List of Irish county nicknames

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This is a list of nicknames for the traditional counties of Ireland and their inhabitants. The nicknames are mainly used with reference to the county's representative team in gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). A few of the names are quite old and well-known; most are recent coinages mainly used by journalists. [1] [2] Some refer specifically to the Gaelic games county colours.


Many counties have multiple nicknames – for example, Kildare may be called "the short grass county" or "the thoroughbred county" [3] – while some counties have separate nicknames for the county and people: for example Wexford is often called the Model county, [3] and Wexford people are called "yellowbellies". [3] A few nicknames are shared: any Connacht county playing a team from elsewhere may be dubbed "the Westerners"; London GAA or New York GAA may be called "the Exiles"; Westmeath, [2] [3] Fermanagh, [4] and Cavan [5] have each been called "the Lake county".


County (GAA link)NicknameOrigins and notes
Antrim (GAA)The Glensmen [2] [3] [6] From the Glens of Antrim [2]
Antrim (GAA)The Saffrons [3] From the county colours
Armagh (GAA)The Orchard County [2] [3] [7] The rich fruit growing country to the north-east of the city of Armagh is known as the "Orchard of Ireland". [2] [8] (The local electoral district in that part of Armagh is called "The Orchard".) [9] )
Armagh (GAA)The Cathedral County [2] [3] [10] The Primates of All Ireland's seats (both Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic) are in the city of Armagh [2]
Carlow (GAA)The Dolmen County [3] Brownshill Dolmen is near Carlow town [2]
Carlow (GAA)The Barrowsiders [11] River Barrow [2]
Carlow (GAA)The Fighting Cocks [3] Carlow was famous for cock fighting in the early nineteenth century. [12] "The Fighting Cocks" is also a crossroads on the N80 road [13] which names a district between Tullow and Nurney [14] and its GAA club [15]
Carlow (GAA)The Scallion Eaters [3] In the early nineteenth century, most of the onions sold in Leinster were grown near Carlow town [16]
Cavan (GAA)The Breffni [2] [3] [17] Mediaeval Kingdom of Breifne, centred on Cavan [2]
Cavan (GAA)The Lake County [5] Lakes include Loughs Gowna, Oughter, Ramor, and Sheelin
Clare (GAA)The Banner County [2] [3] [18] [19] Either the banners captured by Clare's Dragoons at the Battle of Ramillies; or the banner of "Catholic emancipation" raised by Daniel O'Connell's victory in an 1828 by-election for County Clare that led to the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. [1] [2] [20]
Cork (GAA)The Rebel County [3] [18] [21] [22] Originally from Cork city's support for pretender Perkin Warbeck in 1495; reinforced by Cork's prominence in the Irish War of Independence (1919–21) and the Irish Civil War (1922–23) [21] [23] In 2011, Cork GAA's youth development section was rebranded as "Rebel Óg" (Irish óg = "young"). [24]
Cork (GAA)The Leesiders [25] River Lee
Cork (GAA)The Donkey Aters (Eaters) [2] Applied in particular to the vicinity of Skibbereen in west Cork, where people resorted to eating donkeys during the Great Famine [26]
Donegal (GAA)The Hills [3] The Derryveagh Mountains and Bluestack Mountains are called The Hills of Donegal in many folk songs
Donegal (GAA) Tír Chonaill or Tyrconnell [3] Mediaeval kingdom, often used in place of the official Dún na nGall as the Irish name for the county
Donegal (GAA)The O'Donnell County [2] [3] [27] Mediaeval lords [2]
Donegal (GAA)The Herring Gutters [2] [3] The fishing industry is important, especially in Killybegs [2]
Donegal (GAA)The Forgotten County [2] Donegal is almost cut off from the rest of the Republic of Ireland by Northern Ireland [2]
Down (GAA)The Mourne County; [3] The Mournemen [28] Mourne Mountains. In GAA contexts, "Mournemen" is often applied specifically to the football rather than the hurling team; [28] though not always [29]
Down (GAA)The Ardsmen [28] [30] [31] Applied specifically to the hurling team. [28] From the Ards peninsula, stronghold of hurling in the county [28]
Dublin (GAA)The Dubs [32] Clipped form of "Dubliners"
Dublin (GAA)The Liffeysiders [3] River Liffey
Dublin (GAA)The Jackeens [3] Pejorative term for Dubliners; contrasted with culchies
Dublin (GAA)The Jacks [33] [34] [35] Reclaimed version of Jackeen
Dublin (GAA)The Metropolitans Dublin city is the metropolis, i.e. the capital city
