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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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Universities (Paddy Prendergast)

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Paddy Prendergast

Universities

‘Hire them before they hire you’, was the brilliant and iconic slogan used by the Industrial Development Authority in the years just before the Celtic Tiger began to roar. The caption accompanied a group photograph of graduates that formed part of the state agency’s international advertising campaign: ‘The Young Europeans’.

The IDA was already pitching successfully for mobile foreign direct investment. However, capitalising on Ireland’s increasingly well-educated workforce was an inspired addition to the campaign. It helped convey the impression that Ireland, as a young and vibrant EU member state, was ready to take on the world economically. Of course, the country did lead the way in economic growth for a decade or so. This lead was backed up and cemented by increasing state investment in higher education, where enrolment rose at an unprecedented rate.

The growth in student numbers in those years was quite extraordinary. In the 1991/2 academic year, there were 76,809 full-time undergraduate and post-graduate students in the Republic of Ireland, but this had almost doubled to 145,7890 in January 2009. The numbers have continued to grow to 183,696 in the 2017/18 academic year.

The abolition of tuition fees by Education Minister Niamh Bhreathnach helped fuel the growth in student numbers, even if that decision did not help her or the Labour Party in the subsequent general election in 1997. In the boom years, there was money from the State to...

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