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In Hiberno-English and Ulster-Scots, culchie is a term sometimes used to describe a person from rural Ireland usually referring to someone who isn't from Dublin or Belfast. In Dublin, it is often used to describe someone from outside of the Dublin Region including all commuter towns like Maynooth. Certain border towns like Bray and Balbriggan scrape into the "Dublin" category. Like in Belfast, the term does not refer to anyone from inside the Greater Belfast area but rather from outside of Belfast city. It usually has a pejorative meaning, but is also reclaimed by some proud of their rural origin.
The term is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "One who lives in, or comes from, a rural area; a (simple) countryman (or woman), a provincial, a rustic". It is sometimes said to be a word derived from the remote town of Kiltimagh, County Mayo. A further explanation is that the word derives from the word agriculture, highlighting the industrial/agricultural divide between rural and urban populations.
Another potential derivation is an old Gaelic term "cúl an tí", meaning the back of the house. It was, and still is to a certain extent, common practice in rural areas to enter a neighbour's house through the back door rather than the front, which was used for more formal visits. Thus the term cúl an tí or culchie was applied to these people. Also, many city dwellers from Dublin tenements had to work as servants. The servants were not permitted to enter the house from the front but had to use the back door or servants entrance. It became common practice in Dublin to use the term in a derogatory manner. Over time as the numbers of servants dwindled away the term was still kept in everyday use.
The word “culchie” is derived from the Irish word “coillte”, the plural of coill, the Irish word for “wood”, an area of growing trees. It is also a term used to describe the smell of cow dung and manure. The idea that term is assimilated to coillte is false, an attempt by farmers to make themselves out to be "Celts" and the old Irish from the woodlands of ancient Celtic tradition when it is they who felled the forests for local parochial gain and thus brought an end to the ancient Celtic hunter gatherer tradition for selfish mass farming gains. The term was created to be derogatory or condescending and therefore the chances of it being a derivative of wood are small. The likelihood is that it is a synonym for Cul an Ti or "back of the house" where dwellers went to the toilet up until very recently. As in many rural houses there was no organised sewerage system or electricity as recently as the late 1950s or early '60s. As in most city dwellings an organised network of underground drains was not created in rural communities until the late '50's as were found in many ancient civilizations 2000 years ago and more, it is connotative of the lack of connection of such dwellers with organised political systems the focal point of civilization and therefore a lack of unity and purpose towards nationality. In short, it is for dwellers from "outside of civilization". It was used, mainly in Mayo and Galway, by townspeople as a condescending or pejorative reference to people from rural areas. It came into use in Dublin in the mid sixties as a counter to the country people’s use of the word “Jackeen” for a Dublin person. The “culchie” spelling is a media one and is the result of their understanding of phonetics and its derivation. It is also sometime spelled with a "T" before the "C" as cultchie indicative of its more likely closeness as a pseudonym of "Cul an Ti".
It is also possible that the word is derived from "Mulchie" a derivative of the word Mulch which is defined as a covering layer for soil or a type of compost. The word Mulch is prefixed with a "c" as a reference to the word "countryside" with the "ie" ending to connotate a country slang method of referring to where someone comes from. This would be a likely terminology as country people tend to be farmers who shovel compost frequently. In short it is a term for excrament shovellers. It is also a term used to refer to how these people make the environment smell through their constant activity related to manure and waste material which smells the entire country up outside of the cities.
There is also contention that it is because of the excessively hairy nature of the backs of country men and farmers that the name "culchie" is derived. Cul translated in Irish directly is back but the back of something and olann or caorach is translated as wool or sheep. It also seems that from the English name "Woolly-back" the translation into Irish for excessively hairy farmers with hair defects is Culchie.
Dublin GAA fans call supporters of any other of the county teams from Ireland as culchies; fans from counties in the north are called nordies. Dublin's fans are themselves called Jackeens, spoonburners,Antos,ghetto gougers,tenement folk, "I only do be here today, bud, cos Man Yoo do not be playin' today, bud"s and people who routinely assist the Gardaí with their inquiries in retort. David McWilliams coined the term Dulchies to describe Dubliners who decide to live in other counties of Leinster or Ulster. This subgroup of people often live in urban areas like Navan, Kells and Naas. Characteristics include preference for outdoor activities, reduced consciousness, a higher priority placed on quality time over the good of the country, and involvement in local or less nationally focused organizations.
The comedian Pat Shortt has made a successful living out of being a culchie comedian. He has his own television series, Killinaskully, based on a theme of culchie in a village in rural Munster. The Christmas episode of Killinaskully receives viewership figures that place it in the top three most viewed television programmes in Ireland, on an annual basis.
Culch.ie is a popular Irish Pop Culture blog derived from the term.
The Culchie Festival started in 1989 in Clonbur, County Galway. The Festival has taken place in many towns and villages throughout Ireland in its search to find "The Culchie" or the "Village Character" (who dislikes non-"locals")as he was known years ago. The true culchie has the ability to entertain at will, whether on stage or TV.
The festival is held in late October of each year after regional heats held throughout Ireland and other overseas Irish communities to select contestants. The final consists of various challenges such as tractor racing, nappy changing, sandwich making, potato picking, knitting and karaoke. The 2008 winner was Adrian McCabe from Ballyjamesduff, County Cavan. The village of Ballyjamesduff County Cavan, hosted the 2009 Culchie Festival 23–25 October.
- "culchie". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 1993.
- Byrne, George (10 December 2011). "Smell". Evening Herald. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "Culchie Festival bids to break motorbike record". BreakingNews.ie. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
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