08 Oct 2022

21 things all Irish mammies said to us growing up

Happy Mother's Day to the mammies of Ireland

21 things all Irish mammies said to us growing up

1. Get up for mass!

Sunday morning came around and your mother's head appeared at the bedroom door with this inpatient call. If you refused, you approached her with extreme caution for the rest of the weekend. She would return on Monday with a similar cry for school.

2. There's great drying out...

This is peak Irish mammy. It rains for 265 out of the 365 days in the year, so when the sun pierced its way through the clouds and there was a healthy breeze blowing, by god the washing was getting done that day!

3. That's shockin'!

Usually uttered when anything bad happened in the area, from someone's bins not being taken by the bin men; to someone getting brutally murdered. It really was an all-encapsulating go-to phrase for the beleaguered Offaly mammy.

4. The men in the white van are going to come and get you...

The hollow threat dished out when you were being unruly as a child. Whether it was making a show of her by being hyper when she had friends over, or getting dragged into a fit of the giggles with your siblings at mass - the white van men were coming, and that was it! (They never did, but we live in fear of white vans to this day.)

5. What would you do without me?

This old chestnut was produced when your mother had done something nice for you. That list includes: making your breakfast, ironing your clothes, waking you for school, getting your medicine when you were sick (pretending to be sick), making your lunches, buying you everything you owned, fixing your school jumper, covering your books, cooking your dinner, or simply just being your mammy. They really didn't ask for much validation! 

6.That was a very quick mass...

Never uttered on psalm Sunday - but came out on random Sundays when the priest was clearly making good time to get to the match in Croke Park. Little did your mammy know, when you were a child, there was no such thing as a quick mass. We just passed the time trying to make our friends in the other pews laugh so they'd get in trouble. Bit of communion, shake a few hands - gone!

7. That one's a divil!

Usually referring to a troublesome young one in your class who you regularly told your mother about to make yourself look good so she wouldn't threaten you with the men in the white van again. This tactic was also used to wrangle money out of her!

8. I'll light a candle for you...

Whether you had a second class spelling test or English Paper 2 of the Leaving Cert, the trusty candle was lit to make sure you got on alright. 'No study required - my Ma is lighting a candle.' She probably lit another one when the results came in!

9. Say a prayer to St. Anthony...

'Ma, I can't find my pencil case.' Never fear - St. Anthony was on the case, with a little quiet word from your mammy, and low and behold the pencil case turned up in your schoolbag. We'd never have thought to look there if it wasn't for St. Anthony!

10. You won't eat your dinner...

If you were laying into a bag of crisps at five o'clock, your mother went berserk. She had spent all day stirring a stew and there you were with the audacity to horse a packet of Monster Munch into you before you ate it. Scandalous carry on!

11. Don't mind your father...

Basically thrown back out you if you ever said, 'Da/Daddy said I could.' We soon learned not to waste time asking the aul lad for anything anymore - an arrangement that suited him down to the ground. 

12. Don't make me get the wooden spoon...

A step down from the men in the white van, but nevertheless terrifying, especially if she whipped it out of the drawer and started waving it around the kitchen. None of us ever really got a belt of the wooden spoon, but a couple of clacks of it off the worktop was enough to put manners on us. 

13. Who's she? The cat's mother...

If your mother heard you refer to her as merely 'she' in a sentence. 'She said we're allowed go to the Harriers at the weekend.' No sooner was the sentence out of your mouth than she was there - utterly disgusted. 

14. Don't let crumbs go on the couch...

Crumbs were the devil to your mother. If you had a sausage roll in the good sitting room, good luck to you! No Christmas presents for you that year - just the clatter of a hoover. 

15. Eat up!

When you were struggling to finish the dinner (something that had absolutely nothing to do with the bag of Monster Munch at 5 o'clock) you're mother was suitably unimpressed. 'Think of all the starving children in Africa,' she'd say. Your response of, 'even if I finish it, they're still going to be starving,' was not well received. 

16. Don't forget to brush your teeth...

Roared at random intervals throughout your childhood - particularly if your parents were going away for a few days and she (the cat's mother) could envisage coming home to a house of toothless kids. 

17. We'll see...

This was handed to you as a response every time you asked for something. We all know that 'We'll see' meant 'absolutely not' but she thought the slight bit of hope would be enough to make us shut up about it. 

18. You'll be perished...

If you were heading outside any way under dressed. It was usually preceded or followed by, 'take your jacket with you - you'll be glad of it.' We ignored her and had to listen to 'you should have listened to your mother' the next day when we were smothering with a cold. 'They'll never learn, Mary!'

19. Is that what that school is teaching you...

Usually rolled out when you used bad language or were generally disobedient toward her in some way. At least the blame was landed at the school's door - it definitely wasn't the way we were reared anyway! 

20. I never get a minute...

When your mother was feeling sorry for herself for all the work she did for us as children. Mammies all around Ireland are saying it to this day. This was meant to make you feel bad for having your mother run off her feet 24/7. If you answered back to this one with a snide remark, you didn't survive!

21. If Johnny jumped in a river, would you do it too...

If you asked to do something and replied to her 'We'll see' by saying, 'Well, Johnny's going,' your mother's response was categorical, and to be fair, her logic was solid. This may have also been followed by a conversation about Johnny's mother's parenting skills.

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