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A socio-cultural critique of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath

This book examines the phenomenon of the rise and fall of the Irish Celtic Tiger from a cultural perspective. It looks at Ireland's regression from prosperity to austerity in terms of a society as opposed to just an economy. Using literary and cultural theory, it looks at how this period was influenced by, and in its turn influenced, areas such as religion, popular culture, politics, literature, photography, gastronomy, music, theatre, poetry and film. It seeks to provide some answers as to what exactly happened to Irish society in the past few decades of boom and bust. The socio-cultural rather than the purely economic lens it uses to critique the Celtic Tiger is useful because society and culture are inevitably influenced by what happens in the economic sphere. That said, all of the measures taken in the wake of the financial crash sought to find solutions to aid the ailing economy, and the social and cultural ramifications were shamefully neglected. The aim of this book therefore is to bring the ‘Real’ of the socio-cultural consequences of the Celtic Tiger out of the darkness and to initiate a debate that is, in some respects, equally important as the numerous economic analyses of recent times. The essays analyse how culture and society are mutually-informing discourses and how this synthesis may help us to more fully understand what happened in this period, and more importantly, why it happened.

Liene Ozoliņa

2 Temporalities of austerity ‘You have to keep moving in spite of everything’1 It was an early morning in October 2011, and I was walking through the Central Market to Riga’s unemployment office. The market was bustling as always, despite the fact that Latvians were still coping with the aftermath of the economic crisis. The effects of the crisis were visible in the public space: there were fewer people and cars on the streets and more closed-down shops and restaurants. Instead, little cafes were popping up one after another in the centre of the city where

in Politics of waiting
Mary Pierse

10 Women, fictional messages and a crucial decade Mary Pierse During the traumatic period of strife in Northern Ireland, Irish poets and artists were frequently exhorted to make their art relevant, to comment or perhaps to take sides. Despite the marked lack of public clamour for artistic involvement in cogitation, diagnosis or prescription regarding two decades of rollercoaster-­ride from embryonic prosperity to economic austerity, much recent fiction by notable Irish women novelists has determinedly featured numerous depictions of experiences, actions and

in From prosperity to austerity
Food and wine as cultural signifiers
Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy argues that Ireland has been revolutionised in terms of dining and drinking practices during the Celtic Tiger years, and has, in fact, developed its own version of a gastronomic cultural field. A heightened appreciation of fine dining was accompanied by a decline in Ireland's world-renowned tradition of service, as, during the decades of prosperity, the ‘land of a thousand welcomes’ reputation no longer seemed to be merited, due in large part to fewer and fewer Irish people wanting to tend tables or provide a front-of-office interface with customers. In addition, prices soared and tourists began to wonder if they were really welcome any more in Ireland or if they were viewed exclusively in terms of their spending potential. Using Pierre Bourdieu's ideas on social capital, this chapter shows how food and wine could be viewed as cultural signifiers in Celtic Tiger Ireland. People were often defined in terms of where they dined and what they ate and drank. It is no surprise that Michelin-starred restaurants became numerous in the years of economic success as increased disposable income led to a real gastronomic revolution. Austerity has gone some way towards restoring Ireland's culture of service and the food and wine industry now seem less driven by short-term gain have rediscovered genuine hospitality.

in From prosperity to austerity
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Eamon Maher and Eugene O’Brien

feel that this is a vital and somewhat neglected aspect in the analysis of the whole period. The Celtic Tiger, in terms of both prosperity and austerity, affected us all as individuals, and it is through the stories of ­individuals,  and an analysis of these stories, that any real sense of empathy and understanding of the truth of the situation will be ultimately gleaned. There is an apocryphal story told of this period with which we will close our analysis. This story encapsulates much of what we have termed the ‘real’ of the Celtic Tiger and yet it may not be

in From prosperity to austerity
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Eamon Maher and Eugene O’Brien

, meant that in a sense Ireland had skipped the slow process of modernity, which involved the painstaking build-­up of a manufacturing base, and instead had moved to the postmodern model of financial services, investment and a seemingly never-­ending property bubble. However, this affluence proved illusory, and the sudden dramatic bursting of the property and building bubble meant that prosperity has been followed by austerity and the erstwhile Tiger is now a very bedraggled and scraggy metaphorical animal. This seismic shift has an exact date, 29 September 2008, when

in From prosperity to austerity
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The cultural unconscious of the Celtic Tiger in the writings of Paul Howard
Eugene O’Brien

Dirtbag, Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, PS, I Love You and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-­time respectively. Mr S and the Secrets of Andorra’s Box (Howard 2008c) deals with his new job as the rugby coach of the Andorran national team and also with his attempts to cope with separation from Sorcha and Honor while NAMA Mia (Howard 2011) conflates the National Asset Management Agency and the Abba song ‘Mama Mia’, and, like his 2012 book The Shelbourne Ultimatum, it deals with an Ireland suffering the effects of austerity in the wake of the Celtic Tiger

in From prosperity to austerity
Monsters of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland
Kieran Keohane and Carmen Kuhling

bankrupted the nascent republic and effectively mortgaged the future generations of Haiti in perpetuity. Anyone who wishes to imagine what state the former Republic of Ireland will be in one hundred years from now may have much to learn from the state of Haiti today. Zombie precarity and vampire plutonomy In 2010, the Irish government negotiated the IMF–EU bail-­out and recommended a four-­year National Recovery plan and a programmes of ‘austerity budgets’ which make huge cuts in social welfare rather than taxing the richest 1 per cent of the population who own 34 per cent

in From prosperity to austerity
The Catholic Church during the Celtic Tiger Years
Eamon Maher

perceived wrongdoings. In fact, the whole awareness of sin is very hazy in a society that has shed the shackles of sexual repression and is intent on pursuing pleasure at every opportunity. The Celtic Tiger is not solely responsible for this change in attitude, but it certainly contributed to the development of a groupthink that equated financial enrichment with happiness. Now that austerity has replaced prosperity, there is uncertainty about where to turn for comfort and reassurance. Maybe it is time to return to the original notion of Christian community advocated by

in From prosperity to austerity
Catherine Maignant

Many assume that the Celtic Tiger was the root cause of the decline of religion as a hegemonic force in Irish society. Careful examination of data does not support this analysis, and this chapter argues that what has in effect occurred is that the Irish religious market has evolved from being monopolistic to becoming pluralist structure. Religious market theories argue that liberal and neo-liberal economic theories have their religious counterparts. Theorists thus defend the view that religious choice in a pluralist society is regulated by rational decisions based on supply and demand, competition and consumer needs. Religious products however have specificities, and faith implies that choice has an irrational dimension. Maignant analyses the nature of today's religious market in Ireland from the perspective of the Celtic Tiger values as echoed by religious market theories and by the post-secularization theory. The fusion of market terminology, market research analysis and objective accounting of the data offers a perspective on the place of the Church in Ireland that is highly original and innovative. It also offers a more objective perspective on the current state, and future trajectory, of the Catholic Church in a contemporary Irish context.

in From prosperity to austerity