When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out

I read this book last spring, prior to my first trip to Ireland. It was an easy read for someone with a passable understanding of finance. It included just enough history to put the events of the last two decades into perspective. It also gave me insights into what I’d find in a place that had risen meteorically and then just as quickly, fallen hard.
The subtitle of Lynch’s book reads, “The World’s Most Resilient Country and Its Struggle to Rise Again.” I understood how well this description fit the Irish after spending five weeks in Limerick, Dublin, Belfast and the West, reading their newspapers and seeing the national and local news programs, and meeting the people.
The impact of the Celtic Tiger era of prosperity and growth, from about 1990 through 2007, was transformative. The hard choice for young, educated Irish to either emigrate and embrace opportunity or remain in Ireland and accept little opportunity seemed to disappear. Standard of living improved to a point where many Irish were living better than their British counterparts. But growth was spurred in large part by politicians, bankers and developers whose misbehavior and malfeasance occurred on an epic scale. Irish culture itself was re-shaped by the rapid and dramatic changes that took place during the era.
Lynch’s book is enlightening on several fronts. He exposes the people in power who lived lavish lives on borrowed money along with the ordinary Irish men and women who were victimized by their misdeeds, but who also turned a blind eye as evidence mounted that the Celtic Tiger, like an Easter candy treat, was hollow. He focuses also on the growth of materialism, something quite foreign to the collective Irish identity of the past where having material things was associated with being British, not Irish.
Having read When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out I was better prepared to understand Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart. It prepared me to ask questions of our Irish hosts about emigration as jobs disappeared along with the money speculators collected as deposits on housing and industrial developments. I read with interest about the ongoing effects on Irish banks.Along with trips to see the beautiful countryside near Killarney and Connemara, I visited the skeletons of buildings left unfinished in Limerick and Dublin. I read in detail the terrible impact of these poisoned mortgages on banking in Ireland. I saw the neighborhoods where poverty remains – not so different from those troubled times before the Celtic Tiger when so many Irish were on, as Lynch describes it, “the losing end of history.”
This spring, I plan to see more of Ireland than I did last year – to travel to the Wicklow Mountains, for example, and to spend the day in Dublin during Bloomsday. But I’m also curious to see what has changed in the last year with employment, housing, politics and education. And to gather as many stories as I can from my Irish friends.

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2 comments on “When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out

  1. david lynch says:

    Glad you liked the book

  2. sugareeblog says:

    I recommend this book to my American students in the Study Abroad program at University of Limerick.

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