Briseadh agus brú ar do chnámha!
A breaking and crushing on your you bones!
Go hifreann leat!
To hell with you!
"May all the goats in Gorey chase you to hell."
photo courtesy of Kevin
May all the goats in Gorey chase you to hell.
(Gorey is a small town in County Wexford)
Pissmires and spiders be in your marriage bed.
(Pissmires are ants)
Curse of God on you.
(Another everyday Irish curse still quite commonly used when things
not going your way.)
Curse of the seven snotty orphans on you.
May you find the bees but miss the honey!
The devil mend you!
(Another favorite Irish curse of my uncle's used for everyday frustrations)
That you may be a load for four before the year is out.
(It usually required four people to carry a coffin, i.e you are wishing
death on someone)
May the curse of Mary Malone and her nine blind illegitimate children
chase you so far over the Hills of Damnation that the Lord himself can't
find you with a telescope.
May you have a little skillet,
May you have little in it,
May you have to break it,
To find the little bit in it.
(A skillet is a smalling cooking pot with legs on it.)
May the devil cut the head off you and make a day's work of your neck.
May you be afflicted with an itch and have no nails to scratch with!
May the devil swallow him sideways.
May you die without a priest in a town with no clergy.
(Dying without the presence of a priest was considered not to be the
best way to get into heaven.)
Imeacht gan teacht ort.
May you leave without returning.
May your spuds be like rosary-beads on the stalk
(May your potatoes be tiny)
Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat.
May the cat eat you, and may the divil (devil) eat the cat.
May you melt off the earth like snow off the ditch.
You will find love, marriage and wedding sayings on our Irish love Sayings page.
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Cool and Sexy-Gaelic and Dancing...sean nós style
Throughout 2013, there's a special celebration going on in Ireland. A great time for friends and family from all over the world to visit. Going to be a lot happening. Find out about 'The Gathering' but come back to Gaelicmatters.com