Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 1

The following short series (which may fill the shining hour on later occasions) is designed as a place-marker while Malcolm is in the County Armagh, out of touch with the necessities of cyberlife.

Here he celebrates those Irishmen and women, and their milieux, that the conventional histories may neglect or ignore.

To begin at the beginning, then, with A is for:

Aer Lingus

a.k.a. "Air Linctus".

Properly, of course, it should be Aer Loingeas, which for the masses Anglicises as "air fleet". It is, in other words, a direct rip from Aeroflot (though with a better safety record). The first flight was from Baldonnel to Bristol, with EI-ABI, a six-seater De Havilland Dragon, on 27th May 1936.

The name of the company was proposed by the Cork County Council Surveyor, Richard O'Connor. As for the cod-Irish, that seems to be an "improvement" by Seán Ó hUadhaigh, whose name on the original company letterhead is appended by "formerly John K. Woods".

There are many myths of the Saxons persecuting anything Irish. One such involves the loss of EI-AOM St Phelim, off the County Wexford, on 24th March 1968. This was the Tuskar Rock Air Disaster which killed all 61 on board. Almost immediately the conspiracy theorists were suggesting a link to missile testing at the Aberforth base on Cardigan Bay. Twenty years on, a different story emerged: the Aer Lingus maintencance records had gone missing; the port-side tail-plane had detached, through corrosion and metal fatigue. With each iteration of enquiry and rebuttal, the conspiracists produce a new series of rhetorical questions, to underpin their paranoia.

The notion of Aer Lingus as the Irish national carrier is also somewhat confused, if only because of a chequered record of ownership. At one time, 40% of the company was owned by BOAC and BEA in exchange for air traffic rights. Today, Ryanair is the largest single share-holder.

It is also worth acknowledging here yet another of de Valera's reactionary interventions. When the Costello coalition collapsed over the Mother and Child scheme, Aerlinte Éireann was about to launch a transatlantic service, and had bought three Lockheed Constellations. Dev was sceptical about the project: the aircraft were sold on to BOAC. Aer Lingus did not start flying to the USA for another decade. Now, of course, the Irish connection is heavily marketed to the diaspora:

Alice Daly

In James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus considers a "plump turkey":
he remembered the man's voice when he had said "Take that one, sir. That's the real Ally Daly."
Alice Daly was an early nineteenth-century dairy-woman, whose butter was regarded as Dublin's best. Reviewing Richard Wall's An Irish Literary Dictionary and Glossary, Cóilín Owens commented:
It is nice to know that "the real Ally Daly" (the best quality) derives from Alice Daly's butter--one of the few surviving pre-famine brand-names.
That is a curious use of the term "Brand-name".

[For another foodie reference, consider the "Hun Bun Factory"] Sphere: Related Content

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