Dublin (GAA)The Pale The Pale was the region around Dublin subject to English control in the 14th and 15th centuries
Dublin (GAA)The Big SmokeA reference to severe smog problems that endured until the late 1980s
Fermanagh (GAA)The Maguire County [2] [3] Mediaeval lords (cf. Baron Maguire from the 17th Century) [2]
Fermanagh (GAA)The Lakeland County; [2] [3] the Lake County [4] [36] Lough Erne dominates the topography [2]
Fermanagh (GAA)The Erne County; [2] the Ernesiders [37] River Erne and Lough Erne [2]
Galway (GAA)The Tribesmen [2] [3] Galway city is "the city of the tribes", those being fourteen historically prominent families
Galway (GAA)The Herring Chokers [2] The fishing industry [2]
Kerry (GAA)The Kingdom [3] John Philpot Curran, MP, magistrate, and wit, said in the Irish House of Commons on 23 January 1787: "The low and contemptible state of your magistracy is the cause of much evil, particularly in the Kingdom of Kerry. I say Kingdom, for it seems absolutely not a part of the same country" [38]
Kildare (GAA)The Lilywhites [2] [3] [39] From the county colours [2] [39]
Kildare (GAA)The Short Grass County [2] [3] [40] The open pastureland of the Curragh. Attested from at least 1897 [41]
Kildare (GAA)The Thoroughbred County [2] [3] [42] [43] Centre for breeding and training of racehorses. A marketing slogan, introduced in November 1999 [42] [43]
Kilkenny (GAA)The Cats [3] [44] Kilkenny cats are proverbially tenacious fighters [44]
Kilkenny (GAA)The Marble County [2] [3] Kilkenny city was "the Marble City" because of the nearby quarry of Kilkenny marble (actually limestone [45] ) featured in its buildings and pavements. [1] [2]
Kilkenny (GAA)The Noresiders [3] River Nore
Kilkenny (GAA)Wet-the-guns [46]
Laois (GAA)The O'Moore County [3] [47] Mediaeval lords (cf. Rory O'Moore in the 17th Century)
Laois (GAA)"Poor and proud" [48] [49] Disused. [48]
Leitrim (GAA)"Lovely Leitrim" [50] [51] From the song "Lovely Leitrim", written in by Phil Fitzpatrick, an NYPD member from Mohill killed in 1947. [52] It was a 1966 Number One single for Larry Cunningham. [53] Another "Lovely Leitrim" was written in Chicago in 1956 by Jim Donnelly of Cloone and Tom Masterson of Carrigallen [54]
Leitrim (GAA)The Ridge County [2] [3] [55] Leitrim town's name is anglicised from the Irish Liath Druim, "grey ridge"; Carrick-on-Shannon is Cora Droma Ruisc – "the weir of the marshy ridge". The method of growing potatoes in ridges separated by ditches was especially common in Leitrim [2]
Leitrim (GAA)The Wild Rose County [2] [3] The Wild Rose of Lough Gill , an 1883 historical romance by Patrick G. Smyth set largely in North Leitrim. [1] Wild roses grow profusely in northwest Leitrim [2]
Leitrim (GAA)The O'Rourke County [3] Mediaeval lords of western Breifne
Limerick (GAA)The Shannonsiders [3] [56] The River Shannon, Limerick is the principal city on the longest river in Ireland
Limerick (GAA)The Treaty County [3] Limerick city is "the Treaty city" after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691
Limerick (GAA)buttermilks [46]
Londonderry (Derry GAA) [fn 1] The Oak-leaf County [2] [3] [27] From the leaf on the county coat of arms and on the crest of Derry GAA; Derry is an anglicisation of Irish language Doire "oak-grove" [2]
Longford (GAA)The Slashers [3] Longford Slashers is a GAA club in Longford town. "Slasher" in the sense "man of valour" comes from Myles 'the Slasher' O'Reilly, killed defending the bridge of Finnea in 1644. [1] [57] "Slasher" became a pejorative for Longford people, notably former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, with a sense akin to culchie. Still more recently it has been reclaimed by the locals
Longford (GAA)The O'Farrell County [27] Medieval O'Farrell family
Louth (GAA)The Wee County [3] The smallest county in Ireland
Mayo (GAA)The Yew County [58] [59] The name Mayo is anglicised from the Irish Maigh Eo, "plain of the yew", the site of a mediaeval abbey [58]
Mayo (GAA)The Heather County [2] [3] Heather is common in western Mayo [2]
Mayo (GAA)The Maritime County [3] The longest Atlantic coastline [2]
Mayo (GAA)"Mayo, God help us!" [46] [60] Mayo was the county worst affected by the Great Famine [61]
Mayo (GAA)"The Green above the Red" [3] From the county colours (green shoulders, red breast); themselves inspired by "The Green Above The Red", a rebel song to the tune of "Irish Molly O" with lyrics by Thomas Osborne Davis: [62]

