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Proverbs from the Isle of Man

Proverbs of Man (Mann, Manx) reflect the common sense of people and nature there throughout recorded history. We may get valuable glimpses of Manx peculiarities, manners and customs from its folk lore, thinks Sophia Morrison (1860-1917) in her introduction to Manx Proverbs and Sayings, 1905. [Mpr]

CLIMATE AND OTHER CONDITIONS: Manx lies in the Irish Sea off the northwest coast of England. Manx is not part of the United Kingdom, but a somewhat self-governing crown possession (since 1828). The climate is maritime temperate, with cool summers and mild winters. The island's farms produce oats, wheat, barley, turnips, and potatoes, and cattle and sheep graze on the pastures of the central massif.

HISTORY: The Isle of Man (Manx) has a long and complex history and cultural heritage. From about 800 CE the island was the centre of a Viking kingdom that included the western isles of Scotland. By that, the Isle of Man was a Viking Kingdom for almost 500 years. During that period the Celts and Norwegians blended. The Norwegian king sold Man in 1266. The island came under the control of England in 1341. From then the island's successive feudal lords styled themselves "kings of Mann". The British Parliament bought sovereignty over the island in 1765.

REMARKABLE TYNWALD: Throughout the centuries the Isle of Man has developed a way of life and a culture all of its own. Many world events such as the Roman and Norman invasions of Britain passed it by. Celts and Vikings came together as one nation there with a unique system of Government that still exists. It is called Tynwald, and is the oldest working parliament in the world. [◦Link]


A friend by you is better than a brother far off.

Carrey liorts ny share na braar foddey jeh.

A rich man without liberality is like a tree without fruit.

Ta dooinney berçhagh fegooish giastyllys gollrish billey fegooish mess.

A short courtship is the best courtship.

Sooree ghiare, yn tooree share.

A stitch in due time saves nine.

Ta greim ayns traa cooie, sauail nuy.

A wise man will not receive rebuke [partial].

Gow dooinney ereeney rish e phlaiynt.

After spring-tide, neap.

Lurg roayrt hig contraie.

An eel by his tail, an Irishman at his word.

Astan er e amman, Yernagh er e ockle.

As poor as a church mouse.

Cha boght as lugh killagh.

Avoid all evil

Shaghyn dagh olk.

Better leave something to an enemy than borrow from a friend.

T'eh ny share faagail red ennagh da neid na dy yeeassaghey voish carrey.

Better to be poor and honest than to be rich and lying.

Te ny share dy ve boght as onneragh na dy ve berçhagh as breagagh.

Between two stools is a fall.

Eddyr daa stoyl ta toyn er laare.

Black as is the raven, he'll get a partner.

Myr s'doo yn feeagh yiow eh sheshey.

Blood is thicker than water.

Ta fuill ny s'chee na ushtey.

Choose him for a friend who incites you to good works.

Reih shiu eshyn son carrey ta griennagh shiu gys obbraghyn mie.

Don't tell me what I was, but tell me what I am.

Nagh insh dou cre va mee, agh insh dom cre ta mee.

Eaten bread is forgotten [And a good turn is soon forgotten].

Ta bee eeit jarroodit.

Eaten food is forgotten.

Ta bee eeit jarroodit.

Foolish spending is [a] father of poverty.

Baarail ommijagh ta ayr boghtynid.

Give a piece to the raven and he'll come again.

Cur meer da'n feeagh, as hig eh reeisht.

Hold (curb) your tongue, boy. [A common phrase, frequently used towards a person telling an improbable tale. It is a good-humoured but expressive mode of endeavouring to check the relater of the story, and to intimate that he is telling what is not strictly true.]

Cum nynekenghey bwoie.

Hot broth softens hard bread.

Ta broilt chaa boggagh arryn croie.

How good to be forward, but how bad to be too forward.

S'mie ye daancy, agh s'olk ye ro ghaaney.

If you would grow poor without knowing it, put your helpers to work and go to sleep

My yinnagh shiu gaase boght gyn-yss dill cur shiu labreeyn gys obbyr as gow shill dty chadley.

It is easy to bake where there is plenty of meal.

Te aashagh fuinney raad to palçhey meinn.

It's good to be forward, but bad to be too impudent.

S'mie ye daaney agh s'olk ve ro ghaaney.

Learning is fine clothes for the rich man, and riches for the poor man.

Ta ynsagh coamrey stoamey yn dooinney berchagh; as t'eh berchys y dooinney boght.

Let every bird hatch its own eggs.

Lhig dy chooilley ushag guirr e hoohyn hene.

Listen with each ear, then to judgment.

Easht lesh dagh cleaysh, eisht jean briwnys

Make hay while the sun shines.

Jean traagh choud as ta'n ghrian soilshean.

Man has his own will, but woman has her own way.

Ta e aigney hene ec dooinney, agh ta e rand hene ec ben.

Many a man has been guarding the bush and another plucking the fruit.

Ta dooinney ny ghaa er ve bochillaght yn thammag as fer elley er ve teih yn mess.

Many men many minds.

Ynamodee deiney, ymmodee aignaghyn.

Maybe the last dog is catching the hare.

Foddee yn moddey s'jerree tayrtyn y mwaagh.

Near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin.

Faggys ta my lheiney aghny sniessey ta my chrackan.

Never marry an heiress, unless her father has been hanged. (She is sure to be proud.)

"Ny poose eirey-innen ny slooid ny tan ayr eck er ne croghit.

