Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Someone Tell Me Where I Live!

“And whereabouts do you live?”
A straightforward question, and one that is asked, and answered, a thousand times a day in the Greater Dublin area. “Foxrock.” “Darndale.” “Fizzbra.” “Mind your own business.” Not rocket science, really, to identify oneself with a particular part of the city. Or so you might think.
When faced with this particular question, I need to pause and assess how familiar the enquirer is with the geography of Dublin 15. Probably anyone living south of the M50 will not have heard of Littlepace or Castaheany. I suspect that not many people outside of Huntstown parish have either. Sure, we’re only a town of 10,000 people – why would anyone have heard of us?
In reply to the question, I usually mumble something about being between Blanchardstown and Clonee. A lot of people do the same. Best leave it vague. Too difficult to explain.
The slip road off the N3, up which the boy racers swerve every evening (boy, is there going to be a pile-up there one day!) has a sign denoting us as “Housing Estate,” obviously quite easily recognisable to anybody not familiar with the area. As Nora Darcy of the local community council points out, how can we, as a community, expect to have a sense of identity, if we don’t even have a readily identifiable name?
Brian Lenihan, one of our local T.Ds., recently expressed surprise that we did not regard ourselves as being part of Clonee. He was under the impression that most people here regard themselves as being from the quaint little co. Meath village.
Estate agents too have a predilection for describing our dwellings as being in the county Meath townland. One particular advert recently described a house in Linnetfields as being “in the heart of Clonee.” I am sure that the residents of Clonee were surprised to learn that they had to walk over a mile down a very dark, pot-holed, unlit country road to get to the heart of their village.
Of course, for estate agents, Clonee is sexy. Clonee is rural, with a fire in the hearth and labradors bowling along the fields. And of course, many of us with exorbitantly high car insurance often wish that the Dublin-Meath border would lie a few miles south of its current position, and we could enjoy the lower rates enjoyed by our near neighbours.
Many of the original residents of the estate are under the impression that the estate is called Littlepace. Taxi drivers normally refer to the area as such, and the first estate to be built was, in fact, Littlepace. The bus timetable indicates the occasional bus goes “via Littlepace.” The Littlepace shopping centre is regarded by many as being the hub of the community. The Littlepacers FC was set up, not merely for the children of the original estate, but for inhabitants of all fifteen current estates.
When we moved into our estate over three years ago, the deeds of the property stated that we were in the townland of Phibblestown. So we used that particular name for a year or two and then realised we were probably the only ones using it. With relief we ceased the practise, for we had always regarded it as a silly name anyway, particularly if, in the future, some poor unfortunate had to commentate on a match between ourselves and nearby Scribblestown.
Bord Gais, who one would expect to be on the ball, given the logistics involved in connecting up thousands of houses, always address our eagerly-awaited gas bills to the townland of Clonsilla! I have visions of the poor postman wandering around Clonsilla, scratching his head, unaware that over two miles away, householders are fretting over the non-arrival of their gas bills.
Religiously, of course, we are in the parish of Huntstown. But Huntstown is a much older, more established community, and its civil boundary is very definitely marked.
Fingal County Council, though, have made a definite statement on the issue. They have decreed that the estate shall be known as Castaheany, as that is the name of the townland. (Castaheany is also the name of one of the 15 estates, so I presume that people there have an address of “Castaheany, Castaheany”) There is certainly some puzzlement as to who, in Fingal County Council, ordained that henceforth our estate should be known as that as, to my knowledge, none of the residents were consulted.
So there we have it. Castaheany, it officially is.
Or is it?
The local sorting office in Coolmine inform me that my correct postal address is “Clonee, Dublin 15.” That is the address by which all correspondence should be labelled. They see no anomaly in the fact that Clonee is in county Meath. However, they point out that if letters are addressed to “Clonee, co. Meath” they will probably pay a visit to the sorting office in Navan before being delivered.
Incidentally, some of the houses towards the back of Beechfield seem to me to have strayed across the border into county Meath. As such, therefore, would their correct postal address be, “Clonee, Dublin 15, county Meath?” I suspect we are descending into the realms of the ridiculous here.
After the reorganisation of county boundaries in England in 1974, the good folk of Grimsby, proud Lincolnshire people, discovered they were no longer in Lincolnshire, but in an entity called “South Humberside.” They responded by renaming their address as “Grimsby, South Bloody Humberside.”
In a similar vein, I now suggest that until such time as we have signposts and maps giving us a readily identifiable name, we should inform our family, friends and businesses that our official townland name is “That Big Bloody Estate between Blanchardstown and Clonee.” Who knows? It’s better than Phibblestown, anyway.

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