The end of Irish history?

The end of Irish history?: Reflections on the Celtic Tiger

Colin Coulter
Steve Coleman
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The end of Irish history?
    Book Description:

    Ireland appears to be in the process of a remarkable social change, a process which has dramatically reversed a hitherto seemingly unstoppable economic decline. This exciting new book systematically scrutinises the interpretations and prescriptions that inform the 'Celtic Tiger'. Takes the standpoint that a more critical approach to the course of development being followed by the Republic is urgently required. Sets out to expose the fallacies that drive the fashionable rhetoric of Tigerhood. An esteemed list of contributors deal with issues such as immigration, the role of women, globalisation, and changing economic and social conditions.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-036-1
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. x-xi)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. 1 The end of Irish history? An introduction to the book
    (pp. 1-33)

    During the Easter vacation of 2001, I happened to be travelling through the United States and picked up a copy of a renowned popular music magazine to pass the time on a short internal flight. While leafing through the publication, I stumbled across a feature that struck me as having no little cultural significance. It was a single-frame, full-page advertisement for some commodity or other set in a stylish contemporary bathroom that could have been located in more or less any major city in the western world. The central focus of the feature in question falls upon a young attractive...

  7. 2 Macroeconomic policy in the Celtic Tiger: a critical reassessment
    (pp. 34-55)

    The miraculous turnaround in the fortunes of the southern Irish economy during the 1990s fooled most experts. The upturn began in the early 1990s, following one of the worst economic periods in the history of the Irish state. The economy then ‘took off’ in 1994 for seven years of sustained high growth that earned the Irish Republic the popular name of the ‘Celtic Tiger’.

    The Celtic Tiger emerged from a historic expansion in the United States that was centred on the information technology (IT) industry. After the restructuring of the 1980s and a decade of speculation that Japan would overtake...

  8. 3 Neither Boston nor Berlin: class polarisation and neo-liberalism in the Irish Republic
    (pp. 56-73)

    The Celtic Tiger is dead. Between 1994 and 2000, real gross domestic product (GDP) in the Republic of Ireland grew at an annual average rate of nine per cent, taking per capita income from sixty-seven to eightysix per cent of the European Union (EU) average by 1999.¹ In terms of conventional economics, this would seem to constitute a miracle. Growth rates for most industrial nations were sluggish in the 1990s and even the boom in the United States did not match this. The Celtic Tiger stood out as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. But the age...

  9. 4 Welcome to the Celtic Tiger: racism, immigration and the state
    (pp. 74-94)

    The ‘Celtic Tiger’ has come to provide a convenient shorthand for Ireland’s prosperous and rapidly growing economy. Like all metaphors, it occludes as much as it includes; as a way of representing, it is just as much a way of misrepresenting. The implication of a prosperity in which ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ masks the growth of poverty and inequality and generalises what is, in fact, only a restricted experience of newly found wealth, within a broader context of class and gender stratification and regional underdevelopment. It also masks growing racism within Irish society.

    The central aim of this...

  10. 5 Irish women and the Celtic Tiger economy
    (pp. 95-109)

    The term ‘Celtic Tiger’ has connotations that extend well beyond the realm of the purely economic. It has, for instance, become a metaphor for a new national consensus that constantly reminds us how ‘we have never had it so good’. This chapter takes issue with this consensus and argues instead that, while the recent boom in the Irish Republic has produced enormous wealth for a small minority, the majority of Irish people have benefited little from this apparent economic miracle. In fact, there has been a direct transfer in wealth from the poorest sections in society to the richest. The...

  11. 6 Globalised Ireland, or, contemporary transformations of national identity?
    (pp. 110-121)

    The influential US magazineForeign Policyissued a ‘Globalization Index’ in 2001, which, to the surprise of many, found the Republic of Ireland to be at the top of the list.¹ The indicators used to construct the index included information technology, finance, trade, travel, ‘politics’ and personal communications, all designed to evaluate the degree of global integration. We learn that ‘Ireland’s strong pro-business policies’ have made the country (or more precisely the Irish market) ‘a hugely attractive location for foreign investors’.² To make itself even more attractive, ‘the country has cut corporate tax rates (already among Europe’s lowest)’.³ There is...

  12. 7 Millenarianism and utopianism in the new Ireland: the tragedy (and comedy) of accelerated modernisation
    (pp. 122-138)

    Thus begins one of the most influential books of the last quarter century, Marshall Berman’sAll That is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity.Developing Berman’s theme, other authors have described the contemporary zeitgeist as ‘late-modern’,² emphasising the intractability of modernity’s ambivalence and paradox, or ‘postmodern’,³ pointing to the intensification of the experiences of social fragmentation and individuation, the continuation of modernity, but without the utopian hopes and dreams that made the experience bearable. Beck, Giddens and Lash 4 use the concept of ‘reflexive modernisation’ to describe an acceleration of the processes of transformation in contemporary society, intensifying...

  13. 8 Fear and loathing in lost ages: journeys through postmodern Dublin
    (pp. 139-154)

    I met them at the half-built arrivals area in Dublin airport. I was delighted that they all arrived together, though coming from different parts of the world. My sense of good fortune, rarely attached to contemporary Dublin transport, quickly evaporated when we got outside to find that a lightning strike among the taxi drivers, caused by the liberalisation of licences, had made a quick escape from the airport seem impossible. However, I found a ‘new plate’ and bribed him to take us into the city to the General Post Office (GPO), where, allegedly, it all started in 1916.

    In the...

  14. 9 Contemporary discourses of working, earning and spending: acceptance, critique and the bigger picture
    (pp. 155-174)

    It has become commonplace to assert that Irish people now have more choices and enjoy a higher standard of living than ever before. An assumption also exists that the role of the ordinary citizen is to be a member of the paid labour force and a consumer, in order to ‘keep the economy going’. Many people consequently live in a work–earn–spend cycle, spending much of what they earn on possessions and services now considered essential for everyday life. Savings are at an all-time low and credit card debt at an all-time high, especially among people under thirtyfive.¹ Everyday...

  15. 10 The centralised government of liquidity: community, language and culture under the Celtic Tiger
    (pp. 175-191)

    The privatisation of Telecom Éireann in June 1999 came at the highwater mark of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ phase. About 600,000 Irish citizens bought shares in the state-owned company, which promptly changed its name to Eircom. For most buyers, it was their first experience of stock ownership.¹

    In the television advertisement campaign for the share offer, we saw singers in locations all over Ireland sing verses from the traditional Irishlanguage songDúlamán. This was followed by shots of people dancing in costumes in the style of Macnas – the Galway-based group which specialises in spectacular street theatre, originally inspired by the Catalan...

  16. 11 Northern Ireland: a reminder from the present
    (pp. 192-207)

    Social and cultural shifts on the island of Ireland are held to have diluted the authority of nationalisms that were tied to unidimensional and archaic notions of Irishness and Britishness.¹ It is contended that there is an ongoing and positive transition towards new modes and definitions of cultural belonging that in themselves reject the logic and validity of ethnocentrism. The Europeanisation of political and financial power, the influx of foreign capital, political morphology in Northern Ireland and the growth in consumption have all been identified as sociopolitical forces that have advanced more heterogeneous senses of identity and belonging.

    The ‘death’...

  17. Index
    (pp. 208-212)