A few weeks ago we posted our first in this series of Irish expressions. We thought we’d add some more to help you understand the colour, wit and wisdom of the English that is spoken in Ireland and why it is considered amongst the most expressive in the world. Like all English speaking parts of the world, Ireland has words, expressions and phrases that are unique to the country and here are a few more.
Chancing your arm
This phrase has a history to it. In 1492, two rich Irish families, the Butlers and the FitzGeralds were involved in a dispute. In an effort to hide from his would be captors, the Butlers took refuge in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, where they were followed by the FitzGeralds. The FitzGeralds asked the Butlers to come out, so they could make peace, the Butlers refused, leading Gerald FitzGerald to suggest cutting a hole in the door, to offer his handshake and therefore chancing his arm. The Door of Reconciliation is still in St Patrick’s Catherdral today. In modern times, when you chance your arm, you try something to see if it works. Often we use it as a way of encouraging people.
“I might ask them for a pay rise.”
“Sure chance your arm and see what they say.”
Up to Ninety
When a person is ‘Up to Ninety’ he/she is either really stressed out or really busy. It is often used to let people who might want something done that there is very little chance it will be done anytime soon.
John, I’m up to ninety today. Can you call me tomorrow and we will arrange a meeting?
To Have a Bad Dose (of something)
This is a curious phrase and one that cna mean quite a few different things. When you have or had a bad dose, it means you were quite sick with something – usually a flu or a cold or stomach illness. You coudln’t use this for a very serious illness. It is used for soemthing that you can recover from but still want (and probably deserve) sympathy for.
I had a bad dose of the flu there last month. Knocked me for six.
A rake of stuff
When you have a rake of something, it usually means you have too much and you can give it away.
We have a rake of books in our house that you can take.
We have a rake of chocolate that we’re never going to get through. Please take some.
Come here to me
This is a great expression that really confuses people who are not from Ireland. Come here to me is used when you want to interrupt, either to ask a question or to start a ocnversation on a new topic. The weird thing about this expression is that the person is usually right beside you (often on a bar stool) when it used. This is a classic Irish discourse marker.
So come here to me, how is your brother?
Your Language School in Dublin City Centre
City Language School is right in the heart of Dublin City Centre. Dublin is the proud and vibrant capital of Ireland and with its cosmopolitan and modern feel, it has repeatedly been voted Europe’s friendliest city by Trip Advisor. Dublin boasts strong links with literature, music, dance and storytelling. As you walk through the streets of Temple Bar, you can absorb the musical tradition which spills onto the streets from the many bars and restaurants; truly a city of enormous beauty! Dublin is surrounded by breath-taking natural scenery that will leave you with lifelong memories. It is perfectly located on the eastern coastline of Ireland and is a convenient gateway to the rest of Europe.
We are conveniently located in the heart of Dublin on Dame Street, giving you easy access to the whole city of Dublin as well as bus and tram lines for you to get around.