What is the origin of the term 'Luck of the Irish'?
- 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.
- Some trace the origin of the phrase to the US where, during the
exploration for gold in the West, there were a high number of Irish
people who got lucky, and found their "pot o' gold" in the gold
fields of California, or were equally prosperous in silver mining.
Luck of the Irish does owe its origin to the U.S.A.. When they
arrived, they were very disliked, treated badly, despised and
hated. When the Irish had any kind of success most Americans at the
time didn't think the Irish were capable such successes, so they
called it luck. Hence the term "Luck of the Irish".
- As far as I know, the term comes from the legend of the 'Little
People' of the land, or the leprechauns. Finding or catching a
leprechaun (who would then give you gold) was a lucky event that
could only take place in Ireland.