An Irishman's Diary

 

As new restaurants open everywhere and house prices double between the nightcap and the orange juice, and as cranes rise menacingly over every rooftop of undemolished Dublin, one god and one god alone is to be found on everybody's lips: it is the great Persian deity, Inda-naimofuque. We invoke his name when we turn a corner and yet another computer company is hard-selling its software, yet another restaurant, specialising in AlaskanCongolese cuisine or the culinary traditions of Port Stanley, is opening its doors with several hours of free champagne for thousands. We put our hands to our foreheads and we ask about the origins of this bounty. That is to say, we cry: Inda-naimofuque, where's all this coming from?

Suddenly it is as if we are living in a Californian gold-rush boom-town, with virtually no continuities between the croissant-nibbling, Evian-sipping Dublin which is rising before our eyes and the smoky, damp-bricked, ricketyrooftopped Georgian-Joycean rasher-and-eggs-munching Dublin of just the day before yesterday. What happened to that old Dublin? It was there a moment ago, and now it is gone, and has been replaced by bistros populated by people called Mark and Shane and Zoe and Orla who wear sharp suits and sharper hair.

New metropolis

Where did these people come from? Who are their parents? Where did they acquire this confidence to rule the world and trade effortlessly with Frankfurt and with LA? Clink of car-keys as they head for their BMWs.

But the real heart of this new Ireland is not in Dublin, but lies to the west of it. A new metropolis has mushroomed along the Liffey valley. It has little or no contact with Dublin. Its O'Connell Street, its Grafton Street, its heart, its soul, its theatre, its culture, its everything is the M50, from which it takes its name, Emdeeville - M for motorway, D for 50 - as it sweeps all before it, the present and the past alike.

The Persian god, Indanaimofuque, is invoked at every turn during the growth of this strange crescent city of Emdeeville; as no doubt it was cried with some passion by the millionaire who learned that excavations for his swimming pool in the centreless city of Emdeeville had uncovered 700 skeletons from a medieval burial ground.

But the past is no obstacle to pleasure in Emdeeville. The skeletons within the area exposed have been disposed of, protruding limbs axed off, and the construction of the pool proceeds. Those who swim in those sky-blue waters one day can comfort themselves with the thought that here in Emdeeville the past and the certain future of us all are merely inches away, through those tiles there. Just there. Through the side. For Emdeeville devours the past everywhere. The ancient settlements of the Liffey - Celbridge, Lucan, Leixlip - have become the population depots for this civilisation, with its two-car households, massive mortgages and absent parents, and its bored boys and girls from nice homes who sniff things behind the bike-sheds and idly hurl rocks at passing traffic, while motorists dodge and screech the name of the Persian deity, Indanaimofuque! Essex in Ireland

Here in Emdeeville, the prosperity of Essex has finally come to Ireland - car-ports and shopping centres and vast swathes of estate, dotted with garden-centres, shopping malls and bottle-banks - while, on the outskirts of Emdeeville, golf-hotels infect the countryside with a viral rot which rapidly turns farmland pea-green and sterile.

Golf defines this civilisation. The perimeter of Dublin is now a golf course; you can drive a ball in a great arc from Howth to Dun Laoghaire and never leave the circumference of golfcourses which lie between suburbs like seas surrounding an archipelago; but if golf is important for the middle classes of Dublin, it is almost a religion for the citizens of Emdeeville; for is that not what the countryside is for? The playing of golf?

But, this being Ireland, the new and burgeoning civilisation is certainly not godless, for one deity is constantly present as the crescent of Emdeeville covers east Kildare: Indanaimofuque. It is the constant cry of all the people marooned on the M50 as they head homewards to Emdeeville, in those vast traffic jams the new Ireland now specialises in. Because the odd thing about the land of Emdeeville is that although it is economically successful, its ability to plan infrastructure compares badly with that of Mexico City. Each morning, each evening, through those great trafic jams which seal the M50 at each end, thousands of motorists intone the name of their lord: Indanaimofuque.

What else are they to do but call out his name with reverence and with awe? We are seeing a new race, Ireland's answer to Essexfolk emerging: Kildaregirl and Kildareman are born. They have not yet got an accent, but they will have, just as the DART generated an accent. Their equivalent to Sharon and Tracey will soon emerge; though it is still too early to see what they wil be.

New aristocracy

In this civilisation, tradesmen are the new aristocracy, even more than they already were in old Dublin. Tradesmen are in such demand to build factories and houses that their favours must be courted with cash on the nail and pots of tea on arrival. Sleepy villages where anglers once browsed in silence on river-banks have become Emdeeville satellite towns, home of the three great commodities of this civilisation - microchips, software and roadrage.

Emdeeville is the new model city of Ireland, the beltway of money, housing developments, swimming-pools, golf-courses, computer factories and leisure centres, where most of the economic of the New Ireland growth will occur. It is a city without a centre, but it has a coat of arms - a swimming pool surrounded by dismembered skeletons - and it has a motto, a sort of philosophic enquiry, which runs: What Indanaimofuque Is Going On?