Green’s Dictionary of Slang

curate n.

[all senses play on the junior, and thus inferior, position of a curate in the local church hierarchy]

1. a small poker, with an iron tip; such a poker is actually used, as opposed to the elaborate brass fire-irons, displayed only for show.

[UK]Belfast News-Letter 11 Apr. 6/5: A familiar example [i.e. of humour] is the name of ‘curate,’ as applied to the small assistant poker with a steel point which, in many drawing rooms, is kept for use, as distinguished from the elaborate brazen weapon which is for show only.
[UK]E. Pugh Spoilers 98: She takes the ‘curate’ poker – a black, twisted thing – from its hiding place behind the coal-box.

2. a handkerchief that is actually used, rather than one that is worn for fashionable display.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

3. the top half of a sliced teacake, which receives less butter.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

4. (Anglo-Irish) a grocer’s assistant.

C.W. Joyce Eng. as It Is Spoken in Ireland.

5. (Irish) an assistant barman.

[Ire]Joyce ‘Grace’ Dubliners (1956) 148: These two gentlemen and one of the curates carried him up the stairs and laid him down again on the floor of the bar.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 56: Coming up redheaded curates from the country Leitrim, rinsing empties and old man in the cellar.
[Ire]S. Beckett Murphy 42: He did not speak to the curates, he did not drink the endless half-pints of porter that he had to buy.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Best of Myles (1968) 101: The curate behind the bar has opened his face into so enormous a yawn that the tears can be heard dripping into the pint he is pulling.