Dunbrody Famine Ship

The ‘It’s Paddy’s not Patty’s’ argument

Dublin Airport has brought the It’s Paddy’s not Patty’s annual argument which divides Americans and Irish every March, to international attention with an official tongue in cheek notice shared out on its Facebook page. Here’s what it’s all about

The message has been officially sent out. It’s Paddy’s Day not St Patty’s Day. And it’s official because it came from Dublin Airport’s official Facebook page.

A few years ago I ran a blog post about the Paddy/Patty issue that arises every St Patrick’s Day.

The Twitter spats about Paddy vs Patty retweeted in the run up to St Patrick’s day by @paddynotpatty are entertaining. Mostly because the other side – the Americans are insistent that calling St Patrick’s Day ‘Paddy’s Day’ is wrong. Dear America, this is why it is wrong:

Where’s the logic in Paddy’s Day?

In fairness, there is more logic in nicknaming the day to a word with t in it (Patty/Pat) rather than d (Paddy). Many Americans call St Patrick’s Day ‘St Patty’s’ – after all there is no letter d in Patrick.

As explained on a website dedicated to this – paddynotpatty.com – Paddy derives from the Irish for Patrick which is Pádraig (pronounced paw-drig not pa-drig). Why then don’t we call it St Paudie’s Day then? Paudie is an abbreviation of Pádraig.

The thing is, in Ireland many men called Patrick are known as Paddy. In other countries ‘Paddy’ is a slang word for an Irish person.

Dunbrody Famine Ship

Something suitably green for St Patrick's Day: Replica of a famine ship which carried many Irish emigrants to America in the 19th Century.

Is Patty not a woman’s name?

Are American Patricks known as Patty? To this writer Patty is an American abbreviation of the name Patricia. The best known example is Patty Bouvier – Marge Simpson’s sister. In Ireland many Patricias are known as Trish or Tricia (sometimes Trisha). In the UK Pat was the first name of Eastenders character Pat Butcher (short we presume for Patricia).


Does this misuse of words make you turn green?

Perhaps why we’re so incensed about the use of Patty is that it rhymes with Paddy and also Pat and not Patty is the most common abbreviation of Patrick in Ireland. Patty is a word alien to Ireland, to be honest.

What do you think?