01 of 22
Irish Glossary – A
Amrhann na Fiann – originally a popular “rebel song”, that later became the Irish national anthem by default. The original text was written in English as “The Soldiers' Song”, the Irish version is a translation.
Angelus – a Catholic devotion starting with the words “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ” and traditionally recited three times daily, at 6 am, at noon, and again at 6 pm. The Angelus is usually accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell. Since 1950 RTÉ transmitted the Angelus bell daily at noon and 6 pm on radio and television, a recording of the bell of St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin is used. On a related note – Angelus was also the original “vampire name” of Angel in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (and the spin-off “Angel”), who in life was an Irishman called Liam.
Anglican Communion – originally the Catholic Church in England under the sole patronage of King Henry VIII, who broke away from Rome in 1531 mainly for personal reasons (his infatuation with Anne Boleyn and the pope's refusal to grant a divorce). Churches that see themselves as part of the “Anglican Communion” do still adhere to many Catholic traditions, but are under the patronage of the Englich monarch. In Ireland, this is the Church of Ireland (CoI).
Anglo-Celt – local newspaper published in County Cavan since 1846, the name aims to include both communities in the border county. News coverage in the weekly paper is very parochial, for a sample see the Anglo-Celt website.
Anglo-Irish War – a guerilla war waged between 1919 and 1921, the issue was the independence of Ireland, hence this conflict is known better as the “War of Independence” in Ireland. It ended with “the Treaty” and the partition of Ireland.
Anglo-Normans – a blanket term for the invading forces of Strongbow, which began their conquest of Ireland in 1169. They were of Norman descent, but had already been settled in England and Wales for some decades. Later it became a blanket term for any non-Irish that adhered to “English” ways.
Anti-Treaty Forces – Republican troops in the Civil War, fighting against “Free-Staters” and opposing the partition of Ireland. Often also known under the blanket term of the Irish Republican Army.
Antrim – county in the province of Ulster, part of Northern Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Antrim.
Apprentice Boys – The original Protestant defenders of Derry, who slammed the town gates shut when Jacobite forces approached in 1688. With a shout of “No Surrender!”, a common slogan of unionists and loyalists in Northern Ireland even today.
Armagh – county in the province of Ulster, part of Northern Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Armagh.
Assembly – often used as a shortened version of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the parliament of Northern Ireland, meeting in Stormont.Continue to 2 of 22 below.
02 of 22
Irish Glossary – B
Bandit Country – a common name for South Armagh, christened in this unusual way due to the high level of uncontrollable illegal (mostly paramilitary) activity during the Troubles. This tradition is still being upheld by organised crime gangs (often former paramilitaries), these days engaging in activities like smuggling and fuel laundering..
Battle of the Boyne – the only battle of the Williamite Wars in which both kings were present, with King William III fighting his passage over the Boyne at Oldbridge, and King James II failing to hold his position (and then fleeing head over heels) As a comprehensive article on the Battle of the Boyne explains, it was not a decisive battle at all – and, apart from being fought on Irish soil, it had not a lot to do with Ireland either.
Belfast – capital of Northern Ireland.
Belfast Agreement – the Belfast Agreement (or Good Friday Agreement) was the most important political development during the Peace Process in Northern Ireland during the 1990s. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom is based on the agreement. At the same time, Northern Ireland's devolved system of government is established in the Belfast Agreement. For more, see our dedicated article on the Belfast Agreement.
Belfast Blitz – German air raids on the capital of Northern Ireland (and home of important shipyards) during the Second World War (also known as “the Emergency” further south) became collectively known. Originally the term referred to two devastating attacks on Belfast by Luftwaffe bombers in April and May 1941. Find out more in this comprehensive article on the Belfast Blitz.
Big Fellow – common nickname for Michael Collins, both referring to his standing within the republican community and his burly physique. In contrast, his opponent de Valera was called “the long fellow”.
Bloody Sunday (1920) – a massacre of civilians that took place on a Sunday, when British forces shot into the crowds at Croke Park (Dublin) during an anti-terrorist operation.
Bloody Sunday (1972) – a massacre of unarmed civilians by British paratroopers in Derry, when the soldiers opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators. In common parlance, this is the Bloody Sunday that is nearly always referred to when the term is used.
