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Is saying ‘having a paddy’ racist?

(211 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

PanickyBrum1 Mon 09-Jul-18 18:11:52

I’m a new parent who posted for the first time on mumsnet recently after having a very tired and at times unreasonable panic about things. Some of the things I wrote were not fair and I rightly got picked up on them and some things that the community attacked me about I would stand by. But one thing I’m genuinely not sure whether I should feel bad for was being condemned for using the phrase ‘having a paddy’.

To give context I was describing my own behaviour and although I’m half Irish by blood, the whole Irish thing hadn’t even occurred to me.

MsMamaNature Mon 09-Jul-18 18:18:44

I wouldn't take offence - I'm from NI. However, if you called me a thick paddy that would be a whole other issue! Seriously, don't stress about it. Some people like to complain and find fault with everything just for the sake of it.

DramaAlpaca Mon 09-Jul-18 18:21:30

I've only ever heard the phrase used in England, where I'm from. Never in Ireland, where I live. It's a phrase I would never use.

Phosphorus Mon 09-Jul-18 18:28:46

It's not a phrase I would use, and it isn't in common use in Ireland (I spend a lot of time).

That tells you a lot I think.

It panders to the 'thick, volatile Irish' stereotype. hmm

It's a very English construction.

duckfuckduck Mon 09-Jul-18 18:29:58

I find the phrase offensive. I'm Irish born but live in England now.

ems137 Mon 09-Jul-18 18:34:39

My dads family is all Irish and I've heard them all use the phrase before. I use it pretty regularly at the moment too with 2 toddlers confused

PramCush Mon 09-Jul-18 18:35:45

Yes, it's racist and offensive. I'm Irish.

AsAProfessionalFekko Mon 09-Jul-18 18:36:36

I worked for an Irish organisation on the UK and it was a common enough expression (by the expats). Because it means having a silly tantrum rather than being thick /drunk /angry maybe that's why it wasn't queried. I don't even know if it actually has any Irish links anyway. I heard it could refer to Paddy fields in some way.

Neither was 'beyond the pale' which mumsnet has taught me is unacceptable (but my current Irish colleagues hadn't heard of it being offensive).

duckfuckduck Mon 09-Jul-18 18:36:51

It's based on a lazy stereotype of the drunken Irish paddy who gets into fights.

Why not say "having a tantrum" instead?

Aghaidh Mon 09-Jul-18 18:36:57

I’m Irish, and I hate it. Feels like cheap stereotyping to me

Undercoverbanana Mon 09-Jul-18 18:40:58

It never occurred to me that this had anything to do with being Irish.

I thought it was from paddling. Someone stamping their feet and flapping their arms - like paddling in the sea.

My DD’s boyfriend is Irish. Shit. I hope I’ve never said it in front of him.

Lindah1 Mon 09-Jul-18 18:41:16

I'm Irish living in England and like has been said before I've never heard it until I moved here, or in Scotland where I lived for a couple of years.
I genuinely don't think English people realise that it's not a nice thing to say, some of the nicest people have said it to me in conversation. I'm sure they are not aware of what I would assume to be the origins of the phrase ( hot headed etc.). I think it makes me sad in a way that it has developed into an everyday phrase. Then again I'm too chicken to pull people up on it there and then as I think they would be mortified, and so it continues. I tend to drop it into conversations about phrases i hate at another time.
So yes I do find it racist, makes me cringe when I hear it, but I know people don't mean it in a nasty way it's just become part of language which I guess is our own fault for not stamping it out.confused

SamPotatoes Mon 09-Jul-18 18:45:08

My Irish grandmother (from Cork) used it all the time when I was growing up usually about me-

ADastardlyThing Mon 09-Jul-18 18:45:13

I'm half Irish and don't consider it offensive. As a pp said throw in thick and yea I'd probably be offended.

petrolpump28 Mon 09-Jul-18 18:46:30

I'm possibly Irish. People want to be offended. How does this offence play out?

DrMantisToboggan Mon 09-Jul-18 18:50:01

The OED makes it clear that it is derived from the derogatory term for an Irish person. Nothing to do with paddyfields.

pennycarbonara Mon 09-Jul-18 18:57:20

Never heard that it was related before - interesting. I heard it used frequently by people in Northern England with Irish Catholic backgrounds. (Similar to what AsAProfessional was saying about Irish expats?)

I've never used it simply because I always heard it used in a belittling way that implied that nobody should mind whatever it was in the first place. I would prefer to say kicking off because rightly or wrongly I feel that separates the magnitude of the behaviour from the trigger more, for whatever reason.

AnElderlyLadyOfMediumHeight Mon 09-Jul-18 19:00:38

What duckfuckduck said.

It's not just the stereotype that's problematic, it's the source - a British person saying it is echoing and reprising a long history of stereotyping, denigration and victim-blaming.

PanickyBrum1 Mon 09-Jul-18 19:04:40

All interesting answers and still can’t make my mind up....

Can’t help but giggle that the most offended person has the username duckfuckduck

I’d probably avoid saying it as it’s not a bother to say ‘having a tantrum’ instead but where do you draw the line....

Chocolatecoffeeaddict Mon 09-Jul-18 19:05:47

No because Irish isn't a race.

Notevilstepmother Mon 09-Jul-18 19:07:37

I honestly had no idea that was the origin, I just thought it was a dialect or slang word for tantrum. Apologies to anyone offended, I never knew.

duckfuckduck Mon 09-Jul-18 19:08:02

How are you getting that I'm the most offended person?


I answered your question.

When there's a phrase that has racist connotations and might offend people, or another phrase for the same thing that doesn't have those connotations, which one should you use ....

One makes you look like a bit of a tit (once you know what it means) and one doesn't.

As to the word fuck in my username. It refers to the phrase in totality.
It comes from a friend who used to say it in a particular scenario and it makes me smile.

ProfessorMoody Mon 09-Jul-18 19:15:39

I didn't have a clue it was related to the Irish. I'm Welsh and it's very similar to what we say, having a poody /pwdi so I just assumed it was the same.

My father is Irish and he says it, so he obviously isn't offended.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Mon 09-Jul-18 19:19:59

I’m Irish. I choose not to take offence where no offence is meant. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try to inform you, politely, of things that might not be particularly nice things to say. Racist? No.

jaimebravo Mon 09-Jul-18 19:21:53

I saw your original thread and was fairly surprised that people took offense to it and wouldn't let it drop even after your apology. It was obvious that you never intended to cause anyone any offense.
I am Irish, I personally don't find it bad, there are a lot worse i have heard used out there!

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