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Pronunciation /ˈtɡ/
Gender Masculine
Language(s) Gaelic languages
Word/name Tadc
Derivation Proto-Celtic *tazgj-o-
Meaning poet, philosopher, storyteller
Other names
Pet form(s) Tadhgín
Cognate(s) Tadgh, Taigh, Taidgh, Tighe, Teague, Taig, Ty, Tiger

Tadhg or Tadgh (/ˈtɡ/, /ˈtɡ/ or /ˈtɡ/),[1] is an Irish and Scottish Gaelic boy's name that was very common when the Gaelic languages predominated, to the extent that it is a synecdoche for Irish Gaelic man. The name signifies "poet" or "philosopher". This was also the name of many Gaelic Irish kings from the 10th to the 16th centuries, particularly in Connacht and Munster. Tadhg is most common in south-west Ireland, particularly in County Cork and County Kerry.

The name has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, becoming the 40th most common name for baby boys in 2010 according to the Central Statistics Office in Ireland, up from 69th place in 2005.[2] Since the early modern period, in the guise of the strawman "Taig" the name has featured in sectarian propaganda contexts as a symbol of "the Other" for British descended Protestants (continuing to have relevance today in Northern Ireland and Glasgow).


The commonly accepted meaning of Tadhg is "poet"[3] or "storyteller". An alternative derivation from the Celtic *tazg(j)o-.

When the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, many Irish names and place-names were given English meanings. Due to similarity in sound, Tadhg is often listed as an Irish equivalent of the Judeo-Christian names Thaddeus, Timothy (Tim) or sometimes Thomas, but these names are not actually related.

The name is also spelled "Taḋg" in the Irish uncial alphabet with an overdot over the d to indicate it is lenited; the "dh" serves a similar purpose in the modern spelling. Tadhg has been popularly anglicized as "Tighe" and "Teague". Alternative spellings are "Tadgh", "Taigh", "Taidgh" (found in North London). The name is found once in an Old Norse Viking source spelled as "Taðkr".[citation needed]

Tadhg is also a synecdoche and 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"[4]

Modern history[edit]

Williamite and Jacobite[edit]

In the late 1680s, the name "Taig" 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.[citation needed]

However, there is also evidence from this era of the name continued to be used as a source of pride for assertive Gaelic Irish people. 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[5]


"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

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

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:"[6]

"Taig" and the Troubles[edit]

Main article: the Troubles

In the context of segregation in Northern Ireland and sectarianism in Glasgow, the term "Taig" (along with Tim) is used as a racist epithet and derogatory term for an Irish Catholic, used by Northern Irish Protestants and Ulster loyalists.[7][4] In this sense it is used in a similar way to the word Fenian, but is more ethnic or racial in terms of abuse against people of Gaelic descent than "Fenian" which more commonly signifies Irish republican. Extremist loyalists have also used in graffiti slogans such as "Kill All Taigs" (KAT) and "All Taigs Are Targets".[7]

List of people[edit]


Gaelic nobility[edit]


George MacDonald Fraser's 1977 novel Flashman's Lady features the comic character Daedalus Tighe, and John B. Keane's 1965 play The Field, has a character named Tadhg McCabe.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Teague, Taig". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) (pronunciations given for the name Tadgh separately from those for the slang/pejorative Teague)
  2. ^ Irish Babies' Names 2010, Central Statistics Office
  3. ^ Babies' Names, Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-211647-9, entry for "Tadhg"
  4. ^ a b A Way With Words, Taig, retrieved August 2015 
  5. ^ Céad buidhe re Dia ("A hundred thanks to God") by Diarmaid Mac Cárthaigh
  6. ^ "Summation of John Adams" in Rex v. Wemms. umkc.edu. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b Conflict Archive on the Internet. "A Glossary of Terms Related to the Conflict". Retrieved August 2015. 
  8. ^ George MacDonald Fraser (1 December 2011). Flashman’s Lady (The Flashman Papers, Book 3). HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-00-744949-1. 
  9. ^ Lance Pettitt (2000). Screening Ireland: Film and Television Representation. Manchester University Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5270-5. 

External links[edit]