Bloomsday – the 16th of June, which sees strange goings-on in Dublin every year. With mostly elderly gentlemen and ladies in decidedly old-fashioned garb tramping through town and reciting literature that has often been deemed unreadable (or pornographic). These people are celebrating Bloomsday. The day on which James Joyce had his fictional character Leopold Bloom criss-crossing Dublin in “Ulysses”. Find out more about Dublin's Bloomsday here …
Blueshirts – descriptive term for a fringe political group, that identified itself by wearing a military-inspired uniform with blue shirts, similar to the German fascist “brown shirts” or Mussolini's black variety or sartorial politicizing. The official name of the grouping was the “Army Comrades Association”, later rather grandiosely renamed as the “National Guard”. During the 1930s this group was actively promoting fascist ideas and ideals, many members later fighting with Franco's troops in the Spanish Civil War. Politically the group later merged with others into Fine Gael.
Border, the – the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, established after the partition of Ireland. Cross-border travel in Ireland still has a lot of myths surrounding it, but most of the preconceived ideas about travelling from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland are misconceptions. Today you can easily cross and re-cross the border, without controls – but you may inadvertently break a law or two.Continue to 3 of 22 below.
03 of 22
Irish Glossary – C
Carlow – county in the province of Leinster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Carlow.
Cavan – county in the province of Ulster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Cavan.
Ceann Comhairle – literally the “chief of the council”, the chairperson of the Dail Eireann, named by the largest party and automatically deemed re-elected.
Celtic Cross – the typical Irish (and Scottish) cross, the arms of which are connected by a circle. In its most spectacular form, the Celtic cross can be a high cross or a scripture cross.
Celtic Football Club – a football (soccer) club in Glasgow (Scotland), founded by Brother Walfrid from Ballymote (County Sligo), and initially catering for the Irish (and Roman-Catholic) immigrant community in the second city of the Empire, Celtic Glasgow is still regarded as an “Irish” (and “Catholic”) football club by many, not the least by arch rivals Glasgow Rangers.
Celtic Tiger – the boom period of the 1990s and 2000s. For more information, please read the comprehensive article on the Celtic Tiger.
Celtic Tiger Cubs – children that grew up in the Celtic Tiger period, with a strong sense of entitlement. For more information, please read the comprehensive article on the Celtic Tiger Cubs.
Church of Ireland – this former state church is part of the Anglican Communion, a Catholic church that does not recognise the pope as its superior.
CIRA – see Continuity Irish Republican Army below.
Civil War – also called “Irish Civil War” outside of Ireland, was the armed confrontation between the official Free State forces and Anti-Treaty Republicans between 1922 to 1923. It ended with a victory of the Irish Free State.
Clare – county in the province of Munster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Clare.
Clonycavan Man – one of the most famous bog bodies ever found in Ireland, renowned for his extravagant hairstyle. Today this (alleged) chieftain, called Clonycavan Man after the area he was found in, resides in the National Museum of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin.
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) – the Continuity Irish Republican Army, also called CIRA or the “Continuity IRA”, is a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, formed in the 1980s. For more information, please read the comprehensive article on the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Cork – county in the province of Munster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Cork.
County – the traditional sub-division of the four provinces of Ireland ran to 32 counties, of which today 26 are in the Republic of Ireland, with the partition leaving the other six in Northern Ireland (often also called “the Siix Counties”). While most counties still have a definite administrative role, this has been broken up in Dublin (which consists of the City of Dublin, plus the counties of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin), as well as in Northern Ireland (where the local government was re-organised in council areas).
Croppies – common name for the rebels during the 1798 events – so called after the closely cropped hair they were said to sport. The singular is croppy. The name lives on in the Croppies' Acre in Dublin, the site of a mass grave. For a good overview of the rebellion, a visit to the 1798 Centre in Enniscorthy is recommended.Continue to 4 of 22 below.
04 of 22
Irish Glossary – D
Dail Éireann – literally the “assembly of Ireland”, the elected Irish parliament (for the Republic of Ireland), sitting in Leinster House (Dublin).
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – one of the largest parties in Northern Ireland, sworn to defend the union with Great Britain; most prominent members were/are the Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley as well as Peter and Iris Robinson. For further information, see the official Democratic Unionist Party website.
Derry – county in the province of Ulster, part of Northern Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Derry. Note that the name “Londonderry” is only used in loyalist or unionist circles.
