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Darragh McManus: Talking point - why isn't there more than one type of Dublin accent on the airwaves?


Rockabilly singer Imelda May has a distinctive Dublin accent

Rockabilly singer Imelda May has a distinctive Dublin accent

Rockabilly singer Imelda May has a distinctive Dublin accent

A recent poll showed that the “Southern Irish” accent is considered most attractive by British people (in your face, Brummies!).

This would be great news if not for the fact that there’s no such thing as one “Southern Irish” accent.

There are, actually, dozens of them. A Dublin inflection, for instance, is completely different to Cork. What am I talking about, there are grades and variations even within local brogues: south Galway, east Galway, the city, Connemara, that weird bit that’s half in Roscommon – they’re all subtly different.

This is obvious to anyone with ears, which is most of us. But those YouGov respondents – much like the average Hollywood voice-coach, an’ God be tankin’ you, Faader – apparently don’t make any distinction.

Which is annoying, but then again, we’re hardly any better ourselves, at least if you go by our radio and (to a lesser extent) television. It’s a long-time bugbear of mine, how discret accents have been almost eradicated from the airwaves.

Nearly everyone now speaks in one of a handful of “media” burrs: the Robotically Neutral RTE Newsreader, Pompous Marbles-in-the-mouth Faux-British, Slick Ear-shredding Americanised Toss-pot, whatever.

It’s sad, really, to be so ashamed of the diversity of spoken sound in Ireland. It makes radio more banal, homogenous and boring. And it’s a waste of an aural heritage.

Dublin alone has loads of different accents. From my years of living and working in the city, I could straight off classify: yer common-or-garden “regular” Dublin accent (e.g. how Bernard Brogan talks); harder-edged “inner siddee”; DART-line posh; Tallaght/West Dublin; and that irritating one you hear on kids in Dundrum Town Centre, where every sentence ends with the moronic interrogative? As if it’s a question, and not a statement? Like this? God, it really is irritating? I think I’ll stop now?

That’s five, all very different, right off the bat. There are, I’m sure, many more. I mean it’s possible that someone from, say, Rialto could identify someone else as being from nearby Crumlin, purely by a slight shifting in the accent.

All now disappearing from the airwaves…and possibly in real life, too. On the recent Late Late Toy Show, I think I noted a handful of children with working-class Dublin accents; the rest sounded like they could have come straight from the Valley, man. (Point Break reference – google it.)

I don’t even particularly like a “Dubbalin” twang, and it might not win any votes. But it’s authentic, it’s of the capital city, and it – all of them – deserve conservation.