The house in the west of Ireland where I spend half my year has no conventional address, although, like every other house in Ireland, it does now have a seven-digit Eircode, the equivalent of a British postcode. But Eircodes were only introduced in 2014 and in my part of Ireland at least, they seem to be used only by ambulance men and bewildered Amazon delivery drivers.
Bewildered because there are no street names where I live, no house numbers and no house names. And it doesn’t seem to matter. Local people, including the postman, just know where everyone lives. Visitors coming from further afield get directions – ‘the second house on the right after the turn for the ferry’ – which, when put to locals, usually provoke an exclamation of recognition: ‘Ah, you mean Pat Sean’s place!’ (Pat Sean was a previous occupant. He died several decades ago.)
I’d never really thought about all this until I started to read Deirdre Mask’s The Address Book. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book so much. Thought-provoking and entertaining, it demonstrates brilliantly that addresses are about so much more than location. They provide evidence of class and