the sow that eats its farrow

the sow that eats its farrow

Ireland. The phrase comes from James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: “Do you know what Ireland is? asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.” A “farrow” is a litter of newborn piglets, and the reference is Joyce's belief that Ireland had a history of destroying its writers, admirable political figures, and indeed everything that should be saved and nurtured.
See also: eats, sow