THE phones lit up on Liveline last week over the latest chapter in the torrid tale of property-obsessed Ireland.
At issue was a story about whether a new housing development is in Swords or Malahide in Co Dublin.
Another question arises as to whether the new estate, Waterside, is landlocked, or one against which water laps, so that its occupants may better pursue contemplation.
Builders Canon Kirk claim their 500-unit estate is in Malahide, although it is approximately a 40-minute walk from the seaside village.
Fingal Co Council says it is in Swords. It is a 10-minute walk from Swords Pavilion shopping centre. The council claims the developer is selling at Malahide prices, roughly 100,000 more than Swords prices.
When the development is completed, An Post will deliver mail there from its Malahide office which, Canon Kirk says, means it is in Malahide.
Meanwhile, phoney English-style names, such as Beverly Downs, proliferate in estates up and down the country; Bono reminisces about his childhood in 'Ballymun'; and the rest of us think the whole thing is great craic altogether.
These days, builders and their marketing people ignore history and geography and just invite buyers into a parallel universe. Hence the Waterside development is in Malahide, because its developers say it is. Waterside is also beside water, although nature hasn't placed water anywhere near it. No problem. Canon Kirk is inserting a fine water feature, which will comply with the moniker Waterside.
What would those old crooks Tom Brennan and Joe McGowan make of it all? Back in their heyday, when they weren't throwing bribes at Ray Burke, they were acquiring a reputation as house builders who left the finished product less than finished.
They built, Ray sold, and the mugs who bought were often left wondering about the shoddy pup they had bought.
A roof missing here, a wall there (ok, slight exaggeration, but you get the picture), but Tom and Joe were long gone, moving on to the next project with their buddy Rambo.
In those days, it wasn't a question of where your house was actually situated, but whether it would stay standing through the winter.
Then there was Liam Lawlor. In 1996, builder Seamus Ross fretted that his new estate was in Clondalkin, rather than Lucan, a disaster which he reckoned would cost five grand a house, or a total of IRA£2.5m. Liam told him it was sorted and put the arm on Ross for 20 grand. And then another. And then more again, in kind. And the shakedown went on until poor Seamus couldn't take it anymore. And for what? An Post eventually concluded that the estate had been in Lucan all along.
Now builders have deigned that salubrious Foxrock and Blackrock have grown fivefold over the last couple of decades, wiping out the riffraff neighbouring suburbs, in which nobody really wants to live. Further south in the county, Ballybrack is fast disappearing, gobbled up by the marketers' delight, lovely Killiney.
Back on the northside, Ballymun is under fire. Where the towers to the men of '16 once stood proud, there is soon to be a development called Santry Cross, although it is there slap-bang in the middle of Ballymun. And so it goes.
"Location, location, location, " says one Dublin estate agent. "That means in terms of convenience to shops, schools and all that, but it also means in terms of the address, the postal code of the property. This kind of thing has been going on for years.
"Geographical areas do get blurred on the map so unless there is any obvious boundary, you'll get it all the time."
Base snobbery has something to do with it, but the market is also an issue. "A guy might be living in Shankill for 40 years, " the estate agent says. "But then when he's selling, suddenly, he's in Killiney."
Ironically, at a time when electronic communication is to the fore, the local postal district in Dublin has never meant as much. In the case of that oasis of contemplation, Waterside, it can claim a Malahide address because post is delivered through the Malahide sorting office.
It was in such a vein 20 years ago that some residents in Terenure were appalled at the prospect of being re-categorised as Dublin 12 from the well-heeled Dublin 6.
Being among the middle classes, they were in a position to exert political pressure and the new code became Dublin 6W, which is now regarded as a better address than that of their formerly smug neighbours in Dublin 6.
On a micro level, the marketers tap into a deeper vein of snobbery. Estates, once the preserve of saints, were for a while transferred to the English shires, with Downs, Meadows and Commons, replacing Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This evoked an image of arrival at middle-class heaven on earth, where everybody spoke through their nose and modulated vowels to perfection. And pumped up the bottom line.
Recently, most local authorities have included in development plans a stipulation that names must have some relevance to the locality.
"We look for a name with a local and historical context of development, " South Dublin County Council's Neil O'Brien says. "As long as they don't want to call it something that doesn't reflect the character of the area, it's ok with us."
But the phenomenon has thrown up some strange cases. In Loughlinstown, Co Dublin the residents of Shanganagh Vale recently became concerned that there was too many Shanganaghs popping up all over the locale, some of which were not in the salubrious category.
A plebiscite to rename the estate Hawthorn Vale was arranged for last year but ultimately delayed. Some residents want to retain the historical connection, others wish to take flight to the shires.
In Galway, concerns are of a more earthy nature. There, not the shires, but the Gaels of old are the guiding light. All new estate names must get the nod from Gaillimh na Gaeilge, a state body set up to promote the cupla focal. Two years ago, councillor John Mulholland suggested the whole thing was getting out of hand. There were only so many estates that could have words like 'Colaiste' before confusion reigned.
"I said that not all estates should have to be in Irish.
Some are difficult to pronounce and spell, people have a lot of problems distinguishing them, " he remembers. "I got slated for it. I never had such a wave of correspondence."
For his sins, Mulholland, who ironically is one of the few councillors with the fluent focail, was co-opted onto the committee, from where he now oversees the naming.
"I'd say around 80% of the new names are Irish, " he says.
There is, however, some relief from the base snobbery.
Bono has often spoken of his childhood years in Ballymun, yet those in that general area would be horrified at such a description. Some say the area in question is Finglas, but more insist it is a mythical place known as Glasnevin north.
Meanwhile, up the road in Finglas, a new development called Premier Square has posed some problems for the marketers. Such people would be horrified at the F word, and the connotations arising from it. So instead its location was marketed as "Near Glasnevin". Don't ya just love it?