Almost thirty years before Paul Howard began his spoof Ross O’Carroll-Kelly column in The Sunday Tribune, Dublin born journalist Alan Bestic wrote an extremely accurate and humorous description of Dublin’s upper middle class.
He called them:
…The scampi belt, the Bacardi brigade. They own a house in Foxrock and have a Mercedes on the firm. The wife has a Mini for shopping and a swimming pool in the garden is on order. There is a cottage in Connemara – ‘I can really think down there’ – wine name-droppers, BA (pass), top convent wife with Ulysses in the handbag. Oyster festival but not Galway races. Hard tennis court, yacht in the front garden during winter … unhappy people with easy laughs and eyes that are always moving, looking for Murphy, wondering whether he is watching and whether he has a mohair suit too … blurred carbons of English suburbans from the mock stockbroker belt …
This quote is taken from Bestic’s seminal book The Importance Of Being Irish published in 1969 and described at the time as “an affectionately critical enquiry into the anatomy of modern Ireland”.
Bestic worked with The Irish Times, the Irish Press and other newspapers in Dublin from 1940 until 1950. During that time, he became the first Irish print journalist to report from Poland and East Germany after the war.
In 1950, he moved to London’s Fleet Street. Returning to his home town of Dublin in the late 1960s, he was overwhelmed by the social and economic changes that had occurred in the country and so wrote The Importance Of Being Irish.
Interestingly he was described by journalist Liam MacGaghann in the late 1970s as a “republican with respect to James Connolly’s principles, putting humanitarianism before unvarnished tribalism”.
Bestic was still writing as late as March 2001 for The Daily Telegraph.
Another footnote is that his father, Captain Albert Arthur Bestic, was the third officer on the Lusitania when she was torpedoed off the Head of Kinsale in 1915. As well as this, he was in command of the SS Isolda, when she was bombed by the Nazis off the coast of Wexford during World War Two with the loss of seven lives. He published his memoirs (see below) in 1957 and passed away in his home in Bray five years later.