Dev – short form of the name of revolutionary and politician Eamon de Valera, also called the Long Fellow.
Diaspora – short for the “Irish Diaspora”, a term coined to encompass all those with Irish roots, worldwide.
Direct Rule – also sometimes known as “Rule from Westminster” or “Westminster Rule”, was the term used for the administration of Northern Ireland directly from Westminster – as a short term for the seat of the government of the United Kingdom in London (the Houses of Parliament are in the Palace of Westminster). For more information, see this article explaining the Direct Rule from Westminster.
Donegal – county in the province of Ulster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Donegal.
Down – county in the province of Ulster, part of Northern Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Down.
DUP – see Democratic Unionist Party (above).Continue to 5 of 22 below.
05 of 22
Irish Glossary – E
Easter 1916 – normally referring to the Easter Rising, see below.
Easter Rising – the ill-fated armed insurrection of 1916 – for more detail see the main article on the Easter Rising of 1916.
EEA – the European Economic Area, see below.
Éire – official Irish name of the Republic of Ireland, simply meaning “Ireland”.
Emergency – “the Emergency” is more commonly known as the Second World War (1939 to 1945), during which period neutral Ireland simply declared a “state of emergency”, “for the duration”.
EU – see European Union below.
Euro – the currency in the Eurozone (see below), also the currency in the Republic of Ireland.
European Economic Area (EEA) – the European Union (see below) plus Switzerland, Norway, and minor non-member states.
European Union (EU) – A political and economic union of 27 sovereign European states. Apart form the Republic of Ireland, member states include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (and through this, Northern Ireland). Not to be confused with the EEA (see above), and/or the Eurozone (see below) – they are overlapping, but not identical.
Eurozone – the zone where the Euro is used as the main legal tender. Countries in the Eurozone proper and currently using the Euro are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus (but not Northern Cyprus, though), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. Interesting facts: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City mint their own Euro coins but are not considered full members of the Eurozone. The Euro is also official currency in Montenegro and the Kosovo, these states do not mint their own coins and are not part of the Eurozone either. Beware: there are a number of “bogus Euros” about, minted for collectors as “proof editions” (like Polish Euros, for instance). These are sold at fairs, usually with a high “mark-up”, and are almost never seen in circulation. The Thai 10 Baht coin, however, is the same size, weight and basic design of a 2 Euro coin … you'll sometimes encounter it. Nice keepsake, it is worth about 0.25 Euro. Important: the Republic of Ireland is in the Eurozone, Northern Ireland is not and uses the Pound Sterling – find out more about money in Ireland here. And a final note … the Euro is also one of the three legal tenders used in Zimbabwe (the other two are the US Dollar and the South-African Rand – the Zimbabwean Dollar having become worthless in 2009).Continue to 6 of 22 below.
06 of 22
Irish Glossary – F
Fermanagh – county in the province of Ulster, part of Northern Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Fermanagh.
Fianna Fail – literally “warriors of destiny”, party founded by Eamon de Valera in a split from Sinn Fein; fielding the Taoiseach more often than any other party. During the Celtic Tiger period, Fianna Fail stood for a politic of low taxes and high expenditure, which brought the Irish economy crashing down in 2008, soon followed by the crash of Fianna Fail. For more information, visit the official Fianna Fail website.
Fine Gael – literally “the Irish race”, slightly liberal party, more than often the main opposition party, but occasionally leading a coalition government. For more information, visit the official Fine Gael website.
First Minister – the head of the government of Northern Ireland, this is always the candidate nominated by the strongest party in the (enforced) coalition government.
Flight of the Earls – the flight of Hugh O'Neill and Rory O'Donnell (Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell respectively) from Ireland in 1607, clearing the way for the “Plantation of Ulster”. Their story is told in the Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre in Rathmullan, County Donegal.
Free State – Ireland self-ruled, but nominally under British control – an interim state of affairs before the re-declaration of the Republic (from 1922 to 1927).
Free Staters – slightly derogative term for supporters of the Free State (as opposed to “Anti-Treaty Forces”) in the Civil War.Continue to 7 of 22 below.
