Daltai na Gaeilge
Proverbs

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Níor chuaigh fial riamh go hIfreann.

No generous person ever went to hell.

Note: Generosity is a saving virtue. The subject of this week's proverb, "fial," is more often translated as an adjective than a noun. As an adjective, it literally means seemly, proper, or noble, but its more usual meaning is generous or hospitable. As a substantive noun, it takes the meaning given here, a generous person.

Consider however, the equivocal nature of this adjective. It could mean generous or it could mean proper. Implicit in the equivocality this Irish word is an Irish cultural value; it is proper and noble to be generous and hospitable.

Dineen also translates "fial" as "liberal," both as an adjective and as a noun. The word liberal used to be an English synonym for generous or one who is generous, one who understands what the French have called noblesse oblige. In spite of the fact that no liberal ever went to hell, however, a liberal has become a political bete noire. Is mora trua é sin.

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