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Taig is a derogatory term for an Irish Catholic. It is mainly used by sectarian loyalists[1] in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It has been used in sectarian slogans such as "Kill All Taigs" (KAT) and "All Taigs Are Targets" (ATAT) which usually appear on graffiti in loyalist areas.

KAT (Kill All Taigs) and Ulster Defence Association graffiti in the loyalist Fountain area of Derry


The term is a synecdoche derived from the Irish male given name Tadhg, which is commonly translated as Tim. The name Tadhg was once so common as an Irish name that it became synonymous with the typical Irishman in the same way that Paddy or Mick might be today. Hence, Irish phrases such as Tadhg an mhargaidh (lit: Tadhg of the market) or Tadhg na sráide (lit: Tadhg of the street) are similar to the English-language expression "average Joe" or "the man on the street"[2] among other similar expression. However, when used in English the name carries derogatory connotations.


Unlike Paddy, a derogatory term used in England for an Irish person, Taig usually implies that the person has Irish nationalist sympathies. Also, whereas Paddy is often used in a jocular context or incorporated into mournful pro-Irish sentiment (e.g. the songs Poor Paddy Works on the Railway and Paddy's Lament), the term Taig remains a slur in almost every context.[citation needed].[2]

Teague has been reclaimed by some Irish nationalists as an ironic self-identifier in the same way that other pejoratives have been adopted by certain people they describe. In contemporary sources, the difference in spelling between taig and teague often indicates a difference in connotation akin to the difference between nigger and nigga.[citation needed]


The use of the term as an insult may have originated in the 17th century plantations of Ireland. Early written accounts coincide with the Williamite War.

In the late 1680s, the term appears in the satirical Williamite ballad Lillibullero which includes the line "Ho brother Taig hast thou heard the decree?" In 1698, John Dunton wrote a mocking account of Ireland titled Teague Land - or A Ramble with the Wild Irish. Thereafter the derogatory use of the term was frequent.

However, there is also evidence from this era of the word being used as a self-identifier by rebellious Irish Catholics. An Irish language Jacobite poem written in the 1690s includes the following lines:

"You Popish rogue", ní leomhaid a labhairt sinn
acht "Cromwellian dog" is focal faire againn
nó "cia sud thall" go teann gan eagla
"Mise Tadhg" géadh teinn an t-agallamh[3]


"You Popish rogue" is not spoken
but "Cromwellian dog" is our watchword,
"Who goes there" does not provoke fear,
"I am Tadhg" is the answer given

Although the term has rarely been used in North America, a notable example of such use was when John Adams successfully defended the British Army soldiers responsible for the 1770 Boston Massacre by pleading to the jury that the soldiers were acting in self-defence against:

"... most probably a motley rabble of saucy boys, negros and molattoes, Irish Teagues and outlandish jack tarrs. —And why we should scruple to call such a set of people a mob, I can't conceive, unless the name is too respectable for them:"[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Glossary of Terms Related to the Conflict - Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN)
  2. ^ a b [1]
  3. ^ Céad buidhe re Dia ("A hundred thanks to God") by Diarmaid Mac Cárthaigh
  4. ^ "Summation of John Adams" in Rex v. Wemms. umkc.edu. Retrieved 15 September 2014.

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