The Little Green Book of Irish Wisdom

The Little Green Book of Irish Wisdom

by Dermot McEvoy (Editor)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626365629
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 02/18/2014
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 839,614
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dermot McEvoy is the author of five previous books, including The 13th Apostle: A Novel Of Michael Collins And The Irish Uprising. His writing can be found on IrishCentral.com. He lives in Jersey City, NJ.

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CHAPTER 1

Irish on the Irish

"If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks."

— BRENDAN BEHAN

* * *

The Irish have a world-wide reputation for being fighters. So much so that it's even stated in the Irish National Anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann: "We're children of a fighting race/That never yet has known disgrace." And the people the Irish like to scrap with most — this side of the British — are themselves. There's an old saying that if there were three people left in the whole world and they were all Irish, two of them would be off by themselves — talking about the third guy. The Irish are also known as great "begrudgers"; their motto should be "Other people's success should always be challenged!"

They are a people who mightily take offense — and, if they're lucky — hold them until the day of death! The definition for "Irish Alzheimer's"? They forget everything — except the grudges. A tough race, but tougher on themselves.

* * *

"There's one word that sums up [Hollywood director] Jack Ford and the Irish: MALICE!"

— JAMES CAGNEY

* * *

"Malice is only another name for mediocrity."

— PATRICK KAVANAGH, POET

* * *

"No man is thoroughly miserable unless he is condemned to live in Ireland."

— JONATHAN SWIFT

* * *

"An Englishman thinks seated; a Frenchman, standing; an American, pacing; an Irishman, afterward."

— AUSTIN O'MALLEY (1858 — 1932), PHYSICIST

* * *

"The quiet Irishman is about as harmless as a powder magazine built over a match factory."

— JAMES DUNNE

* * *

"The Irish people do not gladly suffer common sense."

— OLIVER ST. JOHN GOGARTY

* * *

"Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art with great Irish fools to practice on."

— JAMES CONNOLLY

"Just because you're born in a stable doesn't mean you're a horse."

— DUKE OF WELLINGTON, DUBLIN BORN AND NOT PROUD OF IT

* * *

A foreign journalist interviewed Samuel Beckett: "You are British?" "Au contraire!" replied Beckett, a Dublin-born Protestant who spent his last 50 years in France

"There was once an Irishman and Jew, and here he is."

— ROBERT BRISCOE, THE JEWISH LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN

* * *

"Being Jewish in Ireland was not our only cultural conflict. Being Irish in England was another."

— CHAIM HERZOG, DUBLINER WHO BECAME THE 6 PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL

* * *

"My mother is Irish, my father is black and Venezuelan, and me — I'm tan, I guess."

— MARIAH CAREY, CHANTEUSE

* * *

"The problem with being Irish ... is having 'Riverdance' on your back. It's a burden at times."

— RODDY DOYLE

* * *

"I'm Douglas corrigan. Just got in from New York, where am I?"

— "WRONG WAY" CORRIGAN ON HIS ARRIVAL IN DUBLIN ON A SOLO AIRPLANE FLIGHT IN 1938, 6,000 MILES FROM HIS STATED DESTINATION OF CALIFORNIA

* * *

"It's a big con job. We have sold the myth of Dublin as a sexy place incredibly well; because it is a dreary little dump most of the time."

— RODDY DOYLE

* * *

"An Irishman can always see both sides of an argument, provided it will lead to a fight."

— J. P. DONLEAVY, NOVELIST

* * *

Who better to comment on the Irish than Brendan Behan,Russell Street, Northside Dublin:

"Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis."

— FROM RICHARD'S CORK LEG

"It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's simply that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody."

* * *

Definition of the "Anglo Irish": "A Protestant on a horse."

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."

— WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

* * *

"My father was totally Irish, and so I went to Ireland once. I found it to be very much like New York, for it was a beautiful country, and both the women and men were good-looking."

— JAMES CAGNEY

* * *

"I had to have some balls to be Irish catholic in South London. Most of that time I spent fighting."

