A guide to Irish racial slurs - from Cat-lick to Mackerel Snapper, the worst Irish insults
Some strange and maddening insulting names for the Irish and their sources
Sadly racial slurs against the Irish are still regularly used. Just this year the clothing store Urban Outfitters caused outrage in the Irish American community this St Patrick’s Day with their stereotypical drunken Irish merchandise.
More recently, and shockingly, an Australian construction company owner actually advertised for a job saying “No Irish” need apply.
Although it’s sad these racial slurs are still being used we’ve put together an amazing list of some of the most strange and wonderful insults towards the Irish and where they came from. You’ll be surprised at the weird and historical origins.
Here’s the list:
Bog-Jumper - Many bogs in Ireland.
Bog-trotter - Abundance of bogs in Ireland.
Carrot Top - Hair color.
Cat-lick - Catholic.
Clover - Clovers are prevalent in Irish society.
Clown - Not used so much as a racial slur, however, the classic clown is based on a stereotyped image of Irish people: bushy red hair, a large red nose (from excessive drinking), and colorful clothes often with plaids, and often with a great many patches to represent that the Irish were poor and could not buy themselves new clothes. With excessive plaid is a Scottish variation.
Coal-Cracker - Many Irish immigrants mined coal.
Donkey - It was cheaper to hire an Irishman than a donkey in the Pennsylvania coal mining days of the 1800s.
Drunk - Irish are stereotypically drunks.
F.B.I. - Foreign Born Irish.
Fenian - Refers to Irish Roman Catholic immigrants living in such large UK cities as Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. Also used by Protestants to demean Catholics in Northern Ireland. Irish republicans use it to identify themselves as a member of Sinn Fein. Derived from Gaelic stories of the Fianna, a mythical group of warriors. Not inherently derogatory.
Fire Bush - Red hair.
Fire Crotch - They have red hair.
Frotch - See: Fire Crotch.
Fumblin' Dublin - Known as a slur for drunk, unemployed, Irish men. They are usually found under the influence outside of Dublin's bars.
Green - The Irish were once loosely called the green race.
Green Bean - Mixed races. Meaning an Irish/Mexican mix.
Green N***er - Mainly in US cities with large Irish populations. Used to denote the Irish, who many hold in the same regard as blacks.
Harpie - Perhaps derived from the fact the harp is also the symbol of Ireland, a green flag with a harp was displayed by a lot of Irish people.
Hibe - Short for Hibernian (of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland or the Irish).
Hillbilly - Ulster Scots who supported the Protestant King William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne came to be known as "Billy Boys." The combination of "hill" and "billy" first came into use at this time. A large number of Appalachian settlers were Scotch-Irish, and the term arrived with them.
Leprechaun - From the well-known old Irish myth of the chubby green-clad gnome (what happens when you mix Catholicism with Paganism). Popularized in America by Lucky from the Lucky Charms cereal and St. Patrick's Day.
Leprecoon - Combination of Leprechaun and Coon for blacks of Irish descent.
Mackerel Snapper - It can be applied to any Catholic, Irish or otherwise. In the past, Catholics were forbidden from eating meat on Fridays. They got around this the same way some vegetarians do, by eating fish (although technically this is not vegetarian, but "pescetarian"). Still observed in heavily-Catholic areas (they even have school/church fish-fry Fridays).
McChigger - Irish/Chinese/African American mix.
McKraut - German/Irish person. Used in the “Godfather” trilogy.
McNugget - For Scottish or Irish children - Mc (or Mac) for Scottish / Irish, nugget to represent that they are children.
Mead - The Irish are commonly drunk on mead and mead-derived alcohols
Mick/Mic/Mc - Many Irish surnames begin with "Mc" or "Mac." Many Irish are also named after the famed Michael Collins, making Michael (Mick) a very common name. Not as derogatory as Paddy.
Mucker - Used in Boston because Irish immigrants could mostly only find employment helping to fill in the Back Bay which was at the time, marsh and water.
Narrow Back - The son or daughter of an Irish immigrant because they never worked as hard as those who emigrated
Nina – “No Irish Need Apply” (from the days of the potato famine and they immigrated to the US and nobody wanted to hire them)
Paddy - Used mainly in Britain. Similar negative connotations as "nigger". Comes from St. Patrick and/or from the common Irish name Padraig. Also spelled Patty.
Paddy Wagon - Variation of "paddy." The term Paddy Wagon derives from the idea that the Irish were all criminals, and when the police came to quell a brawl or something of the like, they would just be rounding up a bunch of "paddys."
Plastic Paddy - Term used by the Irish describing those who grew up in the a foreign country (specifically the UK) and still identify as being Irish.
Pogue - Possibly from Irish Gaelic "pogue mo thoin", meaning "kiss my arse". Could also refer to the Irish folk group "The Pogues" who did popular traditional Irish songs.
Pot-Licker - During the potato famine, the would lick their pots clean to get every last morsel of food.
Provo - Shortened form of "Provisional Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.)" which is the most noted of the pro Northern Irish independence terrorist groups.
Shant - Poor Irish People. Derived from the shacks they lived in -- the shanty.
Shillelagh-Hugger - A shillelagh is a staff commonly use by the Irish.
Sid – This stands for “Small Irish Dick”.
Taig - Means "hero" in Gaelic. Used today as an insult by the Loyalist community in N Ireland.
Tory - Bandit, from the Irish Tory Island, a noted have for bandits and pirates. Also common slang term for a member of Canada's Conservative party.
Turf-Cutter - Turf is peat moss, found in deep layers in Ireland. It was originally cut by most Irish farmers and used as fuel (an early form of coal). More modernly, it could apply to any drunk Irishmen working as green keepers, such as on golf courses.
Wic – This stands for “White Irish Catholic”.
Source: The Racial Slur Database.
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