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Recalling the Celtic Tiger

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Edited By Eamon Maher, Eugene O'Brien and Brian Lucey

This book looks at various effects, symptoms and consequences of the period in Irish culture known as the Celtic Tiger. It will trace the critical pathway from boom to bust – and up to the current beginnings of a similar, smaller boom – through events, personalities and products. The short entries offer a sense of the lived experience of this seismic period in contemporary Irish society.

While clearly not all aspects of the period could realistically be covered, the book does contain essential information about the central actors, events, themes, and economic trends, which are discussed in a readable and accessible manner. Each entry is linked to the overall Celtic Tiger phenomenon and its immediate aftermath.

The book also provides a comprehensive account of what happened in this period and will be a factual resource for anyone anxious to discover information on the areas most commonly connected to it. All entries are written by experts in the area. The contributors include broadcasters, economists, cultural theorists, sociologists, literary critics, journalists, politicians and writers, each of whom brings particular insights to some aspect of the Celtic Tiger.

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Higgins, Michael D. (Vic Merriman)

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Vic Merriman

Higgins, Michael D.

Desmond O’Malley, founder of the Progressive Democrats, notoriously claimed that ‘Michael D Higgins would go mad in government’, an apparent slur that has lingered in Irish political folklore. An alternative interpretation of O’Malley’s remark would be that Higgins was seen as someone who would resist a Civil Service that was prone to thwarting the projects of reforming politicians. His point was that Higgins would find that intolerable. Whichever version of O’Malley’s colourful prediction you opt for, the political upheavals which accompanied the Celtic Tiger’s initial steps, were to test its veracity, beyond the realms of political cut-and-thrust.

During the 1980s, mainly through the disproportionate influence of O’Malley’s Progressive Democrats on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael alike, Irish public life deferred to fantasies of marketisation and managerialism as social panaceas with the status of religious dogma. Neoliberal political economy was articulated first in Charles Haughey’s 1980 address to the nation, and consolidated as that to which there was ‘no alternative’, when Fine Gael adopted a complicit ‘Tallaght Strategy’ (1987). Globally, the shadow of Thatcherism, Reaganism, the social conservatism of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope, and the implosion of the Soviet communist monolith, unleashed unfettered capitalism. In what was travestied as ‘Ireland Inc’., in a post-Delors European Community, the received wisdom of policy-makers and opinion-forming pundits alike, placed egalitarianism, and social democracy beyond the pale. It seemed inevitable that Ruairí Quinn’s sardonic codicil to Brendan Corish’s 1965 slogan, ‘The Seventies...

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