Sure, Why Would Ye Not? and Other Irish Turns of Phrase

Fermanagh writer Rodney Edwards gives a flavour of his debut book with ten of the uniquely indigenous expressions that pepper its dialogue

Inspired by his popular column in The Impartial Reporter, Rodney Edwards' Sure, Why Would Ye Not? celebrates the idiosyncrasies, humour and uniqueness of Irish turns of phrase, especially those used in rural communities.

The book comprises the entertaining exchanges of Bob and Charlie, two 'oul fellas' who will remind readers of growing up, family life and of Irish country ways.

Ireland is littered with real life characters just like them, 'putting the world to rights' as Edwards describes it, and through their rustic vernacular the Enniskillen writer distills the feeling of there being no place like home. Below he's handpicked just a few of his favourite sayings and slang terms.

Awful blether

This best describes someone who is irritating. You know the type of person I mean; the neighbour who is forever hashin’ on the doorstep, the office colleague who goes on and on about the previous night’s X Factor or that caller on Nolan.



You say this when asked about your health and well-being. Essentially it gives the person an inconclusive diagnosis because you don’t know if you are coming, or going. You’re not at death’s door, but you aren’t quite full of beans either. 


When two people are romancing you say they are courtin’. They may hold hands, go to the pictures, enjoy long walks in the park or smooch by candlelight. 


This is said when it is chilly outside or when you run out of heating oil and the house is freezing and you’re sitting there with two coats on shivering in the living room.

The Shining

Dressed up to the nines 

When you swap the boiler suit and flat cap for the three piece for that special occasion you are considered to be dressed up to the nines.


Another word for a foolish person, such as the cub who damaged your car reversing into a wall or the waitress who dropped a bowl of custard over your lap at lunch time.

Desperate altogether 

You can say this by yourself, or when among a group of people in response to a dreadful occurrence, such as two full hours of it teamin’ out of the heavens and you with the dog to walk before bedtime.


Wee notion

When you have a real desire for something, maybe a wee chocolate digestive after your cup of tay or a new pair of dungarees.

Quare gunk

You say this when you have received shocking news or when you are discussing how someone will react to such news. Perhaps the other half of yours will get a quare gunk when they realise that you have taped over Great British Bake Off.

Ogeous handlin’

This is my favourite spake and makes me smile every time. It describes a catastrophe and is used in moments of great distress, such as in the immediate aftermath of spilling a glass of water over your keyboard, for example.

Sure, Why Would Ye Not? by Rodney Edwards is published by Blackstaff Press and is now available to buy. Enter for your chance to win a copy on our competitions section.