Full often when our fathers saw the Red above the Green,
They rose in rude but fierce array, with sabre, pike and skian,
And over many a noble town, and many a field of dead,
They proudly set the Irish Green above the English Red

Meath (GAA)The Royal county [3] [63] [64] The Hill of Tara, seat of the legendary High Kings of Ireland, is in Meath [63]
Monaghan (GAA)The Farney [2] [3] [65] Mediaeval territory of Farney, later the Barony of Farney in south County Monaghan. [2] A 2004 article suggests the nickname dates from the prominence of Farneymen in the early years of Monaghan GAA. [66]
Monaghan (GAA)The Oriel County Airgíalla, anglicised Oriel, a medieval kingdom with territory overlapping the modern county; north Monaghan people prefer the nickname "Oriel" to "Farney". [66] [67]
Monaghan (GAA)The Drumlin County [2] [3] Drumlin fields dominate the local topography [2]
Offaly (GAA)The Faithful County [3] [19] In 1953, Andy Croke wrote, 'If ever Offaly earns a name like "Rebel" Cork or "Premier" Tipperary, I believe it will be the "Faithful" County, for nowhere else are hurlers and football more intent on sticking to their colours, which incidentally are green, white and gold.' [68] Also attributed to Martin O'Neill (Leinster GAA secretary 1927–69) [69] and Bob O'Keeffe (GAA president from 1935–38). [19] [70] Possibly because the county is strong in both hurling and gaelic football. [1] [19] The motto on the 1983 county coat of arms is Esto Fidelis "Be You Faithful" [71]
Offaly (GAA)The BiffosAcronym for "Big ignorant fucker from Offaly" [72] Attested in the early 1990s in the United States [73] [74]
Roscommon (GAA)The Rossies [3]
Roscommon (GAA)The Sheepstealers [3] [75] A common cause of transportation to Australia, the crime was common in Roscommon as it was easy to cross the River Shannon to raid Westmeath and Longford [2]
Sligo (GAA)The Yeats County [2] [3] Childhood and spiritual home of William Butler Yeats [2]
Sligo (GAA)The Herring Pickers [2] [3] The fishing industry [2]
Sligo (GAA)Land of Heart's DesireTourist branding from Yeats's 1894 play The Land of Heart's Desire , set in the barony of Kilmacowen. [76]
Sligo (GAA)The Zebras [3] From the county colours (black-and-white)
Sligo (GAA)The Magpies [3] From the county colours (black-and-white)
Tipperary (GAA)The Premier County [2] [3] [77] [78] In the 1840s editor of the Nation newspaper stated that "Where Tipperary leads Ireland follows" due to the nationalistic feeling in Tipperary. The title of The Premier county was further strengthened by the foundation of the GAA and starting the war for Irish independence within County Tipperary. . [78] Attested from 1864 [79] Tipperary has rich prosperous farmland of the Golden Vale. [1] Another is that Tipperary was the seat of Butlers, Earls of Ormond [77]
Tipperary (GAA)The Stone Throwers [2] [46] [80] Tipperary agitators were unusually militant during the Land War of the 1870–90s. [81] Stone Throwers Park in Tipperary Hill, Syracuse, New York commemorates an incident in the 1930s when a group of Irish Americans threw stones to prevent an upside-down traffic light being set with the "red above the green" [82]
Tipperary (GAA)Tipp or "The Home of Hurling" Clipping of Tipperary. The local radio station is Tipp FM. [83] The Féile Festival, held in Semple Stadium in Thurles in the 1990s, was branded "the trip to Tipp" [84]
Tyrone (GAA)The O'Neill County [2] [3] [47] Mediaeval lords [2]
Tyrone (GAA)The Red Hand County, [2] [3] the Red Hands [85] [86] The Red Hand of Ulster on the county's GAA crest, also on the arms of the O'Neills [1] [2]
Tyrone (GAA)"Tyrone among the bushes" [2] From a poem by Strabane poet William Collins, who took part in the Fenian raids into Canada:

