kir’ s’iː-də er É£aur ag-əs
is gaur i goːn-iː eː

Put silk on a goat and it is still a goat.

Note: You can not make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. This English proverb was more about class distinction than our Irish proverb. It goes back to the sixteenth century where purses were actually made for the masses out of pigs’ ears. Only the nobility could afford a purse made out of silk. Hence, a silk purse became an earmark of nobility.

Our Irish proverb is more about accepting who you are, than about discriminating between classes. An ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet. The higher the monkey climbs the more he shows his tail. Pretending to be who you are not, exposes your weaknesses, as the poet Alexander Pope wrote,

The higher you climb, the more you shew your A__. Verified in no instance more than Dulness aspiring. Emblematized also by an Ape climbing and exposing his posteriors.
     Dunciad 1743.

Pretending to be who you are not, exposes you to ridicule, as the director Woody Allen makes clear in his film, Small Time Crooks.