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Strauss's avatar

Where did the meme of "the luck of the Irish" originate?

Asked by Strauss (21151points) March 17th, 2015

Is it only in the legends of leprechauns and shamrocks, Blarney stones and fairies, or is there something more concrete?

BTW, Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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9 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I think Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk was supposed to be Irish. (?)
Maybe after being such a dimwit to trade the family cow for magic beans Jacks poor decision ended up bringing him lots of luck with that golden goose. ;-)
Happy St. patties day to you too I’ll be havin’ me a wee bit o’ the brew this afternoon, but no corned beef and cabbage, Meatloaf and squash. haha

gailcalled's avatar

It does not mean good luck but ironically, terrible luck.

“It is an ironic phrase. The Irish have been, and are a spectacularly unlucky race. The “luck of the Irish” is BAD luck, as any reading of Irish history will document. When I did my Master’s thesis on Irish references in the American language, I found the original and proper use of this irony goes clear back to the Old Country and migrated to America early on. Nowadays many speakers and writers—even the supposedly erudite ones—misuse the phrase to imply GOOD luck. Let these misinformed (and misinforming) folks eat only potatoes for a few decades—if any potatoes can grow in their fields.” SOURCE‘Luck_of_the_Irish’

Happy St. Paddy’s to those who celebrate it.

ucme's avatar

Dey are as tick as feckin shoite.

rojo's avatar

Another version of the tale:

The phrase luck of the Irish is commonly thought to mean “extreme good fortune.” However, according to Edward T. O’Donnell, an Associate Professor of History at Holy Cross College and author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History, the term has not an Irish origin but “a happier, if not altogether positive,” American one.

“During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish American birth. . . .Over time this association of the Irish with mining fortunes led to the expression ‘luck of the Irish.’ Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”

JLeslie's avatar

I thought I would mention that you might really like the series America’s Secret Slang on the History Channel. One of the episodes explains many phrases in America that originated with the Irish. We liked all the episodes. My husband often asks me about American and English sayings and words, so he found it very interesting.

rojo's avatar

@JLeslie In that series do they explain where the old saying “I didn’t know whether to sh*t or go blind, so I just closed one eye and farted” came from?

Strauss's avatar

@rojo It reminds me of something told me by my “crazy” uncle. every family has one, right?

He said, “Boy, what are you doing, looking at those dirty pictures! Don’t you know they’ll make you go blind! That’s why you should look at them with one eye closed!”

JLeslie's avatar

@rojo Not that I remember. Maybe look at my link and see if you can send in that suggestion for the next episode.

rojo's avatar

@Yetanotheruser I just looked ‘till I needed glasses.

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