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Ní féidir leis an ngobadán an dá thrá a fhreastal


If you want to say in Irish that you just can’t do everything, or be everywhere, at once then you might say:

Ní féidir liom an dá thrá a fhreastal

I can’t do both things / I can’t please everyone / I can’t be in two places at once

Teastaíonn uaim an dá thrá a fhreastal ach ní féidir liom

I want to do everything / I want to be in both places but I can’t


‘an dá thrá a fhreastal’ - to attend to the two beaches

This expression comes from the longer expression which refers to the bird ‘an gobadán’ (the sandpiper). This bird feeds on flies and aquatic insects on beaches.

Ní féidir leis an ngobadán an dá thrá a fhreastal

It is impossible to be in two places at once (lit. the sandpiper cannot attend to two beaches)

An Gobadán / the sandpiper


The expression can also used in the sense of someone who wants to have a foot in both camps:

Teastaíonn uaidh an dá thrá a fhreastal

He wants to do everything / please everybody (lit. he wants to attend to both beaches)


It can also be used in the meaning of someone who is working hard, who is burning the candle at both ends:

Ní féidir leat coinneáil ort ag freastal ar an dá thrá

You can’t keep burning the candle at both ends (lit. you can’t keep attending to the two beaches)


(Aside: notice that the word ‘dhá’ (two) becomes ‘dá’ when the article ‘an’ comes before it: ‘dhá thrá’ (two beaches), but ‘an dá thrá’ (the two beaches); ‘dhá theach’ (two houses), but ‘an dá theach’ (the two houses); ‘dhá mhadra’ (two dogs), but ‘an dá mhadra’ (the two dogs)).


Seanfhocail / proverbs are a great way to learn Irish. If you want to learn Irish in an easy and effective way then check out the All About Irish online Irish language courses. All About Irish offers Beginner Irish courses, and courses for intermediate level and more advanced (literature and poetry courses). We also offer a preparatory course for the TEG exam at A2 level. If you want to know more about the best way to learn Irish and if you have any questions at all please contact us here.

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