Seachnaíonn súil ní nach bhfeiceann

Seachnaíonn súil ní nach bhfeiceann

An eye evades a thing it does not see.

Note: There are a number of English versions of this proverb.

  • What the eye sees not, the heart craves not.
  • What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over.
  • Ignorance is bliss.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.

Many languages also have a version or two of this proverb.

  • Celtic Languages:
    • I bhfad as amharc, i gcian as intinn. Irish
      (Out of sight, out of mind.) Béarlachas?
    • An rud ná cloieseann an chluas ní chuireann sé buairt ar an gcroí. Irish
      (What the ear does not hear does not worry the heart.)
    • An té a bhíos amuigh fuaraíonn a chuid. Irish
      (Whoever is often out, his part grows cold.)
    • Fada bhon t-sùil, fada bhon chride. Scots Gaelic
      (Far from the eye, far from the heart.)
    • As an t-sealladh, às a chuimhne. Scots Gaelic
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
    • Ass shiley, ass smooinagtyn. Manx
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
    • Allan o olwg, allan o feddwl. Welch
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
  • Germanic Languages:
    • Was ich nicht weiss macht mich nicht heiss. German
      (What I don’t know does not make me hot.)
    • Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn. German
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
    • Langt fra Öine, snart af Sinde. Danish
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
    • Uit het oog, uit het hart. Dutch
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
  • Romance Languages:
    • Loin des yeux, loin de coeur. French
      (Out of sight, out of mind.)
    • Qui procul ab oculis, procul a limite cordis. Latin (Out of sight, out of mind.)

We may never know in which language this proverb originated, but we must admit that the Irish version above is original. Using the verb, seachain (meaning avoid, evade, or shun), suggests that the eye is pulled to things it can see and is pushed from things it can not see. It is a bit more mystical than the expression, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Is doimhin é poll an amhrais

Is doimhin é poll an amhrais

Deep is the hole of doubt.

Note: “Doubts are more cruel that the worst of truths.” Jean Baptiste Poquelin Moliére, Le Misanthrope, Act III, Scene vii. Doubts can cripple you. They can freeze you into inaction. Falling into doubt can be like falling into a deep hole; it is hard to get out.

Attempt the end, and never stand to doubt;
Nothing’s so hard but search won’t find out.
     Robert Herrick, Heperides

Or in the words of copy writer for a more modern sneaker manufacturer, “Just do it.”

Note also: Proverbs are like fossils. They tend to preserve old forms. This week’s proverb is no exception with the spelling of the word “doimhin.” This was the most common spelling for the Irish word for ‘deep,’ before the official standard spelling was introduced in the 1940’s. The official spelling is ‘domhain.’ However, the official spelling for the genitive form is the more retrograde ‘doimhne.’

Nuair a bhíonn an fíon istigh, bíonn an ciall amuigh.

Nuair a bhíonn an fíon istigh, bíonn an ciall amuigh.

nuər’ ə v’iː-ən
ən f’iːn ə-s’t’iɣ
b’iː-ən ən k’iəl ə-miɣ

When the wine is in(side), the sense is out(side).

Note: Clearly this is an admonition about the dangers of consuming alcohol. Most people accept it in good humor, however, since it only mentions “fíon” (wine) and leaves stout, beer and “uisce beatha” unscathed.

Note also: The seanfhocal employs the words “istigh” (the state of being inside) and “amuigh” (the state of being outside). Irish generally makes distinctions between movement towards a location and presence in that location. In English, one could sat that a person went “in” the door and then was “in” the room. In Irish, on the other hand, “istigh” would be used when saying that someone was “in” the room. To indicate the action of going “in”, a different word (isteach) would have to be used. These distinctions are made throughout the language in ways that are sure to delight a Béarla-trained mind.

Ní fearr bia ná ciall.

Ní fearr bia ná ciall.

Ní fearr bia ná ciall

Food is not better than sense.

Note: The sense of this seanfhocal is that it is better to have sense (good judgment) which is permanent than food for just today. With enough good sense, you can always get more of what you need, such as food.

Daltaí na Gaeilge