5 BEST Irish sayings that would make great tattoos (2024)

If you’re on the market for some ink inspired by your ancestors, there are many traditional Irish sayings that would make great tattoos.

The Irish language has a wonderful way of phrasing profound wisdom in simple ways, so a little bit of ink can hold a whole lot of meaning.

Sure, you might spend the rest of your life explaining the pronunciation of your body-art, but getting to show off your language skills is part of the fun!

Here are our suggestions for five Irish sayings that would make great tattoos.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for getting Irish sayings as tattoos

  • Ensure that the Irish sayings that you will be getting as a tattoo are authentic and genuine Irish sayings. You want to make sure you are getting the correct interpretation of the message you wish to convey.
  • Consider a personal connection for your Irish saying. You may want it to align with your values, a historical event or period of time you resonate with, or something that is meaningful to you.
  • If you have a friend or know someone who speaks the Irish language, speak with them for some ideas and make sure that Irish saying you are getting is accurate.
  • Check out different types of fonts to use and consider as well the size and placement of the tattoo. Depending on the size of the saying, you may need more space, and it also depends if you want it visible.
  • You could also include symbolic Irish elements and pieces of heritage, such as Celtic knots or shamrocks. This could really enhance your tattoo.

5. Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad – for the survivors

Our list of Irish sayings that would make great tattoos is kicking off with Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad.
Credit: pixabay.com / @distelAPPArath

This phrase roughly translates as “there is no flood, however big, that doesn’t dry up”.

The sentiment is similar to the popular English phrase “this too shall pass” – but let’s face it, it just sounds so much cooler as Gaeilge.

Many who have faced adversity will connect to the wisdom of this “seanfhocal” (this is what proverbs are referred to as in the Irish language, but it literally translates as “old word”– which we’re sure you’ll agree is quite a lovely phrase in itself).

SEE MORE: Check out more ideas for inking, with our article on 10 crazy cool Irish tattoos on Instagram

4. Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad – for the free spirits

Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad is perfect for free spirits.
Credit: pixabay.com / @giselaatje

This Irish saying translates as “a light heart lives long”.

This phrase is the perfect choice for folks that would go for a Hakuna Matata tattoo if it wasn’t so darn popular.

This is one of those proverbs that confirms the Irish were ahead of their time on wisdom – generations before science told us that stress shortens the lifespan, “seannachaí” (storytellers) were throwing this gem around the place.

Whether it’s as a reminder not to take life so seriously, or a celebration of your tendency not to sweat the small stuff, we think this one has to be up there with the best Irish sayings would make a great tattoo.

Make sure you get those pesky fadas and urús in the right place though – they might look small, but your tattoo will make absolutely no sense without them!

3. Go n-éirí an bóthar leat – for a classic but meaningful choice

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat, number three on our list of Irish sayings that would make great tattoos.
Credit: Instagram / @clo.fulcher

If you grew up with Irish heritage, you’re likely familiar with the old Irish blessing that begins with “may the road rise up to meet you”. You quite possibly even had it printed and framed somewhere in your home.

This phrase is “may the road rise up to meet you” written in its original Irish form, and there’s a reason why this prayer by an unknown author has meant so much to generations of Irish people.

The sentiment of this line is to wish a person favourable conditions on a journey – with the road rising up to help them on their way rather than struggling uphill.

We all undertake many literal and emotional journeys throughout our lifespan, and there couldn’t be a more simple or beautiful blessing. So this one just had to make our list of Irish sayings that would make great tattoos.

RELATED: Want a tattoo with a laugh? Read our article on the top 20 funny Irish sayings to get you laughing

2. Ní bhíonn an rath ach mar a mbíonn an smacht – for the hustlers

Ní bhíonn an rath ach mar a mbíonn an smacht is a great saying for motivation.

If you have more grit than a tarmac factory, then this is one of those Irish sayings that would make a great tattoo for you.

It translates as “there is no luck without discipline”, and we can already see all you determined folks nodding your heads in agreement with that piece of wisdom.

If this tattoo appeals to you, then chances are you’re a very goal-focused person – and what better way to keep your eye on the prize than seeing a mantra like this written on your very own skin every day.

READ MORE: We have some more ideas for you – Top 20 IRISH PROVERBS + meanings (for use in 2023)

1. Is ait an mac an saol – for the surrealists

Is ait an mac an saol is first on our list of Irish sayings that would make great tattoos.
Credit: Instagram / @ashbyrnehansen

There are some “seanfhocail” that just make us laugh with their directness.

Number one on our list of Irish sayings that would make great tattoos is this one that literally translates as “life is the strange son”, or simply “life is strange” – and all of us have definitely had this thought at some time or another.

This fits most closely with the English phrase “such is life”, meaning we can’t always find an explanation for the things that happen to us.

While it might initially seem like a cynical quote, we think there’s something nice about the idea of accepting life and all that comes with it.

Plus, it matches perfectly with the dry Irish sense of humour.

Your questions answered about Irish sayings that would make great tattoos

Read our article on the best Irish sayings that would make great tattoos but still have some question? Then not to worry! Below, we have outlined the most frequently asked questions about this topic.

What are nice Irish words for tattoos?

Some nice Irish words for tattoos include “grá” (love), which you can extend to “grá mo chroí”, which means love of my heart.

What are some nice Irish sayings?

Some nice Irish sayings include “Erin go bragh” (Ireland forever), “Céad mile failte” (a hundred, thousand welcomes) and “Go raidh maith agat” (thank you).

What’s a good saying for a tattoo?

A good saying for a tattoo would be, “Strength is what we gain from the madness we survive”.

The likes of the Celtic Cross and the Claddagh symbols would be amongst some of the most popular Irish tattoos.

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