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Proverb: Thig crìoch air an t-saoghal, ach mairidh gaol is ceòl

Can anyone help me with a proper translation of this proverb so I can gain its full meaning? 1. Is it 'the world will end' or 'life will end'? /Is it 'will end' or 'may end'? Or something else 2. Is it love as in relationship love or love as in all love? 3. Any other insight

March 24, 2020



Thig crìoch air an t-saoghal ach mairidh gaol is ceòl

Life ends but family and music continue

This is an Irishman’s translation ;)

It is not that different from what the poet said after the battle of Kinsale, cath Cion tSáile, in the very early 1600s: Agatsa beidh na h-oileáin agus agamsa beidh na rámháin

You will have the islands but I will have the tunes


Is grá an bhrí leis an bhfocal gaol i nGaelainn na hAlban, ní chiallaíonn sé muintirgaolta. ;-) Ach tá ceart agat ach an mionsonra beag so amháin. :)

(The word gaol means love in Scottish Gaelic, not family or relatives, but besides that minor detail the translation is good :))


Go ndeinidh a mhaith duit. :)


Thanks! that is great.


Emily McEwan did a post on her blog about that proverb.
A Gaelic Proverb about Love: Mairidh Gaol is Ceòl -- by Emily McEwan Feb 13, 2019

Here is the link:


There is also a line in the Runrig song, "Air A' Chuan" with a translation in the book "Flower of the West - The Runrig Songbook", page 25 --

Thig criòch air an t-saoghal

Is thig criòch air daoin'

Ach mairidh ceòl is mairidh gaol

The world will come to an end

A conclusion will come for mankind

But music and love, they will last forever


Thank you. Yes its that blog that led me to ask the question. A commenter at the bottom said about a common mistranslation. That it meant life instead of world. Any thoughts on that? And also about gaol and whether it means relationship love or all love?


Well, McEwan and Newton are recognized experts in Gaelic language and culture (and I'm not!), so all their comments are useful. But I also like one of the responses (EòghannP) to Newton's comment that talked about ranges of meaning for a single word and also that translation between languages isn't precise - even though people try to do that all the time.

If you type "love" in at www.faclair.com -- you will see quite a few Gaelic words and phrases. Sometimes it helps to look at translated phrases to get a sense of the meaning of a word in use. The right hand column of Faclair Beag is an online version of Dwelly's (compiled around 1910 (?)). If you open up one of Dwelly's long entries (see link "an corr" after an entry on the main page) you will see even more uses. You could do the same for "world" and the other words mentioned in Eòghann's comment.

I think saoghal/world/life can have a range of meanings depending on the context and so can gaol/love (altho' others might argue with me saying that). I think authors consider ranges of meaning for particular words so they can convey their ideas to be well understood.

I also think proverbs are a little like art where the original writer/painter gives a particular form to their experience. There may be a new interpretation when viewers or readers experience the art or the written word. I think a proverb is remembered over time because many people think it is a good description of their own experience or beliefs.

Translations add another area of discussion though because a fluent speaker in any language will be aware of nuances of meaning that a translator who isn't fluent will miss.


My perception is that it means "Life ends, but family and music go on" as MikeBurns622221 said. But I think "gaol" means love in Scottish Gaelic, not "relation" or "family" as it does in Irish.

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