Note: This is not to be confused with the English aphorism, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”. The word “man” does not appear in this week’s seanfhocal. It is more a recognition that in Ireland women, traditionally, run the house. “Bean an tí” (the lady of the house, the mistress) made a house a home. The expression, “Bean an tí” is so laden with power and responsibility that it can also mean landlady. It would be an anomaly for a house to be without one. Without one, the turf fire might go out. Without one, the furniture might not exist. Without one, the groceries might not be gotten. Without one, the house would, indeed, be a cold and empty place.
Note also: This week’s seanfhocal has two successive adjectives without a comma and without a conjunction like ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘or’ between them. “Is folamh fuar é …” This would be grammatically incorrect if it were to occur in an English sentence. However, in Irish, it is actually good form. This is especially true if you want to emphasize something by repeating adjectives that are synonyms, e.g., “Bhí sé beag mion”. (It was small little.) The redundancy would be considered poor style in English. Perhaps this proscription is an expression of British reserve. On the other hand, in Irish, some traits are worth repeating.
Is fearr beagán den ghaol ná mórán den charthanas.
A little kinship is better than a lot of charity.
Note: Charles Dickens wrote, “But charity begins at home, and justice begins next door”(Martin Chuzzelwit 1850). John Ray wrote down the English proverb equivalent to this seanfhocal in his opus English Proverbs (1670), “Blood is thicker than water.” John Wycliffe in his 1380 work Of Prelates ascribes to Theocritus the proverb “Charity begins at home.”
Perhaps this seanfhocal came from Saint Patricks’ bringing the Bible to the Irish. In Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy he says,
“Ach má tá clann nó clann chlainne ag baintreach, tuigidís sin gurb é céad dualgas atá orthu cuidiú lena dteaghlach féin agus cúiteamh a dhéanamh lena dtuismitheoirí, mar gurb áil le Dia é sin.” (If a widow has any children or grandchildren, let these learn that piety begins at home and that they should fittingly support their parents and grandparents; this is the way God wants it to be.) Tiomóid, 5:4.
Paul goes to warn
“an duine nach ndéanann aon chúram dá mhuintir agus do lucht a theaghlaigh féin go háirithe, tá an creideamh séanta aige agus is measa é ná an díchreidmheach. (If anyone does not provide for his own relatives and especially for members of his immediate family; he has denied the faith; he is worse than an unbeliever.) Tiomóid, 5:8.
Maybe Timothy brought this idea directly to the ancient Irish. Timothy ministered to the Ephesians. Ephesus was a city on the Aegean coast of modern Turkey. It was at the edge of an ancient Celtic community centered around what is now the city of Ankara.
Note: So, the mother gets all of the credit when the child turns out well. Presumably fathers are entitled to all of the fault when children go bad.
Note also: The two verbs in this seanfhocal are in the  imperative/order form (mol) and  the present habitual (molann). Although in Béarla these forms are identical (praise), Irish maintains very distinctive forms.
An mháthair leis an mac agus an iníon leis an athair.
The mother (sides) with the son, and the daughter with the father.
Note: This is a reference to the alleged tendency of Irish mothers to dote over their sons. It is even felt in some quarters that this tendency still prevails in Irish American families! Likewise, the seanfhocal notes a daughter’s likelihood to side with her father. It is interesting to note that the seanfhocal speaks in terms of females, the mother and daughter. No mention is made of how the males behave in such situations, or even if the males are aware that such interpersonal dynamics exist.
Note: The previous editor thought that this was an appropriate offering because it is a play on last week’s seanfhocal: “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin”. In his defense he noted that this is the most popularly known mock seanfhocal in Ireland. You will be pleased to know that the defense was unsuccessful, and he was stripped of his fáinne. The new editor is a Gaeilgeoir of impeccable moral character, and there will be no repeat of this indiscretion. Gabhaigí ár leithscéal.
Note: This is almost certainly the most widely known of all the Irish proverbs. It has the same meaning as the English version: “There’s no place like home”; although it is not considered trite. Perhaps it is best that there is no ‘as Gaeilge’ version of The Wizard of Oz. If you only learn one seanfhocal this week, this should be the one.