— PIERCE BROSNAN

* * *

"I once saw a sign on a lift in Dublin that said: 'Please do not use this when it is not working.'"

— SPIKE MILLIGAN, COMEDIAN

* * *

George Bernard Shaw, writer, Synge Street, Dublin:

"I showed my appreciation of my native land in the usual way — by getting out of it as soon as I possibly could."

"Ireland, sir, for good or evil, is like no other place under heaven, and no man can touch its sod or breathe its air without becoming better or worse."

"Put an Irishman on the spit, and you can always get another Irishman to turn him."

* * *

"If you do somebody in Ireland a favor, you make an enemy for life."

— HUGH LEONARD

* * *

"I'm Irish. We think sideways."

— SPIKE MILLIGAN

* * *

"In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs."

— SIR JOHN PENTLAND MAHAFFY

* * *

"Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow."

— JAMES JOYCE, A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN

* * *

"Dublin University contains the cream of Ireland: Rich and thick."

— SAMUEL BECKETT

* * *

"Baloney is flattery laid on so thick it cannot be true, and blarney is flattery so thin we love it."

— BISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN

* * *

"The problem with Ireland is that it's a country full of genius, but with absolutely no talent."

— HUGH LEONARD

* * *

"We are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Burke; we are the people of Grattan; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence."

— W.B. YEATS, IN AN IRISH SENATE DEBATE, JUNE 1925

* * *

"When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious."

— EDNA O'BRIEN

* * *

"When St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, they swam to New York and joined the police force."

— EUGENE O'NEILL

* * *

"Whenever I wanted to know what the Irish people wanted, I had only to examine my own heart and it told me straight off what the Irish people wanted."

— EAMON DE VALERA

* * *

"You know it's summer in Ireland when the rain gets warmer."

— HAL ROACH, COMEDIAN

* * *

"That's the Irish all over — they treat a joke as a serious thing and a serious thing as a joke."

— SEAN O'CASEY

* * *

"If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized."

— OSCAR WILDE

* * *

"There's no point in being Irish if you don't know the world is going to break your heart eventually."

— DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN, COMMENTING ON THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY

* * *

"There is something about the Irish that knows that to live is to be hurt, but we're still not afraid to live."

— US VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

* * *

"My heritage has been my grounding, and it has brought me peace."

— MAUREEN O'HARA

"Intolerance has been the curse of our country."

— JAMES LARKIN

* * *

"my wife and I both come from Irish families. There are two kinds of Irish families: the hitting kind and the kidding kind. If you're fortunate — and both of us are — you come from the kidding kind of Irish family."

— P. J. O'ROURKE

* * *

"We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of the dream."

— ARTHUR O'SHAUGHNESSY (1844 — 1881), POET

* * *

Frank McCourt, writer, Limerick City:

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish catholic childhood."

— FROM ANGELA'S ASHES

"Mick of the month. That's what I am. I'm a Mega-Mick."

— ON HIS CELEBRITY

* * *

"Being Irish is very much a part of who I am. I take it everywhere with me."

— COLIN FARRELL, ACTOR

* * *

"Irish Americans are no more Irish than Black Americans are Africans."

— BOB GELDOF, ROCKER AND HUMANITARIAN

* * *

"I feel more Irish than English. I feel freer than British, more visceral, with a love of language. Shot through with fire in some way."

— KENNETH BRANAGH, ACTOR

* * *

"We save our rhythm for the sheets, not the streets."

— JOE FLAHERTY, JOURNALIST, UPON WITNESSING THE IRISH MARCHING IN THE ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE

* * *

John Millington Synge, author, Playboy of the Western World:

"There is no language like the Irish for soothing and quieting."

"The grief of the keen is no personal complaint for the death of one woman over eighty years, but seems to contain the whole passionate rage that lurks somewhere in every native of the island."

* * *

"History of Ireland — lawlessness and turbulency, robbery and oppression, hatred and revenge, blind selfishness everywhere — no principle, no heroism. What can be done with it?"