07 of 22
Irish Glossary – G
Gaeltacht – Gaeltacht (also occasionally spelled Ghaeltacht) is an Irish language word denoting an area where Irish is spoken – implying it is the first language and in everyday use there. The word Gaeltacht can refer to an individual region or, in a more general way, to all areas where the Irish government recognises the Irish language as the predominant language. The definition for this is roughly that Irish has to be the everyday language spoken at home. Gaeltacht districts were initially given official recognition and special status by the Irish Free State. Seen as an integral part of the so-called “Gaelic Revival”, government policy was to restore the Irish language and make it the first language of Ireland (which, by law, it is … though the actual vernacular is English). The validity of the historic Gaeltacht boundaries is questioned by many and definitely threatened by further decline of the Irish language in everyday use. The original boundaries laid down by the Gaeltacht Commission (Coimisiún na Gaeltachta) in 1926 were vague, to say the least. As were the rules for Irish being recognised as the “predominant” language – if a quarter of the population spoke Irish, this was deemed to be predominant enough for Gaeltacht status. These obvious shortcomings were addressed by a further commission in the 1950s, which laid down much stricter boundaries and reduced the counties actually containing Gaeltachts from fifteen in 1926 to just seven. Gaeltachts are now to be found in counties Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Mayo, Meath (an enclave of re-settled Irish speakers) and Waterford.
Galway – county in the province of Connacht. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Galway.
Gathering – the Gathering was a tourism marketing initiative in 2013, with an emphasis on a “return to the ancestral homeland”. It was aimed mainly at the so-called Irish Diaspora, first and foremost at Irish-Americans. For more on the Gathering, see this website.
Gentleman in Black Velvet – a humble mole that caused King William III's horse to stumble, throwing him off and thus hastening his demise (at least according to legend and popular belief). Jacobites used to sarcastically toast the “Gentleman in Black Velvet” for this noble deed.
Good Friday Agreement – the Good Friday Agreement (or Belfast Agreement) was the most important political development during the Peace Process in Northern Ireland during the 1990s. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom is based on the agreement. At the same time, Northern Ireland's devolved system of government is established in the Good Friday Agreement. For more, see our dedicated article on the Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement.
Green Party – Irish party based on an ecological and social platform, entered a coalition government with Fianna Fail in 2007 and managed to dwindle to insignificance as a result.
Guinness – Guinness can be a family name, a brewery name (taken from the family name), often a synonym for “typical Irish beer”, and finally be referring to the “Guinness World of Records” (originally created as a marketing ploy for the Guinness brewery, see below). For more about Guinness, please refer to this article.
Guinness Cake – Guinness Cake is so “typical Irish” that it hurts … because Ireland's favourite drink (that would be Guinness) is in it, a bit at least. Otherwise it would be just another heavy, fruity, moist cake best enjoyed during the colder months. Which makes it a good Christmas treat as well. Just remember to prepare it well in advance, like French wine and Scottish whisky, Irish Guinness Cake actually improves with age. What it definitely does not improve is your waistline. And here's how to bake a cracking good Guinness Cake.
Guinness Storehouse – Dublin's most popular attraction, a museum dedicated to the “pint of plain”. Find out more about visiting the Guinness Storehouse here.
Guinness World Records – a (sort of) reference book with an annual publishing schedule. It features a varied collection of data concerning “world records” in both human achievements and natural extremes. For more on the continually revised editions listing the Guinness World Records, see this page.
Guy Fawkes Night – Guy Fawkes Night (which might also be called Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) is a commemorative event taking place on November 5th. It is first and foremost a British event and has been almost forgotten (or replaced) by other festivities around the same time. In Ireland, Guy Fawkes Night used to be observed – these days only some Loyalist communities in Northern Ireland may host events on the day.Continue to 8 of 22 below.
08 of 22
Irish Glossary – H
High Cross – the most prominent form of the typical Celtic cross, the arms of which are connected by a circle, used as markers in graveyards most of the time, but also as memorials and market crosses. In its most spectacular form, the the high cross can be a scripture cross.
High King – basically an overlord of Ireland (which was ruled by several dozens of local “kings”, glorified tribal chieftains). The concept was quite nebulous, find out more about the most famous high king of Ireland, Brian Boru, here.
Holy Wells – a holy well may not be a properly built well at all, quite often it is just a spring, maybe enclosed (and sometimes covered) by more or less ornate architectural additions, revered either in a Pagan or Christian context. At times these contexts coexist or even intermingle. And most of the time it remains unclear whether a certain holy well had already been revered in Pagan times and then been adopted (or adapted) into Christian belief systems. Find out more about Ireland's holy wells here. And do not miss my personal experience with a holy well, curing a headache …Continue to 9 of 22 below.
