The Irish are known for their quick wit and love of the craic so it is no surprise that there are numerous Irish entries into the Oxford Dictionary’s compilation of Humorous Quotations.
Even at the most serious and tense of times, you are likely to find an Irish person cracking a joke to lighten the mood, as illustrated by the quote from Michael Collins when he went to negotiate then Anglo-Irish Treaty in London, a move which ultimately led to his death (see below).
The Irish Times has selected ten of the best Irish contributions to the Oxford Dictionary’s compilation.
Take a look for yourself.
Pat: He was an Anglo-Irishman.
Meg: In the blessed name of God what is that?
Pat: A Protestant with a horse.
Brendan Behan, The Hostage, 1958
I’m Irish. We think sideways.
Spike Milligan, in Independent on Sunday, June 20th, 1999
I often sit back and think “I wish I’d done that” and find out later that I already have.
Richard Harris, in the Sun, May 19th, 1988
(Of the wallpaper in the room where he was dying)
One of us must go.
Oscar Wilde, 1900
(Arriving at Dublin Castle for the handover by British forces on 16 January 1922, and being told he was seven minutes late)
We’ve been waiting 700 years, you can have the seven minutes.
Michael Collins, 1922
That’s the Irish all over – they treat a joke as a serious thing and a serious thing as a joke.
Sean O’Casey, The Shadow of a Gunman, 1923
Customer’s voice: In six days, do you hear me, in six days, God made the world… And you are not bloody well capable of making me a pair of trousers in three months!
Tailor’s voice: But my dear Sir, my dear Sir, look – at the world – and look – at my trousers.
Samuel Beckett, Endgame, 1957
It’s nice to have a nun around. Gives the place a bit of glamour.
Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, Father Ted, Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest, 1995
Alcohol… enables Parliament to do things at eleven at night that no sane person would do at eleven in the morning.
George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara, 1907
I think his fate is rather like Humpty Dumpty’s, quite as tragic and quite as impossible to put right.
Constance Wilde, 1897