Scottish Proverbs

Jan 31, 2016 by

Scottish Proverbs

Scottish proverbs often seem simplistic at first glance.

Behind the humble words, however, lies a wealth of wisdom and Celtic “can-do” attitude.

Here are a few of my favorite Gaelic Scottish proverbs:

Scottish proverbs


In other words, whatever is worth having will take effort to obtain.

There are many examples of how this Scottish proverb applies in life:

finding your soul mate, providing for yourself and your family, achieving Scotland’s freedom from English rule, to name just a few.

Scottish proverbs in Gaelic

This Scottish proverb speaks to the need to always be prepared

Invasion from England and Vikings was a constant threat to Scots for many hundreds of years.  Putting aside the sword for the plough could spell disaster for the clan. Generations later, the wisdom behind the words still rings true, and not just in military situations.

Scottish proverbs for love and romance

This Gaelic phrase is the Scottish proverb equivalent of saying that the course of true love never runs smooth

The illustration is from a 1906 childrens’ book of English history.  It depicts the sad parting of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie, as he was fleeing the English after Culloden. The romance between Flora and Charles has been greatly embellished over time, and may never have happened at all.

Actual partings of loved ones, however, was a harsh reality for many Scottish Highlanders and Islanders over the centuries.  Whether their men left in search of jobs to earn desperately needed money, or were forcibly removed to an English prison, Scottish women knew well the heartache of separation.

For a fictionalized version of romantic Scottish misery, check out Outlander, the book, by Diana Gabaldon, or the cable series Outlander, based on Gabaldon’s books.

Of course, we all know that this Scottish proverb holds true in the modern world.  As the first proverb above implies, however, sometimes the reward is worth the risk.

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Whisky: The Original Celtic Curative

Nov 25, 2013 by

It is an old and commonly accepted Celtic maxim that if whisky can’t cure it, there is no cure for it, whatever it may be.  Wise words for the holiday season…

Whisky Drink for Surviving  the Holidays

Whisky: The Celtic Cure for What Ails Ye    Image by Jamie Chung


We all know that big family holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas bring on stress, and stress, in turn, makes us more susceptible to coughs and colds and other icky illnesses.  Our Celtic ancestors played host to visiting relatives, too, and knew full well the perils of gathering the clan all in one confined space, especially when those clansmen and women were packing heat, or at least swords and axes.
Luckily for you, beautiful Celtic people, your ancestors created a magical elixir to settle frayed nerves and ward off potential nasties brought by relatives on their holiday visit.  I’m speaking, of course, about uisge beatha,  the water of life,  better known as whisky (Scotland) and whiskey (Ireland and the US).  In fact, the word “whisky”(with or without the e) is an anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic word  “uisge” and the Irish Gaelic word “uisce”, meaning water.  Uisge beatha roughly translates as “lively water” or ” water of life.”

When I’m feeling ” a mite peaked “, as we Southerners say, I add just a little hot water to my Lagavulin  and sip it in front of the fire or while I’m reading–always make me feel better. If you aren’t in the mood to take your whisky neat, however, try this clever cocktail created by New York bartender Sam Ross. It combines the curative properties of lemon, honey and ginger with the bracing properties of a good single malt.

Sláinte–to your health!

The Penicillin:

Muddle fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker, add 2 oz of scotch (lightly peated, such as Bunnahabhain ), 3⁄4 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz. honey syrup(I use pure honey with equal parts hot water), and shake with ice.

Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, and pour 1/4 ounce of Islay single malt scotch (such as Laphroaig or Lagavulin) over the back of a bar spoon so that it floats on the drink.
 Garnish with candied ginger.


Need to know how to pronounce all those glorious Scottish whisky brand names?  Scots actor Brian Cox and Esquire magazine created a group of very short videos to help you speak whisky with the best of them.  Here’s Brian’s pronunciation of Lagavulin, one of the best and most famous whisky brands:

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Scottish Proverb–Do Not Judge By Appearances

Jan 22, 2012 by

Scottish proverb

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