"O God be with the good old times when I was twenty-one
In Tyrone among the bushes, where the Finn and Mourne run
When my heart was gay and merry, recked then not of care or toil
Blithesome as the bells of Derry ringing o’er the sunny Foyle"

Waterford (GAA) The Déise, [2] [3] [87] Decies [88] Mediaeval kingdom of the Déisi [2]
Waterford (GAA)The Suirsiders [3] River Suir
Waterford (GAA)The Gentle County [87] [89] The Gentle County: a Saga of the Decies People by Nicholas Whittle was published in 1959. [90] He chose the title because "We in Waterford have never been too prone to blow our own trumpet" [91]
Waterford (GAA)The Crystal County [2] [3] Waterford Crystal [2]
Westmeath (GAA)The Lake County [2] [3] [92] Site of many lakes, including Loughs Derravaragh, Ennell, Lene, Owel and Ree [2]
Wexford (GAA)The Model County [2] [3] [93] From its progressive farming methods and model farms [1] [2] The first agricultural school in Ireland was opened in Wexford in the 1850s; [94] however, the nickname "model county" was established by 1847 [95] "Exemplar Hiberniae" is the motto chosen for the county arms in 1987. [96]
Wexford (GAA)The Yellowbellies [3] [46] Said to have been first applied to a Wexford hurling team raised by Sir Caesar Colclough, which won a challenge match in Cornwall in the reign of William III of England while wearing yellow sashes in tribute to William as Prince of Orange. [97] The county colours (yellow with purple shoulders) reflect this pre-existing nickname
Wexford (GAA)The Slaneysiders [11] River Slaney
Wexford (GAA)The Strawberry Pickers [2] Due to its relatively warm dry climate, it grows more strawberries than most of Ireland [2]
Wicklow (GAA)The Garden of Ireland [2] [98] the Garden county [3] [98] [99] Possibly from the planted estates of Big Houses such as Powerscourt House; [1] or from the county's scenery; [100] or serving as a garden for the adjacent city of Dublin. Formerly "the garden of Ireland" has been applied to: the Blackwater valley between Mallow and Fermoy; [101] Carlow town; [98] [102] [103] Killough Hill near Cashel; [104] eastern County Westmeath; [105] and the province of Ulster [106]
Wicklow (GAA)The Goat Suckers [2] [107] Feral goats roam the Wicklow Mountains. [2]
Wicklow (GAA)The Last County [108] [109] [110] [111] Wicklow was the last part of Ireland to be formed into a county by English administrators (in 1606), due to the rebellious O'Byrne and O'Toole clans.

