When Bono sang ‘Uncertainty can be a guiding light’ on the title track from U2’s album Zooropa (1993), he seemed to many people to be perfectly attuned to an emerging sense of Irish identity – one that was truly over the past and apparently ready to embrace all that an uncertain future had to offer. It was, with its combination of yearning for guidance and bemused insecurity, an entirely appropriate musical articulation of Celtic Tiger Ireland. In this chapter, Smyth traces aspects of the Celtic Tiger through the music of U2, to The Script, who he sees as embodying the philosophy of the period. He makes the point that the various ‘failures’ articulated by the various protagonists on the first album, for example, are belied by the ideology of expectation and attainment that underpins the music itself. The chapter looks at the significance of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ as an index of this period, and finally, the chapter looks at the cultural phenomenon of Jedward, the grimes twins who became famous, or infamous, from their time on the X Factor, and sees them as the soul of the Celtic Tiger: young, brash, loud, four eyes focused firmly on the prize but ultimately lacking in substance.

in From prosperity to austerity
Irish contemporary women’s fiction and the expression of desire in an era of plenty

Sylvie Mikowski asks why is it that women writers should have turned to the depiction of rich, globalized Ireland far more readily than their male counterparts. She shows how Deirdre Madden, Eílís Ní Dhuibhne and Anne Enright have each found a way to express in their fiction the ineradicable permanence of sexual difference in a world where economic and sexual liberalism combine to erase that disparity. The three authors present female characters that enjoy the possibility of rejecting marriage, motherhood and domestic confinement. Yet the plots and tones they employ suggest that this newly-found freedom of choice does not necessarily lead to fulfilment, or to a sense of achievement. This chapter will examine how these writers have each found a way to express in their fiction the ineradicable permanence of sexual difference in a world where economic and sexual liberalism combine to erase that disparity. It will also discuss how that difference is perceptible through symptoms such as existential malaise, depression, or even anorexia, and will explore how the aesthetic, especially through what Julia Kristeva called semiotic language, can be an answer to the malaise. The chapter offers a fascinating insight into aspects of the gendered expression of the Celtic Tiger.

in From prosperity to austerity
Photography and the post­Celtic Tiger landscape

In the closing years of the Celtic-Tiger a number of Irish photographers increasingly began to turn to Ireland's post-agricultural and post-industrial landscapes to explore the social condition of the country's mythical economic prosperity. Within visual culture studies, the landscape has historically been identified as providing an iconographic sanctuary for national visual cultures, or a shelter of stability and solace in moments of impending crisis. As a subject matter and a symbolic force, it allows retreat to the tradition and familiarity of the national imaginary of place in the face of uncertainty. In this chapter, Carville explores the significance of the photograph's capacity to present a moment that is simultaneously both disappearing and becoming. Taking as a departure point Barthes’ reading of the photograph as an event transformed through the contingency of photography into an object, this essay discusses how the aesthetics of topography in Irish photography projected the future demise of Ireland's topographies of prosperity before they had become visibly present on the landscape. Drawing on recent debates on the accelerated distribution and circulation of media imagery and the gaze of contemporary photography, Carville opines that the aesthetics of topographical photography provided a visual critique of the cultural politics of the Celtic Tiger.

in From prosperity to austerity

Bryan Fanning argues that the large-scale immigration into Ireland during the Celtic Tiger period had its roots in a post-1950s nation-building project of economic development which superseded an economically and culturally isolationist Irish-Ireland period. The lack of political debate about this post-1990s immigration is an eloquent silence and Fanning attempts to fill the void by offering an insightful discussion of immigration in the Celtic Tiger period. This chapter focuses on sociological explanations for Ireland's apolitical embrace of social transformation through immigration during the first decade of the twenty-first century. The speed with which this occurred owed much to the economic boom. Prosperity fostered the quiet transformation of Ireland but did not on its own explain the lack of political controversy about immigration and the absence of anti-immigrant politics even when boom turned to bust and the large-scale emigration of Irish citizens resumed. The chapter notes that immigrants who found themselves displaced from Ireland during the economic crash found themselves on the same boats and planes as Irish citizens displaced through unemployment from Ireland. Immigrants who managed to remain in employment seemed to be as integrated or socially included as any other such fortunate members of Irish society.

in From prosperity to austerity

Neil Murphy, comparing contemporary writers with Joyce, Beckett and Flann O'Brien, notes the complex and nuanced relationship between these texts and their cultural contexts. The ‘Celtic Tiger’ period, a moment of the most dramatic impact in recent Irish history, offers an opportunity to consider the nature of the possible relationship between literary fiction and its social and political contexts. Joyce's legendarily disinterested attitude towards World War 1, and his largely disengaged response to the revolutionary upheavals in Ireland between 1916 and 1923, are artistically revealing, particularly since the timeframe of the composition of Ulysses coincides with these historically cataclysmic years in European history. In a direct and antagonistic gesture towards referential writing, In this chapter, Murphy, through close readings of the works of John Banville and Dermot Healy, as well as consideration of Sebastian Barry and Anne Enright, suggests that while they may appear to gaze backwards in time, or into the depths of highly personalized ontological questions, or at the conundrums of artistic form, if one tilts the glass just a little it may be that the reflected image offers us a few useful glimpses of the Celtic Tiger years after all, but by potent, indirect vision.

