TD - Acronym for Teachta Dala.

Taca- the fund-raising club of the Fianna Fail.

taidhbhse - Gaelic for ghosts

Taig - Contemptuous term for Catholic.

tais - Gaelic for ghosts

Tally sticks - In 19th century Ireland, Gaelic speaking Irish children had to wear these to the English administrated schools to keep track (they were notched) of how many times the child slipped and spoke Gaelic so as to gauge the appropriate discipline.

Tanaiste - Gaelic for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Tanistry- a Brehon custom whereby a chief or king of a clan is chosen by the heads of clans or septs. A Tanist was a judge at the clan and sept level

Taoiseach - Prime Minister in Gaelic.

Taoseach - Another Gaelic spelling of the above.

Tara - The first home of the High-King of Ireland as begun by the Firbolgs.

Teachta Dala - What members of the Irish Republic's parliament are called in Gaelic.

tellach - Gaelic for `height or mound.'

Temair - Gaelic for Tara.

Tenant Right League - formed in Ireland in 1850 by Charles Gavan Duffy to secure reforms in the Irish land system that exclusively favored landlords.

terriers - A name applied to the many Irish laborers working the railroad as it moved West in the United States.

Terry Alts - See Caravats

thais - Gaelic for `in the month.'

The Great Hunger

Cecil Woodham-Smith wrote in her masterful study, The Great Hunger, that 45 years preceding The Great Hunger "no fewer than 114 Commissions and 61 Special Committees" , most all of them British, reported on the state of Ireland, "and without exception, their findings prophesied disaster." These findings were either dismissed or just never addressed by the English government.Thus the term "The Great Hunger" usurped the use of the phrase "The Famine Years " to describe that period of Irish history.

One of the British solutions to the problem that was tried after the fact, that is after starvation was widespread in Ireland, was a public-works employment program. This program asked for hard physical labor of people weak from hunger and disease. It was doomed to failure. The British government refused to distribute emergency food. The English feared "the Irish would become dependent on it."

The Ireland Fund - founded in 1976, provides funds to help those affected by the turmoil in Northern Ireland.

Thomond- Earldom of the O'Briens which today would incorporate County Clare and parts of County Limerick and County Tipperary.

thraneen - Gaelic for `nothing.'

Three `F's - Gladstone's Land Act of 1881 proposed to protect the tenants through the Three F's, Fair rent, Fixity of Tenure and Free Sale.

Parnell said it did not go far enough and challenged the act via the Land League and was imprisoned for conspiracy to commit treason.

throwing up the little finger - drinking, usually of alcoholic beverages.

thuas - Gaelic for `in the South.'

Tidy Towns - A reference to an Irish government effort to clean up the appearance of houses and streets in country towns to assist the tourist industry.

Tinkers - Gypsies, sometimes refers to any transients with a mobile residence.

tinnscra - Gaelic for dowry.

Tir na u Og - Gaelic for `country of the young.'

Tir - Gaelic for country or territory.

Tir Owen- in Gaelic, Tir Eoghain', an ancient territory where County Tyrone a a part of County Derry are today.

Tis - Gaelic expression for `in the month', used for introductory emphasis.

toponymic- a name or term derived from a place name.

Townland - A Town or small settlement.

tra - Gaelic expression for `to wit', `however',`well', `to continue.'

Trade Unionists for Irish and Independence - Founded in 1984 in Dublin by 40 trade unions.

transport - when Oliver Cromwell in 1652 began confiscating land he would "transport" the previous owners to far regions of Britannia, usually to the British islands in the Caribbean. Later Irish convicted of "crimes" were similarly given `transportation' as a sentence. More often than not this was also just a maneuver to seize the land.

Trees For Ireland - an Irish American Cultural Institute program to reforest the republic of Ireland.

tri-na-cheile - Gaelic for higgeldy-piggeldy.

Triptyque- a form required of automobile operators during the time of the Irish Free State. It had to be filled out before one drove into the Free State and involved payment of fees for licenses, insurance and such that limited entry.

troubles , the- A euphemism for the strife in Northern Ireland or things related to it.

trusty- a long or great coat.

Tuaisceart Connacht- North Connacht

tuath - Gaelic for the land occupied by the people, later for the people on the land.

tuigin - Gaelic for mantle.

tulach - Gaelic for height or mound.

tumuli - Latin for artificial hills, a graves. The singular is tumulus. Iin Russian the word is Kurgan which led to a pre-Celtic culture being called by that name because of the way they buried their dead in large tumuli.

turf - A section cut from the bog for fuel, see peat.

turris - Gaelic for `round tower.'

U - Gaelic for descendant see Ui

UFF- Ulster Freedom Fighters

Ua - Gaelic for descendantsee Ui

uachtar - Gaelic for upper or southern.

Uachtar Connacht- Upper or Southern Connacht.

Uachtarán- Gaelic for 'president.'

Ui - Gaelic for descendant as in Ui Fiachrach, also seen as U, Ua, Hy and Hi.

uir - Gaelic for `grave.'

ulican - Gaelic for a funeral cry.

Ulster Defence Association - The largest Protestant paramilitary organization, it was formed in 1969, sometimes called the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

Ulster Defence Committee- controlling factor of the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, in 1969 its leader was Ian Paisley.

Ulster Defense Regiment - Locally (Ulster) recruited regiment for the British Army to replace the B-Specials. Mostly made up of former Protestant paramilitarists.

Ulster Democratic Party - Political arm of the Ulster Defense Association

Ulster Freedom Fighters- A loyalist paramilitary organization that uses violence to intimidate others.

Ulster Loyalist Association - It was active from 1969 - 1972 and was opposed to changes in the constitution of Northern Ireland and supported stronger security policies.

Ulster Protestant Volunteers- see Ulster Volunteers.

