Has the whole ‘Effin’ thing been blown out of proportion?

13 Dec 2011

Location, location, location - why isn't Effin on Facebook's maps? Because it's a parish, not a village, strictly speaking

Facebook has found itself embroiled in a battle over the apparent non-existence of a village called Effin in Limerick on its maps. And the saga has mutated into an issue not of geography but rude words.

Around the world the struggle by Ann Marie Kennedy from the parish of Effin in Limerick to get her ‘village’ recognised by Facebook’s system got plenty of attention and today was covered in depth by the esteemed Washington Post, no less.

Facebook is apparently ‘stubbornly’ refusing to recognise Kennedy’s “home town”. All Kennedy wants to do, apparently, is connect with other folks from Effin.

But it seems the whole Effin thing has blown up into an argument of whether or not Facebook will tolerate any profanities or rude names on its social network. Effin, as you know, can also be construed as a euphemism for something else entirely.

Assuming it must be a mapping glitch, I put a question into the Facebook people and with their usual promptness they calmly pointed out a certain distinction.

Despite all the different mapping systems and location data Facebook employs, there isn’t a whole lot Facebook can do about this one.

The reason why it’s not on Facebook’s maps is because Effin is a parish, not a village.

Kennedy’s battle has not been in vain

Now, you think I’d stop there, but I won’t because at the same time – to be fair – there is some rationale to Kennedy’s argument.

While Facebook’s particular mapping systems don’t carry the data – I did a Google Maps search and actually yes, there is an Effin on the Cork/Limerick border, halfway between Kilmallock and Charleville.

But is it still a parish? Yes and no.

Effin is still important enough to rate a sizeable enough entry in Wikipedia and is described as both a townland and a parish in the baronies of Costlea and Coshma. Even Wikipedia has it on its maps.

The local church still uses a silver chalice dating back to 1633 and the local school has 100 students, which is more people than villages in the US or Australia that would exist on a map.

So while Effin may not be classed a village or a place on the mapping system in use at Facebook, it is nevertheless a place that Kennedy and her neighbours, friends and their diaspora around the world are proud of; a place with its own history and future.

And if it wasn’t on the map before, well it certainly is now.


Above: Effin is on the map on Wikipedia

Below: Effin also exists on Google Maps

Google Maps


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years