Famous Sayings #114 — ‘Living the Life of Riley’

July 23, 2018

Just look at him lounging around. He’s really living the life of Riley, isn’t he?

living the life of Riley, Willy Reilly, Caillin ban, Sligo, Irish ballad, Penal Laws, famous sayings
The phrase “living the life of Riley” is based on an Irish ballad, which inspired a novel and a 1920 silent film. Caption in the image: “She raised herself from his arms, and assumer her full height, looked for a moment with her dark, deep, and terrible eyes upon Reilly.” Via Project Gutenberg.

This is a saying I have heard for years, and it’s one of those sayings with a meaning that is instinctively understood. If I was to guess when this saying originated, I probably would have guessed the 1940s, but the phrase is much older than that. It also has an interesting history.

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