plastic paddies

Photo by Photobucket user ayinmcfyei learned a new phrase today: plastic paddy. it happened as bill and i were walking along silver ave. admiring a lofty irish flag hanging randomly from one of the houses. we pass this flag everyday and we admire it everyday, but i constantly feel a strange sense of oddness with bill, and actual irish person, by my side and this flag just hanging there.

it has caused me to think in wonderment back to when we were in ireland, what if there was just a random house with an american flag hanging on it. how would that make me feel? weird? grossed out? offended? patriotic? i’m honestly not sure and it would probably be some nauseating combination of them all.

this leads me to plastic paddies.

thank you to bill for enlightening me on this term.

[tweetmeme] here is what wikipedia says about it:

“People who were not born in Ireland, and who did not grow up in Ireland, but nonetheless possess Irish citizenship and an Irish passport are often labelled as Plastic Paddies.”

and here is what urban dictionary says about it:

“A person who retains a strong sense of Irish cultural identity despite not having been born in Ireland or being of only partial (if any) Irish descent; generally used in referance to Irish-English or Irish-Americans. Perceived as irritating poseurs by Irish nationals.

i am particularly intrigued by that last sentence (emphasis mine) and by the general idea of a plastic paddy to begin with. in hanging around albuquerque the past few weeks, i have been privy to a number of plastic paddies, many of whom seem to be baby boomers (no offense intended to the over-50 set!), hanging around the local irish pubs.

here is what i have noticed about plastic paddies.

-general interest in elements of irish culture that many irish-born people do not particularly care about. these include traditional irish music, irish dancing, flags and historic sites. when traveling in ireland, plastic paddies are particularly intrigued by castles and ruins of any kind.

-mixing of all celtic cultures together. take, for instance, the plastic paddies pictured above. why are they wearing kilts? kilts are not irish. neither are bagpipes, yet people continually confuse these and mix the cultures together, forming a kind of pan-celtic milieu.

-particularly strong leanings and/or sentiments toward IRA-related stuff. i mean, nowhere else in the world are terrorists so beloved as the IRA is in america. i can’t understand it! i guarantee, you walk into any irish pub across america on a given saturday night and you are bound to hear a trad band singing rounds of come out ye black and tans or some other rebel song. here is where i want to remind everyone that, just because you call it a “rebel song” doesn’t make it any less terrorist-y.

here is where i must admit to you, dear readers, that i’ve lost the plot. i don’t know what the point of this blog is, except to educate you all on the term plastic paddy and encourage you matter how irish you feel and how much you love ireland…

don’t be that guy!

7 responses to “plastic paddies”

  1. Good post! What makes me laugh too are the random Irish names attached to dishes in some places here. For example, the British pub’s ‘Dublin Steak’, which turns out to be a Philly Steak, of which I have never seen even one in Dublin ever. Similarly, the Two Fools Tavern’s Kerryman Chopped Salad. Never mind what’s in it – there’s no such thing as a salad from Kerry haha!


  2. Reminds me of “That’s right, you’re not from Texas”, written by Walter Hyatt and sung by Lyle Lovett.


  3. @dad so true! except, irish people definitely don’t want plastic paddies anyway. hehe.


  4. Cool article. I’d never heard of the term “plastic paddie”. I’m a redhead and could maybe pass for Irish if I kept my mouth shut but I would be 100% plastic.

    See I was born and raised in Texas
    And it means so much to me
    Though I spent a few years in between
    Way up in Jackson, Tennessee!


  5. You’re my favorite Texas Paddy, Pete!


  6. Sorry but you did make an error; there are bagpipes in Ireland. They are also found in Wales, France, Germany, as well as parts of the northern African continent and areas of the Middle East.


    1. Traditional Irish pipes are known as uileann pipes, they are a form of bagpipes but are quite distinct from Scottish bagpipes as they are played with the elbow. While Scottish or Highland pipes were sometimes used in battle in Ireland in the 1600s, their use died out as long ago as the 18th Century. Moreover these men are wearing kilts, which were invented in Scotland, are Scottish national dress and have never been anything other than Scottish.


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