|The "Warning! Culchies!" signs have proved controversial|
Noun & adjective. Anglo-Irish slang (frequently derogatory). Also culshie. Mid-20th century.
[Perhaps alteration of Kiltimagh, a country town in Co. Mayo, Ireland.]
A noun. A country bumpkin; a provincial or rustic person. M20
B attributive or adjective. Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a culchie, provincial, rustic. L20
Culchie describes someone in Ireland that is from the country and deemed to be unsophisticated, backward, uneducated and not very bright. Even if someone isn't actually from the country, it can be applied to someone's accent, dress, overall demeanor or interests. If, for example, you've ever attended the National Ploughing Championships, you've probably been called a culchie.
For some, the definition goes even further, traditionally being anyone in Ireland from outside Dublin. This is opposed to the term jackeen, a Dubliner, derived from the diminution of Jack, as in the Union Jack, due to Dubliners supposedly being more English and sympathetic to British rule than the rest of the country. If the 'anyone from outside Dublin' definition were to be true, that makes culchies a pretty extensive demographic, constituting some 4/5's of the country's population.
The origin of culchie isn't absolutely clear, but the OED says it's probably an alteration of Kiltimagh, a small country town in Co. Mayo. Some years ago, I had the pleasure of working on a legal case there, and to my continual embarrassment I could never quite get the pronunciation right. My English pronunciation always leads me to pronounce it kill-tee-mah, whereas my colleagues from Kiltimagh would say something closer to kil-chma.
While culchie is most definitely a derogatory description, there is some debate at to whether the word is offensive. I am loathed, however, to malign poor Kiltimagh more; it is, after all, the birthplace of Louis Walsh, so they have enough baggage to deal with without us snooty city types piling on the scorn. And just in case you're not from Ireland, and you're still not quite clear what a culchie is, I leave you with a bizarre St Patrick's Day advert from Lidl. You can decide for yourselves whether it's offensive or not.
Are you a culchie?
Is culchie offensive?
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