13 St. Patrick’s Day Sayings

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that remembers St. Patrick, the patron saint (or protector) of Ireland.

In many places, especially in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is a fun celebration all about being proud to have Irish heritage, and celebrating the nation of Ireland and its people, traditions and folklore—even if you’re not Irish.

So you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day no matter where you’re from! Start by learning these St. Patrick’s Day sayings, blessings and quotes.

St. Patrick’s Day Sayings, Proverbs and Quotes

1. To have the luck of the Irish

Irish people are born lucky! At least, that’s what this phrase is saying. Being lucky means that good things happen to you by chance.

There are many ideas about why Irish people are considered more lucky than others, but it might have something to do with their ability to get through difficult situations.

2. Kiss me, I’m Irish

Being lucky can also mean that something brings good luck to others, like a horseshoe. Some people believe touching a lucky object will give them luck.

Since Irish people are considered lucky, this phrase suggests in a joking way that the luck of the Irish might rub off on you (or be shared with you) if you kiss an Irish person or someone with Irish heritage. This is one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day sayings.

3. Top o’ the mornin’

This phrase simply means “Good morning,” although no one seems sure why. The phrase is not used that commonly in Ireland anymore, but traditionally the correct response is “And the rest of the day to you,” which means “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

The apostrophes in o’ (of) and mornin’ (morning) replace letters that are sometimes silent in an Irish accent.

4. It is often a man’s mouth that broke his nose

Watch what you say, because it could get you into trouble! Saying unkind or careless things to people is not a good idea, because one of them might get angry enough to break your nose with a punch.

The message is similar to the English saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Or, even more simply, “Think before you speak!”

5. May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead

Many Irish blessings are funny and tongue in cheek. That means they sound serious, but are meant as a joke. This blessing seems serious because it talks about death.

However, it’s funny because it suggests the person being spoken to needs to sneak into heaven. In other words, continue to enjoy yourself after death, even if you don’t deserve it!

6. May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live

This well-known blessing uses two different meanings of the word want. In the first half of the saying, it means “to desire something.” In the second half it means “to lack something you desire.”

The blessing is a wish that you will live a long life and always have what you desire.

7. May the roof above your head never fall in, and those gathered beneath it never fall out

Here’s another blessing that uses word play. In this case, the phrases fall in and fall out sound similar, but mean two different things.

To fall in means, literally, to collapse or fall inside. To fall out means to stop being friends with someone.

The blessing is a wish that you will always have a good roof over your head, and be surrounded by a loving family and friends.

8. Experience is the comb that life gives a bald man

Experience is something you can only get when you actually live through or come in contact with events. People studying to be doctors read a lot of books about medicine, but they can only get experience when they actually start working with real people.

This proverb points out that sometimes, by the time you finally get enough experience with something, you can no longer use that knowledge—just like a bald man (a man who has no hair) doesn’t need a comb.

9. May the most you wish for be the least you get

The most is the greatest amount possible, and the least is the smallest amount possible. This blessing is saying “I hope you get way more than what you want.”

10. “He drove the snakes out of the minds of men, snakes of superstition and brutality and cruelty” — Arthur Brisbane

In the stories, St. Patrick drove away (forced to leave) all the snakes in Ireland. This quote by American newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane says that St. Patrick didn’t just scare away actual snakes, but he also scared away the imaginary snakes in people’s minds.

Superstition is the belief in magical or supernatural beings like ghosts, brutality is physical violence and cruelty is causing pain to others for your pleasure.

11. “A best friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have” — Unknown

This great Irish quote about friends means that finding a very close friend is not easy, just like finding a four-leaf clover. If you do manage to find one, you must be pretty lucky!

12. “The list of Irish saints is past counting; but in it all no other figure is so human, friendly, and lovable as St. Patrick—who was an Irishman only by adoption” — Stephen Gwynn

In this quote, Irish journalist Stephen Gwynn is saying that there are many Irish saints, but only St. Patrick is so widely known and loved.

Adoption is when you take something—a child or an idea—and you make it yours. Being “an Irishman by adoption” means that St. Patrick was not actually born in Ireland, but he’s been accepted as Irish anyway.

13. “It is better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money” — P.J. O’Rourke

American journalist P.J. O’Rourke had the right idea when he said this quote. He means that enjoying the present is better than worrying about the future.

Tomorrow you might feel bad for spending all that money on drinks. But tonight… just have fun!

St. Patrick’s Day Vocabulary

St. Paddy

This is a shortened way of saying “St. Patrick” (like calling someone named Richard, “Rich”).


A shamrock is a grass-like plant that’s also called a clover, which typically has three heart-shaped leaves. Shamrocks are not the official symbol of Ireland (that’s the harp), but they are often used to represent the country.

Four-leaf clover

Clovers (or shamrocks) usually have three leaves, but once in a while you can find a clover with four leaves. Because four-leaf clovers are so rare, they’ve become a symbol of extremely good luck. You’re pretty lucky if you can find one!


A leprechaun is an Irish mythical (fantasy) creature. According to legends, the leprechaun is a short man with a red beard, dressed entirely in green. The leprechaun guards a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If you’re lucky enough to catch a leprechaun, he’ll give you three wishes. Start looking!

Leprechauns are also known as troublemakers who like to play tricks on people, like sneaking up and pinching them. According to one legend, people who wear green are invisible to leprechauns. That’s why in America, it’s a tradition to wear green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day. If you forget, someone might pinch you!

Lucky Charms

A lucky charm is an item that is believed to bring its owner luck. Lucky Charms is a brand of cereal sold in America that has a leprechaun on the box and has marshmallows in the shapes of “lucky” things, which links it to Ireland (although it’s not actually sold there!).


There’s no better way to celebrate being Irish than by drinking Irish beer. Guinness is a brand of Irish beer that’s over 250 years old, and is sold all over the world.


On top of Blarney Castle in Ireland is a stone. This stone, called the Blarney Stone, is said to be very special. If you kiss it, you will get good luck and the ability to speak very well and easily talk people into doing things.

Skilled, charming speech is sometimes called blarney after the Blarney Stone.

The gift of the gab

Gab is an uncommon word for “talk.” If someone has the gift of the gab, it means they talk a lot and they are good at it—maybe because they kissed the Blarney Stone!

You don’t need to go to Ireland to get the gift of English gab yourself, though. You can use native media to pick up natural English, or use a language learning program like FluentU.

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Who Was St. Patrick, Anyway?

St. Patrick is a saint, which is a person accepted by the Catholic religion to be a very holy and good person. He was born in Britain, and came to Ireland in the 5th century as a missionary—someone who teaches people about Christianity.

One story tells that St. Patrick was originally taken as a slave by the Irish to herd sheep. After he escaped back to Britain, he got a calling in his dreams that he had to return to Ireland to teach the people about Christianity. 

There are many legends and stories about the things St. Patrick did in Ireland. Some are true, and some are made up. All of them can be fun to tell on March 17 as a way to remember St. Patrick!


Now you’re ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in English! We’ll leave you with one final traditional Irish blessing:

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

And One More Thing...

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