Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Weekend reading

Several weeks (months?) ago, I claimed that David McWilliams was consistently one of the best columnists working in the Irish print arena. Well, now he�s starting to grate a bit. Perhaps it�s a function of his heightened profile recently as he frantically plugs his new book (�The Pope�s Children�) in the run-up to Christmas. His columns in the Sunday Business Post have recently been little more than promotional extracts (such as the one that appeared yesterday), full of breathlessly delivered facts (�These are the Pope’s Children. There are 620,000 of them and they are the future of the country�) and littered with cod-sociological insights: �This is Ireland’s Baby Belt. It is the savannah of the Kells Angels, Ireland’s first long-distance commuters. [�]This is the home of Destiny’s Child.�Frankly, there�s something a little desperate in McWilliams�s relentless phrase-coining. It�s as though he tried to inject some of the aura of a New York Times magazine article on emergent lifestyles and landscapes (on exurbia or the growth of megachurches) on the rather humdrum reality of Irish suburbia. For example, McWilliams describes the new suburbs that have sprouted up in the last decade as �Deckland� because�well, people like putting wooden decking down in their back gardens. Am I being blas� about the radical changes that have swept the nation if I claim that I don�t find this trend especially jaw-dropping? It�s not as if people have started keeping Tigers in their back gardens.On a more rarefied level, I enjoyed Toby Bernard�s review of The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin, by Christine Casey in Saturday�s Irish Times. It features a word I hadn�t noticed before, although anyone embroiled in “the Law” will probably be familiar. The sentence reads �Now a third Irish instalment looks at the area probably most densely packed with the architecturally important and idiosyncratic: Dublin within the curtilage of the canals and the North and South Circular Roads.�According, curtilage (which Microsoft Word amends, unrequested, to the more carnal �cartilage�) refers to �[t]he enclosed area immediately surrounding a house or dwelling.� In case anyone�s interested, the word derives from the Latin, cohort- cohors farmyard.Maybe the quotation above uses the word too loosely but I like its resonance. Curtilage–yes, I�ll have to contrive an opportunity to use it at least once in any future scribbling.