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CULCHIE PRIDE Scrabble's ban on the use of the word 'culchie'? Focal that!

The controversial 'slur' may be worth 14 points in the popular board game, but for those of who'll never truly belong to the 'Dub club', it's worth so much more


CULCHIE-RAL ICON: Singer Richie Kavanagh

CULCHIE-RAL ICON: Singer Richie Kavanagh

CULCHIE-RAL ICON: Singer Richie Kavanagh

Turf-muncher, sheep shagger, bog hopper, muck savage – of all the insults you can throw at a country person, you’d have to say that ‘culchie’ is pretty low down the list.

But that hasn’t stopped it from making it onto a new list of banned words in Scrabble.

The seven-letter ‘slur’ for pretty much anyone from beyond Blanchardstown is among 400 words set to be axed (12 points to me) as the board game bids to get with the times.

Homophobic slight ‘f**’ – which, let’s face it, rarely means a stick of Silk Cut Blue anymore – is also expected to be among the words vetoed by board game company Mattel.

While ‘ze’ - which any zoomer will tell you is a gender-neutral pronoun used instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ – is due to be added to the Scrabble dictionary.

Speaking to Liveline last week, Ed Miliano – who runs a Scrabble club in Dublin – told that while he broadly agrees with modernising the 88-year-old game, banning ‘culchie’ is “mistaken”.

“Culchie is supposed to be one of the banned words,” he explained of the changes. “That was announced and I think it was mistaken. I don’t know if it’s used elsewhere but a lot of people don’t think it’s derogatory.”

As a proud bogger, I’m going to go one step further, and say it’s a focal joke.

According to Oxford Languages, a ‘culchie’ is defined simply as “an unsophisticated country person”.

Appropriately, its origins are about as clear as manure, with theories ranging from ‘coillte’, the Irish word for woods, to ‘agricultural’, which may have been shortened to describe farming students.

Either way, it’s traditionally been used by Jackeens to affectionately slag off those from ‘the sticks’ – also known as the 31 counties that are not Dublin.

In more recent years, however, it’s also been reclaimed as a badge of heritage, particularly by those of us living and working in the Big Smoke.

After almost two decades of assimilation, I swing more towards ‘Una Healy’ than ‘Richie Kavanagh’ on the culchie-o-meter (I hope).

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But no amount of Brown Thomas handbags or Dylan Bradshaw hairdos can truly disguise your roots.

And that’s the thing that some Dubliners will never understand – we’re not trying to.

The word ‘culchie’ may be worth 14 points in a game of Scrabble. For those of us who’ll never truly belong to the ‘Dub club’, however, it’s worth so much more.

Despite the slagging I routinely get from my blue-blooded friends and colleagues, secretly, I think they’re a little jealous of our rural ways.

How else to explain all the culchie-ral appropriation going on?

Townies will happily plonk their kids in front of Tractor Ted for hours on end, splash out on Tayto sandwich carts for their wedding and even don this season’s denim dungarees and check shackets.

If we tolerate Mattel taking the word ‘culchie’ from us, what’s next?

Culchie Shopping Day, the Irish Farmer Calendar or Nathan Carter?

As the list of banned words has yet to be published, it may not be too late. I’m thinking a celebrity campaign with a catchy slogan led by the Wagon Wheel singer.

‘We’re here, we’re Deere, and we’re not going anywhere!’

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