— WILLIAM ALLINGHAM, IRISH POET, DIARIST

* * *

"Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible."

— CHARLES HAUGHEY, FORMER TAOISEACH

* * *

"It's difficult for an Irishman to apologize."

— ERROL FLYNN AS CAPTAIN BLOOD

* * *

"Never shake hands with the devil until you meet him!" he advised his companion-on-the-road. "Paddy," replied the stranger, "I am the devil!"

— FROM AN OLD IRISH FOLKTALE

* * *

Broken Irish is better than clever English.

— IRISH SAYING

* * *

"We are, to be sure, a strange lot."

— THEOBALD WOLFE TONE, 18 CENTURY IRISH REVOLUTIONARY

CHAPTER 2

What the Rest of the World Thinks of the Irish

"No Irish Need Apply."

* * *

To say that the Irish have a chip on their shoulder is like saying that Guinness brews a lot of stout. Driven from their own land by poverty and famine, they ended up in other peoples countries and felt the wrath of discrimination. In Boston they encountered the shibboleth that would torture them like a raw wound: "No Irish Need Apply." And the Irish in strange lands continued to bewilder. They were either lovers of freedom and rights, or they were bigots of the worst kind. They were industrious, or they were thieves and murderers. The world saw them as a feral people that were feared before they could ever be loved.

* * *

"The Irish is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use."

— SIGMUND FREUD

* * *

George Washington on Ireland's support for America during the revolution:

"Ireland, thou friend of my country in my country's most friendless days, much injured, much enduring land, accept this poor tribute from one who esteems thy worth, and mourns thy desolation."

"When our friendless standards were first unfurled, who were the strangers who first mustered around our staff? And when it reeled in the light, who more brilliantly sustained it than Erin's generous sons?"

* * *

"Not in vain is Ireland pouring itself all over the earth. Divine Providence has a mission for her children to fulfill; though a mission unrecognized by political economists. There is ever a moral balance preserved in the universe, like the vibrations of the pendulum. The Irish, with their glowing hearts and reverent credulity, are needed in this cold age of intellect and skepticism."

— LYDIA M. CHILD, AMERICAN ABOLITIONIST

* * * "We have lost America through the Irish."

— LORD MOUNTJOY

* * *

"We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English."

— WINSTON CHURCHILL

* * *

"When Irish eyes are smiling, watch your step."

— GERALD KERSH, BRITISH WRITER

* * *

"The Irish are a fair people; they never speak well of one another."

— SAMUEL JOHNSON

* * *

"The Irish are a race of people who don't know what they want and are prepared to fight to the death to get it."

— SIDNEY LITTLEWOOD, BRITISH LAWYER

* * *

"The Irish do not want anyone to wish them well; they want everyone to wish their enemies ill."

— HAROLD NICOLSON, BRITISH AUTHOR

* * *

"The Irish are not at peace unless they are at war."

— GEORGE ORWELL

* * *

"The Irish seem to have more fire about them than the Scots."

— SEAN CONNERY

* * *

"For the great Gaels of Ireland/Are the men that God made mad/For all their wars are merry/And all their songs are sad."

— G.K. CHESTERTON, "THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE"

* * *

"Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the Right Honourable Gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon."

— BENJAMIN DISRAELI IN RESPONSE TO AN ANTI-SEMITIC TAUNT OF DANIEL O'CONNELL

* * *

"Perhaps no class of our fellow citizens has carried this prejudice against color to a point more extreme and dangerous than have our Catholic Irish fellow citizens, and no people on the face of the earth have been more relentlessly persecuted and oppressed on account of race and religion than have this same Irish people. The Irish who, at home, readily sympathize with the oppressed everywhere, are instantly taught when they step upon on our soil to hate and despise the Negro. They are taught that he eats the bread that belongs to them."

— FREDERICK DOUGLASS

CHAPTER 3

Religion: God Save Ireland (Because it's the Least He Could Do)

"We are a nation of believers. We produce anti-clerics, but atheists, never."

— WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

* * *

During the Troubles in Belfast there was a joke circulating. A gunman goes up to a man on a dark street and says, "Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?" "I'm an atheist!" replies the terrified man. "So," responds the gunman, "are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?" The moral of the story might be that religion, no matter how heavy the denial, is never very far away in Ireland. Ireland, since the arrival of transplanted Protestants in the early 17th century, has always been tormented by religion. Let's face it, religion is like a stigmata on the Irish psyche. From the Protestants you'd hear "No Pope Here!" From the Catholics: "The hell with King Billy and God bless the Pope!" The 2011 census showed the Catholics in the Republic still out-populating the Protestants by the count of 84% to 3%, while the census for Northern Ireland showed the Catholics and the Protestants tied at just about 41%. But as Bob Dylan once said, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as witnessed by the success of the Good Friday Agreement. Also, the young are not as caught up in the extreme bigotry or clannishness of years past. There is a place for all religions on the island, although Ireland will probably be always known for its Catholicism, even as that Catholicism diminishes by the year, reserved mostly it seems, for baptisms, marriages and burials. While Catholics remain the majority, the imprint of Protestants on the culture of Ireland cannot be denied. Three of the four Irishmen who won the Nobel Prize in Literature have been Protestant (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett), with Seamus Heaney being the lone Catholic. And if not for the Protestants of the United Irishmen — men like Wolfe Tone, Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Robert Emmet — the nationalist revolutionary movement may have been stillborn.

The apogee of the Catholic Church was the visit to Ireland of Pope John Paul II in 1979. After that the public's support for the Church began to wane for several reasons, one being the Church's opposition to birth control. Another was the Church's adamant position against divorce. Also, for the first time the question of abortion was being broached, raising the political temperature, as the Church obsessed on the subject. Moral authority demands the high ground and the Church lost it as reports about the clergy sexually preying on young boys surfaced. That was bad enough; but when cover-ups by Church officials were revealed, the blow to the Church was substantial, if not mortal. Diarmuid Martin, the current archbishop of Dublin, had this to say:

"It is likely that thousands of children or young people across Ireland were abused by priests in the period under investigation and the horror of that abuse was not recognised for what it is. The report will make each of us and the entire church in Dublin a humbler church."

The involvement of the Church in cahoots with the government in the Magdalene Laundries — institutions where as many as 30,000 young women were often confined for life on minor (often sexual) offenses — evoked a firestorm of protests, and an apology from the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny:

"Therefore, I, as Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, the Government and our citizens, apologise unreservedly to all those women for the hurt done to them, and any stigma they suffered, as a result of the time they spent in a Magdalene Laundry."

The Catholic Church has taken a severe beating in Ireland. As church after church closes it becomes apparent that you can take the church out of Ireland, but is it really possible to take the Church out of the Irish?

"I am Patrick, yes a sinner and indeed untaught; yet I am established here in Ireland where I profess myself bishop. I am certain in my heart that 'all that I am,' I have received from God. So I live among barbarous tribes, a stranger and exile for the love of God."

— SAINT PATRICK

* * *

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."

— JONATHAN SWIFT

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Little Green Book of Irish Wisdom"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Dermot McEvoy.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction,
1 Irish on the Irish,
2 What the Rest of the World Thinks of the Irish,
3 Religion: God Save Ireland (Because it's the Least He Could Do),
4 The "Irish Question",
5 Revolution: The Irish Confront Their "British Question",
6 From the Dock: "Let No Man Write My Epitaph",
7 Michael Collins: "The Big Fellow" Evens the Odds,
8 Ferocious Irish Women,
9 The Orangemen Have Their Say: The World According to Ian Paisley,
10 Kitchen Table Philosophy: Putting an Ass on the Cat,
11 Love Irish Style: Sex, Romance & Marriage,
12 Once A Celtic Philosopher ...,
13 Writers & Poets,
14 Monie$ & W[euro]a£th,
15 Politics: Vote Early, Vote Often,
16 Two 20th Century Irish-American Presidents,
17 Drink,
18 Death,

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