Definition: An Irish person who looks to the UK for cultural guidance. A pejorative term.
Origin: 19th Century Ireland. In 1801, the kingdom of Ireland was added to the United Kingdom. The union lasted until Irish independence in the 20th century. The flag of the new United Kingdom was known as the Union Jack. The Irish suffix ‘ín’ (pronounced ‘een‘) is a diminutive. Thus, a Jackeen was someone who was Irish but who others saw as taking their cultural lead from England – a ‘Little Jack’ as it were.
Why this word?
I am a native Dubliner. To this day, there is a friendly cultural separation between Dublin and the rest of Ireland. We Dubs are called Jackeens by people from the countryside and we, in return, call them culchies (pronounced ‘cul-shee’).
Ireland is divided into two very distinct cultural zones – Dublin, representing the urban, and the countryside, representing the small-town and the rural. Neither side wear their Jackeen or Culchie term with pride – but it is tolerated as part of a playful cultural battle between the two areas.
Culturally speaking, if you want to playfully point to someone’s Dublin heritage, you can call them a Jackeen. If, however, you want to direct an insult at them by suggesting that they look to the UK for a cultural lead, the more pejorative ‘West Brit’ is used.
How to use this word in a sentence?
This word is for use by Irish people only! It is not polite to ask someone if they are a Jackeen or a Culchie – but you will hear it thrown around in jest when a Jackeen and a Culchie meet for a few drinks.