Brian O’Nolan Quotes

Brian O’Nolan wrote in both English and Gaelic. He was a native Irish speaker and didn’t learn English until he was seven years old.

The Workman’s Friend
More great Irish quotes

Brian O’Nolan wrote under a number of pseudonyms, starting with Brother Barnabas while he was a student at University College Dublin. He also used Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen after university. This was to protect his identity as he was an Irish civil servant. His writings often poked fun at the civil service, and he wrote a satirical column in The Irish Times.

Even though, he used pseudonyms, it was an open secret that the satirical works were written by O’Brien, and he had to leave his job aged 42.

He wrote about Irish ‘craic’ and the Irish peoples’ love of life. His poem ‘The Workman’s Friend’ has become a favourite among the Irish and was voted 46th favourite poem by readers of the Irish Times.

A Pint of Plain is Your Only Man_Flann OBrien Image copyright Ireland Calling

The line “A pint of plain is your only man” from his poem “The Workman’s Friend” has become his most famous quotation. It means a pint of stout will solve all your problems. Sláinte!
Read the full poem here

Here are The Dubliners reciting The Workman’s Friend – with each member reciting a verse.

He belonged to a group which included the writers James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh Anthony Cronin. Like Brendan Behan, he was an alcoholic and died at the young age of 54.
Brian O'Nolan quote. With all his faults and by God he has plenty, the Irishman can jump. By God he can jump. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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If Irish were to die completely, the standard of English here, both in the spoken and written word, would sink to a level probably as low as that obtaining in England and it would stop there only because it could go no lower.

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The majority of the members of the Irish parliament are professional politicians, in the sense that otherwise they would not be given jobs minding mice at a crossroads.

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Brian O'Nolan quote. Moderation, we find, is an extremely difficult thing to get in this country. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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I was a day in Dingle and Paddy James, my sister’s man, in company with me and us in the direction of each other in the running of the day.

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A man he was that would not have a glass of whiskey long between the hands, or a pint of black porter either, without shooting them backwards; but he got no sweet taste ever on the one he would buy himself, and great would be the pleasure with him that another man should nudge him in the back to ask him to have one with him.

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Brian O'Nolan quote. What is important is food, money and opportunities for scoring off one's enemies. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Remember that I too was Irish. Today I am cured. I am no longer Irish. I am merely a person. I cured myself after many years of suffering.

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Hell goes round and round. In shape it is circular, and by nature it is interminable, repetitive, and nearly unbearable.

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Brian O'Nolan quote. It cannot too often be pointed out that women are people. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Your talk is surely the handiwork of wisdom because not one word of it do I understand.

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My father was a man who understood all dogs thoroughly and treated them like human beings.

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He met a pretty lady, fat and forty, but beautiful with the bloom of cash and collateral.

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The majority of the members of the Irish parliament are professional politicians, in the sense that otherwise they would not be given jobs minding mice at a crossroads.
Brian O'Nolan quote. The mind may be impaired by alcohol, I mused, but withal it may be pleasantly impaired. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Read ‘The Workman’s Friend’ full poem here
Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

All images copyright Ireland Calling

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