Heart Searching: Desperately seeking security: Alan Murdoch scans personal advertisements in Ireland

IF ANY woman has visions of the Irish male as a walking vision of self- reliance and dependability, she should probably steer clear of Dublin newspapers' matchmaking columns.

'Mammy's boys' was one damning reaction from Irish women of my acquaintance to a recent crop of advertisements such as: 'Unwanted male, 25, needs lady to give back the joys of life and love,'; 'Inexperienced, shy male, 23, graduate, seeks woman'. Unrepresentative of Irish manhood, surely? But reading on, the eye moved rapidly to other tragedies - 'Recovering alcoholic widower, 49, not too handsome, own home but broke, seeks. . . .'

That many an Irish woman has come across these characteristics on their amorous travels is clear from the advertisements they place, such as '30-something outgoing lady interested in meeting an emotionally secure man, 35-45' in Dublin's Evening Herald last week. In John Major- speak, nothing else asked for, offered, or given. Other women spell out 'sober' or 'solvent' among minimal requirements.

The onset of terminal disillusionment comes when some women ask simply for 'foreign male', an objective intermittently listed in the Evening Press 'Matchmakers' page, Ireland's largest market-place for PO Box romance.

It has now been running for a year and, as Dick O'Riordan, editor of the Evening Press, points out, has recorded successes as well as failures, recently chalking up its first marriage. 'Matchmakers' operates on the unorthodox basis of printing the advertisements free, and charging for passing replies to the advertiser's box number.

This guarantees a vast number of advertisements and consequently maximum reader interest. Mr O'Riordan suspects those who read them with a curious fascination for entertainment far outnumber those actually looking for a mate.

For every bunch of male shrinking violets 'Matchmakers' usually offers a self-proclaimed Adonis for whom modesty will never be an impediment, as in 'Man of distinction with exceptional qualities. . .' and 'Tall interesting Irishman who is exceptionally generous, professional artistic graduate, cultured, mature. . . .'

With around 200 entries each Tuesday, the Evening Press spans social classes as well as the urban-rural divide, which is still a major cultural schism in Irish society, albeit a diminishing one. Gay and lesbian advertisments remain largely confined to the pages of the listings magazine In Dublin.

Rural Irish matchmaking has quite different undercurrents. Farmers dependent on the death of parents for the inheritance of a small farm that cannot support more than one household, were often unable to marry young if staying on the land, a predicament echoed in the old adage 'Protestants marry early for love, Catholics marry late for land.'

The popular playwright and author John B Keane once expatiated with biblical intensity on this blighted life: 'There are thousands of elderly bachelors in Kerry and hereabouts who have never once lain with a woman.' Recalling the role of an Irish marriage as a serious economic transaction, relatively few display the comic touches penned by advertisers in comparable English columns. Living in an ultra highly taxed society imbues material assets with extra allure for the urban Irish.

Here both sexes often state their ownership of house and/or car instead of more personal characteristics. This can bring out a less subtle side of Irish females. Two Dublin girls seek men who 'must be prepared to spend money'. A recent coy Evening Press advertisement proclaimed, 'Lovely lady would like to meet lovely gent with lovely car for friendship.'

Peter Grosvenor, the US psychoanalyst who asserted that 'there are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal in women - chief among these is a Mercedes convertible', would doubtless feel vindicated. True or not, there is something chilling about playing Romeo with no more than 'Man, birth date 6-5-44, property: pounds 25,000, single, non- smoker, 6ft, wishes to meet woman.'

Nurses, who in Ireland's overstretched public hospitals are arguably the hardest-worked and most heavily taxed of Irish occupational groups, tend to project their penury into print, invariably seeking 'professional gent' to offset meagre earnings. With Irish unemployment at 19 per cent, material insecurity is invariably close to the surface - 'financially secure' features regularly in both seeking and sought categories.

Rural Irish women have long had a precise and graded code for indicating a man's attractions. 'F T' ('fine thing') highlights obvious good looks. 'R F T' (a 'real fine thing') means very handsome, a good body and some potential in other departments. But the lucky man who warrants 'R F T A' ('real fine thing altogether') is a serious target who seems to offer all the above and a possible meal ticket for life too.

Not all bother with discretion. For honesty alone the following In Dublin advertisement from a 35-year-old 'worldly career women' stands out. She wanted a 'sophisticated, sensitive man, unattached, visually appealing, possibly professional, - alternatively illiterate and filthy rich.'

Against this tide there swims the starry-eyed devotees of pure romance, often rural residents. Hence the country lady who 'would like to meet an Officer Gentleman', or the young County Clare woman seeking a local partner, her only condition: 'Must be a gentleman.'

That description would hardly fit the man who late last year showed that hope can remain even in adversity - 'Business man in prison would like to hear from kind, good- looking, understanding girl 20-25 for friendship. Free man March '93.'

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher Thetford Secondary

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work at ...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week