09 of 22
Irish Glossary – I
Irish – officially the first language of the Republic of Ireland, though it is rarely spoken outside the Gaeltacht. Find out more about the Irish language here.
Irish-Americans – generally speaking those citizens of the United States of America who claim to trace (part of) their ancestry to Ireland. Irish-Americans are the second largest (self-reported) group claiming common ancestry – with German-Americans being the largest. They are also the most important segment of the Irish diaspora. Find out more about Irish-Americans here.
Irish Brigade – generally any military unit in foreign service made up from Irishmen, most often applied to Irish-influenced units in the American Civil War. Also the (rather grandiose) name of a unit raised by Roger Casement in Germany during the First World War. Irish brigades or regiments composed of “Wild Geese” (and their descendants) were part of many European armies, mainly France and Spain, but also other Catholic countries.
Irish Diaspora – there is no hard and fast definition of the term “diaspora” or “Irish diaspora”, but most commonly it is used as a blanket term to cover all those people worldwide who have (or think they have) Irish ancestry. Though the term “diaspora” is used by politicians (in many contexts), there is no legal definition an no official guideline. Read more about the Irish Diaspora here.
Irish Mile – colloquially an “Irish Mile” today more than likely refers to a long but very vague distance, often sugar-coated to make it seem much shorter. This plays upon both the ideas of anything “Irish” being imprecise and at times occupying its own space-time-continuum … as well as the perceived Irish mentality not to discourage others. An example would be a distance that is given as “just two miles” when it is much longer, hence “two Irish miles”. Historically, however, the Irish Mile was an actual measurement of distance, that was in use in Ireland but (like so many other miles) differed from the English standard mile (the “Statute Mile” set down in 1593). In Elizabethan times, four Irish miles were reputed to add up to five English miles. In the 17th century, the Irish Mile was 2,240 yards or 2,048 metres. Irish counties in the Georgian era commissioned survey maps at scales of one or two inches per Irish Mile. Other maps were drawn to English Miles. The Howth to Dublin Post Office extension of the London to Holyhead turnpike had mileposts in English Miles. the coach road from Carlingford to Dublin used Irish Miles (a milestone giving just 70 miles to Dublin can still be seen in Hillsborough). The Irish Mile was legally abolished by the Weights and Measures Act 1824, but still used up until 1856 by the Irish Post Office. A 1965 proposal by a few Irish politicians to replace Statute Miles with Irish Miles in the Road Transport Act was (thankfully) rejected.
Irish Vote – the term “Irish vote” is traditionally used to describe the polling behaviour of a (more or less defined) “Irish” part of any population … outside of Ireland. It is occasionally used in any country with a strong Irish diaspora among those eligible to vote in elections. Most of the time it is used to refer to the electoral preferences of Irish-Americans (which, at roughly 12% of the population, are a hefty lump of the body politic). In an effort to win the “Irish Vote”, politicians will go to great lengths, from tangible concessions to the voters covered by that blanket term to claiming Irish ancestry and thus a sort of birth-right to the vote (which, in all fairness, is often a bit of light relief in hotly contested elections). In recent years, the basic validity of the term “Irish vote” has been severely criticised, most noticed when Trina Y. Vargo penned her piece “The non-existent Irish American vote”.
Irish Whiskey – maybe Ireland's favourite tipple, and not to be confused with “whisky”.Continue to 10 of 22 below.
10 of 22
Irish Glossary – J
Junior Minister – Irish government official, but not a member of the “core cabinet”, and holding a (sometimes very) minor portfolio. With the possible exception of the occasional “Super Junior Minister”, who is more important, but not as important as a full Minister … it generally is all about titles for the party faithful. Junior Ministers were once known as Secretaries of State, which led to occasional confusion in contacts with the government of the USA.
Jacobites – originally a term describing the supporters of King James II (“Jacobus Rex”, hence the “Jacob”) against King William III (who only once clashed in person, during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690). The term was later also applied to supporters of the Old and Young Pretender as well (mainly during the the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 in Scotland).Continue to 11 of 22 below.
