Category: Archive

The Grapevine enters the Digital Age

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

It has been the idea of a one enterprising brother and sister team to chronicle some of these more memorable witticisms on a Web site.
Sinead and Gerard Kelly are quickly becoming the ears of Dublin with
“Overheard in Dublin” (www.overheardindublin.com). Only in its infancy, the site is getting as many as 45,000 hits a day.
Sinead Kelly, a Dublin-based flight attendant, said she and her brother, who works in computer programming, were “just having a laugh one day” about the strange things you would hear on the bus or on line at a store.
They fashioned a Web site to do just that and the two invited their friends to contribute their own bizarre overheard moments.
For something that began a month ago, the traffic is startling.
“We were getting 65,000 hits a day at first,” Kelly said, laughing. “We thought it was the same guy hitting the refresh button over and over.”
After the site was namedropped on several Dublin radio stations, people were flooding the Kellys with submissions. They have made the Irish Times magazine’s “Hot List” and Kelly said she could barely keep up with all the mentions.
The site is running on the contributions of people who have overheard bits and pieces of conversations, many of which make you think twice.
The Kellys have some company, however. “Overheard in New York” (www.overheardinnewyork.com) has been up and running since July of 2003, and has the same premise as the Dublin site, but with a distinctly New York flavor.
It has grown by leaps and bounds as well, and is now the third most popular “New York-centric” Web site after media gossip darling Gawker and the more newsy Gothamist.
Michael Malice, the editor of “Overheard in New York,” said he and publisher S. Morgan Friedman were not aware of the Dublin site until recently, but offered their well wishes.
While comparisons between the two sites are inevitable, they are two very different cities. Both, however, have seen international web traffic.
Malice mentioned that Overheard in New York site gets feedback from many Irish readers, and Sinead Kelly has noticed response from Irish communities in the UK and Germany.
“We are hearing from people abroad,” she said. “People saying that they are relating to the stories, and that they never ‘got’ the Irish sense of humor until they have actually met Irish people.”
The site’s content, which ranges from dialogue to short stories, are all tales reflective of a changing Ireland.
“I know Dublin is in a sense quite unique,” she said. “It has changed vastly, yet there are still some very parochial situations.”
Sure enough, much of the Overheard in Dublin’s charm lies in the clashes between provincial Ireland and the country’s economic growth spurt.
People gabbing freely about issues such as immigration, technology, and the occasional football game all have found their way onto the site.
Equal-opportunity eavesdroppers have mined conversations from Dubliners across the board — the posh, the hardly posh, and even the occasional American tourist.
With the society changing as it has, the Internet has spawned case studies such as “Overheard in Dublin.”
“The Irish are natural storytellers,” Sinead Kelly said. “While it’s not as it was 50 years ago, this is a more modern way.
“Dubliners can be very savvy when they talk. It’s with complete conviction.”
For example, the two girls talking quite authoritatively about the new EpiPen like it was a new technological gadget, and not the allergy medication it is.
Just like the city in which it is based, growth is inevitable for “Overheard in Dublin.” An “Overheard in Cork” Web site has just launched and an edition for Galway is in the works.
The site’s advertisers have offered Kelly prizes to award to the best overheard story, and publishers have come knocking for book rights.
“We were just onto it for entertainment,” she said. “But we’re trying to develop it as much as possible. We’re thrilled that people are getting a laugh out of it.”

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