Irish twins? Although the term isn’t used nearly quite as much as it was it still gets strong a reaction.iStock

Irish twins: it’s a term you’ve probably heard used to describe siblings of very similar ages. Strictly speaking, Irish twins are only those siblings born within 12 months (or less) of each other.

The phrase originates from the United States and Britain of the 19th century and was a disparaging term used to describe siblings from large, and mostly poor, Irish immigrant families.

Back then it was common for families to have children in quick succession as most families adhered strictly to the Church’s teaching on contraception.

When someone mentioned ‘Irish twins’ it usually implied that the family was Catholic and also hinted that the user thought their typically large families were impractical and that they should start using contraception. 

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Do people still find the term offensive? The internet suggests so.

Although not everyone is so sure.

As Irish Catholics have increasingly begun to disregard Church teaching regarding family planning and families sizes have plummeted as a result the use of the phrase has declined, although as the tweets above show it still provokes a strong reaction among sections of the diaspora.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

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