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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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‘We all partied’ (Constantin Gurdgiev)

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Constantin Gurdgiev

‘We all partied’

Uttered by the then-Minister for Finance, the late Brian Lenihan Jnr during an interview on RTE’s Prime Time on November 24, 2010, the phrase came to symbolise the Irish elites’ response to the causes of the crisis. The extended quote, however, offers a glimpse into Lenihan’s deeper, and more nuanced view. ‘I accept that there were failures in the political system. I accept that I have to take responsibility as a member of the governing party during that period for what happened. But let’s be fair about it. We all partied’. Lenihan strikes a tragic figure in the history of the Celtic Tiger. Conflicted by his earlier government positions, and suffering from failing health, he took the poisoned chalice of running the Department of Finance at the peak of the crisis. He did so with integrity, albeit in the absence of serious expertise, and made multiple mistakes. Nevertheless, his policy errors were largely forced, framed or nudged by forces external to Ireland, such as the reluctance of the ECB and the EU leadership to address the roots of the crises that befell Ireland.

Taken out of its context, ‘We all partied’ conveys – correctly – the arrogance of the Irish leadership at the time of the crisis. Taken within the context of the broader acknowledgement of the state leadership’s failures, it narrates – again, correctly – a real sense of what the later years of the Celtic Tiger came to symbolise: a nearly...

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