Poor, poor for ever.

Boght boght dy bragh.

Praise the fine day in the evening.

Moyll yn laa mie fastyr.

She's for knitting and sewing and scraping potatoes, and you should be glad to catch the like. (Part of a song.)

T'ee son knittal as whaaley as scrabey puddaseyn, As lhisagh oo ve booiagh er lheid er y haartyn.

Store is no sore.

Cha vel sonnys gonnys.

Strike while the iron is hot.

Bwoaill choud as ta'n yiarn cheh.

Ten thousand of the greatest faults in our neighbours is of less consequence than the smallest of our own.

Ta jeih thousanyn jeh ny voiljyn smoo ta ayne nyu nabooyn jeh ny sloo dy vadyr dooin ny yn foul sloo ta ayn-in-hene.

The black ox never stamps on his own foot.

Cha stamp rieau yn dow doo er e chass.

The coroner and the lawyer grow fat on the quarrels of fools.

Ta'n toshiagh-joarey as yn leighder gaase roauyr er streeu ny blebbinyn.

The crooked bannock straightens the body.

Soddag chamm bolq jeeragh.

The evening comes to us all, i.e., the shadow of death comes to all.

Ta'n festyr çheet orrin ooilley.

The greatest pleasure in life lies in doing that which people say we cannot do.

Yu taitnys smoo ayns bea te ayns jannoo shen ta'n sleih gra nagh vod mayd jannoo.

The little hemlock is sister to the great hemlock.[of sin]

Ta'n aghaue veg shuyr da'n aghaue vooar.

The man who looks after his own work has plenty to do to keep everything right.

Yn dooinney ta jeeaghyrn lurg e obbyr: rene ta palçhey echey dy yannoo dy reayll dy-chooilley nhee kurt.

The man who minds his own business well has always enough to do.

Yn dooinney ta jeeaghyn dy mie lurg y obbyr hene ta paichey echey dy yannoo.

The more a man catches the more he'll have.

Eshyn smoo hayrys, smoo vees echey.

The remembrance of the heart is better than the remembrance of the head.

Ta cooinaghtyn yn chree ny share na cooinaghtyn yn chione.

The smaller the company the bigger the share.

Myr sloo yn cheshaght share yn ayrn.

The tree is known by its fruit.

That is, the chicken fathers itself before it is fully fledged.

The weaknesses of old age are no fit cause for laughter, since they must be our own portion at the end.

Cha vel annoonidyn shenn eash oyr cooie son garaghtee, neayr as shegin daue ve yn ayrn ain ooilley ec y jerrey.

They live like cat and dog.

T'ad beaghey bwoailley er kayt as bwoailley er moddey.

To share is sweet, but to pay is bitter.

Millish dy ghoaill agh sharroo dy eeck.

Two faggots will burn better than one.

Ny share loshtys daa vrasnaq na unnane.

What must be, will be.

Myr shegin dy ve, bee eh.

What's taken well is better than what's well done.

Ta'n red ta goit dy mie, ny share na'n red ta jeant dy mie.

When a man wants a wife, he wants but a wife; But when he has got a wife, he wants a great deal.

Tra ta fer laccal ben, cha vel eh laccal agh ben, Agh tra ta ben echey, téh laccal ymmodee glen.

When men are rightly occupied their happiness grows of their work.

Tra ta deiney gobbragh dy cairagh ta nyn daitnys gaase ass nyn obbyr.

When the sun shines is the time to make up hay.

Tra ta'n ghrian soilshean, yn traa dy yannoo seose traagh.

When the wind blows the sea is moving.

Tra ta'n gheay sheedey, t'a'n muir raisey.

Where there are women there is talk, where there are geese there is keck, where there are tailors there are crabs, where there are carpenters, there are chips. [cf. Moore's Folk Lore of the Isle of Man, page 183.

Raad ta mraane ta pleat, raad ta guolee ta keck, raad ta thaihearyn ta thollagyn, as raad ta seyir ta spollagyn.

While seeking new friends, hold to the old.

Choud's ta shiu shirrey caarjyn noa, cum shiu gys y çhenn.

Whoever is durable, the aged will not be durable.

Quoi erbee s'beayn cha beayn y chenndiaght.

Wisdom is folly unless a wise man guides it.

Ta keeayll ommidjys ny sloo ny t'ee ec dooinney creeney dy reayll.

Wit bought is the wit best, If it be not bought too dear.

Keeyl chionnit yn cheeayl share - Mannagh vel ce kionnit roo gheyr

Your first care must be the care of your own heart.

Shegin da'n dried kiarail eu ve jeh nyn gree hene.


Isle of Man, Mann, Manx, Man proverbs, Literature  

Fli: Moore, Arthur William, coll. The Folk Lore of the Isle of Man, Being an Account of Its Myths, Legends, Superstitions, Customs, and Proverbs, Collected From Many Sources; with a General Introduction; and with Explanatory Notes to each Chapter. Douglas, Isle of Man: Brown & Son, 1891. Online.

Mms: Harrison, William, coll., ed. Mona Miscellany: A Selection of Proverbs, Sayings, Ballads, Customs, Superstitions, and Legends, Peculiar to the Isle of Man. Douglas, Isle of Man: The Manx Society, 1869. Online.

Mpr: Morrison, Sophia and Charles Roeder, colls. Manx Proverbs and Sayings. Reprint. Douglas, Isle of Man: The Isle of Man Examiner, 1905. Online.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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