Irish origin of some Australianisms

Castle Hill Rising

The Irish convicts in the early days of the settlement at Botany Bay were treated with as much scorn and derision as they would have been in London.  Both the non-Irish convicts and the administration regarded them as living at the lowest level of the social hierarchy.

We see this attitude conveyed in many Britishisms which make a joke of the Irish, as bog-Irish (ignorant and unsophisticated), get one’s Irish up (to get angry), the luck of the Irish (sometimes good and sometimes, ironically, bad) along with humorous names for the potato such as Irish appleIrish apricot and Irish grape. When you say that an argument is ‘Irish’, you mean it is illogical and inherently contradictory. This was the British view of the Irish.

So when, as happens from time to time (see The Conversation (, claims are made that some key items of Australian English have come to us from the Irish, you have to feel that this is unlikely.  Some of the words for which an Irish origin is mooted are larrikinchook, to shout as in 'to buy a round of drinks', and, most surprisingly, didjeridu.

I will delve into the origins of each of these words in the blogs below:

See larrikin

See chook

See shout

See didjeridu

See brumby

Sue ButlerComment