in From prosperity to austerity
Theatre as critic and conscience of Celtic Tiger Ireland

This chapter reviews selected examples of Irish theatre's critical engagement with the building industry, banking and media which underpinned Celtic Tiger Ireland. Plays considered include Paraic Breatnach and others, Site!: A Builder’s Tale; Pom Boyd, Declan Lynch, Arthur Riordan, Boomtown!; Tom Hall, Boss; and David McWilliams, Outsiders. The time spanned by these works includes the statistical highpoint of Tiger ‘success’ in 1999, through to 2008, when it collapsed, and on to 2010 when the public demand for answers and culprits resulted in a ‘riot at the ballot box’. Merriman considers the extent to which the 1999 plays typify a public, critical engagement which emerged in the ‘theatre of the nation’ during the 1990s. It sets these interventionist works against the view that Irish theatre demonstrates failures of nerve and ethical purpose during the Celtic Tiger period, and it questions the extent to which this serious charge against dramatic artists is sustainable. Boomtown! is especially important here, as it was critically excoriated in its original production in 1999 but the sharp contrast between that dismissal and public responses to its revival, in staged reading form in 2009, exposes a trajectory in national life from denial to angry denunciation, over a ten-year period.

in From prosperity to austerity
Abstract only
The Celtic Tiger and poetry as social critique

Flannery provides a summary critical survey of different poetic responses to the Celtic Tiger period, and specifically to its imprints on, and legacies for, contemporary Irish society. Considering this era in recent Irish history in terms of modernization, urbanization, ecological thought and activism, Flannery addresses the works of the following poets: Dennis O'Driscoll, Rita Ann Higgins, Alice Lyons and, by way of preface, John Updike. The chapter touches upon the diverse class-based and gendered effects of the economic boons and privations of the Celtic Tiger period. The ecological consequences are also addressed when looking at this accelerated phase of Irish modernization, which has seen poetic responses to the irresponsible erection of now abandoned properties across Ireland. Connections are made between this phenomenon and the poeticization of historical Irish ruins in earlier Romantic verses. Across these poetic works can be seen the emergence of the Celtic Tiger, as well as the duration and aftermath of its ascendancy in Irish society. Each of the poets offers localised, and often personal, versions of the cultural, social and environmental yields of the Celtic Tiger; in either a single poem, a series of poems or a collection.

in From prosperity to austerity
Celtic Tiger cinema

This chapter examines and analyses the industrial developments, international influences and local productions relating to Irish cinema in the Celtic Tiger period. It considers funding opportunities, specifically in relation to the Irish Film Board, for Irish filmmakers, and comments upon the consequences of the growth of digital film-making during this time. The end of the Troubles and a new perception of Ireland overseas, expressed through cultural product such as Riverdance and chick lit, are linked into altered expectations of what Irishness signifies. Specific points include the rise of a new generation of Irish male film stars, from Colin Farrell to Chris O'Dowd. Barton reviews of the shift in representations by local Irish filmmakers, from films that celebrate the new spaces of globalised Dublin (About Adam and Goldfish Memory) to an accelerating trend that focuses on Dublin as a dangerous space inhabited by a disenfranchised underclass (Intermission and Garage). In addition, the chapter critiques the representation of new Irish immigrants, arguing that their depiction is more to shed light on indigenous Irish identity concerns than to engage with the experiences and expectations of this specific group of individuals.

in From prosperity to austerity
Editor’s Introduction

worst of its rippling social consequences rebelled against systemic injustices. Left-leaning protest movements of indignados took to the streets. They rejected economic austerity and promoted progressive social reform. But they soon became marginal to the spreading politics of anger. In the main, the global backlash is now directed against progressive neoliberalism – the dominant ideological variant of late liberalism – with its ‘flexibilisation’ of everything in the economic sphere and its disintegration of tradition in the social sphere

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Governing Precarity through Adaptive Design

. Global Precarity A characteristic of late-modernity, at least in relation to the global North, 3 is what Nikolas Rose has called the ‘death of the social’ ( Rose, 1996 ). This demise is usually equated with the roll-back of the welfare state. Originally meant as a collective insurance-based shield against market forces, since the 1980s the welfare state has been residualised through means-testing, privatisation, cuts and the politics of austerity. Companies and businesses, however, have also shed their former social-democratic responsibilities

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs