independent

Monday 22 July 2019

County nicknames are weird, wonderful...and a bit absurd

Everyone who so much as casts an eye at the GAA will be aware that every county has its own nickname or nicknames. Some are borne proudly (The Rebel County), some are insulting (Jackeens) and some are just plain absurd (Scallion Aters)Final Whistle fell out of a tree and and landed on his head aged 13 - or at least that is the excuse we give when we can't remember basic things

Everyone who so much as casts an eye at the GAA will be aware that every county has its own nickname or nicknames. Some are borne proudly (The Rebel County), some are insulting (Jackeens) and some are just plain absurd (Scallion Aters)

Final Whistle fell out of a tree and and landed on his head aged 13 - or at least that is the excuse we give when we can't remember basic things we learned in national school. There was a time when we knew the nickname of every county as well as the six biggest towns or villages and the name of the parish priest in each.

But no longer.

That is why Final Whistle was intrigued the other day when a spot of internet perusing led us to a site called www.pride.ie

This site aims 'to provide GAA fans with high quality well designed t-shirts so they can show their colours with Pride!'(I thought if I put that in they might send me a freebie !).

But as well as a fine line of conventional t-shirts, they also have a rather nifty line of nickname t-shirts so you can wear your county handle with pride.

The site has a list of all the county nicknames and some of them, as well as the well used nicknames, have some fairly far-out names.

For example, for Wicklow, everyone knows the Garden County, but have you ever heard of The Goat Suckers?

Carlow is down as the Dolmen County, but again as The Scallion Aters!

We all know Cork is the Rebel County, but would you call a Cork man 'Donkey Ater' to his face?

So (shock! horror!) we did a bit of research and this is what we came up with. The aforementioned names, along with Roscommon being known as the 'Sheep Stealers', have their origins in the time of the Famine, when desperate measures were the dish of the day.

Some counties have nicknames that relate directly to English rule.

Dublin's nickname 'Jackeens' comes from their propensity to fly the Union Jack, even after independence. But The Dubs weren't alone in their alliegence to the Crown - Offaly is traditionally known as King's County and Laois as Queen's County from plantation times.

Offaly is more recently known as the Faithful County, but more recently they have acquired the name Biffos (Big Ignorant F***** From Offaly). And just in case the boys from Queen's County were feeling left out, we were given Buffalos (Big Ugly F***** From Around Laois-Offaly).

Galway's nickname The Tribesmen evokes images of big rough Celtic mountainy men firing spears at their rivals and playing hurling from one end of Connemara to the other.

But no. It seems the Tribes were English merchants who ruled the area in the 12th century. They are also known as the Herring Chokers, which is just local slang for fishermen.

Tipperary is known as the Premier County, basically because they have a superiority complex and feel that they are the best at everything.

Wexford are the same - they call themselves the Model County, because they feel their way of life is an example to all of us. The beautiful Larry O'Gorman is the current face of Wexford GAA, which says it all about the Model County really. (Although in fairness to him, he looks well next to Spillane).

Wexford are also known as the Yellow Bellies, on account of the traditional yellow stripe across their purple shirts.

Similarly, other counties have names based on their colours - Kildare are the Lilywhites, Sligo are the Magpies or the Zebras. Shouldn't Carlow be known as the Fruit Pastilles?

As far as Final Whistle was always aware, the name Culchie applies to someone from outside of Dublin. (A misguided colleague from Bray claims to be neither Jackeen or Culchie (when he is clearly the latter!)

But the origins of the name came from Kiltimagh in Co. Mayo, and so Mayo claims The Culchies as their county name. They also have The Maritime County and the Heather County - just about any county in Ireland could be called one or the other of these really.

Longford are known as the 'Slashers' after the local football team and they are near neighbours of the Wee County, Louth. Do I sense a trend here? Could this be the reason their teams are p*** poor!?

One of the most famous county names is Kilkenny and the Cats, which comes from the Limerick - there once were two cats from Kilkenny. The story we found for this is that two cats were hung by the tails on a washing line. Some British soldiers came and cut their tails to free them - when the locals saw what was left of the tails hanging on the line, they assumed the cats had eaten each other.

Meanwhile, the herrings get another couple of mentions too. Sligo are the Herring Pickers. Donegal are the Herring Gutters. It strikes you that if a crowd of Galway men, Sligo men and Donegal men ever happened to get together in one place, all the herring for miles around had better watch out!

Waterford is known as The Deise from an ancient Celtic tribe who inhabited the area.

Carlow also has another one - The Fighting Cock County - a name that has died out due to the sterling work of animal rights groups.

Probably.

n Just in case you were wondering, Mark Hayes is himself a Biffo.

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