Cookies on Dublin People website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Dublin People website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.
How does Dublin People use cookies?
Cookies enable us to identify your device, or you when you have logged in. We use cookies that are strictly necessary to enable you to move around the site or to provide certain basic features. We use cookies to enhance the functionality of the website by storing your preferences, for example. We also use cookies to help us to improve the performance of our website to provide you with a better user experience.
We donít sell the information collected by cookies, nor do we disclose the information to third parties, except where required by law (for example to government bodies and law enforcement agencies).
Hide Message
  • Northside East

What are your favourite Dublin sayings?

Wednesday, 8th August, 2018 1:23pm

Story by Pat O'Rourke
What are your favourite Dublin sayings?
What are your favourite Dublin sayings?

Dubliners are renowned worldwide for their witty banter and unique sayings. How many of these have you heard over the years?

1. Not a child in the house washed

This is a classic from the old days when it wasn’t uncommon for an Irish family to have eight or 10 kids. The woman of house was always up to her eyes with chores and there was always a child that needed a bath (if you were lucky enough to have one in those days!). The term is almost extinct now but if a person is very busy (like a journalist working in a local newspaper!) they might throw it out there.

2. Those windows need to be cleaned badly

One of the great oxymorons of our time, and it wasn’t just for windows. This saying could be used for anything that needed to be cleaned. However, why they put ‘badly’ at the end of the sentence is beyond me. It was a good ‘get-out’ if you didn’t do a good job on the windows. “Well Ma, you said they need to be cleaned badly!”  

3. The rain is starting to stop

Ireland’s fascination with the weather is legendary. A conversation about it is always a good ice-breaker (no pun intended) when faced with an awkward silence after meeting someone. ‘The rain is starting to stop’ is another of those great oxymorons I picked up in my days as a shop assistant when customers came out with the maddest sayings without giving them a second thought. As for the rain: well, it’s either starting or it’s stopping. You can’t have it both ways.

4. I can’t believe he’s dead. I only seen him yesterday

This is a personal favourite of mine. How many times have you heard this while standing in the pension queue at the post office or down the back of the local bingo hall of a Friday night? By coming out with this saying, you’re more or less saying that because you met the deceased only yesterday, there’s no way he could be dead today. An interesting take on matters of life and death.

5. Look at the dirt behind your ears

This is a great saying from the old days that confused many a child. It kept them up all night wondering how they were supposed to see behind their ears without coming down with a severe bout of whiplash. Still, many a mammy used to say it when you had to look your best before going to Sunday mass. Did they ever give this line a second thought?

6. If you fall off that wall and break your two legs, don’t coming running to me...

Another lovely saying that also caused confusion for many a chisler (an old name for kids that’s sadly dying out as well). If you were unfortunate enough to break your two legs, it’s unlikely you’d be running anywhere. The hospital would surely be your first port of call.   

7. What time do you call this?

Another classic here. Many a poor man has come home from the pub a bit inebriated and faced this question from the missus while also staring at a frying pan in the angry wife’s hand. What difference would it make if poor husband knew the exact time? And did she ever ponder the fact that, in his drunken state, he would be lucky to know his own name, let alone the correct time?

8. If you don’t go for that message I’ll kill you when you get back

You can’t beat a saying riddled with contradiction. However, many a child was so frightened about the repercussions of not going for the message they didn’t give it a second thought. Neither did the parents before it left their lips.

9. Is it yourself?

Sadly, this one is dying out too but it was fantastic in its day. You would meet a person on the street, in the shops, in the pub, anywhere really, and if there was an element of surprise to the meeting, they would utter the immortal line: “Is it yourself?” And how many people answered: “No, it’s someone else.”

10. Ah here, leave it out...

As immortalised in 2012 by Sheriff Street granny Ann Grimes when she tried to break up a brawl on Talbot Street and became a YouTube sensation in the process. WARNING: VIOLENT CONTENT AND OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here