Other inter-county GAA teams

Outside Ireland, the GAA is organised into regional bodies which have the same status as Irish counties, some of which compete in the same inter-county competitions.

In 2008, the main Dublin and Down hurling teams were supplemented with second teams competing in the Nicky Rackard Cup, respectively called Fingal and South Down. [112]

CountyNicknameOrigins and notes
Fingal (GAA)The RavensRavens appear on the crest of Fingal.
Fingal (GAA)The NorthsidersFingal is north of the River Liffey (although "Northsider" often refers to part of Dublin city rather than rural Fingal).
Hertfordshire (GAA)Herts Clipping of Hertfordshire [113]
Lancashire (GAA)Lancs Clipping of Lancashire [114]
Lancashire (GAA)Red Rose County [115] Red Rose of Lancaster, badge of Henry IV of England and symbol of the county of Lancashire
London GAA The men from the county Hell [3] "Boys from the County Hell", 1984 song by the Pogues
London GAA The ExilesRecruited from Irish emigrants "exiled" in Britain. The nickname is also used for New York GAA and London Irish rugby union club
New York GAA The ExilesRecruited from Irish emigrants "exiled" in New York. The nickname is also used for London GAA
South Down GAA The non-Ardsmen [116] Players are selected from outside the Ards peninsula, the stronghold of Down hurling [112]
Warwickshire (GAA)Warks Clipping of Warwickshire [113]

See also


  1. See Derry/Londonderry name dispute; the GAA uses "Derry".


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  43. 1 2 Cassidy, Colman (16 November 1999). "Kildare exploits its 'horsey' image". The Irish Times . p. 16. Kildare has adopted the horse as its official logo by assuming a new identity as the "thoroughbred county". The brand was officially introduced yesterday by the Minister for Finance, Mr McCreevy [...] Kildare is home to the Irish Turf Club, the Curragh, Punchestown and Naas racecourse, the National Stud, the Irish Equestrian Centre, Weatherbys (keeper of the Stud Book) and Goffs – with more than 120 stud farms and more than 60 training establishments
  44. 1 2 Share 2001, p.112
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  73. O'Toole, Fintan (19 September 1991). "Completing the transaction called Ireland". The Irish Times . p. 10 col. A. There are so many Irish here they have special acronyms. As well as the Yuppies and Dinkies there are Biffos – Big Ignorant Effers From Offaly
  74. Lynch, Declan (21 November 1993). "Radio". Sunday Independent . p. 16. that crual New York acronym, BIFFO – a Big Ignorant F***er From Offaly
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  79. "The "International Boxing Match"". The Nation . 8 October 1864. pp. 110, col.2. it redounds infinitely to the credit of this force that such a debasing and inhuman spectacle of English customs and English sport was prevented from being enacted in this country, especially in Tipperary, the premier county of Ireland; Morris, William (August 1883). "Irish Local Government". Macmillan's Magazine. Cambridge. 48 (286): 286–292 : 287. Tipperary ("the premier county")
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  83. " County Tipperary's Radio Station or The home of hurling referring to Tipperarys GAA success in winning the first All Ireland senior hurling title, and winning most "firsts" from within the ancient Irish game of hurling" . Retrieved 6 March 2008.
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  105. Lewis, Samuel (1837). "Westmeath (County of)". A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. London: S. Lewis & Co. Retrieved 26 February 2008. Throughout the eastern part of the county the soil is a heavy loam from seven to twelve inches (305 mm) deep, resting on a yellow till: the land here is chiefly under pasture and feeds the fattest bullocks; from its great fertility it has been called the "garden of Ireland;"
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  107. "Gearing up for the championship". Wicklow People. 27 March 2008. I knew a man once who used to say the [ sic ] Dublin would win nothing without a Wicklow man on the team, a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but if you look through the record books you will find quite a few 'goat-suckers' on Dublin teams in the past
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