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Independent.ie

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Rise of the Mulchies

Published 20/09/2011 | 05:00

Deirdre Reynolds at the ultimate Mulchie hangout - Copper Face Jacks
Deirdre Reynolds at the ultimate Mulchie hangout - Copper Face Jacks

Swapping tea for a capuccino, or a hang sangwich for a smoked salmon bagel? You're not alone. So as the ploughing championships kick off, Deirdre Reynolds reports on the new breed of social steryotype.

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Boggers Unite! Today sees the start of the 80th National Ploughing Championships in Athy, Co Kildare.

But you don't even have to go as far as the annual celebration of all things agricultural to find thousands of country folk congregated in one place -- we're everywhere.

As the most centralised state in Europe according to research, culchies have long packed up their Barry's Tea and decamped to the capital in search of work.

And with tens of thousands of us now permanently living, labouring and loving in 'the big schmoke', we're not going anywhere any time soon.

Taoiseach 'Inda' Kenny from Mayo, culchie Casanova Dáithí O Sé from Kerry and gorgeous Galwegian Gaelgeoir Gráinne Seoige are just some of the famous non-Dubs keepin' it country in the capital.

Dublin may have lifted Sam, but in every other field, the mulchie -- the 'metropolitan culchie' -- is on the rise.

As a proud Meath mulchie, I've earned my culchie credentials down through the years by milking a cow, footing turf, riding shotgun on a tractor, sporting the county colours and vying for a welly-throwing title.

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In the concrete jungle, however, I've been forced to adapt -- swapping culchie juice (tea) for cappucinos, and hang sangwiches for smoked salmon bagels, among other sneaky methods of assimilation.

Other chameleon-like mulchies have gone even further -- wedding and breeding with Dubs, ditching their accent and betraying their roots by driving cars registered in the capital.

So with even the country bumpkins going native, are there are real Dubliners left in this city any more?

"There are two types of Dubliners," says Paddy Rock, director of Culchie Festival 2011. "The first-generation Dubs and those who are the son or daughter of a culchie who moved to Dublin.

"True blues may feel like there's nothing but culchies in Dublin these days -- but don't worry, the Dubs are well able to make their presence felt too. Dublin has plenty of its own unique characters sitting on barstools in pubs around the county."

Boggers of both sexes are set to battle it out for the Culchie King and Cailín crowns at the 22nd annual festival, which takes place in Mohill from October 28-30 -- with strictly no Dubs allowed to enter.

Ironically though, it's taken a Dubliner to celebrate the noble culchie -- so often ridiculed by a slack-jawed muck savage by fellow Jackeens.

"I've gone the opposite direction to mulchies," laughs Paddy Rock. "I'm originally from North Dublin city, but moved to Galway 30 years ago after I met my wife."

"I set up the Culchie Festival because I wanted to find the next generation who would take over from the older characters I've met since moving down the country."

'Since we took on the plight of culchies, we've successfully lobbied to have the definition of the word 'culchie' changed from a 'rough-cut country man' to a 'rustic rural' in the Oxford English Dictionary.

"There's always been a friendly rivalry between Dubs and culchies," he adds. "But people forget that Dublin was once quite rural too -- I learned how to shear sheep at 11."

Back in the heart of the Pale, being surrounded by mulchies appears to be rubbing off on the locals -- with Dubs adopting typically rural pastimes, as well as the other way round.

At Airfield Urban Farm, a 35-acre working farm in Dundrum, city slickers can learn to milk a cow, grow their own veg, knit and bake bread.

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"Last year, we had around 55,000 visitors to the farm," says acting director John O'Toole. "Some of the school kids from inner-city schools had never even seen a cow before -- let alone milked one.

"And when we dug carrots from the ground of our allotment during one tour, some of the kids were convinced we had bought them in Tesco and planted them there that morning for show.

"Our aim is give kids a 'farm to fork' understanding of what they're eating," he adds. "Whenever one of our animals is expecting, children always want to come back to see the babies.

"Right now, we have 11 piglets -- all of which have names. But we try not to turn too many of our visitors into vegetarians either!"

However, it's not just the culchie way of life that blue bloods are falling for. With Michael Fassbender, Liam Neeson and Andrea Corr all among Ireland's hottest mulchies, it's little wonder that intercounty romance is rife.

"Many a romance between Dubliners and culchies have started in our club," jokes Darren Power of Copper Face Jacks, Dublin's hottest mulchie hangout on Harcourt Street. Famously, we've had lots of guards and nurses hook up here.

'Since day one, we've always been known as a bit of a culchie place. The hotel owner Cathal Jackson is from Laois and the nightclub manager Aidan McCormack is from Offaly -- so there's a strong country connection.

"Unlike some of the more pretentious nightclubs in Dublin, we've got a relaxed atmosphere, big open bar and play the type of music people can dance to," he adds.

"Country customers often say it feels like their local disco back home -- you could nearly bump into your neighbour on the dancefloor."

And you can take the culchie out of the country...

The capital may be awash with blue bog-ball jerseys right now-- but the rest of the year round, it's we mulchies who wear our heart on our sleeves.

"Naturally, Dublin jerseys have been flying out for the last week," says John Bradley, manager of Elverys Sports on Suffolk Street.

"But the GAA county colours fly out all year round. We sponsor both the Mayo Mens Gaelic Football team and the Dublin Ladies team and are well known for stocking jerseys from every corner of Ireland.

"Our store is right beside some of the regional bus stops, so you'll often see country people going home for the weekend in their native colours," he adds.

"Now that Dublin have won the All-Ireland, they'll probably wear them with even more enthusiasm in the capital too!"

Irish Independent



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