Ulster Special Constabulary - Protestant paramilitary group organized by the British in 1920, sometimes called the A-Specials.

Ulster Unionist Party - Organized in 1905 to oppose Home Rule. Formed the Northern Ireland government 1926 -1972. In 1998 it is led by David Trimble.

Ulster Vanguard - An umbrella organization formed by William Craig in 1972 to oppose rule from London rather than Stormont.

Ulster Volunteers - Originally formed by Carson in 1913 and led to a similar organization, the National Volunteers in the South. See Ulster Volunteer Force below.

In 1966, Ian Paisley organized another group with the same name to uphold and maintain the Northern Ireland constitution particularly the part stating that Northern Ireland maintains ties with England so long as it maintains a Protestant monarchy and the terms of the partition agreement. no longer active.

Ulster Volunteer Force - A Protestant paramilitary group. When Home Rule passed in the British Parliament the UVF armed themselves and prepared to fight the British soldiers.

British troops were ordered to disband the group in 1914 leading to a mutiny by British soldiers rather than carry out the order.

Became a part of the British Army in 1916 (something not allowed the Volunteers in the South). After the war became the Ulster Vanguard.

Ulster Workers' Council - Loyalist trade unionists who came together in 1973 and 1974 to topple The Executive.

Umhall- an ancient territory where the baronies of Burrishoole and Murrisk in County Mayo are located today.

umorro - Gaelic for `however', `but.'

Undertakers - England land grantees of the 1609 Ulster Plantation.

Únêtice - A pre-Celtic culture from which the Celts may have emerged, named for a site in in the Czech Republic near Prague, that extended over all of what was Czechoslovakia, southern Austria and central Germany. Until about 1500 B.C. they were known for their burial mounds, tumuli. When this method of burial gave way to cremation and the remains placed in jars or urns, it became what is known as the urnfield culture.

Union - Under the Poor Law, a legal entity comprised of several townlands was formed within each County as a taxing body to fund support for the poor.

Unionist - People in favor of a continued link between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, some extremists state only if they continue Protestant traditions .

Unionist Council - formed in 1905 to oppose Home Rule Bill.

United Irish Counties Association - organized prior to 1949.

United Irish Foundation, Inc. - A new York city agency of the United Way that aids the elderly and needy.

United Irish League- founded in 1898 by William O'Brien in County Mayo for the purpose of breaking up the large grazing farms.

United Ireland Party- organized by Eoin Duffy in 1933 when he was forced out of the Blueshirts.

Unity Walk- an isolated Catholic area at the mouth of the Protestant stronghold of Shankhill, site of several incidents during the July 12 Orange Order parades as the marcher go out and then return to Shankhill. Police were obvious of their support for the Orange Order in an incident on August 3, 1969.

Urnfield - The name of the culture (~1200 B.C.) that followed the Unetice culture, both are said to be pre-Celtic cultures from which the Celts may have emerged.

Ur-people- another name for the people of the Steppe from whom developed the Indo-European languages.

Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party - Formed in 1973.

Vanguard Service Corporation - a Protestant paramilitary group linked to the Ulster Vanguard.

vindos - Gaelic for `white.'

Volunteers- see Irish Volunteers

Wasps - White Anglo Saxon Protestants, a 19th century term used in America to identify the majority, at the time, of Americans.

War of Independence- the Irish name for the events of 1920-1921 leading to the Irish Free State.

Wearin' o' the Green - Wearing green in support of the Irish. Politically it means as opposed to the Orange and what that stands for; socially it has a much lighter, more fun meaning - the celebration of Saint Patrick's Day, particularly in the United States.

Weirasthru - Gaelic expression for `Mary, have pity.'

West Britain - A derogatory term for someone who acknowledges British superiority in all things.

whisht! - Gaelic expression for `silence.'

White Niggers - A term used in the mid 1840's in the United States by Blacks for the immigrant Irish competing with them for labor jobs.

white-headed boy - Much like another term `fair-haired boy' meaning a favorite child.

Whiteboys - Organized in Munster in 1760 to resist high rents and evictions of Irish by English landlords.

Wild Geese - Originally the Irish soldiers who left the Limerick battlefield under the terms of a treaty for France. Later any Irishman who gained fame in military or political endeavors in a foreign land.

Williamites- supporters of William of Orange.

workhouses - organized by the British during the Great Starvation to provide work, shelter and food for Irish survivors. They came too little and too late.

Wormwood Scrubs - a London prison.

worm test - A test to see if a person has `the gift', the ability and drive to be successful. A worm is placed in an infants hand, if it shrivels the child has `the gift'.

Year of the French - When the French landed at Kinsala in 1798 too late to support the Uprising of '98.

yellowbellies - Wexfordmen, for their proclivity toward yellow meal in their diet.

Yeomanry - A police force made up of Protestant Orangemen and British colonists armed by the British in Ireland during the English administration. Predecessor to the Royal Irish Constabulary.

yeos - The yeomanry

Young Irelanders - a group in Ireland working with O'Connell's repeal of the Act of Union that split on the issue of the use of violence. An armed insurrection followed that was put down by the British and survivors emigrated mostly to America.


There are, no doubt, mistakes in this glossary. Likewise there are terms and organizations that need to be listed and are not. If you have some suggestions please e-mail me with your comment or contribution. It matters not if you wear a cross or crucifix are from the South, North, East or the West, Orange or Green, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Manx, Breton, Cornish, Hebridean or Orknean let us have all the terms less those that would be considered profane by anyone. For new contributions, please provide references.


Gerard P. Moran




Some Irish phrases showing Irish spelling and prounciation and English meaning >

Return to Moran Table of Contents >

Return to Celtic Connection Table of Contents >

Return to Miscellany Page >