Drunkenness hides no secret[s].

Note: The ancient Greeks first said “Truth in wine,” and the Romans later adopted it as the more-widely known, “In vino veritas.” Romans also added, “Drunkenness reveals what soberness conceals.” Chaucer took up this strand of thought when he wrote “For dronkenesse is verray sepulture of mannes wit and his discrecion.” Cantebury Tales. The Pardoner’s Tale, l. 558.

The seanfhocal itself uses the singular number in the object, rún (secret). It is meant to convey the sense that no individual secret is safe when one is drunk. However, some translate this seanfhocal into the plural form, secrets, to convey the vulnerability of all secrets in the possession of the drunk. It was for this reason that when Michael Collins recruited the “Cairo Gang,” the strong arm of his secret service, he looked for men who did not drink.

Note also: This seanfhocal is an example of another interesting difference between Irish and English syntax. English syntax can negate nouns and verbs. In the English translation given above, the noun is negated. “Drunkenness hides no secret[s].” However, Irish syntax can only negate verbs. The negative particle at the beginning of this seanfhocal, “Ní,” negates the verb, “cheileann,” as indicated by the séimhiú. So a more literal but less fluid English translation would negate the verb, i.e., “Drunkness does not hide a secret.”