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Taig is an epithet and derogatory term for an Irish Catholic, used by Northern Irish Protestants and Ulster loyalists.[1][2] It has also been used in graffiti slogans such as "Kill All Taigs" (KAT) and "All Taigs Are Targets".[1]

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 ("Tim" is a similar pejorative term in Scotland for Irish-Scots). 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]


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.[citation needed]

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 b Conflict Archive on the Internet. "A Glossary of Terms Related to the Conflict". Retrieved August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b A Way With Words, Taig, retrieved August 2015 
  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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