A common phrase
used in and around Northern Ireland
, especially Belfast
. Refers primarily to men, acquaintances to whom you have a passing familiarity, who you would nod to but not really speak at length to and never invite anywhere. It's also used to greet someone you haven't met in a while in a friendly way when you aren't sure of mutual status relationships but feel that you both fall into the same basic group.
"how about ye Big Lad?"
"How are you old friend?"
It can also just mean "Big Lad", ie a big male person who is fairly young.