An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The Terenure Woman Who Aches To Live In Rathgar.

A  Protestant judge living next door. It’s the ultimate South Dublin middle-class accessory and the sign that you’ve arrived in the orange bricked bastion of civilisation that is Rathgar. Look up well-heeled leafy suburb, and Rathgar is what you get. The Bijou Bistro. Howard’s Way. The High School. A piano shop. A piano shop! And for Mary from Terenure it’s the badge of honour. If she could change her name to Mary Rathgar she would. She’d have “I live in Rathgar” tattooed across her forehead if it were big enough.

Not that she’s ashamed to have been born and bred in Terenure, the southside front line between posh south east Dublin and aspirant working class Kimmage. But she’s old enough to remember the great postal code war of 1986, when some lad in the P&T had the idea that putting Terenure in the same postal code as Tallaght wouldn’t trigger outrage, and hysteria over collapsing house prices and how Terenure would be transformed into a dystopian hellhole. “It’ll be John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York” all over again!”, one residents group would-be Snake Plisskin declared. How dare they! Terenure did not look to Tallaght or Kimmage but to Rathgar with its musical society and Church of Ireland Sales of Work (The scones! The traybakes! You just get a better class of person, don’t you? Oh hello Judge Smythe, how are you?). None of your let’s-be-frank common “Bring And Buy Sales” (where the cakes are all bought Teatime Express gateaux) to send Fr Mulcahy’s housekeeper “away to Lourdes” for “her nerves” and recent alarming weight gain.

Of course, it’s just her luck that when Mary finally can move across the invisible dividing line that Terenure finally begins its much threatened gentrification, with its Lotts & Co and Korean burgers and sushi and Base pizza and always worth a peek little village bookshop. But finally, she’s in Rathgar, and eager to integrate, and joining the residents associations and all the rest, especially for the gossip.

“Oh, didn’t you hear? The Smythes are moving to Ranelagh. You simply get a better class of person in Ranelagh. And the restaurants!”

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