When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out: The World's Most Resilient Country and Its Struggle to Rise Again

Overview

Few countries have been as dramatically transformed in recent years as Ireland. Once a culturally repressed land shadowed by terrorism and on the brink of economic collapse, Ireland finally emerged in the late 1990s as the fastest-growing country in Europe, with the typical citizen enjoying a higher standard of living than the average Brit. Just a few years after celebrating their newly-won status among the world’s richest societies, the Irish are now saddled with a wounded, shrinking economy, soaring ...

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When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out: The World's Most Resilient Country and Its Struggle to Rise Again

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Overview

Few countries have been as dramatically transformed in recent years as Ireland. Once a culturally repressed land shadowed by terrorism and on the brink of economic collapse, Ireland finally emerged in the late 1990s as the fastest-growing country in Europe, with the typical citizen enjoying a higher standard of living than the average Brit. Just a few years after celebrating their newly-won status among the world’s richest societies, the Irish are now saddled with a wounded, shrinking economy, soaring unemployment, and ruined public finances. After so many centuries of impoverishment, how did the Irish finally get rich, and how did they then fritter away so much so quickly? Veteran journalist David J. Lynch offers an insightful, character-driven narrative of how the Irish boom came to be and how it went bust. He opens our eyes to a nation’s downfall through the lived experience of individual citizens: the people responsible for the current crisis as well as the ordinary men and women enduring it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In this solid debut, USA Today global affairs reporter Lynch tells the story of a small nation that has changed profoundly in recent decades…Incisive and well-reported.”—Kirkus

“A sturdy and unsentimental tale of how Ireland reached its current predicament.”—The New Republic

“When the luck of the Irish ran in, morality ran out. David Lynch’s book is an amazing story of rampaging greed, dirty doings, even adulterous sex. Old Mother Ireland doffs her peasant’s garb and emerges as a svelte, sexy, provocative siren infecting the willing Irish with diseased materialism. Holy Mother church affects a total hypocrite and politics is just another word for corruption. Along with a simple, concise history of Ireland Lynch even makes economics funny and fascinating. The artists of Ireland—Bono, Seamus Heaney, Roddy Dolye, Bill Whalen of Riverdance—emerge nobly from this cesspool.”—Malachy McCourt, author of Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland and Danny Boy

“A brilliant set of insights into the true and completely general nature of ‘crony capitalism’. Close connections between politicians, bankers, and property developers brought Ireland great apparent prosperity – while really creating the conditions for a huge and horrible crash. Lynch is optimistic that Ireland can rise again and find a more robust model for growth. Let’s hope he is right.”—Simon Johnson, author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

"A tour de force of reportage and analysis. As much social anthropology as economic forensics, it is a cautionary tale of post-colonial success and excess. As cold as the eye he casts upon the land of his forebears is, Lynch retains an unmistakable affection for Ireland and a confidence that it can change, change utterly, for the better."—Kevin Cullen, columnist and former Dublin bureau chief of The Boston Globe

“David Lynch has produced a terrific read – a hair-raising gallop through the hills and valleys of modern day finance. After reading this book, you’ll never think about Ireland – or global financial markets — in quite the same way.”—David M. Smick, author of The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy

“Lynch marvelously weaves together politics, history, and religion to explain the incredible economic and social transformation that has swept Ireland over the past three decades and the deep financial crisis that Ireland is grappling with today.”—Kenneth S. Rogoff, coauthor of This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

“David Lynch's book will enrage, enlighten, and sadden you. His superbly written account of what really happened in Ireland during the boom of the Celtic Tiger and the ensuing bust is, to be sure, a story about Ireland. But it is a cautionary tale for all of us. The next time somebody tells you that the market can only go up, run away and re-read this book!”—Terry Golway, columnist for The Irish Echo and history professor at Kean University

“Lynch’s book is that rare thing, an economic study that’s also a captivating snapshot of the society it’s exploring. Written in lucid prose that will appeal to both the general reader and the economist, Lynch (a former Nieman fellow at Harvard University) understands that there’s a lot more to a nation’s story than the performance of its markets...he has appraised Ireland’s particular strengths and weaknesses with a gimlet eye of an outsider who can see through all the palaver.”—Irish Central

Kirkus Reviews

In this solid debut, USA Today global affairs reporter Lynch tells the story of a small nation that has changed profoundly in recent decades.

For centuries, Ireland was an impoverished backwater from which the educated fled. Even 30 years ago, writes the author, the country still lacked jobs, roads and reliable phone service. By the late 1990s, all of that changed. Breaking out of its malaise, Ireland began attracting U.S. investment and such technology companies as Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, becoming one of the world's richest consumer societies. The "Celtic Tiger" growth miracle had the Irish flocking to large shopping malls and expensive restaurants, spending more than twice as much on personal goods and services in 2006 as they had in 1998. The housing market soared, and builders had to recruit foreign construction workers. "The long boom replaced the traditional Irish inferiority complex with a robust culture of entitlement," writes Lynch. Vividly re-creating the heady era of excess, the author tells the stories of bankers, politicians and others who helped create the new, hip, more affluent Ireland. In 2007, the euphoria ended abruptly amid falling property prices and global recession. Much of the boom had been illusory, the result of over-borrowing by banks, irresponsible regulatory policies and corrupt dealings between politicians and business leaders. The author also covers the cultural flowering of these same boom years, in which Riverdance and the work of U2, Roddy Doyle and other writers and performers won global attention. Doyle's novels and plays exploring domestic violence and other seldom-acknowledged aspects of domestic life became part of a broad debate on national identity. At the same time, there was a sharp decline in the repressive influence of the Catholic Church. Lynch attributes the social and cultural ferment to the new self-confidence of the era. Now struggling to recover from an economic collapse marked by soaring unemployment and collapsed banks, Ireland can look forward to a "more modest future as a modern European country."

Incisive and well-reported.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230102736
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/9/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.82 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

David J. Lynch is a senior writer with Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C., focusing on the intersection of politics and economics. Previously, he covered global business issues for USA Today, first writing for the Money section, then becoming the founding bureau chief in both London and Beijing. In 2001, he became the first journalist from USA Today to be selected for the prestigious Nieman fellowship at Harvard University. He has made numerous television appearances on BBC and Sky News in London and C-SPAN and PBS in the United States. His writing has also appeared in The New Republic, Time, and The New York Times. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: “The Boom Times Are Getting More Boomer”

• Chapter 1: Frugal Comfort

• Chapter 2: The Most Important Pub In Ireland

• Chapter 3: Liftoff

• Chapter 4: A Different Country

• Chapter 5: Famine To Feast

• Chapter 6: Having It All

• Chapter 7: People Lost The Run Of Themselves

• Chapter 8: Money Is Just Evidence

• Epilogue: The Ireland That We Dreamed Of

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