In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve gathered a quaint collection of quotes from eleven revered Irish writers (though there are a considerable number of fascinating souls from “The Emerald Isle,” to be sure).
“What I’ve said before, only half in joke, is that everybody in Ireland is famous. Or, maybe better, say everybody is familiar.” – Seamus Heaney
Since I’ve long dreamed of visiting Ireland (and finally am looking forward to an upcoming adventure), I wanted to celebrate today by going to literature.
Here’s a simple summation of St. Patrick’s Day, as noted by History (previously The History Channel):
Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
The “luck of the Irish” is in full swing this time of year, celebrating (among other, more religious things) the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Paying homage to this tradition as I best can, I thought it appropriately charming to revel in some of the timeless works of certain Irish writers.
To honor one of the most widely celebrated national festivals, here are some of my favorite gems given to the world by Irish writers past and present. I hope you enjoy these quotes as much as I do, for there is always more than one way to interpret the writings of another, and I think there’s some thought-provoking messages to consider in this collection.
Whether you’re Irish or Irish-at-heart, and especially if you appreciate a bit of poetry, may you find something to delight in here.
17 of My Favorite Quotes from Irish Writers
1. “Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again. Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.” – Seamus Heaney, 1996 Address to the graduates of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2. “It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” – Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband
3. “The thing about love is that we come alive in bodies not our own.” – Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
4. “You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace… It’s lovely to know that the world can’t interfere with the inside of your head.” – Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
6. “Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities.” – Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
7. “You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah
8. “And happiness… what is it? I say it is neither virtue nor pleasure, nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” – John Butler Yeats, Letters to His Son, W.B. Yeats, and Others, 1869-1922
10. “From our birthday, until we die, is but the winking of an eye.” – W.B. Yeats, To Ireland in the Coming Times
11. “The world does not turn without moments of grace. Who cares how small.” – Colum McCann, TransAtlantic
12. “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession
14. “What the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow.” – James Stephens, The Crock of Gold
15. “Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist”
16. “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce, Ulysses
17. “The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough.” – Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
Please share your thoughts, any quotes from Irish writers that you love, and any inspiring insights with me in the comments.
Share these quotes with someone who would appreciate them.
May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck.
Free texture by Lost and Taken; lettering by Aim Happy.