Daltai na Gaeilge
Proverbs

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Bíonn an bás ar aghaidh an tseanduine agus ar chúl duine óig.

Death is facing the old (person)
and behind the young (person).

Note: There is a subtle irony in this proverb. It is, of course, obvious that mortality is before us all, but somehow more intimately facing the old. What then do we make of the observation that death is "behind the young?" Is it that the young are aware of death, having seen it in those who came are chronologically behind them, e.g., grandparents. Or, does it mean that death is behind the young where they can not see it, i.e., do the old contemplate their own death while the young only think of others dying?

Note also: In this proverb there is a 't' prefixed before the word "seanduine." This is how one forms the genitive case for masculine nouns that begin with the letter 's' and are followed by either a vowel, or the consonants l, r, or n. (The genitive case is required for nouns governed by compound prepositions, e.g., ar aghaidh, ar chúl, etc.) In contrast, the definite article 'an' prefixes 't' to feminine nouns in the nominative case that begin with the letter 's' and are followed by either a vowel, or the consonants l, r, or n, e.g., "Tá an tseanaois air." (The old age is on him.).

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