You probably don’t know his name, but you do know places he has named. Blackie Keiransis’ long awaited autobiography The Man Who Named Newfield is out this Friday.
Now 75, the man they call the Don Draper of the Drogheda housing estate game talked candidly to us about his meteoric rise, fame and burning out.
“It was 1958 and I was a young buck with attitude, a lone blade with success on his breath.
“My big break came when a go-boy on the mitch found a well by the old Termonfeckin Road. There was great excitement and the mayor ran a competition to rename the road. Foundwell Road was proposed. But after three months, no-one was biting. Not one plot of land had been sold. I decided to act.
People say I named Moneymore. But I was never that cruel.
“I slipped a card with my name and Newfoundwell Road printed on it into the mayor’s pocket during mass. It was a gamble. But you don’t get anywhere in this life without throwing caution to the wind once in a while. He hired me that same day. “Genius! People will identify with New York!” he said. I was going places.
“I set to work modernizing the area. Town became Newtown and local GAA team the Blues, added Newtown to their name, Stallaban too. Promotion beckoned. But I knew one day I’d be back, my work there was not done…
“I was hot. Maple Drive and Glenmore Drive came to me in a dream. People began to take notice. I followed up Haadmans Gaadens with Trinity Gaadens. Mellifont Paak won me the respect of my peers for naming an estate that rhymed with elephant, was near Mell and had historical significance. It was hit after hit.
“Harmony Heights was voted best named estate in the country two years running. Ballsgrove cemented my reputation. The offers flowed in as did the fan mail with offers of marriage. But temptation was always close by…
“The glamour of Navan. The bright lights of Dundalk. The big time. People called me arrogant. They only saw the women, the fancy suits, the flashy donations at mass.
I’ve held seminars on estate naming all over the world. The Yanks are the easiest to please. I got away with stuff there that would’ve ruined my reputation here.
“Next came my trilogy – YellowBatter, Bothar Burger and Peas Park – my homage to the culinary specialty of the town. I was incensed when in 1966 two were renamed for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. My confidence was rocked. I became an embittered, paranoid recluse.
“But I knew there was one big legacy left in me. I decided to go back to where it all began. I’d noticed a new field up by The Glen that had potential. And there it was plain as day. Like a short haiku, my magnum opus – Newfield. So good they chiseled its name onto a rock.
“And then I was spent – the last sucker punch of an ageing heavyweight. After Newfield, the well was dry. Better to burn out then fade away…
“Nowadays I get by naming roads in estates, trading on past glories but I don’t mind. No thought goes into naming estates anymore. Matson Lodge? Shrewsbury Manor?!
“Is there hope for the town? I think so. The guy who named Aston Village deserves a statue.”
Read The Faa Side every week in the Drogheda Leader.