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Old 05-10-2009, 03:31 PM   #1
pudding
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Default WHAT DOES THE EXPRESSION "IRISH TWINS" mean?

I was on the elevator at the hospital and a woman got on carrying a cute little boy. Another rider said he was darling and asked how old he was. The grandma (carrying the child) said, he is 14 months and has a new baby brother. Still a third rider said, "OH, Irish twins".

I have never heard that expression before.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
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The term “Irish twins” is used to describe two children born to the same mother within 12 months of each other or born in the same calendar year. Given that it is a somewhat derogatory term, it is generally not used in print or in polite society. As is the case with many terms with derogatory origins, some people use it without thinking about the implications of the deeper meaning. Learning about the roots of these terms and the meaning behind them can help people to decide whether or not they are appropriate for common use.
The roots of the idea behind the term are actually quite old, although no one knows when, exactly, people first began to talk about Irish twins. In both England and the United States, a massive influx of Irish immigration in the 1800s led to a negative connotation with Irish people and society. This often happens when a large immigrant group begins to settle in mass numbers in a new country. The Irish were accused of being backwards and uncultured, and it was assumed that they were uneducated, dirty, and a general pox on society. As a result, the use of the word “Irish” began to be pejorative.
A number of derogatory terms incorporating stereotypes about the Irish began to emerge, including “Irish confetti” for thrown bricks and “Irish kiss” for a slap. Irish twins fits into this vernacular, and is actually insulting on multiple levels.
Firstly, the term pokes fun at the stereotypical fertility of Irish Catholic families, which traditionally do not use birth control. In addition, it implies that the Irish lack the ability to plan ahead or control themselves, having children in quick succession rather than responsibly spacing them. Finally, it suggests that the Irish do not understand the medical definition of twins, which involves two children conceived and born together.
A variation on the term is “Irish triplets,” which means three children born within three years. Parents who have Irish twins or triplets often struggle with a variety of issues, since having two or three very young children to manage can be very stressful. As the children grow up, the parents may encounter other difficulties as well, such as the simultaneous payment of astronomical college tuition fees. However, Irish twins often end up being very close and affectionate with each other, since the space between them is so small, and it intensifies the sibling bond.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:36 PM   #3
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My Fathers grandparents, both sides, came directly from Ireland. His Father married an Irish girl, also both sides from Ireland. My grandmother had eleven children, including two sets of twins, but each delivery was three years apart. I had heard of the Irish Twins comment though it didn't pertain to her.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:37 PM   #4
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Its a somewhat politically-incorrect reference to the Irish and following their Catholic religion - no birth control. It means 2 children very close together - typically less than 12 months between them.

DB2 has Irish Twins. His kids were born 3 weeks short of 1 year apart.
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:39 PM   #5
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My two sisters are only 10.5 months apart in age.

Does it count if we're irish protestants?
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:43 PM   #6
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Yep, *Ann* - your sisters are Irish twins.

My "Irish Twin" niece and nephew are 1/8 Irish, 1/16 Norwegian, 1/4 Hispanic, and the rest we really aren't sure.
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:11 PM   #7
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DH and DSIL#1 are "Irish twins" - only one year and four days apart.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaSeYmOm View Post
The term “Irish twins” is used to describe two children born to the same mother within 12 months of each other or born in the same calendar year. Given that it is a somewhat derogatory term, it is generally not used in print or in polite society. As is the case with many terms with derogatory origins, some people use it without thinking about the implications of the deeper meaning. Learning about the roots of these terms and the meaning behind them can help people to decide whether or not they are appropriate for common use.
The roots of the idea behind the term are actually quite old, although no one knows when, exactly, people first began to talk about Irish twins. In both England and the United States, a massive influx of Irish immigration in the 1800s led to a negative connotation with Irish people and society. This often happens when a large immigrant group begins to settle in mass numbers in a new country. The Irish were accused of being backwards and uncultured, and it was assumed that they were uneducated, dirty, and a general pox on society. As a result, the use of the word “Irish” began to be pejorative.
A number of derogatory terms incorporating stereotypes about the Irish began to emerge, including “Irish confetti” for thrown bricks and “Irish kiss” for a slap. Irish twins fits into this vernacular, and is actually insulting on multiple levels.
Firstly, the term pokes fun at the stereotypical fertility of Irish Catholic families, which traditionally do not use birth control. In addition, it implies that the Irish lack the ability to plan ahead or control themselves, having children in quick succession rather than responsibly spacing them. Finally, it suggests that the Irish do not understand the medical definition of twins, which involves two children conceived and born together.
A variation on the term is “Irish triplets,” which means three children born within three years.
Hmmm, I wonder what I would be called, I had 3 kids in the same year, 1969. Parents who have Irish twins or triplets often struggle with a variety of issues, since having two or three very young children to manage can be very stressful. As the children grow up, the parents may encounter other difficulties as well, such as the simultaneous payment of astronomical college tuition fees. However, Irish twins often end up being very close and affectionate with each other, since the space between them is so small, and it intensifies the sibling bond.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:17 PM   #9
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I have never heard the term either, but I'm glad to know what it means now so I don't use it.

