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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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Hillen, Sean (Sarah Kelleher)

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Sarah Kelleher

Hillen, Sean

Séan Hillen’s Irelantis series, 24 photomontages made between 1994 and 1997, summed up perhaps more effectively than any other imagery the frenetic pace of change during the Celtic Tiger years. The fractured and sutured surfaces of each collage register the tectonic shifts in Ireland’s political and social landscape – the rapid transition from a Catholic monoculture to an increasingly secular society, the reshaping of the political and constitutional relations between the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain, the dizzying fact that by 1995 Ireland had become Europe’s fastest growing economy – a set of conditions, or indeed cumulative jolts to the national psyche, that found echo in his gleefully hallucinatory images.

Hillen’s carefully constructed works follow in a long tradition of satirical photomontage, first exploited by the Berlin Dadaists in the wake of the First World War. Artists such as Hannah Höch and John Heartfield pieced together images cut from magazines and other sources to register something of the chaos of social instability following the war, but also to provoke the viewer to critically evaluate and challenge cultural norms. Hillen’s fantastical, absurdist collages are deployed towards the same ends, skewering an Irish nostalgia for a lost rural utopia based on fantasy, as much as they work to parody the mass media euphoria surrounding the high-tech, multi-national, increasingly globalised Ireland of the 1990s. Each work from Irelantis concocts a fevered, jarring scene from familiar yet diverse sources: the technicolour nostalgia of John...

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