There was a great response to last week’s column which dealt with the mysteries of the Irish approach to signposting and looked at the Dunmore Road area as a case in point. We said that the-powers-that-be just don’t see the point. The attitude seems to be, shure aren’t there more serious things to be worrying about?
A number of people whose living depends on delivering product to customers’ homes contacted me to say that they identified with every word but would be less polite or diplomatic in their choice of language. It is not that the relevant authorities can’t signpost when they want to – no trouble is spared when it comes to telling you all about ramps, even well before you even need to know! Take for example the approach to Earlscourt from the town end, there are two signs within a short distance of each other that ramps will be encountered if you turn right into the estate but no official advance sign telling you this is Earlscourt. Once inside the entrance you are clearly reminded of being ramped but nowhere is there any serious attempt at signposting and a clear and coherent numbering system.
The Naming Game
Incidentally one could not but smile (can one smile sadly?) at some of the road names, especially in the upper half of the estate here. For a moment or two one could be forgiven for thinking that one was right in the heart of ‘little England’ with such names as Shelby, Auburn, Darby, Creston, Medford, Sealy, Wayburn. But then again the lack of signposts quickly reminded one that we were firmly in the heartlands of dear old Ireland. All sweet names, no doubt, and no reflection on the good folk who live there and who indeed had no say in their choosing, indeed they may well be fond of their Shelbies and Sealies.
People may have no opinion at all or may not live long enough in a place to care much, satisfied with having a nice house in a nice area. Did you know, by the way, that Waterford County Council now has a service to assist people in choosing Irish place names and advising on names that could be said to be indigenous to an area which reflects aspects of the area’s topography or history. While Earlscourt seems to speak of another place it does in fact perpetuate the name of previous owners of the lands there – the Earles, likewise with Powerscourt, Collins Ave. Ballinakill is very much a totally local name being the anglicised form of Baile na Cille – townland of the church. Island View and Island Drive are good examples of local naming policy given their positions in relation The Island they overlook. Knockboy derives straight forwardly from the Irish and topography of the area – Cnoc Bui, the yellow hill as it was once covered by yellow gorse. It was for the same reasons the Yellow Roads are named. Near many towns throughout Ireland one comes across boherbues.
In fairness, McInerney’s have a good record in the naming business and usually endeavour to have some local or at least Irish rationale behind their choices. While inspired by the name Power there was a happy coincidence with the great Powerscourt House of Wicklow which in turn prompted the pattern for other similarly inspired names in this area as referred to above. Powerscourt in turn used the names of other great houses in Ireland eg Lissadel, but also Muckross Park and Eyre House and so on.
The pattern in Collins Avenue of name style is interesting and must have reflected a change in policy or personnel during the course of the development life of the estate there. The lower group of names in the estate continue pretty much in the ‘Earlscourt ‘ style with Bridlewoods, Brookhurst and two lots of Pheasant Walks. The latter pair, incidentally, being the only examples outside of Viewmount to have number ranges indicated on their limestone name signs. Anyway, as one progresses uphill the names change in sound and style and which trip easily and lyrically off the Irish tongue such as Shanliss, Ros na Kill, Shanagarry, Kincora, Iniscarra, Lis na Carrig and Ballinure. The name Fortfield points to the fact that there was an old fort there. By the way did you know that it is a half a mile from the entrance of Collin’s Ave to the very top of it?
Are these not so much more attractive than whole orchards of Bramleys, Bromleys, even Appians? As I have already said the good residents had no part in the choice of such names but it is worth knowing that the mechanism is there for changing place names by way of popular local vote or plebiscite if sufficient folk were so moved. On a more pragmatic note others would cry, call the byways and sideways what you like but will you signpost the damn things!
Hillview Points the Way
A chap told me during the week that one time recently after finally locating a house following a most irritating search of a certain residential area hereabouts in order to make a delivery he commented to the lady of the house that if houses were clearly numbered it would make life a hell of a lot easier. The snooty reply was, oh lord no! We couldn’t have that – after all the money we paid to live here we can’t have an address that sounds as if we lived on a housing estate!!! Sounds like a load of you know what but life may have its sweet little revenge, as it tends to have, when come some dark winter’s night and a doctor experiences the same level of difficulty in locating her ladyship’s hacienda. In search of sign language I was delighted to discover that Hillview Estate has exactly what I have been calling for – a neat and effective system of signposts. I went up to have a gander and I was quite impressed with the series of green finger posts and in doing so very much showing the rest of us the way. Three cheers!!
By the way, yet another plausible theory has suggested itself to explain the Irish non-indication syndrome: it must be linked to a national aversion to the nefarious Informer and their fateful role in the course of Irish History. Isn’t I well known that we would have won the battles of Kinsale and the Boyne and ’98 and ‘16 and every other battle ever fought for Mother Ireland were it not for those damned informers and their 30 pieces of silver. Therefore down to this very day there is a real resistance to pointing the finger in any direction – ‘nuff said!
Mention of the name of Kincora triggers for me the memory of the debate last February on the issue of what the residents of the nearby townland of Kilcaragh regarded as the hijacking of their name place for use by the City Council in naming the new estate at Ballygunner Cross. At the time I agreed with their argument and still do – perhaps a name like Ballygunner Heights would have been a more appropriate choice. But given our observations on local – non pretentious – nomenclature, at least the estate’s name is locally inspired. By the way, a great job has been done in this estate and those residents who have spoken to me are well pleased with the standard of the houses there and well pleased to be residing in their much loved area.
Go seachtain eile, slan.