Just what is a ‘D4 head’?

Ringer church

‘D4 head’ – it’s a phrase that causes most people in Dublin and the country as a whole to bristle, conjuring up as it does images of loud men with upturned collars and orange-coloured women with designer handbags teetering on heels, all with mangled South Dublin accents, replacing a’s with o’s so they say “Dort” instead of “Dart”.

The Urban Dictionary defines ‘D4 heads’ as “posh Dublin south siders who have developed the ‘D4 accent’. A D4 head doesn’t have to be from D4, just has to sound posh, wear designer clothes, go to a private school and live on the south side, all things along those lines. The guys tend to play rugby, the girls sometimes play hockey.”

So far, so Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, but the chances are that if you are reading this in NewsFour you are either from D4 or are living here, so how does that description apply to you?

NewsFour went on tour to find out what we think of our neighbouring areas. Obviously, the stereotypes are to be found in small pockets but they are far from the norm. The gangs of ‘D4 heads’ to be found crowding into pubs in the area when there’s a rugby match in The Aviva or in Donnybrook are mainly from the other affluent South Dublin enclaves.

What surprised us most was how few people knew of others from the areas beyond their own. In an unscientific survey, we spoke to people from each area. We’ll break it down by area, looking at what they think of their neighbours and themselves.

There is one thing that all Ringsenders agree on and that is that they have a sense of community and a bond with each other not seen in other areas. Many see themselves as true Dubs, and this is probably fair given the long and rich history of the area, positive in outlook despite high unemployment and other social problems.

Those we spoke to all agreed that the other areas were comprised mainly of snobby middle-class people who flash their wealth with their cars and houses. There was a sense that they saw them as not really living in the real world, though (and this will become a theme) few personally knew people from the other parts of D4.

The feeling of divide was summed up by one young man we spoke with who told us “they live in a bubble in places like Ballsbridge and Donnybrook. All the recession meant to most of them was taking one less holiday a year. A lot of the people responsible for the mess of the country are living there in luxury, so of course it sticks in the throat.”

As with Ringsend, Sandymounters see themselves as lucky to be where they are from, citing the strong bond and sense of community they have. The fact that it’s a village was important to those we spoke to. Many cited the numerous community events and the friendly atmosphere.

The fat cat types who moved in during the boom years were singled out as not being team players with regards to the community and giving the area a bad name in general. Otherwise, they see themselves as slightly different from those in the other parts of “the four” as one local man called it, who went on to say “people are more discreet around here. You don’t see as much of the money-waving behaviour. Kids play together and it’s not as stuck-up as other places nearby.”

As for his nearest neighbours in Ringsend, he said “they’re a good lot down there. I don’t have any friends from there though, not even when I was growing up here.” In general, it seems that the families that are from Sandymount stay there, so many have the same attitude to ‘blow in’s’ that you might expect from any small village in the country.

This area is usually singled out as ground zero when it comes to entitled privilege. It is often perceived as being home to stockbroker types and their neighbours from the liberal media hierarchy; indeed, such is the stigma, one person we met confessed to lying about where he is from. When asked he simply says “near Baggot Street.”

We found something of a divide within the area. One person explained it: “My family have lived here since the 1950s and I remember when I was growing up in the ‘70s it was flatland, loads of hippies in bedsits and a good mix of families. We’d all play on the street together and rich and poor never seemed to come into it. I know less and less people on the road I live on now, even ones who’ve been here a few years don’t say hello.”

He saw the denizens of Donnybrook in a particularly low light, which was reflected in others we spoke with, seeing them as nouveau riche and flashy.

The four contenders,  from top: Ringsend, Sandymount, Ballsbridge and Donnybrook. Photos by Eugene Carolan.

The four contenders, from top: Ringsend, Sandymount, Ballsbridge and Donnybrook.
Photos by Eugene Carolan.

Although we toned down the scorn poured on Donnybrook by folk from the other three bits of ‘the Four’, we found something similar to Ballsbridge in attitude. Those we spoke to seemed aware of how they are publicly perceived. They also seemed to have internal conflict between long-time residents and ‘blow in’s’, with complaints about kids not playing together and neighbours not knowing each other being common.

We found a softer attitude to the other areas, however. In fact, only one person had anything negative to say and that was about Sandymount, which she described as having a “smug village mentality.”

It’s clear the different areas of Dublin 4 have their distinct personalities, but one thing certainly unites them – the excitement of waiting for the next issue of their favourite local paper.

By Steve Kingston