Daltai na Gaeilge
Proverbs

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Na trí cairde is fearr agus na trí naimhde is measa: tine, gaoth, is uisce.

The three best friends and the three worst enemies:
fire, wind, and water.

Note: This triad reveals the fundamental duality of nature. For the Gael, like the Greek, the four elements of nature were earth, air, fire, and water. We can only speculate why earth was chosen not to appear in this triad. Perhaps, it is neutral, a home for the people above the ground and the gods below the ground.

But, everything else in the universe can be either good or bad for you. Fire can keep you from freezing to death. It can also kill you. The wind is a manifestation of the air. Air is necessary for life. A gale wind, on the other hand, can kill you. Nothing can live without water. On the other hand, you can drown in water.

Note also: There is an exception to a counting rule in Irish grammar in this week's parable. When counting things, one should use the singular number for the noun, e.g., trí chara, trí namhaid. However, one exception is when using the plural definite article 'na.' Then one uses the plural form of the noun, e.g., na trí chairde, na trí naimhde.

Return to Nature.