11 of 22
Irish Glossary – K
Kerry – county in the province of Munster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Kerry.
Kildare – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Kildare.
Kilkenny – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Kilkenny.
Kyteler, Alice – born in 1280 in Kilkenny, died after 1325 at a location unknown. Mainly famous for being suspected of using witchcraft, but more than likely a serial killer. Find out more about Alice Kyteler and her (alleged) crimes here.Continue to 12 of 22 below.
12 of 22
Irish Glossary – L
Labour – Irish left(ish) party in almost permanent opposition. For more information, have a look at the official Labour website.
Laois – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Laois.
Legislative Assembly – another term for the Northern Ireland Assembly, the parliament of Northern Ireland; for more information see their official website.
Leitrim – county in the province of Connacht. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Leitrim.
Leprechaun – Leprechauns are the best known fairy-folk in Irish tradition, usually portrayed as a small old man, clad in a green coat (though they used to be red up to around 100 years ago), usually involved in some mischief. Generally speaking, leprechauns are said to spend most of their time making shoes, presumably selling those and then hiding away all their money in a (hidden) pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You can see where the imagery of a million “quaint Irish” postcards, souvenirs and t- shirts comes from. If captured by a human (a hard enough feat), leprechauns have the power to grant (usually three, thereby keeping them firmly within fairy tale tradition) wishes in exchange for their release. By the way, leprechauns are also known as cluricawne (Monaghan), logheryman (Northern counties), luricawne (Kerry), lurigadawne (Tipperary), and alternate Spellings include lubrican, leprehaun, lepracaun, lepreehawn, lioprachán (Irish), leipreachán (Irish), luchrupán (Middle Irish), and luchorpán (Old Irish). A whole museum is dedicated to the leprechauns in Dublin – the National Leprechaun Museum.
Ley Lines – alignments of places. These can be of either geographical, historical or mythological significance – depending very much upon which ley line theory you subscribe to. Find out more about ley lines (and their possible occurrence in Ireland) here.
Liberator, the – Daniel O'Connell, Irish politician and reformer in the 19th century.
Limerick – county in the province of Munster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Limerick.
Long Fellow, the – Eamon de Valera (also called “Dev”), Irish rebel and politician in the 20th century. His direct adversary Michael Collins was nicknamed the “Big Fellow”.
Longford – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Longford.
Louth – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Louth.
Loyalists – general term for those loyal to the British crown. Used a a derogatory term by nationalists and republicans (very much like the use of “loyalist” in the final season of “Fringe”).Continue to 13 of 22 below.
13 of 22
Irish Glossary – M
Mayo – county in the province of Connacht. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Mayo.
Meath – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Meath.
Member of Parliament (MP) – the elected representative of a constituency in Northern Ireland in the parliament of the United Kingdom in Westminster. For more information and current MPs, see the Parliament website. Note that Sinn Fein regularly has elected MPs, even though they do not take the oath on the British monarch … and therefore are not active in parliament.
Member of the European Parliament (MEP) – what it says, the elected representative of a constituency in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland in the European Parliament. For more information and current MEPs, see the European Parliament website.
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) – what it says, the elected representative of a constituency in Northern Ireland in the Northern Ireland Assembly. For more information and current MLAs, see the Northern Ireland Assembly website.
MEP – see Member of the European Parliament (above).
MLA – see Member of the Legislative Assembly (above).
MP – see Member of Parliament (above).
Monaghan – county in the province of Ulster, in the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Monaghan.Continue to 14 of 22 below.
14 of 22
Irish Glossary – N
NAMA – the National Asset Management Agency is a special agency, created by the Government of Ireland in 2009. The creation of NAMA was one response to the Irish financial crisis caused by the worldwide downturn of 2008 and the rapid and dramatic deflation of the “property bubble” (effectively devaluing many assets to the point of ridicule). NAMA in effect, if not in name, operates as a “bad bank”, acquiring property development loans from Irish banks in return for government bonds. The long-tern plan being to improve the availability of credit in the Irish economy. Original book value of the loans taken over by NAMA was around € 77 billion (of which far above ten percent were rolled up interest) – with the original asset values to which the loans related being €88 billion. The realistic market value was, however, estimated at € 47 billion only. NAMA has been criticised as spending (even “squandering”) public money to bail out private banks. In conversations, NAMA is used as a blanket term for the whole belly-up economy, the actual workings of NAMA not being clear to a large part of the population. The NAMA website may help to understand. In Irish, the official (but almost never used) name is Gníomhaireacht Náisiúnta um Bhainistíocht Sócmhainní.
