AMIDST strikes, Euro disaster, and the cost of Christmas, it was refreshing to read about Anne Marie Kennedy, the 47-year-old woman who has mounted a campaign against the intransigence of Facebook.
This social networking organisation is eager, most of the time, to further its world wide web ambitions by welcoming people to sign up, make friends and bare their souls on the internet.
Unless they live in Effin, a hamlet with a population of 1,000 souls, in County Limerick.
Facebook will not let Ann Marie use the name of her home village because, they say, it is offensive.
“I was born and raised in Effin and my family come from here,” she said. “I’m a proud Effin woman and I always will be an Effin woman.
“I would like to be able to put Effin on my profile page, and so would many other people around the world, to proudly say the are from Effin, County Limerick, but it won't recognise that.”
Facebook is based in America, and already allow pages for Effin Metal (music), Effin Clothing Company and Effin’s Last Resort, an Irish bar in Rhode Island. Surely this smacks of discrimination?
In any case, effin (with or without a capital letter) is not a popular euphemism in Ireland. As any fan of Father Ted can testify, many inhabitants of the Emerald Isle get by very well by the substitution of the vowel “e” for the vowel “u” when they wish to come close to swearing in Anglo-Saxon.
Effin is a thriving little place. It’s creamery makes Effin Cheese and it has a successful Effin hurling team (a sport that is so violent the players frequently transpose the “e” for the “u” during the game, and sometimes probably don’t even bother).
There is a Holy Well in the nearby forest, whose waters are said to cure ailments, and the town is named after St Effin, a sixth century Irish bishop and abbot.
After his death, the saint's consecrated bell was held in great veneration. In fact, the Effin bell was used as a swearing relic upon which oaths and promises were made. Which seems totally appropriate and very Irish.
St Effin was credited with many miracles and his saint's day is December 22. It would be nice if he achieved another miracle and Facebook finally allowed the use of his name.