Culchies: the history, culture, and origins of Irish culchies

Culchies: a brief explanation of that uniquely Irish subculture of the Culchie, including their origins, behaviour patterns, and where you might find them.

Culchies, that rare breed of Irish person; you either love them or hate them or perhaps you’re a closet Culchie and don’t yet realise it.

But where exactly did they come from? Let’s take a look at the history of Culchies and try to crack the enigma that is the Irish Culchie.

Let’s get one thing straight right from the start; I have to declare a self-interest here.

I was born in the heart of the finest city in the world, Limerick, so I’m writing this from a city man’s point of view.

But, as always, I will endeavour to retain true journalistic impartiality.

I have nothing against Culchies. My own personal view is most of them are harmless, simple creatures who, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. Just don’t stand too close to them as the smell of either wet turf or fresh manure can be awful.

The origin of the term Culchie – where the term came from

Culchies can often be seen driving tractors.
Credit: / @RetroTRAKTOR

Most dictionaries – for any Culchie reading this, a dictionary is a book that lists words and tells you what they mean – describe the word Culchie as a pejorative Irish English term for someone from rural Ireland.

Dublin natives will use the term for anyone not from the capital, but for the rest of the country, we class a Culchie as anyone that saves hay, milks cows, sheers sheep, and doesn’t notice the smell of manure.

In researching this article, we interviewed loads and loads of really smart people and asked them where the term Culchie originated.

To be honest, we were a bit cheesed off with the variety of answers we received and have subsequently decided not to listen to local drunks anymore.

Anyway, some of our expert panel of piss-heads told us that the term Culchie comes from the Irish language term cúl an tí, meaning ‘back of the house’.

You see, in the ‘country’, if you were entering a neighbour’s house and your boots were covered in muck, like most Culchies boots would be, well, the least you could do was not dirty up the front hall and use the back door.

Anyway, we’ve had loads of other explanations from our ‘experts’ for the origin of the word ranging from a shortened version of the word agriculture to some other idiot who went on and on about phonetics or some such gobble de gook.

Either way, the origin of the word isn’t really that important, we’re stuck with Culchies, like it or not.  

What makes a person a Culchie – how to know if you’re a Culchie

What makes someone a culchie?
Credit: Flickr / The Irish Labour Party

What makes a Culchie? That’s a hard question to answer.

To be brutally honest, no one thing can make a Culchie as it’s more a combination of factors.

Most culchies, but not all, live in the rural countryside surrounded by fields and cows and stuff. Be careful here though, some Culchies – mainly those with relations in Dáil Éireann – have jobs in the Civil Service and can be found in Dublin.

Most Culchies can drive tractors and will know how to milk cows and chickens.

They will also wear check shirts and say things like, “how’s she cutting?”, and they will refer to their cars using the singular nominative pronoun she, as in, “she’s a great bit of stuff.” or “she can go for miles on a single tank of diesel.”

Many, if not all, Culchies will eat spuds with more spuds and throw in a lump of hairy bacon for variety.

Female Culchies are easier to spot. They are usually also driving tractors; they can be recognised by their broad shoulders, hairy arms, and, again, the smell of manure.

However, on a Saturday night, some female culchies make an effort to shave and put on a frock before going out.

Where to find them – Culchie’s favourite spots

Where to find a Culchie.
Credit: / rottonara

Culchies can be found almost anywhere in Ireland.

The unfortunate fact is that easing of Civil Service employment embargos and Ireland’s need for unskilled manual labour has brought an excessive number of Culchies out of their natural habit and into the cities.

Additionally, the shortage of teaching staff in our schools has resulted in some educated Culchies – yes, there are a few – taking up employment as teachers.

This in itself is not a bad thing as Culchie teachers have proved invaluable in extracurricular school sports activities where they are often used to coach underage school GAA teams.

There are worse things – we love Culchies really

We love Culchies really.
Credit: / eliasfalla

Culchies are a simple but proud breed; believe it or not, many of them are proud of their Culchie heritage and never take to city life.

Culchies have, for decades, helped provide a large proportion of our police force, nursing staff, and primary school teachers, and without Culchies, we wouldn’t have fresh fruit and vegetables, milk or turkeys at Christmas.

MeanwhileinIreland wishes to disassociate itself from the opinions expressed in this article and understands that the writer has either gone into protective custody or is buried in a turf bog somewhere in the Midlands.