Portobello’s Italian connection?
Sir, – While Frank McNally could be forgiven for including Portobello in his description of Dublin place names inspired by Italian culture and geography, the history behind this particular nomenclature is altogether more obscure and indeed interesting (An Irishman’s Diary, June 23rd).
This area of Dublin’s southside was named following the victory of the British navy and its capture of the town of Portobelo from Spain in 1739 on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
The extent of British elation at this victory resulted in the ascription of this name to locations in both London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
However, in so doing, the spelling was changed in a manner that makes it appear deceptively Italian in origin. There remains nevertheless at least some association with Italy in that it is believed that Christopher Columbus was the first European to arrive at the site of Portobelo in Panama. – Yours, etc,