I heard through the window Father Hickey's voice, saying, 'I wouldn't for ten pound that this had happened, Phil. He's as mad as a march hare. The Cardinal told me so.

This is from "Miraculous Revenge" by Bernard Shaw.

I do not understand the meaning below.

I wouldn't for ten pound that this had happened,

I am glad if some one would kindly teach me.

2 Answers 2


This seems like an idiom, perhaps one peculiar to Ireland, or to a particular region of Ireland, and may even be obsolete given the age of the text. It appears to be a shortening of a more easily understandable saying.

Father Hickey is expressing surprise at the outburst that has just occurred and I believe he is also saying that he did not expect it.

When saying that something is unexpected, or against all odds, it is common to use gambling analogies such as "I wouldn't bet on it" or "I wouldn't put money on it". It is also very common in regional dialects for words to be shortened, contracted, or even omitted from common phrases.

The meaning of the expression in your text may then actually be:

I wouldn't have bet for ten pound that this would have happened.

In 1885 when the book was written, ten pounds would have been a considerable sum of money. The inflation calculator suggests it would be equivalent of £898.41 today. So this expression is also an example of hyperbole.


You can also understand the phrase as, "I wouldn't want this to happen, not even if someone paid me ten pound (to permit it happen)".

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