Grammar

The Irish Phrase You’ll See a Lot on St. Patrick’s Day

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It’s an Irish phrase you’ll likely see a good bit this week, so let’s take a look at ‘Erin Go Bragh.’

Erin Go Bragh!

You’ll see it every St. Patrick’s Day — which I hope you’ll abbreviate as St. Paddy’s Day, since Paddy is the abbreviation for Patrick and Patty is the abbreviation for Patricia.

If you don’t know what Erin Go Bragh means, you might assume it has something to do with good luck, which is also associated with the Irish.

It doesn’t.

The first thing you should know is the original version of the phrase is Éirinn go Brách Our”Erin Go Bragh,” which may also be written as “Erin Go Braugh,” is a corruption of the original. But in English, we’re great at corrupting another language’s words to suit our own tastes.

Then again, even the Irish now have a modern, “standardized” spelling these days: their version is Éire go Brách.

The phrase is most often translated as “Ireland forever” from Gaelic.

A more literal translation, Merriam Webster points out, would be “Ireland till doomsday.” That certainly qualifies as “forever,” doesn’t it?

Wikipedia explains the phrase originated out of a sense of Irish nationalism. An example was a group of Irish volunteers, which included U.S. Army deserters, who joined the Mexican side in the Mexican-American War in 1847; they became known as Saint Patrick’s Battalion and flew a green flag with a harp on it, with the motto “Erin Go Bragh” underneath.

Ironically, those who choose to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy a bit of the brew this Thursday may well display the sentiment in one form or another: on a hat, a t-shirt, or maybe even a button on one’s lapel. Of course, once Friday (and, potentially, the hangover) rolls around, Ireland might well end up as a faded sentiment until the next March 17.

I wonder how you’d say “Ireland for a Day.”

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

4 Comments

  • Aislinge Kellogg I hate it when that happens, Aislinge…sorry to hear that. WordPress did that to me the other day: if WordPress had been a person sitting across the table from me, I might well have punched him in the face. :/  I definitely feel your pain!

    Thanks, in the meantime, for the mention of Éire ar feadh lae…I hadn’t heard of that.

  • Aaaarrrrgghhhh! I had a huge amount of stuff typed in and it up and bloody disappeared! I’ll write it over again in OneNote and paste it in later!
    But I can tell you right now, that “Ireland for a day” is Éire ar feadh lae.

  • Interesting.  I have not heard of Erin Go Bragh. I will have to try that out on Thursday to see if anyone knows what I am talking about. Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

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