National Asset Management Agency – institution better known by its acronym NAMA, see above.
Nationalists – general term for those in favour of an independent, united Ireland. The distinction between nationalists and republicans is often not quite clear, though the very term “nationalism” would imply a slightly more conservative view of the independent Ireland to be achieved.
North – generic term often used to describe Northern Ireland. A misnomer, as the terms of the partition of Ireland made sure that the county of Donegal extends even further northwards, and is part of “the South”.Continue to 15 of 22 below.
15 of 22
Irish Glossary – O
Offaly – county in the province of Leinster. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Offaly.
Official Irish Republican Army – also occasionally abbreviated as OIRA, this is the direct continuation movement of the Irish Republican Army. The name was created after the split of the “Provos” (PIRA, Provisional Irish Republican Army) from the mainstream movement in the 1960s. For more information, see the comprehensive article on the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
OIRA – see Official Irish Republican Army (above).
Orangemen – members of the Orange Order (see below).
Orange Order – also known as the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, a fraternal society dedicated to upholding the union of Ireland and Great Britain and, more important, the domination of the Protestant faith. Often regarded as a secret society … find out more on the not-so-secret website of the Orange Order.Continue to 16 of 22 below.
16 of 22
Irish Glossary – P and Q
Partition – the division of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a direct consequence of the Treaty. Read the linked article to find out more about the partition of Ireland.
PIRA – see Provisional Irish Republican Army (below).
Plantation – the state-sponsored (and often enforced against the will of the previous inhabitants) settlement of colonists on Irish soil. Contrary to public belief that the plantations were all Cromwell's idea, the first plantations were actually undertaken by the Catholic Queen Mary (“Bloody Mary”) in 1549, in the area corresponding to today's counties Laois and Offaly.
Plantation Castles – castles built (or substantially re-built) during the Plantation period (see above). Most, if not all, combined the aspects of a fortress and a more palatial home. A number were built in contemporary Scottish style (in the Ulster Plantations, by Ulster-Scots landowners mainly – a home away from home, so to say). Many are in ruins today, though even those evoke the erstwhile grandeur of the place. Notable Plantation Castles you may like to visit when travelling in Ireland include Monea Castle, Parke's Castle, and Tully Castle.
Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) – the Provisional Irish Republican Army, also called PIRA or the “Provos”, is a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, formed in the 1960s. Find out more about the Irish Republican Army and its complicated history here.
Provos – short “nickname” for (members of) the Provisional Irish Republican Army (see above).
Quango – a “quasi-autonomous non-government organisation”, an organisation to which a government has devolved certain powers, thus taking an “arms length approach” to regulation (and responsibility). There are more than 800 Quangos reportedly active in the Republic of Ireland alone.Continue to 17 of 22 below.
17 of 22
Irish Glossary – R
Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) – the self-styled Real Irish Republican Army, also called RIRA or the “Real IRA”, is a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, formed in the 1990s. Read the comprehensive article on the history of the Irish Republican Army to find out more.
Remembrance Sunday – the Sunday nearest to November 11th (Armistice Day), on which the dead of all wars are remembered in the United Kingdom (and, to a much lesser extent, in the Republic of Ireland). Find out more about Remembrance Sunday here.
Republicans – general term for those in favour of an independent, united Ireland with a republican (and possible socialist) constitution. Slightly to the left of the term “nationalists”, though both are often interchanged freely.
RIRA – see Real Irish Republican Army (above).
Rising – generally a short term for the Easter Rising of 1916 (unless you are baking, of course).
Roscommon – county in the province of Connacht, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Roscommon.Continue to 18 of 22 below.
18 of 22
Irish Glossary – S
Shinner – slightly derogatory term for a member (or supporter) of Sinn Féin (see below).
Siege of Derry – the (ultimately unsuccessful) Jacobite encirclement of Derry during 1689, necessary because the Apprentice Boys slammed the city gates shut at the last moment.
Sinn Féin – literally “We Ourselves”, Ireland's oldest political party (but beset by splits, and some reinventions) with a strictly republican agenda. The second-largest party in Northern Ireland, and a rising star in the Republic. For more information, see the Sinn Féin website.
