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What’s The Craic? Not What You Might Think

Good craic – good fun. If someone says “the craic’s good“, they usually mean there is a great party atmosphere


Kayte: St Patrick’s Day – March 17th, an official Christian festival and the commemoration of the death of the Patron Saint of Ireland. It’s a day of celebrations, of parades, of dancing and wearing green, and of partying in all Irish pubs all over the world, (but it’s an even greater day for the Guinness Brewery, because everyone drinks lots and lots of it).  On St Patrick’s Day, the craic, as we say, is good. Ask any native speaker in the UK the meaning of the word “craic” and they will tell you it’s Irish. And the word has huge cultural currency in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, where it is used to mean fun, enjoyment; and where the term “What’s the craic?” is a popular greeting, meaning “How’s it going?” It’s super popular, indeded. Watch Obama winning over an entire hall of Belfast students, just by using the phrase.

The non-Irish use it too; plenty of people on the mainland will happily say “It was good craic” to mean they had a good time. You see it written on the walls of Irish bars and pubs; we all know it, and we all use it, and we all say it’s Irish.

But hold on, now. Even a little bit of research into this “very Irish expression” will tell you…that it’s not Irish at all. The accusations of falsehood that follow this word: this “pseudo-Gaelic”, this “linguistic lie”, this “bogus neologism”! (Belfast Telegraph, February 18th 2016) The word is actually crack and is found both in Scots Gaelic, and in English (mostly spoken in Northern England), and has been used in Northern Ireland for hundreds of years…but as crack and not craic. So it seems that Irish (which is now accepted as being an entirely separate language to Gaelic, and is completely different from English) borrowed the word from the mainland, around the 1970s, changed the spelling…and then the mainland borrowed it back.

So why on earth do we all think it’s Irish, and why do we spell it in that way? Well, Irish (which only has 18 letters in its alphabet) has no k, and so they could only adopt it into the language by changing the spelling. And the fact that it is on the walls of Irish pubs all over the world might just be why we all now copy the Irish version.

Do we use it? Well yes. “It was good craic” means “I had a great time”.  And do we want to upset our Irish friends by telling them that this word isn’t actually Irish? Probably not.

Not on St Patrick’s Day.

It is also important to note that the term ‘crack’ has several other uses, all very different. And definitely not to be confused. 

A crack in a break in a surface, a crack in the wall, for example. It can also be used to refer to the very top of someone’s bottom, where it might peek over the top of their trousers. Builders, for example, alsways seem to be showing their crack. 

It is also widely-used slang for a type of highly addictive cocaine. 


Nicer Kate:

In the spirit (see what I did there) of good Anglo-Irish relations, I thought it best to make some really boozy cupcakes. It is St Patrick’s Day, after all. They contain Irish Whiskey, Baileys Irish Cream and Guinness. May be best not to drive after one of these.

I call them my ‘Craic’ Cupcakes. Not least because they are nearly as addictive as their other name-sake.




For the Cupcakes:

  • 120ml Guinness
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50g  cocoa powder
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large eggs
  • 115ml sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling

  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 125g double cream
  • 15g butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp Irish whiskey

For the Bailey’s Buttercream

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 5 tbs Bailey’s Irish Cream


To Make the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake cases
  2. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl to combine.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined.
  5. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined.
  6. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.
  7. To make the Whiskey ganache: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Pour over the cream and put it in the microwave for 1 minute on medium. Stir thoroughly. Put back into the microwave and repeat until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.
  8. Using an apple corer cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
  9. To Make the Baileys buttercream: Using an electric whisk, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until soft. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the halfthe icing sugar and beat until all of it is incorporated. Add the other half of the sugar and beat again. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
  10. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if you so fancy. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

(c) Kayte & Nicer Kate 2017. Authors assert moral rights.


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Nicer Kate
    March 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    These are my favourite cupcakes in the world!

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