Move back one step  Move forward one step  Show themes of website
Larger font Smaller font Default font
The Edge and the Centre

Satellite towns around Dublin

During the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s (up to 2008) the prices of houses in Ireland soared by several hundred percent. Affordable housing was really only available at some distance from the capital. This meant that young people from Dublin embarking on their professional careers often moved outside Dublin to the outlying suburbs and satellite towns. These people brought with them a certain status as people from the metropolitan centre and of course the pronunciation which went with that origin.

In addition, those individuals coming from the hinterland of Dublin and further afield in search of profitable work often settled on the edges of the metropolis for the same reason: affordability of housing.

Short front vowel lowering on the edge of Dublin

If anything, the current changes, above all short front vowel lowering, is very obvious among young females living in the satellite towns around Dublin. During my recordings in 2011 a number of informants expressed the view (of their own accord) that it was ‘cool’ in the outlying areas to speak with an accent like those in the centre of the capital. It gave young girls extra status within their circle of friends to speak with a ‘trendy’ Dublin city accent.

The following sound files clearly document this attitude. The individuals recorded were all teenage females and all showed short front vowel lowering (to varying degrees). None of them were aware of this, at least never mentioned or commented on this lowering. However, they had unconsciously adopted this feature of advanced Dublin English to add ‘coolness’ to their own speech. In one case this was very obvious when the informant declared, with a degree of self-assertion, that she came from Celbridge pronouncing the town’s name with clear short front vowel lowering.

( Click on a location in the above map or on an ear symbol below )

  Non-vernacular female speaker from Ashbourne, Co. Meath

  Non-vernacular female speaker from Skerries, Co. Dublin

  Non-vernacular female speaker from Leixlip, Co. Kildare

  Non-vernacular female speaker from Celbridge, Co. Kildare

  Non-vernacular female speaker from Bray, Co. Wicklow

The edge of the metropolis would seem to be defined by the distance one can travel in and out of the city easily in one day. The towns listed above are all under 32 km distance from the centre of Dublin.
However, if one moves further away from the capital short front vowel lowering is not only less prevalent, it is all but non-existent. The following is a recording of a young female from a town in Co. Carlow, some 100 km from Dublin. At this remove, the new features of advanced Dublin English do not play a role and have not arrived on the scene yet. It remains to be seen whether short front vowel lowering will spread outwards from the capital to include such more distant locations in the coming years.

  Non-vernacular female speaker from Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow