Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I Name This Ship…

Last month’s “Community Voice” contained a very interesting article about the re-naming or otherwise of the James Connolly Memorial Hospital. The subject itself was spawned by a discussion on Joe Duffy’s radio programme in December about the Ballymun flats. Commemorating the seven signatories of the Proclamation, the names will not be transferred to the new developments when the tower blocks are finally pulled down.
It was mentioned on the radio show that James Connolly was not particularly associated with Blanchardstown, and so the naming of a hospital after him in Dublin 15 was not very appropriate. A quick trawl through the archives in the National Library confirms that yes, James Connolly died for the cause of Irish freedom, “except in Blanchardstown.” He apparently scrawled these words in red biro on Padraig Pearse’s copy of the Proclamation. What he had against this part of Dublin is unclear, though one eyewitness claimed he once had trouble retrieving his money from a shopping trolley in the Centre, and thus bore a grudge against the locality ever since.
The problem is, though, that if you were to restrict the naming of roads and hospitals after purely local celebrities, benefactors, philanthropists etc, your bag of names would start to dry up quicker than the Tolka in summertime. The Colin Farrell Memorial Hospital, anyone? Adjacent to the Councillor Rainey annexe? No perhaps not.
Personally, though, I feel there’s not enough commemorating going on. I love a good commemoration and would probably pay handsomely to attend one. However, these days they are few and far between. In fact, I haven’t been to a good commemoration for years, and probably wouldn’t recognise one if it turned around and nipped me on the backside.
So much so, that I have had to take matters into my own hands, and every time my wife buys a new plant for the garden, we have a commemoration ceremony. Currently the entire Shelbourne first team squad is represented out there, although I had to take a pair of shears to the Wesley Houlihan fuschia recently. And Jason Byrne needs cutting down to size.
There are many things in Dublin 15 that are named in totally uninspiring ways. The methodology of naming the roads in new estates is to have some vaguely naturistic appelation (to commemorate the natural beauty that’s been destroyed, perhaps?) like Applefields or Badgerhaven, and then add from a stock list of suffices – Walk, Road, Avenue, Chase, Green etc. The problem is that anyone enquiring for, say, Squirreldale Close will be met by a sea of blank faces, as nobody can differentiate Squirreldale Close from Squirreldale Park or Squirreldale Mews.
However, how much more enterprising it would be if the roads in new estates were themed? For example, you could call an estate Stuttgart 88, and name the roads Galvin’s Cross, Sansom’s Miskick, Aldridge’s Leap etc. Somebody asks for Shilton’s Despair, you direct them down to the end of Houghton’s Header and take a left at Charlton’s Delight.
Or name a new development after pop songs - Thunder Road, Electric Avenue, Orange Street, Blackberry Way, Penny Lane, Don’t-stand-so Close. All it requires is a bit of imagination.
Who decided on calling the carparks in the Blanchardstown Centre, Blue, Green, Red and Yellow? The Teletubbies? After four years, I still get them confused. Why? Because the names are totally bland and unmemorable. Why not call them John, Paul, George and Ringo, and stick posters of the respective Beatle up at the entrance to each. Problem solved. Maybe pipe some music from each of their solo careers post-1970 in order to reinforce the connection. Although, on second thoughts, perhaps that would tend to dissuade people from using the Ringo carpark.
The outlying carparks don’t even have names. Another great opportunity lost! Why not commemorate our Eurovision successes? It’s hard to imagine anything setting your heart aglow more than driving into the All-Kinds-of-Everything Carpark. And what better opportunity to teach your children about the genius that was Johnny Logan by parking in What’s-Another-Year? True, many people feel that it isn’t exactly an honour we should be celebrating, but how many of us sit down on Eurovision night hoping the English get nul points and berating the Greeks for voting for Cyprus?
Take a walk along the Royal Canal and you’ll see that many of the bridges are named after people dating back over 200 years. Isn’t that a brilliant epitath? Of course, nobody knows anything about them, but they were at least important enough to have bridges called after them. What about the bridges over the M50, or the Blanchardstown By-pass, or the River Tolka? Who do they commemorate? In 200 years, nobody will look at the bridge in Damastown and say, “I wonder who Ruth Coppinger was?” Unless of course she’s still alive, which is not beyond the bounds of possibility.
Why stop at roads and carparks and bridges? Enterprising Norwegian explorers have whole degrees of latitude named after them in the Canadian Arctic. For a small fee, you can get craters on the moon named after you or distant stars in faraway constellations. Of course, it’s not particularly easy going out and checking your property, and you’re probably at the mercy of some unscrupulous astronomer who just prints out a cert to say that Star XJ6T78 in the Constellation of Freddie the Fire Engine is named after you.
Be that as it may, though, would it be beyond the bounds of possibility for Fingal County Council to tender out the names of its roundabouts or traffic lights, thereby paying for their upkeep? The Goulding Family Roundabout has quite a ring to it, don’t you think? And quite apt too, for we’re forever going round in circles. And it would tie future local historians up in knots trying to figure out why we were worth commemorating!
Bidding for sites could be done by public auction with proceeds going to the provision of local amenities. Get the local brass band out, invite Bertie down (he’s bound to come) and solemnly hand over a scroll that states the traffic lights next to ‘The Bell’ will be henceforth and forever and a day be called “The Mrs. Daisy McGillicuddy Lights.” Might not become imbued in the consciousness of the local population, but then again, neither was The James Connolly Memorial Hospital.

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