Home / Features / British 1950s description of the ‘three types’ of Irishmen is not exactly flattering

British 1950s description of the ‘three types’ of Irishmen is not exactly flattering

The descriptions of the ‘characteristic examples of three types’ of Irishmen found in a 1950s British children’s encyclopaedia has been published online and they have people talking.

Reddit user u/mapryan posted the comment: “I made the mistake of looking up Ireland in a British children’s Encyclopedia from the 1950’s.”

British 1950s description of the ‘three types’ of Irishmen is not exactly flattering

Along with the post was a photo of the mentioned encyclopaedia page. The description read:

THREE DISTINCT TYPES FOUND AMONG IRISH PEOPLE
Who those very early Irishmen were is not quite clear. We can still find characteristic examples of at least three types.

There is a very primitive type still to be met with in the west. It is the one which was formerly used in Irish caricatures by unfriendly observers. The forehead is low, the mouth and lower part of the face are large, there us an inclination to a squat figure, and the general effect is that of a survivor from an early period in human history.

Then there is the tall, often blue-eyed, engaging Irishman of easy address and good-humoured air, who would wile a bird from brough by his fluent tongue, ready for adventure anywhere.

And there is the businessman, chiefly from the north, who carries in his speech and form and features signs of being of a stiffer and less pliant breed, as from Norse, Scottish, or English forefathers.

Not exactly flattering right? Unsurprisingly, the post attracted plenty of comments online. Most were good-natured and fun with people suggesting that some of their friends and family would fit into one of the categories.

Thankfully relations between Britain and Ireland have significantly improved over the past 70 years.

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