Irish Belief – Itchy Palms

Informant: Sheila Hurley (married name is now Weiss), 79, is my grandmother who was born and raised in Wales by Irish parents. She grew up extremely Catholic: going to church every Sunday and schools directed by the Nuns of her local parish. She was influenced by the Irish heritage and customs of her parents and relatives that lived in her small town. She lived in Wales until she was 18 years old and then moved to New York to pursue a career in modeling. She now lives in Santa Monica, California where she raised her two daughters and helped raise her 3 grandchildren.

Sheila told me, “Growing up, my mother used to tell me that if you ever feel and itch in your palms, then that is good luck because money is coming your way!”

Sheila told me this a long time ago when I was a little kid and I remember it to this day. She told me more recently that the reason her mother told her this was because her grandmother used to say the same thing. It is an Irish saying of good fortune and is supposed to make one feel excited that something good is coming their way. Not many would associate money with itchy palms, put this belief in her family is one that made her happy and reminds my grandmother of her mother. It means more to her than just an expected coming of good-fortune, it really is an expression and simple reminder of her culture and Irish beliefs.

I think this belief originated because of the tangibility of money. Money is held in the palms and it provides a sensation that you can feel and add emotion too. Holding money is a great feeling because obtaining money is an enjoyable occurrence. I believe that the Irish associated hand itching with the feeling of holding money, but not actually holding it; just the idea of it. It is perhaps an antsy anticipation of money to come, and this is why the hand tickles or itches. Its a very interesting custom that even has some greedy interpretation behind it, but looking at it from a positive light; I think it is a happy and hopeful way to think of a common itch.