In an age were it is common place to call newborn children after the latest pop stars or minor celebrities it makes me wonder will thos kids ever develop a nickname or an alternative moniker.  The Wazza’s and Dazza’s have all but faded into obscurity to be replaced by Britney’s and Paris’s–the Keanu’s and the Jay-Ze’s. 
But where have all the nicknames gone?  In days of old many people were better known by the nickname bestowed upon them than the one given at birth.  Where are all the Soup’s and Spud’s of yesteryear?  Twenty-odd years ago a TV programme and accompanying book was produced relating the many glorious nicknames that were preculiar to Harland and Wolff Shipyard.  Steel Chest, Nail in the Boot and The Barking Dog.  to say that some of the names were inventive is a gross understatement..they are, in many cases the work of genius.  And by far the best –or most appropriate nickname I ever heard came from The Yard–Pop-Up.  If ever a name described the character this is it!!
Having sailed through Long Kesh Camp for the better part of both the 70′s and 80′s it will suffice to say that I heard quite a few nicknames over the years.  I will reproduce many of them here in the hope that it jogs others memories who can provide the ones that I have either overlooked or forgotten.  It will, I’m sure bring a few smile to a few faces around the province and beyond.  With each name listed there is of course a story–but–as they say–that’s for another day.  Feel free to comment and add your own favourites.
The most common nicknames tended to be derived from surnames and over the years I came across a host of Jonesy’s and Stewarty’s–Smudgers and Smickers.  There were Blackie’s, Whitey’s, Greeners and the odd Red.  And then you had Janty’s, Beller’s Dinger’s and Dougie’s.  Quite a few Winky’s on my travels as well.  The list goes on.  And it will be obvious with many what the name relates to.  Some are too obscure to even hazard a guess. Keyhole Kate–Barney Rubble–Dogs Dinner–The Frog–Seven Stone–The Gannet–The Rooster–War Dog–Chinaman–The Buck–Humphrey Littleone–Nipper Lawerence–Boko–The Hat–Bamber, in reference to a sadly departed MLA!!.
Dumpkoff–Binge–Verbal Abuse–Snatters–Blinky Palermo–Fat Head–Skel’s a Singer–Big Eyes/No Thumbs–Hoker–The Galloper–The Wobbling Brush–Tut-Tut–The Grout–Burgermaster–again very appropriate if you know the person–Alarm Clock Harry–The Sherriff of Nottingham–The Bubble–Scaramouche–Hacksaw–The Muppet–Henry the Hippo–Karl Heinz Rummager–it’s a long story!!–Brick–The Scout–A couple of Niggers–Cleo–Jazz–Facecloth Willie–The Ghost–Jolly Jack–Wingnut–Two by Two–McSlob.
Hopefully this has given a few smiles and jerked a few memories for the auld hands out there to add to.  There are many more so get writing!!

Billy Joe



  1. Not to forget. Rubber-Gubb, Bloop, Lenvesty, Little Lenvesty, The Screaming Scullywag, Corporal Clott, The Clummsy Drug, Bear Healy, Bear Withers, Co Co, Smokey, Tommy Onion, The Professor, Mick-Keag-You, Snowy, Aikey, Kirker, Bingy, The Wee Sugar Monster, Gatesy, Fergie.
    Sad to say, twelve of the above mentioned twenty one, Old Comrades of the seventies are no longer with us.

  2. Then of course there was , the Aul Fella, Big O, Soames, Francie, T-Bone, the Turk, Wee Rollie, the Peeler, Rosie, big Farley, Jimbo, Flint, Plum, Wee Minnie, Spider, Basher, Wee Noakie, Strutters, Strainer, Hutchie, Wee Hutchie, Big Perrance, Big Artie, Squeak, Sefftie, Big Tiny, Big Jock, Wee Stevie and the Jackal.
    Yet again far too many of them ( 13 ), gone long before their time.

  3. Hi Billy Joe,

    Excellent wee piece – as usual. Just to throw in a couple I think deserve a mention. Sounds strange but Davy Ervine got Cooperman for some reason. Then there was Mitch. And Shaky. Named after nearly passing out while on parade in the Crum? Then there was Scratcher although I never did see him scratch much. Good footballer but. I notice you left out Psycho which was liberally applied around the place. Of course that moniker belonged to Tonky. Lol. And how could you forget the Mad Major? And side kick Dinky.
    What about the aptly named Gannet. Could eat anything going. Then there was X-ray. So named after his abortive escape attempt. And remember Tea Bag who I mistakenly called tea leaf one day. That didn’t go down too well!! Ginker and Slick. What about Super Cat? I doubt if anyone outside of C.21 will work that out! Wee Nasty who lived down to this name. Then there was Dark Cloud. And Snowy of course along with the Mup. You are right – what a collection of names.
    There was Buff- no idea how that came about. Nigger was a bit easier to understand how he got his nickname. And then was Hissing Sid. There was Buster, who is still going strong. And don’t forget TPO. (RIP) I have seen Wee Legs a couple of times and he is doing well. Does anybody see Huggie Bear now? And from Larne we had Max Wall. What a bunch. Poker and Snorkel from Portadown. And there are many more. Certainly added colour to a grey and grim time.

    G Igitur

  4. I see Huggy Bear regularly walking his wee dog on the Westy. I think Cooperman was a variation of Blunderman which he obtained on the football pitch. You are missing a few— does anybody remember the Limbo Dancer? What about Pinky or Hec, Plastic Cheeks and Machine Gun. The Detonator Kid didn’t make the compounds. Dark Cloud mutated into BBC– Big Black Cloud, and of course Snapper and Springs. I don’t like putting this one in but he hated the name, Wire Neck.

  5. We are missing shugo, Rinty, Big mum, Lenny the Lion head,if you check out the photos he appear obvious the Horse, Shorty, Dolly, Deco and Brick. I start a block one off for you. Do you know who the ant eater is? or who the leader of the sad bast???s club was?