Old sayings and colloquialisms

 

Sir, – Further to Paul Clements’s An Irishman’s Diary (September 24th), I’ve heard people who show cleverness, especially if it is unexpected, described as “No back of a clock”. – Yours, etc,

JOSEPH MACKEY,

Athlone,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – A friend of mine, on looking out the window on a rotten, rainy day, remarked: “That’s the kind of day you wouldn’t put a fox out of a hen- house” . – Yours, etc,

DONAL MAC POLIN,

Blanchardstown,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – My late mother-in-law had an old saying when describing a man with bandy legs. “He wouldn’t stop a pig going through a gap.” – Yours, etc,

HARRY WILLIAMSON,

Bangor,

Co Down.

Sir, – I grew up in Boston with a mother who had Irish heritage. On my return after going out somewhere, she always said, “Did you see anyone you liked better than yourself?”

If I was ever struggling with life, she would say, “You can’t have fish without bones nor fields without stones.” – Yours, etc,

KATHLEEN KELLEHER,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – My late uncle, a farmer in Tipperary, described the long-legged daughter of a neighbour thus: “She’s so tall, she’d ate hay off the loft.” – Yours, etc,

RODNEY DEVITT,

Sandymount,

Dublin 4.

A chara, – I am of course enjoying your daily crop of old sayings and colloquialisms. But they mostly have a genteel air that smacks of quaintness. In my Cork childhood, things were a bit sharper than that.

For example, on the subject of stinginess, “He wouldn’t give you the dirt from under his fingernails.” Or even more graphically, “He wouldn’t give you the steam off his piss.”

In deference to your readers’ delicate feelings, I refrain from offering examples on the subject of ignorance. – Is mise,

LOUIS MARCUS,

Dublin 16.