There are lots of derogatory terms used about Southern folks too, so I understand how demeaning that would feel.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:33 PM   #10
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I've heard it in reference to Britney Spears. I'm surprised someone said it to a total stranger like that.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:41 PM   #11
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My daughters are Irish twins....even though we're Catholic (and have Irish ancestry) I never knew it was considered derogatory.....wow. THEY refer to themselves as Irish twins, lol.....actually when they were toddlers, everyone thought they WERE twins because they looked so much alike.

Oh well, guess someone can make an issue out of anything if they try hard enough. And ignorance is bliss, at least in my case, lmao!
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:46 PM   #12
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I was thinking the same thing Gaelacha ...what is offensive about having children close together ? I've heard the term frequently over the years and never gave it a second thought that it would be considered uncouth. We are catholic and I grew up around alot of catholics ...maybe it was just so normal it was not a big deal to us ??

Bella ....three children in 1969 ....a set of twins and a single ???


ETA ...my grandmother had 4 children under the age of 2 .. two single births and a set of twins (plus 2 other children under 5 and a baby boy that was stillborn)...gee....if large families hadn't been so common in the 40's she could have been on one of those reality TV shows

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Old 05-10-2009, 09:54 PM   #13
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My brother and I are 14 months apart; just missed being Irish twins, I guess.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:05 PM   #14
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I've always considered the phrase "Irish Twins" to be harmless. Its politically-incorrect and maybe a little insulting, but its not nearly as bad as some other terms. I'm 1/4 Irish, but its Orange (northern, protestant) Irish.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:55 PM   #15
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I was thinking the same thing Gaelacha ...what is offensive about having children close together ? I've heard the term frequently over the years and never gave it a second thought that it would be considered uncouth. We are catholic and I grew up around alot of catholics ...maybe it was just so normal it was not a big deal to us ??

Bella ....three children in 1969 ....a set of twins and a single ??? LOL, yes ma'm, my daughter was 10 months old when the twins were born......I was 19 years old....yikes! X hubby didn't trust birth control pills to be safe, and since I was kinda innocent back then, I listened. I'm glad about that today.....it was quite a roller coaster ride along the way though, LOL! My last two were born in '71 and 74'.


ETA ...my grandmother had 4 children under the age of 2 .. two single births and a set of twins (plus 2 other children under 5 and a baby boy that was stillborn)...gee....if large families hadn't been so common in the 40's she could have been on one of those reality TV shows

Last edited by BellaMia; 05-11-2009 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:00 AM   #16
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I guess the Duggars have an Irish village.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:01 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KimIndy View Post
I was thinking the same thing Gaelacha ...what is offensive about having children close together ? I've heard the term frequently over the years and never gave it a second thought that it would be considered uncouth. We are catholic and I grew up around alot of catholics ...maybe it was just so normal it was not a big deal to us ??

Bella ....three children in 1969 ....a set of twins and a single ???


ETA ...my grandmother had 4 children under the age of 2 .. two single births and a set of twins (plus 2 other children under 5 and a baby boy that was stillborn)...gee....if large families hadn't been so common in the 40's she could have been on one of those reality TV shows
The way I've always understood it is that the inference is that you are uneducated and/or trashy if you have children close together. The assumption is that if you were smart you would space your children further apart/not get pregnant so quickly after giving birth to a child. I suppose it has something to do with that statistic that "educated" people have fewer children than "uneducated" people.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:42 AM   #18
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It's common among Catholics, and they have long been proponents of nursing, a natural form of BC, but if you are on the fertile mertle end of the spectrum... Around here it really never seemed a slur so much. It was an "oy! will she have troubles! two in diapers, etc." #3 & #4 are 18 months apart. I considered them almost Irish twins. (and, I am mostly Irish..)
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:34 AM   #19
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It just dawned on me. My first 2 pretty well fit the description. DD1 was born Nov 22, '68 and DS was born Dec 16, '69. 12 months 3 weeks apart.

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Old 05-11-2009, 04:27 AM   #20
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I have 2 first cousins (they are brother and sister) and they are exactly to the day a year apart in age. I've never heard them referred to as Irish Twins. Maybe because none of us are Catholic.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:43 AM   #21
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I come from Irish Catholic ancestry- I think it is pretty funny actually- I don't think it is insulting- but I also have a few good Polish jokes I could tell you
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