Me: Why does the Irish Times Magazine assume that it can refer to Blackrock and everyone will know itâ€™s a Dublin suburb?
Friend in Dublin: Well you did.
Me: There is a Cork suburb called Blackrock.
FiD: Is there?
Me: And this week they referred to Ranelagh with no indication as to where it was.
FiD: But you know where Ranelagh is, you lived there for years.
Me: Thatâ€™s not the point. And when they referred to Oughterard in the same article, they put Co. Galway next to it in brackets. Is it utterly inconceivable to them that there might be people out there who know where Oughterard is but donâ€™t know that Ranelagh is a Dublin suburb?
FiD (unanswerably): Not Irish Times readers.
As my loving husband says, if it annoys me so much, why do I read it? Doubtless to have my prejudices confirmed, how can they not be by a publication which, for years, put Northern Ireland under home news and Cork news under regional news, regional news, humph.
This weekend, there was an essay on David Marcus in the Review section. It said, inter alia, “But even the first issue of Irish Writing could stand on its own as a tribute to his taste, his instinct for the zeitgeist – remarkable in a young man from the provincial city of Cork – his guts, his determination and ultimately, his brass neck”. “[R]emarkable in a young man from the provincial city of Cork“? I nearly choked on my rice krispies. The discovery that the patronising man who wrote the essay is actually from Cork, quite frankly, made matters worse not better.
The article also says that “many readers may never have heard of him”. I was surprised by that. I would have thought he was pretty well known in Ireland. I know he was thought to be an outstanding editor. I have to say, I’ve only read one of his books (“A land not theirs” about growing up Jewish in Cork) and I didn’t think that it was very good but I certainly didn’t think it was obscure.
I learned also that Marcus’s uncle was Gerald Goldberg a well known and respected Cork solicitor. Many years ago, I met an exceptionally irritating woman in Brussels who told me that Mr. Goldberg was never elevated to the High Court bench because he was Jewish. In fact, at the time he was practising (and possibly still at the time of his death), only barristers were eligible for appointment to the high court and traditionally, minority religions (including judaism) have been somewhat over-represented on the bench in Ireland as they tend to be solidly middle class which, funnily enough, is where most judges come from. I never did manage to get a word in edge ways with her and tell her this, so this is a much delayed and pointless riposte.
There is no Jewish community in Cork now (they all seem to have gone to Dublin to get married) and that is sad. A lot of Lithuanian Jews came to Cork in the late 19th and early 20th century and some of them, including David Marcus who is an exact contemporary, were at my father’s school and he had a lot of friends with exotic and different names; Berkhans and Solomons and Goldbergs. Maybe with this new wave of immigration from Eastern Europe, we’ll get some of them back.
Finally, a classic from the birth announcements:
BrontÃ« Philomena. Bornâ€¦at the Whittingon Hospital in London to besotted parents David and Lisa.
I have a certain sympathy for â€œbesotted parentsâ€ â€“ I havenâ€™t got a heart of stone, you know â€“ but BrontÃ« Philomena? No, really, no.