Sligo – county in the province of Connacht, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Sligo.
South – see Southern Ireland (below).
Southern Ireland – the Republic of Ireland, a term commonly used in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that geographically parts of “the South” are north of “the North”.
Strongbow – Richard Fitz Gilbert, Anglo-Norman mercenary commander hired by Diarmaid Mac Murchú to regain his throne, who then managed to start the Anglo-Normans' own conquest of Ireland before dying of a minor injury in 1176.Continue to 19 of 22 below.
19 of 22
Irish Glossary – T
Tanaiste – literally “heir presumptive” or “crown prince”, Ireland's deputy to the Taoiseach (see below).
Taoiseach – literally “the leader” or “the chieftain”, the Irish prime minister. The 1930s term was selected in line with contemporary Italian (“Duce”) and German (“Führer”) terms.
TD – see Teachtai Dala (below).
Teachtai Dala (TD) – literally “representative in the assembly”, an elected and sitting member of the Dail Éireann. For more information and current TDs, see the official website of the Oireachtas.
Tipperary – county in the province of Munster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Tipperary.
Treaty, the – more than often the document (the Anglo-Irish Treaty or An Conradh Angla-Éireannach, officially the “Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland”) signed in 1921 by Michael Collins and other Republicans, establishing the partition of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Free State.
Treaty of Limerick – document signed at the official end to the Williamite War in 1691. Unfortunately, William III's signature was given without parliamentary approval, and thus null and void.
Troubles – a rather low-key, ever so slightly diminishing, descriptive term used for the war in Northern Ireland.
Tyrone – county in the province of Ulster, part of Northern Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Tyrone.Continue to 20 of 22 below.
20 of 22
Irish Glossary – U and V
Uachtarán na hÉireann – literally “superior of Ireland”, the president of the Republic of Ireland (a largely non-political role). For more information, visit the official President of Ireland website.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) – the oldest and second largest (after the DUP) unionist party in Northern Ireland. For more information, visit the official Ulster Unionist Party website.
Uncrowned King of Ireland – Charles Steward Parnell, Irish politician and reformer in the 19th century.
Unionists – general term for those in favour of the continued union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the United Kingdom).
UUP – see Ulster Unionist Party (above).
Volunteer – generally a term for an Irish soldier, used by the paramilitaries, and in the Irish name of the Republic of Ireland's armed forces. The term goes back to the Irish Volunteers, main participants in the Easter Rising.Continue to 21 of 22 below.
21 of 22
Irish Glossary – W
War of Independence – the Anglo-Irish War, a guerilla war waged between 1919 and 1921, the issue was the independence of Ireland, hence this conflict is known better as the “War of Independence” in Ireland. It ended with “the Treaty” and the partition of Ireland.
Waterford – county in the province of Munster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Waterford.
Westmeath – county in the province of Leinster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Westmeath.
Westminster Rule – short term for the direct rule of Northern Ireland from London, named after the seat of Parliament in Westminster.
Wexford – county in the province of Leinster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Wexford.
Wicklow – county in the province of Leinster, part of the Republic of Ireland. For more information, see the specific website giving you the basics you need to know about County Wicklow.
Wild Geese – general term for Irish mercenaries in the pay of (mostly Catholic) European rulers. Many were grouped into specifically Irish brigades and regiments.Continue to 22 of 22 below.
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Irish Glossary – X, Y, and Z
X Case – officially “Attorney General v X”, a landmark Irish Supreme Court case in 1992. This case established the right of Irish women to an abortion. Albeit only in circumstances where a pregnant woman's life was at risk because of the pregnancy. This included the risk of suicide.
Young Ireland – in Irish Éire Óg, a mainly political, but also cultural and social movement during the mid-19th century, similar to movements in continental Europe. The focus was on Irish nationalism, activities included the aborted rebellion often known as the “Young Irelander Rebellion” of 1848.
Young Irelander – member of Young Ireland, see above.
Zoos in Ireland – see under Belfast Zoo, Dublin Zoo, Eagles Flying, Fota Wildlife Park, and Tayto Park.
Zozimus – pseudonym of Michael J Moran (1794 – 1846), a sightless Dublin street rhymer, often known as the “Blind Bard of the Liberties”. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.